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Tuesday, Sep 3 2013

Minorities and Women in Star Wars

This past weekend I attended Dragon Con, a conference in downtown Atlanta for us nerds. I didn't go to many panels but I did attend a panel called "Where are the women and minorities in Star Wars", which I found to be interesting.  The panel discussed the current role of women and minorities in Star Wars, any future involvement by W&M1 in Star Wars, as well as "alternate universes" had certain characters in the franchise been a woman or different ethnic group.

The first image that came up when searching for princess Leia, thankfully NOT the golden bikini
As typical of any discussion involving race, I was really intrigued. The discussion eventually got "off topic" to the point where we were discussing the systemic causes of the lack of W&M in media in general, and how the perceptions of W&M in society would have to change in order for there to be some equality on film as well.  We noted how in comic books and movies, if there is a lead female role, she is always very busty, gorgeous, and showing a lot of skin. Staying within the realm of Star Wars, let us look at Princess Leia, who, especially at the time of the movie release (1972), was a strong role model for women. A headstrong woman who didn't take a lot of crap and was willing to stand up for what was right.  She made it very clear she didn't need a man and was very capable of handling everything on her own. One of the panelists noted how inspirational the character was to her and how it helped shape who she is today... that is until the release of Episode 6: Return of the Jedi.  (SPOILER ALERT: although if you haven't seen this film yet, something is wrong with you and you probably don't get half the things on my blog anyway) In this third outing of the iconic franchise, only a few minutes into the film, our heroine is captured by Jabba the hut and is forced to be one of his slaves and wear the "golden bikini", a scene/image that just about everyone is familiar with today. The panelist noted how after that film, that was the lasting image that everyone was left with in their heads of Princess Leia, in a bikini. It seemed to have really upset her and I can see why.  If the lasting image of every black man on film was them stealing a car, I'd be upset too.

Baddest man in the galaxy
As far as minorities in the original series, we have Lando Calrissian, who, in this bloggers opinion is definitely the baddest man in the galaxy! (Billy Dee was actually at DragonCon this year but it cost 40 bucks to get a picture with him. I like him, I guess just not that much lol) You also have Mace Windu, one of the members of the Jedi Counsel. While Mace Windu was a respectable good guy, Lando was a gambling man turned into the administrator of Cloud City (a job no doubt he won in a card game soon after loosing the Millennium Falcon), who sells his own friend up the river.  In earth time, the portrayal of these characters are roughly 25 years apart. Could the drastic change in the primary African-american role be due to a change in times or possibly pressure on the studio to have a positive black role model?

Furthermore we discussed the lack on inclusion of the other minority groups, Asians and Latinos specifically. There were no major roles given to either group in the Original trilogy, and sub-major roles given to Jimmy Smits (as Bail Prestor Organa of Alderaan) and Temuera Morrison (as Jengo Fett) in the second trilogy. Did this lack of representation lend itself to the lack of support by those communities? Is this lack of representation due to the lack of support by those communities? Star Wars (as if it were an entity able to defend itself) could also note its diversity in alien life forms. Different aliens from all over the galaxy can be seen in the film (in the cantina scene alone), does this "diversity" make up for the lack of actual diversity? Can you use computer generated and puppet aliens as a substitute for not using real people from different backgrounds?

The discussion then turned to what-if's. What if Luke Skywalker, for instance, had been a Afrian-American in the original trilogy, how would that had effected the franchise? Aside from the obvious revelation that both Anakin Skywalker and Princess Padme Amidala would have had to have been African-American as well, would dialog have been changed? Entire scenes? The films cult following and effectively the net gross income? (and I mean all of those both positively and negatively. I.E. the movie could have grossed more and had a bigger cult following.  In the comments below discuss, and also discuss who would have been a good cast at the time for a black Luke and Leia).

One of the panelists was a professional actress. She discussed her disdain for casting calls only for "Caucasian" females. She implied that she attends those auditions anyway and hopes to "wow" them all the same. I thought that was really awesome.  Sometimes, even though a role calls for a particular "look", a different look can be substituted for flare or popularity. For instance, Queen Latifah starred in the movie "Last Holiday", a remake of a 1950 British film where the star role was given to a white male. The 2006 version grossed $7 million under budget. Could the 'failure' of this film be tired directly to the conversion of the main character to a black female? Would the movie have been more popular if the lead role was kept a white male? Another British comedy that was remade recently was the film "Death at a Funeral". While both films had very similar dialog and plot (substitute a few racial jokes by Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence), the American version hit a much different demographic by replacing the core cast with African-Americans. As I often do, I take many small polls amongst my friends and record the data in my head, and from my "studies," very few of my white friends had even heard of this remake, let alone seen it.  With an almost all black cast, this movie almost completely stuck to its core demographic, much like almost all Tyler Perry produced media. So the question still stands, how do we hit all demographics equally? Is it cast alone or is there a subject matter that is equally appealing to all groups?

