Entitlement

Sometimes I really hate being a nerd. It used to mean loving something that everyone else dismissed, but these days, everyone likes to think of themselves as nerds. I am here to tell those people that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Liking Star Wars does not make you a nerd. Knowing the name of the woman who briefs the Rebel pilots on the defense system of the Death Star in Return of the Jedi (Mon Mothma, by the way)? Maybe. I’m not doing this to compare my knowledge of obscure trivia with other sexually frustrated geeks. For one thing, this is the Internet, and no matter how antisocial you are, someone out there has even more free time. For another thing, I talk about my knowledge of esoteric sci-fi/fantasy because I do know more than the average fan, but that doesn’t mean I’m looking for anyone’s approval. I have said before that it is curiosity rather than knowledge that defines a true connoisseur, and by that standard, the nerd community is seriously lacking.

Roger Ebert wrote a blog post a couple years ago in which he argued that video games are not art. In response to this, the gaming community went ballistic, and one of my favorite websites posted an article in which the author, David Wong, grossly distorts Ebert’s opinion into claiming that games are worthless. He did nothing of the sort. In his blog post, Ebert makes it explicitly clear that while he is not a gamer, he sees nothing wrong with pursuing it as a hobby or passion. He merely wonders why gamers are so intent that their interest be thought of in the same category as books, music, films, and the like. I’ve read plenty of books, seen lots of movies, listened to music, attended ballet and opera, visited art galleries, and even watched recordings of Japanese kabuki, and I have never played a game that makes me feel the same way that any of those did. Yes, I respect a game that can tell a good story. I’ve even been moved by the cutscenes in some of my favorites. But games, to me, are still a hybrid of sports and art, existing between the two mediums and not squarely in either one. If you took the cutscenes out of Knights of the Old Republic, you’d still have a game, but if you took everything except the cutscenes, you’d have a movie. Thus, games are not an art form.

I know people who disagree with that statement. That’s fine. In all fairness to Wong, it is a little presumptuous of Ebert to talk about something that he admits to not knowing very much about. But to take that as a personal insult is nothing short of idiotic. Reading the comments under Wong’s article, I see people trashing the greatest film critic since Pauline Kael and one of the finest nonfiction writers I have ever read simply because he dared to voice a contrary opinion. Somehow, I don’t think Ebert would be as angry if Sid Meier claimed that movies are not art. I think he’d shrug and go on his way. But try explaining that to the folks over at Cracked.

Ebert has backed down from one or two of the things he said in that blog, but one point that he stands firm on is his rebuking of people who claim that if he just plays, say, Bioshock or Shadow of the Colossus, he’ll get it. What if he plays those games and maintains that games are not art? Will he have to play Braid? World of Warcraft? There is no way to satisfy those people. Like an adult telling a child that they’re too young to understand, they will always hold their superior knowledge over his head. Why? Because it’s easier than having their opinions challenged.

Anyone who knows me knows I love Doctor Who. And as with anything I love, I hold it to a high standard and have very strong and particular opinions as to how it should be done. I spend a great deal of time butting heads with fans of the New Series, who, to put it bluntly, don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. This wouldn’t be so annoying if it weren’t for their insistence that they do. They think that “Blink” is one of the all-time great episodes and the Weeping Angels are as good as any Classic Who villain. To these fans I say: Fuck off. Do you know what the Daleks, the Cybermen, and the Master all have in common? None of them would work as villains on any other show. Batman could not fight the Cybermen, the Master wouldn’t last too long against Buffy, and the Daleks simply could not exist in the same universe as the U.S.S. Enterprise. But the Weeping Angels could. They could, with a little tweaking, appear on The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, Star Trek, or, if Joss Whedon were more interested in time travel, one of his series. That fans hold up “Blink” as proof that the New Series is keeping the spirit of Doctor Who alive speaks volumes to their ignorance. Seriously, if you are one of those people, shut the fuck up. You have no idea how much I hate you.

