Monday, January 21, 2013

Dear Blizzard

Misogynist slur ahead, "joking" reference to sexual assault.

Dear Blizzard,

It's been a lovely day on the WOW forums.

Someone started a thread called, "Phrases/Quotes that you really like."

Guess what the very first reply was?
"I'm gonna ook you in the dooker!"
Guess what also made the first page?
''Watch your clever mouth, !@#$%.'' - Garrosh Hellscream
Who's Garrosh, again?  Oh, right, the Warchief of the Horde.  He wasn't the warchief when he called Sylvanas a bitch, but I guess that's the kind of misogyny Thrall was looking for when he had to decide whom to promote.

You throw in these lines for reasons of your own, but your playerbase has a ball with them for reasons of its own.  A misogynist playerbase finds a line like that in-game and is thrilled.  You've just given them license to call Sylvanas a bitch.  The thinking may go something like this: Sure, maybe Garrosh is crude, but he's right, isn't he?  She really is a bitch.  It must be okay to call women bitches, right?  You know, if they deserve it.  Now it's up to the player to decide what kind of behavior warrants the term "bitch."  You may or may not be surprised by where each player draws the line.

As for ooking people in the dooker, ha ha ha.  Threats of sexual assault are hilarious.  Rape jokes are hilarious.  Obviously, it's perfectly cool that you no longer censor the word "rape" on the forums, because we're certainly all mature enough to handle sexual assault responsibly.

Some players brought up good lines in that thread.  Funny stuff, dramatic stuff, some moments your writers are probably very proud of.

Wouldn't you rather players look back and reminisce over "I am the lucid dream" and Medivh's farewell from WC3, than, "Watch your clever mouth, bitch?"

I hope that you would.

With love,
Frank Lee

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dear NBC

Dear NBC,

I've heard about your new show, "1600 Penn."

I don't know much about it yet.  What I do know, I'm not thrilled about.

The cast is very white.  Seven white people and one black man whose character is described as "savvy" and "loyal."  Thrilling, to have the lone black character work for the powerful white man in charge.

Here in the real world, the people living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are black.  Now, I wouldn't necessarily love a current sitcom about a black First Family, because I wouldn't trust it not to be read as a commentary on the Obamas.  However, you could create a more diverse cast by adding more roles or by making the First Family multi-racial.

On the show's home page, I see the same image twice, once as a stand-alone shot and once as a video still.  It's a shot of the characters with the "fat" eldest son comically breaking the table he's sitting on, presumably by being too heavy for it.  The other characters are laughing and looking dismayed.  I would hope that a new sitcom that hasn't even aired yet would bring some fresh comedy ideas, but "fat people are too heavy for the world around them and frequently break furniture with their huge fat asses and it's extra hilarious because they should know better but ha ha ha fat people are too stupid to realize how fat they are" is a theme we've all seen too many times to count.  It's not new.  It's not interesting.  It's old and tired and stale, and the fact that you're relying on such overdone tropes for your show's advertising tells me that you don't have anything better to offer.

Largely white cast with one token person of color in a subservient role.  Fat jokes.  It's not looking good.

The friend who alerted me to your new show said that it's being promoted as NBC's answer to "Modern Family."  Here are a few things "Modern Family" has that you might want to consider:

Three people of color.  Two gay characters.  An out gay actor in one of those roles.  Fat characters who make it through many an episode without breaking furniture with their enormous fat asses.

Please add more diversity and tone down the fat jokes.  I'd really like to have a new sitcom to add to my to-watch list, but as things stand, I'll give "1600 Penn" a pass.

With love,
Frank Lee

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dear Feminists

Dear Feminists,

Thank you.

I experienced street harassment the other day.

Because of where I've lived (the middle of nowhere) and how I've lived (like a recluse), street harassment has been uncommon for me.  I'm not used to dealing with it.  However, I've spent enough time among feminists on-line that I've heard it discussed and dissected.  I've learned about other people's experiences as they've shared their own stories.  I know what street harassment is and how it works.

Thanks to you, when it happened to me this week, I was prepared for it.  I recognized it and understood it.  Before, it would've completely unnerved me and sent me into an anxious tailspin.  Instead, it was, in the moment, something of a non-event.

Thank you, feminists.

With love,
Frank Lee

Dear White People

Dear White People,

You know that situation where you're talking with a person of color and the topic of tanning comes up and you say something to the effect of, "When I tan, my skin is as dark as yours!"

Stop that.

Please, please stop.

One of my friends (let's call her V) is a black woman.  Her skin is a chocolate brown shade.  White people insist on telling her all about how their skin becomes as dark as hers when they tan.  They say this as if they expect her to bond with them over a shared skin tone, as if she'll merrily reply with, "Oh, that means that we have something tremendously important in common!  Obviously, you understand the black experience so much more than other white people do!  You and I are forever bonded by our dark skin!"

In V's particular case, these white people are lying.  At the very least they're exaggerating.  However, even if she weren't chocolate brown, even if her skin were a light caramel shade, it would still be rude, insensitive, and racist for someone to try to bond with her over some perceived shared experience of color.

If you, for some reason of your own, insist on talking about the various shades of brown your skin changes to when you tan, please stop trying to relate that particular color to the people around you.  Simply determine on your own how you want to describe that color.  Try using color names relating to food and/or trees, like mocha and mahogany and cappuccino or something.  If you can talk about your own skin tones as if they aren't a commentary on someone else's, that would be terrific.

With love,
Frank Lee