Star Wars and Racism

The Star Wars logo as seen in all films.

It is good advice, and common advice, that if you publish content online you should “not read the comments”. The internet has allowed people to spew vitriol anonymously and with little fear of consequence. On release of the new Star Wars trailer there has been an open criticism by certain groups regarding the “White Genocide” perpetrated by the film. Such an absurd notion is an unsettling reminder that racial inequality and racism are a long way from being vanquished in this universe or any other. The absurdity of the notion is not lost on most who have pointed out that one of the most iconic and recognizable Star Wars characters was voiced by James Earl Jones (leaving aside the strange white washing of the character when his face was revealed).

This is neither the first time nor will it be the last time that the internet has produced such racist rhetoric, it has been asked on a number of occasions “why is the internet so racist?” Anonymity is the main reason why such opinions are more prevalent on the internet, however there are a number of other elements at play, the ability to build communities who share your views, the ability to find ‘proof’ of just about any theory on the internet and the sense of entitlement to ‘freedom of speech’. It may be simple attention seeking that is not deserved of comment or time. An article in the business insider asks: “Will the overt racism that defines the Internet also disappear once anonymity is gone?

Logic suggests it will—that only people who will be racist online are, 1) people who are openly racist in the real world too, and 2) dumb teenagers who are short-sighted and solipsistic”

It is interesting that the finger is pointed at “dumb teenagers” this is a rare return to the days of blaming the younger generation for many misdemeanors, major and minor with little regard to any actual facts. The internet is rapidly becoming less anonymous, however it will be interesting to see what impact this has on the way in which individuals approach commentary, racism and other issues.

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Carrion Laughing’s Tumblr and Gender

(Image Via: http://carrionlaughing.tumblr.com/)

Tumblr (an online community where individuals post images and short scripts/posts, largely in relation to popular culture and fandom) the microblogging website has largely been forgotten by academics and has very little written about it, despite the fact that it is quite widely used (Anderson 2015). However, Libraries are increasingly using Tumblr as a way to engage with students and patrons in a more eclectic and modern way, and certainly it has become the responsibility of libraries to improve the online literacy of its clients (McShane 2011). The use of Tumblr as a classroom tool is not a new idea, it is used often as a more engaging form of blogging (Kohen, 2014).

Carrion Laughing is the Tumblr of one of two female writers for Doctor Who’s 9th season. Despite having a female producer at it’s inception (Verity Lambert) Doctor who has had only 4 female writers since its beginning. Carrion Laughing offers commentary on modern culture, from politics to television. It makes the majority of its comments around gender and occasionally racial and sexual diversity in television and films. Such spaces offer an unedited commentary on modern culture. It is also one of the forums in which fandoms express opinions and ‘ship’ characters from television and film. Increasingly such sites are having an impact on what is produced in the mainstream media.

FanArt

Image: FANART for 221B @ SH/JW

Many Tumblr sites offer single fandom commentary, an opportunity for a community to connect, comment, rewrite and re-imagine their favorite television series, such as BBC’s Sherlock. Nybro (2014) writes about the phenomenon of Tumblr in relation to Sherlock discussing how it provides a multimedia platform for growth and comment. Such platforms are increasingly referenced as influences over popular culture. The online community’s backlash over Glee’s “Brittania” breakup and Brittany’s subsequent dating of a Male character, was overtly referenced in the show with the Britany character stating that she feared the backlash of “angry lesbian bloggers” (Episode 409). Sexual identity is often discussed on the Carrion Laughing Blog, as Frank and Miller (2014) point out Tumblr is a fertile ground for individuals to assert control over their sexuality, both through fanfiction, fanart and commentary.

Whilst there are a lot of Tumblr sites for student to visit, Carrion Laughing offers a real world link (the author is also a prolific television writer), a variety of views on both popular culture and real world politics and is well curated. It is an exceptional example of a well-managed Tumblr and is updated daily. Most comments are backed with statistics and references, and it offers a good balance of text and images. In addition it is SFW (Safe For Work). It can be difficult to identify Tumblrs that fulfill all these criteria.

References

Anderson , K., E., (2015) “Libraries and Tumblr: a quantitative analysis”, Reference Services Review, Vol. 43 Iss: 2, pp.156 – 181

Carrion Laughing Tumblr: http://carrionlaughing.tumblr.com/

Fink, M., Miller, Q., Trans Media Moments: Tumblr, 2011–2013, Television & New Media, 11/2014, Volume 15, Issue 7

Hogan, H., on the AfterEllen.com Website: “Glee” recap (4.09): Something Stupid, http://www.afterellen.com/tv/104688-glee-recap-409-somethin-stupid

Kohen, A., Tumbling Political Theory, Politics, 12/2014, Volume 34, Issue 4

McShane, Ian (2011). Public libraries, digital literacy and participatory culture., Discourse : Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 32 (3) pp.383-397.

Nybro, L., N., Sherlock fans talk: Mediatized talk on tumblr, Northern Lights: Film & Media Studies Yearbook, Volume 12, Number 1, June 2014, pp. 87-104(18)

Reise on Autostraddle: Glee 409 Recap: Swan Song Of Myself, http://www.autostraddle.com/glee-recap-410-swan-song-of-myself-151534/