Saturday, October 29, 2016

THE WALKING DEAD's GLENN POISONED BY A WHITE MALE'S VERSION OF DIVERSITY?

After Glenn, the only Asian character on THE WALKING DEAD died, I was “all up in my feelings” for a minute (Read: Days). It wasn't that I was so into Glenn. It was because I am not into horror. And I’m not used to seeing anything in horror zone.

Watching somebody get their head bashed in with a barbed wire wrapped baseball bat upset me for a few minutes (Days) all by itself.

I’m a chicken. Hear me squawk.

However, I was somewhat attached to Glenn's character. He was a sympathetic good guy and I liked they way he portrayed American Masculinity. But it took me a minute (days) to separate being upset the graphic nature of his death and how his character died.

All the comments that white article writers make about Glenn's death have to do with the only Asian in an ocean of white characters being killed instead of one of the white characters dying. Some of the semi-conscious white people know the optics of this is a problem but don't sat it out loud; race is rarely ever mentioned. But the simple minded answer to "Why Glenn?" is always, "Well, the television show is just following the comic book. Glenn's death is critical to other scenes later" And the woke person of color's obvious next question is: "Well why did Glenn die in the comic book when there was an ocean of white characters for Robert Kirkman, the writer, to choose from there too?"
Steve Yuen -Actor
Robert Kirkman, writer/creator TWD
Well maybe there's not an ocean's worth of white characters to choose from. There are more people of color main characters on this show than a whole host of other ensemble cast shows that air now or aired in the past. But these people of color characters, even the main characters, are not getting the same treatment as white characters.

While I do have an issue with the author of the comic book choosing Glenn to die, what's more of an issue is how Glenn and other people of color have died in this series.

When I stopped shaking I started thinking about what I'd seen in Glenn's death, head dented, an eye popped out, I started reading other articles. I found out that what I saw was indeed over-the-top as far as violence goes. One article went so far as to call Season 7, Episode 1 of THE WALKING DEAD “torture porn”

Yet, I still felt like I was overreacting. Though “THE WALKING DEAD” is technically based on  a horror comic, the television show hasn’t really been about “horror” as much as it has been about civilization versus going wild, survival-of-the-fittest, and how a human being might adapt to a new post-apocalyptic environment.

So, I love watching the humanity play out in THE WALKING DEAD. I love it right up until those moments I hate show up.

And the moments I hate are very likely all related to something a feminist professor said to our class years ago.
She said the reason there is no male birth control pill is because men don’t like to experiment on themselves

She described how complicated and multilayered the female reproductive system is as compared to male reproductive system. Even if you’ve never seen a diagram in your life, it makes sense that the body that can carry a child would have more intricate and complicated workings going on inside. So, even if you’ve never seen how relatively simple a male reproductive system is, it ought to be easy for you to imagine that an less complicated reproductive system should have a less complicated ways of chemically stopping it from producing sperm – a.k.a a male birth control pill.
And, according to this professor, there would be a male birth control pill but for the fact that most of the researchers are men and they don’t like to experiment on themselves. They are squeamish about cutting bodies that look like their own. And aside from the psychological discomfort of experimenting on penises, they don't intend to suffer any side effects either, such as nausea from the pill.


You know what that made me realize? People don't like to experiment on themselves period in any situation. And the white men in charge of television and movies don’t even like to experiment on characters that look like themselves. They apparently have no intention to experiment with how graphic they can get with a death scene if a character is a white male too.