I’m not going to spend all of this post ranting about the New Series. For one thing, we’d be here all day, and for another, I just don’t have the energy. Maybe you think the byzantine complexity of Steven Moffat’s storylines is fascinating rather than pointless. Perhaps you think Russell T. Davies’ belief that every season finale must be bigger and louder than a Michael Bay movie is stirring rather than enervating. Maybe you like Martha Jones. I’m not going to argue with any of that. I’m not even going to tell you that I’m somehow a better Whovian just because I am familiar with all eleven Doctors and can rank them from best to worst. But as a Whovian, how are you not possessed by the desire to know everything there is to know about your passion? Why should I have to tell you to seek out grainy old serials from the 1960s so that you can see how it all began? Why should I have to tell you that if you go to BigFinish.com, you can download radio plays starring (most of) your favorite Doctors and hear how the franchise translates to a different medium (pretty well, I’d say)? Watching Torchwood doesn’t count, not that I have anything against that (well, maybe a little.) Hell, even watching the serials from the 1960s and ranking the Doctors from one to eleven doesn’t count. I don’t want people to agree with everything I say and know the things I know. I just want them to think.

I can’t stop ranting. Not until everyone who claims to be into the same things that I am is at least ready, if not willing, to engage in a spirited debate about them. I can’t stop obsessing. I just can’t. I think about Doctor Who more than anything else besides sex. The only thing I need to keep my sanity is the notion that somebody is listening. Thankfully, a few people are. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them. Never stop asking questions, people. Never stop taking risks. If you do, you’ll do what people who stereotype nerds accuse us of doing. That is, you’ll die a virgin.

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Writing on My Hand

It occurred to me recently that it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything on my hand. I miss the days when my life was so busy that I couldn’t remember everything that I needed to do in a day without jotting down little reminders to myself. These days, I spend most of my time sitting in my room working my way through an endless stack of books and a Netflix queue that never seems to get shorter. It’s not a bad way to live, but there’s so much waiting. I used to be such an overachiever that an entire month would go by in which I never once went home after school. Every day, I had a meeting, a rehearsal, or something. Free time is nice, but one should have something else on one’s plate. Like sports.

It’s been a long time since I’ve played or watched a sport. As a child, I played football, baseball, basketball, and soccer. At one point, I even dabbled in gymnastics. I never showed much promise in most of those, but that was largely because my heart wasn’t in it. In high school, I had a brief stint as part of the bowling club, which allowed me to say that I had been a part of student government, performing arts, and athletics. I was, as they say, a well-rounded student. Does anyone realize how boring that is? I really hate overachievers. One of my good friends during that time was a handsome, modest, mild-tempered football player whose grades were comparable to mine and who, later in his high school career, began to intrude into what I had always thought of as my domain: theater. What’s worse, he was good at it. Our junior year, he scored a role that I thought I would have been a lock for. To say that I was irrationally angry would be an understatement. This was my house, dammit. Why did he have to come in here? Wasn’t football enough?

Most people seem to have a desire to be “egg-shaped”—that is, to be good at a lot of things and really good at one thing. I don’t. I like only about five or six things. Everything else can go to hell. One of those five or six, I recently discovered, is gymnastics. It’s a very elegant sport, more than a little similar to dancing. In my four years as an undergrad, I never went to a single football, baseball, basketball, or soccer game, to say nothing of swimming, lacrosse, or what have you. That’s not to say I don’t like them (I used to be a huge college football fan), only that I haven’t yet worked up the energy to get into (or back into) any of them. Part of the appeal of gymnastics, for me, is that it isn’t a big spectator sport. At the events I’ve attended, the crowd has been relatively small. At least half of the spectators, I would estimate, are the friends and family of the athletes. I just think it’s a great sport (it doesn’t hurt that gymnasts make for great masturbatory fodder.)

I was an actor for many years. I was quite successful in my own way, but not too long ago, I decided to take a break for a while. Put simply, what I got out of it never quite equaled what I put into it. One of my acting teachers, after sitting in on one of our classes before our regular teacher went on vacation (she was a substitute), handed out monologues for us to perform for the class during the regular’s hiatus. She gave me a monologue from Red Light Winter in which a painfully insecure writer spills his guts to a prostitute who gave him a handjob a year ago and one from Angels in America in which a closeted Mormon husband almost comes out to his homophobic boss. At the risk of oversharing, I know all too well what those characters are going through. It distressed me that she could, after observing me for only a couple hours, assign me two characters who collectively told the story of my life. Some people can do that: pour out their soul for an audience of strangers night after night, then go home and eat frozen pizza. I can’t. Despite appearances to the contrary, I’m not a theater person. But I think I might have more appreciation for sports than I used to know.

In his book Man in the Middle, former NBA player John Amaechi makes an interesting observation about basketball. He says that it’s a myth that one can only devote one’s life to playing basketball if one has a passion for the sport. Amaechi was quite successful, but by his account, part of what held him back from greater success was his refusal to pretend that he loved basketball more than life itself. Some people play for money, some for fame, some to impress the opposite (or same) sex, and some because they truly love the game. But they’re all professionals. When they get out on the court, their reasons for playing are irrelevant. They just play.