Will smith and Kevin Klien in Wild Wild West, 1999
I brought to the group's attention, specifically, the movie "Wild Wild West" (1999), which stared Will Smith as the lead role of James West, traditionally a white male. The movie was met with a lot of criticism and scrutiny, and subsequently failed at the box office. When asked why he felt the movie failed during an interview, Will Smith sarcastically replied that the writers didn't know that "Jim West was notorious for being white." While a hilarious quote, Smith is hitting on the subject at hand. Could the failure of this movie be directly tied to the decision to cast the lead role in a different ethnicity than originally intended? During the discussion of this specific movie, we began using the terms "hit the mark" and "miss the mark", more specifically, when the studios "miss the mark" does that lend to them not wanting to try casting lead roles to females and minorities? Much like the president of the United States, sometimes too much blame (or even credit) is given to the person for the success (or failure) for a particular event.

Moving forward, what can Hollywood, and the Star Wars franchise specifically, do to engage more audiences and improve up the role of women and minorities in film? Well, as usual, I said all that to say this.

I love Star Wars. It's one of my all-time favorite film series. When I watch Star Wars, I don't gravitate to Lando Calrissian more so than other characters. Generally speaking, I don't do that with media at all; could be a sign of the times, or could be that I tend to gravitate towards people in life and fictional characters that I want to be like, and never have seen my skin color as a barrier to that goal. Now, as an adult, I am well aware that (sadly) situations still occur where ones skin color can become a glass ceiling, keeping one from achieving his or her goals.  Speaking specifically on Hollywood, as long as studios primarily cast white males as the protagonist, W & M will continue to "suffer", but until society changes its perceptions of who can be your "hero", segments of society will continue to follow suit. Hollywood could try and be a pioneer in this area and try to change the hearts and minds of people, but with their focus being on dollars, I do not see that happening anytime soon. The central cast in the Star Wars franchise will continue to be white. You can say because its already "cannon" and therefore you can't change it. The fan base the franchise needs to keep, the "fanboys", will not allow it. As the Star Wars universe continues to expand (pun intended) there will be more W & M added, and hopefully grow the fan base more than it already is, giving this blogger more costume choices come next Dragon Con. If we are to see a change in our society's perceptions of W & M, it is going to have to start somewhere. I challenge Hollywood to be that start, and I'm not talking Tyler Perry films or any movie with all-black casts. We need to see dominant male roles in non-historic movies. During my parents childhood they always had a dream of one day having a black president. Well, this nerd has a dream of seeing a well-received and accepted black Superman in his lifetime.

1. I will refer to the phrase "Women and Minorities" as W&M for the rest of this blog.


Thursday, Aug 15 2013

Blunt Monkey: Why Women Date Assholes

If you have been reading my blog for a long time you know I USED to post a lot about my trepidations with being single. Well this article was sent to me today under the pretense of "Look, he says what you have been saying all along". lol. Enjoy... or don't.

Link to original article.

My freshman year of college, one of my best friends was a girl named Lindsey. I remember sitting on her couch one night at her dorm after she found out her boyfriend had cheated on her. 'Why can't I find a nice guy for once?' she lamented.

Like so many men before me, I just sat there, consoling her, being a good friend. Oh, to have a time machine! I'd go back and say this: 'Well, I'm a nice guy, and you seem pretty fucking content to pass me over even though I'm clearly in love with you. Maybe if you weren't so busy banging every asshole football player or band member you met, you'd have time to give guys like me a chance.'

Oh, don't worry. I'm (mostly) over it now. But I feel like the hot chick/asshole guy dynamic is explained away too often by the observation: 'Oh, she must be really insecure.' Well what makes her insecure? And anyway, why would an asshole make her feel more secure than a sweet, loving guy?