     THE WORST WALKING DEAD DEATHS


When Noah, a black male character gets dragged out of a revolving door and eaten alive, it horrific. To be honest, you really couldn’t see much (At least I didn’t. I had my hands over my eyes, looking between my fingers. But it was a horrific. I knew what was happening even if I couldn't half see it. 
Before that there was another black male character named “Bob” who died, after a devolved, uncivilized group of mostly white humans cut off his leg and ate it in front of him. The cannibalism, the idea of this was more terrible than what you saw on the television screen. 
But Bob and Noah, both, died a horrific victim’s deaths

When Hershel, a very old white man, got his head chopped off with a sword. It was one quick hit and his head hit the ground. Horrible to think about. Not that horrible to look at. I didn’t have to really put my hand in front of my face to watch it. More importantly though, just before Hershel died, this old white man smiled because another white man he was mentoring, Rick, found his compassion and humanity again (temporarily) and offered a truce to an animalistic adversary for the sake of the people on both sides of an argument.  
So though Hershel (a white male - but old) was on his knees getting his head chopped off, he actually had a toe in the death of a hero zone.

No such luck for Glenn, who is Asian.

A few minutes before Glenn died, a white character named “Abraham” also died of a barbed wire baseball bat to the head just minutes before. Like Hershel, Abraham grabbed a few heroic seconds before he died on his knees.

At the end of season 6 when a new enemy said he was going to kill one of them as an example, Abraham raised himself up high as if volunteering – looking his killer in the face. And when that new enemy chose him to be the one to die at the beginning of season 7, he said “Suck my nuts” just before his head is bashed in. You see the bat go down over and over, but you don’t see much (At least I didn’t)


But when Glenn dies a few minutes later in the same episode, he is whimpering and crying afraid for his pregnant wife --instead of looking for a moment to volunteer to die for his wife. That is the other way that could have been portrayed. And it would have been had he been white.

Worse than that, unlike Abraham, when Glenn is being killed, he is hit one time by a white male character. He is left up wobbling instead of gradually going down so you can see much. Glenn still up on his knees, the camera moves back so you can see the damage. With his head was partially crushed and his eye popped out, he basically tells his wife that he loves her (“I’ll find you Maggie”).


My hands were over my face, I might have missed a little something. But if I’ve seen a more graphic death on television or anywhere I don’t remember it. (Also remember: I don’t really “do horror” So I'm sure others have seen plenty.) But I’m still pretty sure I don’t think there’s been anything worse on AMC since the white men in charge have reportedly been trying to "push the envelope"  a.k.a. "experiment"with how much violence they can show on television


Somebody let me know when the white boy television executives start "pushing the envelope” and tearing apart white male bodies. I don't wanna see it. But I want to know when that starts happening to someone other than people of color.


And the cherry on top of the supremacy-of-white-male-character cake is this. Glenn had been on the series for six years -- not white Abraham, not white Hershel. Asian Glenn deserved a hero's exit from the show. He shouldn't have died crying on his knees, head dented, eye hanging out.

Black and brown people need to make their own content. If you're going to have an ensemble cast that looks like America, for now, you're asking for trouble if a white privileged person writes it, produces it, and directs it.

I'm sorry. But white supremacy poisons a lot of stuff. 
The death of a beloved person of color character motivating a white male character to revenge has been done to death for decades in television, movies and books. But TWD continuing the same ole, same ole while pretending to be "different" is a problem.

And I'm looking for more women of color to do more content and directing too.

There's no way Ava DuVernay would have scheduled Rick and Negan to battle to be hyper-masculinity champ of the episode for 30 minutes out of 45 then rush through Maggie and Sasha's initial shock and grief (Glenn and Abraham's wife/girlfriend) which probably took up a space of 3 to 4 minutes combined.
  

* * * * *
I'm not going to abandon THE WALKING DEAD though.

I may take a week or two break, but the black women are still there. So I'll be back. Michonne seems like she's almost untouchable because she's so popular and stylish with her katana.

However, please note that Michonne would be on every little black girls lips as a hero if it hadn't been white men that created her. 

Michonne's entrance into the story of THE WALKING DEAD was so bad I almost stopped watching it the day she appeared on the screen. And when they completed her character's background I almost lost my lunch. But I'm glad I didn't give up. The actress Danai Gurira has gone on to do great things, her history making play ECLIPSED is probably going to be the first of many things she's recognized for.

More on Michonne another time.