Gymnastics tends to get short shrift in the world of college sports (at least, it does where I live.) Everybody talks about football, quite a few follow basketball, but when my university experienced funding problems last year, men’s gymnastics was the last sport out of several dozen to be reinstated as part of the athletics program. Maybe I’m unique in my admiration for it. All I know is that I’ve never seen anyone making an idiot out of themselves at a gymnastics meet while shirtless and wearing paint. Maybe that would destroy the mood. Then again, maybe not. The smallest audience I ever acted in front of consisted of seven (yes, seven) people, at least two of whom had friends in the cast. Whatever. We had a good time anyway. At the very least, it gave me something to write about.

I’m Not Sorry

Not that I have anything to apologize for. It’s just that here in America, we seem to be very good at shaming ourselves for liking what we like. Take reality TV, for example. I hate it as much as the next misanthrope, but if people want to waste away their lives gunning for a spot on a program that will, at best, turn them into a D-list celebrity, that’s their right, isn’t it? There’s no need to wish death upon the hopefuls, as tempting as it may be. Take another example: Barack Obama. On one hand, he’s the charming, inspirational leader who reformed healthcare, ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and got us out of Iraq. On the other hand, he’s the tyrant who authorized indefinite detention of American citizens and okays drone strikes that injure and kill foreign civilians. In order to present a coherent message for the upcoming election, progressives must either reconcile those positions or find another candidate.

I’ll tell you what I think is driving Barack Obama: fear. Just as he compromised away the juiciest parts of the healthcare and financial reform bills in the name of bipartisanship, now he’s pursuing more aggressive policies in the name of national security than even his predecessor did. Does this make him a war criminal? Hardly. George Bush started wars because he believed it was his divine right. Barack Obama prolongs the war in Afghanistan because he doesn’t know any better. It may be true, as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, that Ron Paul would follow a more progressive agenda as President, but I think Greenwald and I both know progressivism isn’t what this is about. It’s trust. God help me, but I still believe in Barack Obama.

It isn’t that hard, when you look at the progress we’ve made. In the early years, it was almost a cliché to say that you were “disappointed” in his performance. Now, we seem to have more or less accepted that he isn’t and never will be the firebrand Messiah that his most ardent supporters originally took him for. Once you get past that, it’s quite easy to admire him. He still knows how to deliver a rousing speech, and he doesn’t seem nearly as flustered by the Republicans’ obstructionism as he used to be. With that in mind, I make a prediction: Barack Obama is going to crush Mitt Romney this November. Nobody believes in Mitt Romney; his sole driving force is that he’s the most “electable” Republican. As contrary as it sounds, electability doesn’t win elections. If it did, we wouldn’t have a black president. The situation is not too dissimilar to the 2004 election. In that one, Democrats, floundering for someone who could unseat Dubya, nominated a guy who, while probably more honest and well-meaning than Mitt Romney, just didn’t inspire people the way his opponent did. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and the Republicans find themselves in the same position that Democrats did. Watching the Republican presidential candidates bicker and snipe at each other is like watching novice boxers fight for the chance to step into the ring with Mike Tyson. Whoever wins is in for a pounding. Negativity just can’t compete with vision. Whatever you think of Barack Obama, you must admit he has that.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s armchair criticism. That’s why I have no patience for people who insist on picking apart Barack Obama’s most insignificant mistakes. Shortly after last year’s uprising in Egypt, there were those who criticized him for not taking a strong enough stance in favor of it. He publicly supported the people of Egypt and privately urged Hosni Mubarak to step down. What else was he supposed to do, invade? It is not his job to do everything we tell him to do; it is his job to lead. The people who think he should have been more proactive regarding Egypt are the political equivalent of the white nerds on the Internet who throw a hissy fit every time the latest comic book adaptation doesn’t perfectly match their conception of the character. If they really can’t handle the slightest deviation from the movies in their heads, why don’t they make the fucking movies themselves? As Steve Jobs once said, it’s not the consumer’s job to know what they want.

