Pirates of the Caribbean (I'm going to spoil your fun)
Pirates are fun right?
Oyceter had a recent post on race and racism in the recent movie Pirates of the Caribbean 2.
Race and Pirates
And I watched, and I grew more and more uncomfortable. Jack Sparrow and crew run amok of cannibals. The cannibals, are, of course, Black. They have face paint and random piercings; they have made Jack Sparrow their king. He speaks to them in terms like, "Licka licka, savvy?" There are a few people of color in his pirate crew, but their speaking parts are small, and they all have very strong accents. Or they don't speak at all and lend their faces to the motley look of the crew. The main character of color is a Black woman, a voodoo witch or something, with eyeballs in jars, blackened teeth, and an accent so strong that I couldn't understand her half the time.
While I was noticing this and noticing the fact that there were no non-stereotyped portrayals of people of color, I was growing more and more uncomfortable with this awareness. I'm actually very ashamed to say this, but I kept thinking of things like, "Oh, is it really that bad?" and "It's just a movie" and "Really, it's about pirates, what can you expect?" and "It's all in good fun."
Except... it isn't.
And I can't get over the fact that even though I had been reading about race right before the movie, noticing the stereotypes and being critical of race in the movie made me incredibly uncomfortable and squirmy, so much so that I tried to rationalize it away. I spent the first half of the movie squirming and becoming more and more aware of the fact that my mind kept trying to slip away from the topic of race, kept trying to not confront it and come up with more and more reasons why it really wasn't that bad.
Except... it is that bad.
It is bad that I cannot think about race without this extreme uncomfortableness, that I cannot do it without attempting to rationalize and excuse, that I cannot do it even after reading about it and being fully committed to speaking out. And it is even worse, because I know if I had seen the movie without having read the Tatum beforehand, I would have noticed, but I would have let myself brush it off, let myself not post about it.
I didn't even post about this last night because it made me so uncomfortable.
Read the rest here
It's easy to turn a discussion like this into white vs. black or some other stupid thing like white=racism=bad. But I think that it's ok to know this movie is racist, and yet enjoy it. Alot of the arguments made for POTC can also be made for Lord of the Rings (and don't even get me started on how much I dislike Tolkien's use of female characters), a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed.
There are some works (see my Fahrenheit 451 post) that I cannot enjoy, simply because for my personal tastes, it reflects a view of society that I find offensive. At the same time, I think of myself as a staunch free speech advocate. I think artists should never be forced to censor themselves. The only solution is to make more informed decisions about your choice of entertainment.
As for POTC, it's a choice that everyone has to make for themselves. Personally, I don't think I will see the movie until it comes out on DVD and I can get for free at the library, but I'm not going to call those who enjoy the movie racists.
Every dollar you spend in fact, is a political act. You buy sweatshop labor at Wal-Mart, sandwiches at the local deli made by illegal immigrants, gasoline to fill your car that is being subsidized by American soldiers, etc. You can try and live in denial about the effects of the American lifestyle, or you can accept it and live with the fact that in the daily course of living you do harm and let that drive you to make better choices and do better things.
As a writer, I write about strong female characters and strong supporting male heroes whose masculinity isn't threatened by women like Buffy or Wonder Woman. I also write characters who are diverse in terms of race and class, and use my knowledge of history to try and make insular Americans better informed about the outside world around them. Writing fiction may not produce as drastic results as feeding the poor in Rwanda (which I have seriously considered doing), and may seem more frivolous, but I think that people learn more from pop culture and fiction then they're even aware of, which is why POTC, a frivolous movie deserves serious consideration as to what it conveys about our commercial culture.