You wanna know the truth? Assholes are assholes because they can afford to be. They're that hot. Pick your poison: handsome, rich, funny, famous - any guy with one or more of these traits has license to be an asshole. Women aren't just superficially attracted to any guy who is an asshole - or else Britney Spears would be dating the mean, drunken homeless guy down the street. No, women like cool assholes. And if a guy is cool enough to be desired by many women, he has no incentive to be particularly nice to any one woman.

Oh, but women are nice to assholes! Do you know how awesome it was for a woman to get with the alpha-male of the clan 50,000 years ago? It was a pretty sweet gig. While other men and women went hungry, the strongest male always got first dibs on food, and was able to provide resources and protection to any women in his care. And there was usually more than one woman. Just as we see in modern day apes, it is surmised that ancient hunter-gatherer groups often featured 'harems' of the best females for a single alpha male. And why not? One awesome man was enough to impregnate multiple women. And those women could be assured that the children they bore would have his genes, and that they, too, could one day grow up to be successful alpha males. Alpha males aren't known for their kindness, or tenderness, or fidelity. But those traits weren't as in-demand back then as food, protection, and good genes. I guess they still aren't.

Understanding our harem-based ancestry explains a lot. Firstly, it explains why modern alpha male assholes like Charlie Sheen like to form their own 'harems' of porn stars and strippers (or 'goddesses,' if you will). Furthermore, I think this explains why so many women are content to be a man's 'mistress,' even when they know his primary relationship is with his wife. Back in the early stone age, it was a lot better to be the alpha male's #2 or #3 babe than to be some loser's #1. Would you rather have a ' of a delicious cheeseburger, or all of a shit sandwich? Assholes are cheeseburgers. Nerds are shit sandwiches.

So yes, women say they want 'a nice guy.' Somebody who 'has character' or 'will be faithful.' Someone 'intelligent' and 'funny.' Somebody who 'treats them right.' But under certain circumstances, they will alter their priorities. With this in mind, I have created a chart that explains my observations. It is based on years of clinical studies and you may need a degree in the applied sciences to understand it. But it explains the complex set of rules that determine who women are really attracted to:
Women will date a guy who: If he is:
Is a complete asshole Rich, Handsome, or Famous
Cheats on them Rich, Handsome, or Famous
Makes them cry Rich, Handsome, or Famous
Is boring Rich, Handsome, or Famous
Is stupid Rich, Handsome, or Famous
Is emotionally or physically abusive Rich, Handsome, or Famous

The problem is both men and women have failed to adapt to modern times. It turns out that women don't need men to provide and protect as desperately as they did thousands of years ago. Tina Turner is letting Ike beat the shit out of her because she thinks she needs him, not realizing that it is she who is the hot, rich, famous one. She should have been beating him! Ditto Chris Brown and Rihanna. To me, that's not just simple insecurity - that's a hard-wired blindness to the evolving male-female reality, a result of our primitive brain struggling with the modern condition.

You, and you alone, are in charge of changing these evolutionary blind spots in your own life. Ladies, you wanna get screwed over by men who act like assholes? Fine by me. But every time you do, you help create the world you claim to despise. You reward the assholes and make the nice guys bitter.

And men, quit chuckling like it doesn't happen to us too. Like women, we have over-reacted to an evolutionary urge to mate with women who can bear us attractive offspring. Ever heard a man say he wants a girl who's - chill-  or - down to earth? Or how about- I'd love to meet a girl "who's funny" or "who loves sports" or "who can just hang out with the guys." Uh huh. But what will men actually put up with?

Men will date a girl who: If she is:
Is dumb as a rock Hot
Is devoid of ambition Hot
Hates their friends Hot
Has no sense of humor whatsoever Hot
Hates sports Hot
Cheats on them Hot
Treats them like shit Hot
Is completely, totally batshit crazy Hot

Now, are there hot girls out there with great personalities? Sure. Are there successful men who are really nice? Of course. Are they extremely rare, and often already married, probably to each other? You betcha. Are the rest of us going to have to make some compromises? Yeah, but that's not so bad. Better to compromise and be happy than keep getting screwed over for the rest of our lives.

In summary, we all seem intellectually capable of knowing what we really want. But when you dangle the sexiest of the opposite sex in front of us, it all goes out the window. Our whininess about the difficulty of finding good partners is eclipsed only by our rampant hypocrisy.

So you have two choices, society: 1) Override your primitive instincts and actually date the kind of people you claim to desire, or 2) Kill all the rich, good looking people of the world so some other traits can rise to the top. I'm good either way.