That may be true, but more and more, I find myself not getting what I want. I’m growing very tired of people’s misconception that they can get everything they want online. Newspapers began to cut back some years ago, and these days, independent video, music, and bookstores are all either dying or dead. For a while, it seemed like progress—I stopped going to my local video store because I could get everything I want on Netflix. Then Netflix changed its prices and tried to phase out its DVD plan, and I was forced to change my plan for one that offered streaming only. When I drove by the old video store, I saw that it had gone out of business. If all you care about is something that’s cheap and easy, I can see why you might once have rented movies from Blockbuster and these days depend on iTunes and Netflix, but if you, like me, are a pretentious asshole who enjoys avant-garde Swedish films that are shot entirely through a fish-eye lens and in which the characters speak in iambic pentameter for no particular reason, you’re fucked. If I want to see something, I have to hope it’s in Netflix’s limited and ever-changing selection of titles available for streaming, pray my public library has it, or buy it. There are no other options (I refuse to pirate.)

As you can imagine, this makes me fear for the future of art that is truly challenging and stimulating. I understand fully the need many people have to kick back after a long, hard day with something mindless, but even then, I have standards. Two-and-a-Half Men? How about 30 Rock? The Fast and the Furious? How about Die Hard? Yes, I suppose it is more of a commitment to be discerning in one’s tastes, but it’s my time and money, and since I have only one life to live, I damn well will be picky about how I spend them. Why do people hate critics so much? Half the people I know seem to think we’re a bunch of snobs whose only pleasure in life is to trash everything. That’s only true of the shitty critics. The good ones are like Anton Ego in Ratatouille, who loves food so much that he has to hold it to a high standard. The result is a man who enjoys eating more than any casual diner, and a movie that should be seen by anyone who has ever loved anything enough to devote their entire life to doing it.

I have a musician friend who is basically a one-man support group. Since we live on opposite sides of the country, we communicate largely through social media. The point is that no matter what I say to him on Facebook, he “likes” it. I don’t usually approve of such relentless positivity, but I’ll take that over the dozens, even hundreds of people who have approached me over the years because they “just want to see how [I’m] doing.” I’m fine. Really. If I seem bullheaded, it’s only because I’m tired of people telling me what they think I should do next. I’ll make the decisions, I’ll deal with the aftermath. Deal? Let’s face it: 90% of the people who say they’re concerned just want to soothe their own neuroses. If you think you’re in the ten percent, you aren’t. Or rather, you might be, but I’ll be the judge of that. And maybe I’ll err in my judgment but even if I make a mistake, I’m not sorry.

I Love Straight Men

I recommended Brokeback Mountain to a friend who declined to watch it on the grounds that it has “too much gay sex”. See, I just call it sex. That film has exactly one gay sex scene, and it’s not even that graphic. There’s as much straight sex as gay sex in it, yet I don’t know more than a tiny handful of straight guys who have suffered themselves to watch it. What do they think gay male sex looks like? It’s just bodies mashing together. Rainbows do not fly out of the asses of the participants and blind any heterosexuals who might be watching. What seems to many like a threat to their masculinity is actually pretty mundane.

Not that I can blame them for feeling insecure. We live in an age in which it is impossible for a man to do literally anything without someone reading too far into it. Take a picture of two male friends with their arms around each other, post it on Facebook, and within the hour you’ll have friends commenting that they didn’t realize that the two of them had this kind of a relationship. Do you know what I do when I see someone whom I haven’t seen in a while? I give them a hug and, occasionally, a peck on the cheek. I’ve done it to men and women. I’m growing very tired of this culture’s need to marginalize masculinity, to forbid men to act like themselves, and contrary to what a million fan fiction writers will tell you, Frodo and Sam are not gay. Merry and Pippin? Maybe. Frodo and Sam just went through a lot together.

I hate to break it to break it to the straight women of the world, but not every expression of anger or frustration on a man’s part is evidence that he’s living a lie. Sometimes men just…get angry. I thought of this while watching George Takei’s hilarious response to Clint McCance, an Arkansas school board member who wrote on his Facebook page that he likes it when gay children commit suicide. The first half contains a one-liner so perfectly delivered that it almost had me in tears. The second half, while funny, contains an implication that I simply do not believe. Does George Takei really believe that it’s impossible for a bigot to hate gay people simply because they’re a bigot? I think that dignifies them in a way they don’t deserve. Clint McCance hates gay people because he needs someone to hate. If elderly Jewish pandas were a substantial minority group, he’d tell them to off themselves. He doesn’t have a reason for existing except to hate people who are different.