Tuesday, Sep 18 2012

Why Women Give Bad Advice (

Why Women Give Bad Dating Advice

From female friends and exes to love gurus, women are the last people who know what they want.

By Alex White, Relationship Correspondent

Page 1: Bad female advice

Have you ever noticed that the worst dating advice you get about winning women over usually comes from women themselves? Women are famous for not knowing what they want.

They say they want a nice guy, but follow jerk-offs like lemmings. They say they want flowers, poems and gifts, but get turned off if the wrong guy sends them a birthday card.

Clearly, they don't understand their needs or their triggers.

Follow these hints and you'll soon learn to wade through the deluge of useless feminine advice to find the real nuggets of wisdom.

advice to make more friends

The female friends in your life will often tell you to lay all your feelings out on the table. "Tell her how you feel," "Be a nice guy" and "Don't sleep with her right away."

Their advice will get you more girl friends, but sadly, no bedmates.

They mean well, but truth be told, they're setting you up to look like a chump. Because when you play Mr. Nice Guy and open all her doors and sleep on the couch, you're not making a lover -- you're making a friend. And a boring one at that! Your female buddies might think they're helping you out, but they're really just sending another hapless calf off to slaughter.

even mom doesn't get it

"Just be yourself" sounds nice when mom says it, doesn't it? And we know she wants the best for us, but we need to a draw a distinction in this piece of advice. Don't just be yourself, please yourself. That means going after the woman you want and being open about your motives, with no apologies!

Simply "being" is not enough; you need to be a man of action. Mom can't give good advice until she lets go of her image of you as a "nice little boy."

ex-girlfriends suck

We have to be wary of the exes' "tips," as these characters will either tell you what you want to hear to get you to move on, or they'll wreck your chances of replacing them. Ex-girlfriends will tell you things like, "The harder you look, the less you find," and "Maybe you shouldn't date anyone for a while."

This is hardly any consolation to a depressed, horny guy. And I defy you to find me an ex-girlfriend who wants you to start dating a girl who is much hotter than she is. Your exes can't give good advice because their egos are involved.

Gurus suck, so you gotta make sure you know what women want...

Page 2: Women don't know what they want

female self-help gurus

A quick read through internet sites and self-help books reveals an unsettling trend: Following the advice of self-dubbed gurus actually weakens your power in the dating game. Many of these self-help coaches dish out tips like "Be more sensitive to her needs" and "Be romantic." Their advice seems to focus on men changing themselves to suit women's needs, all the while ignoring their own. Yeah, I don't think so. 

They'll tell you communication is more important than wealth or looks. But if you open up and give away all your desires, dreams and fears, don't expect your woman to hang around for too long. If you're not mysterious, you're no longer a challenge, and she will move on. 

One popular female dating coach tells men to fill in any awkward silences by delivering a compliment. Now come on; any experienced player knows to give compliments sparingly, if at all. You can't inflate their heads with insincere compliments just because you ran out of things to say. They have to earn the compliments. 

Another dating pundit advises men be to be decisive because indecisive men won't be able to handle a wife and family. Is it possible to raise the stakes any higher? Jeez, talk about pressure. 

And these experts say to always have plans on a date, forgetting that predictable men turn women off faster than The Clapper. The secret is to prepare for a date (such as making a reservation at a restaurant), but make it appear spontaneous and fun. 

The truth is that the "experts" can't get down and dirty because their loyalties are not to you, but to the women you are trying to chase. By sabotaging guys, they make life easier for the ladies. 

women's utter confusion

Sometimes you even muster up the courage to ask a girl what she wants, what attracts her and what turns her on. However, this straight-up approach usually gets you a less-than-straight answer. You might get a list of qualities, like "nice, romantic, generous, polite, listens more than he talks, financially secure, remembers birthdays, and appreciates the finer things"  -- qualities that have been glaringly absent in her last five boyfriends.

When women discuss what they want in a man, remember that they might not be fully aware of what really turns them on.

chuck bad female advice

Precious few females encourage men to snag women with a combination of cockiness and a biting sense of humor. Some of the better advice includes not needing to spend too much money on a date, and developing and exuding authentic confidence

The best dating advice women can give you is to be honest, assertive and respectful, but not to roll over and act like a wimp. Always hold a little something back.

If you heed bad female dating wisdom, you'll be a very confused and uncertain man. Don't be that guy. Women want challenging, confident, mystery-engulfed men. Unfortunately, they are often unwilling or unable to tell you. Or maybe they're unwilling to face it.


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