There’s a shortage of gay men who are just men in our media. Most of what we see in movies and on TV is either blatantly stereotypical or overtly political. On the rare occasion that something comes along that feels vibrant and real like, say, the U.K. version of Queer as Folk, it is repackaged and watered down into something more commercial like, say, the U.S. version of Queer as Folk. People seem to forget that while the purpose of art is, first and foremost, to entertain, it doesn’t have to pander to the lowest common denominator. When a married closet case tries to party with his fellow queers in the U.K. version, the leading cad tells him that he needs to be part of one community or the other; they don’t like tourists. When a similar character shows up in the U.S. version, he declines to visit his daughter in the hospital so he can suck off the cad. The first scenario is realistic, the second soapy. Perhaps it’s just because I live in America, but I don’t think I know anyone who’s watched the British version. But I know a lot of people who have watched the American version, not one of whom is a straight male.

The most condescending thing I’ve ever heard said about a queer film is that “you don’t have to be gay to enjoy it”. Yeah, no shit. I liked Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Once, yet I’ve never heard anyone say that you don’t have to be straight to enjoy them. But there I go again, ranting about our society’s pervasive heteronormativity. I’m really not one of those types who see discrimination everywhere. Until recently, I hadn’t gotten involved with any of the queer groups at my school. Then one day, a straight male friend of mine who, to put it gently, does not fit our typical concept of how a straight man should look and act, invited me to join him at a meeting. Hey, why not? The meeting turned out to be a party. As I stood by the side of the dance floor stiffly moving my shoulders and hoping no one would think that I was shy rather than just a person who hates dancing, my friend shook his little booty from one end of the room to the other. For no particular reason, I’d like to add that Jane Austen is one of his favorite writers.

After the party, a couple of regulars from the group were trying to get us interested in upcoming events. “Are you queer?” one of them asked me.

“Yes,” I said.

“Is he your ally?” he asked, indicating my friend.

“Yes,” I said, although I prefer the term “friend”. “It’s funny,” I said, thinking I was making a harmless joke. “You see the two of us, you’d never guess he’s the one who likes women!”

Dead silence. “I don’t think that’s true,” one of them said. My friend promptly went home and related the story to his gay friends (of which he has more than I do.) Half scoffed, the other half thought it was funny. I don’t think I quite fit in with this group. I keep going to meetings because the people there are very friendly and I like hearing people’s stories. It’s the same reason I keep watching It Gets Better videos.

Someone has to speak for the straight men of the world. Dan Savage is doing that already, but he’s just a fag with a podcast, an internationally syndicated column, and an upcoming TV show. I have a blog. So if you know any straight men, take a minute to tell them how much you love them. Tell them there’s nothing wrong with watching sports, eating beef, and looking at bosoms. I’ve enjoyed two of those and it doesn’t make me any less of a cocksucker. Being straight may put you in the majority, but it can leave you without a sense of identity. I am reminded of Mark Ruffalo’s character in The Kids Are All Right, who starts off the film with everything a straight man could want: a successful business, a motorcycle, and a hot chick in his bed every night. But when he tries to form more lasting connections, he loses everything. The children he fathered years ago through a sperm bank turn their backs on him, along with the lesbian couple who raised them. In order to preserve their family unit, they must leave a straight man out in the cold. He’ll manage, right? But no matter who you are, it’s hard to survive without a community.

I Love Black People

I hate Tyler Perry. For the longest time, all I had was secondhand information, but I recently did something that few white college-age males ever do: I watched a Tyler Perry movie. Not surprisingly, it sucked. More than that, it had a message that is only positive when viewed in a very particular light. Daddy’s Little Girls is a film about a single black father who falls in love with a black lawyer and, with the help of his black Christian community, wins custody of his daughters from their cartoonishly evil black mother and rids the community of her (black) drug-dealing boyfriend. Noticing a trend here? There’s nothing wrong with making movies about and for black people, but Tyler Perry doesn’t seem to have even asked himself how white people fit into his worldview. When the female lead talks about her difficulties finding a date, she says that it’s very hard to find a successful, single black businessman. Is it just me, or is there an unnecessary word in that sentence? Is chocolate merely her favorite flavor, or is she convinced that only someone with a similar cultural background could truly understand her? Something tells me it’s the latter, but the man she ends up falling in love with is a mechanic whose blue-collar background contrasts sharply with her well-to-do upbringing and Ivy League education. Oh, I forgot: he’s black. Well, that explains everything.

From what I can gather, pretty much every Tyler Perry movie is like this: no matter what your problems are, they can all be solved by embracing Christian values, marrying someone of the opposite gender, having children, and being black. So it’s a little odd that Perry himself, despite being over 40, has never married and has no children. I’m not going to speculate about his sexuality (although I’m hard-pressed to name any straight writers as given to female-centric melodrama and cross-dressing as he is), but it’s hard not to talk about the man who makes himself the center of his own empire. In addition to putting his name above the title of everything he writes, directs, or produces, he has named his production company after himself, and on the DVD I watched, every ad except one was for something with his name on it. Is he trying to take over the world? Truth be told, I’m kind of scared. The only people he seems to have any use for are straight, black, and Christian, and I’m none of those. Many have remarked upon Perry’s business savvy at catering to an underserved demographic, but I think his success has more to do with making that demographic feel like they’re the only one that matters.

For further proof, you need look no further than the title characters in Daddy’s Little Girls. The tagline reads, “She needs a good man. He wants a smart woman. There are only three things standing in the way”, but that really isn’t true. The girls are not three things; they’re one. By the end of the film, I couldn’t even remember their names, let alone any of their personality traits. They love their daddy, and he loves them. There, that’s their relationship. Had the film focused on them getting to know their father’s new girlfriend and the difficulties of building a life with someone from a radically different economic background, this film could have been a charmer. Instead, those issues are largely glossed over in favor of the larger social points that Perry wants to make. I hate to break it to him, but if the black American community wants to make progress, it’s going to need allies. Malcolm X had a massive epiphany when he realized that not all white people are devils—what will it take for Tyler Perry to understand that we matter as well? Even Spike Lee remembered to present us with a white character who was sympathetic to the plight of people of color. And you, Mr. Perry, are no Spike Lee.

It saddens me that those are the only two successful black filmmakers that most people can name. Remember John Singleton, who wrote and directed the wonderful Boyz N the Hood, and last I checked was churning out shitty action movies, presumably because he can’t get anything more ambitious off the ground? It’s sad but true that despite decades of progress in this area, racism is still a prevalent force in Hollywood. Don’t even get me started on the lack of good Asian-American cinema (Justin Lin, I am so sorry.) But no matter what your goal is, you cannot achieve it on your own. Spike Lee, as angry and occasionally ham-fisted as he can be, gets that. That, along with his extraordinary talent, is what makes him one of the great living American filmmakers and Tyler Perry no more than a hack. And with that, I shift this discussion to the only topic that makes any sense: George Lucas.

You might have heard about Lucas’ new movie Red Tails, which he dubs “one of the first all-black action movies ever made”. Setting aside the questionable business practice of making that into a selling point, it amazes me that he isn’t getting more credit for breaking new ground. The folks at Red Letter Media—the website responsible for those phenomenal takedowns of the Star Wars prequels—even mocked Lucas for being out-of-touch. Really? When was the last time you saw an action movie with a black lead who wasn’t Will Smith? Blaxploitation movies don’t count, because they haven’t been around since the 70s, and were generally low-budget anyway. And black cop/white cop movies don’t count either because they’re so cliché by now that it’s almost offensive. Give up? Yeah, I thought you would. Most movies about black people focus on slavery or the Civil Rights Movement, and while Red Tails no doubt has plenty of speeches about the importance of seeing past skin color, that’s not ostensibly what it’s about. I applaud Mr. Lucas for what he has done here, and while I doubt I’ll see the film due to its poisonous reviews, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that anyone who can’t see what a good thing Mr. Lucas did by producing this movie is at least a little bit of a racist. Yeah, I said it.

I’ll conclude by talking about one of my all-time favorite TV shows: Lost. Among other things, Lost broke new ground by showing us that diversity is an end unto itself. The cast is a multiethnic, multiracial group of people whose varying religious, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds create a tapestry of experiences unlike anything I’ve ever seen. When a minor character is revealed to be gay in season four, I could almost hear the writers turning to each other and saying, “Eh, why not? We haven’t had any gay characters yet.” In my fiction, I always strive not to make my characters all white men simply because I am. To get an insider’s perspective on a certain group of people, one needs to be a member of said group, which is probably why George Lucas neither wrote nor directed Red Tails. But to write about a group of people, all one needs is respect. Spike Lee has it. George Lucas has it. Tyler Perry doesn’t. For that reason, I will always respect those first two, no matter how much they do to destroy my goodwill (and boy, has George Lucas done a lot of that.) But in spite of everything I’ve said, I still think having Greedo shoot first was a really fucking stupid idea.