Black Twitter (aka the mostly-LGBT and Female African American contingency on Twitter) has become the cultural social media equivalent to 4chan and Reddit. It’s where all the shit is stirred, irreverent humor shared, tea sipped, and memes are generated.
Just like any other organic underground counter-culture, we seem to forget that the media–not to mention the social media platforms themselves–are fully aware of the existence of these things and how they can manipulate them to their advantage.
This is their game now. And we’re seeing it a lot more, recently. From the “Betsy Ross Nike” story where Colin Kaepernick supposedly got a worldwide chain to drop a patriotic shoe design because the 13-colony American Flag is “racist”…to “Why are there black people in ‘Star Wars?’…to “How dare they make Ariel black in the new live-action Little Mermaid reboot.
A company, usually Disney or Twitter itself (on behalf of Disney) will start a hashtag implying that racists are going crazy over something, then because of the anger generated on both sides, people start to get hyped up over it, slowly getting the attention of prominent media figures and journalists, who then pen articles and statements about the disgusting racial divide over our classic works of fantasy film. It’s a trick.
…After this media blow-up, people think they are now morally obligated to either see the movie to get back at 5 angry people who just got worked up on Twitter, or morally obligated to protest this condescending takeover of media with simple patronizing color-switches.
It’s usually a huge tell when you see one trending topic that actually represents a real (or fake) news story with 150,000 mentions and people voicing their opinions and sharing articles…and another trending topic just sparked from a random blog post with 40 mentions, difficult to find details, and utter confusion across the platform.
Twitter, Facebook, and Google are all working in tandem to create these narratives; and they’ve gone almost as far as to blatantly admit it.
In any respect that the frustration over casting Halle Bailey (a young black singer and actress) in The Little Mermaid is real, I believe the division is sociopolitical and not strictly racist. Certainly there are racists utilizing social media as well as those who indulge in race-hate-baiting for their own personal entertainment. But these groups make up such a small percentage of the conversation that they aren’t even worth mentioning in any serious sense.
Disney and the now-mainstream social platform-oriented Media want to grow the number of minority characters in our family films, and increase the number of female characters in our adult-oriented films.
There is nothing particularly wrong with either of those things on the surface, but the rationale and methodology is a bit more insidious. It is largely an attempt to erase and degrade what they see as a white male dominance across the entertainment industry both behind the scenes and on screen. Their existential solution acts as both contrition and self flagellation for the practices that they themselves created.
The problem, of course, is that now their focus has switched from making entertaining and universally successful products to making sure they check all of the “I’m Sorry” boxes.
For example, Disney knows that minority characters (black and hispanic) tend to not do as well overseas for the most part. There are always exceptions to the rule–for example Will Smith, despite the audience disapproval of his appearance in the live-action Aladdin, is very popular overseas.
They also know that their animated non-white character films tend to generate more universal appeal than, say…a live action movie about a black mermaid…or a live-action film about a Chinese woman who pretends to be a man in order to defeat the Hun army invading China. Mulan will be a financial disaster. Disney knows this and is trying to make up for it now.
In an attempt to make up for what they know will be huge financial bombs (read: these movies will still make money but not be the revelations that they get through Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar) the “we mean well” apologists drive a sociopolitical division in the West. “You NEED to see this movie or the racists WIN!” It’s the only way they can recoup their losses.
The business as it exists today is really about trying to manipulate the zeitgeist of sociopolitical division inherent in the West. If you’re looking at things from the standpoint that the media is trying to shove “diversity” into everything instead of creating honest and interesting new stories that everyone can enjoy together, it’s understandable that you’d feed into this #BoycottTheLittleMermaid nonsense, or whatever the hashtag is now.
The reality is that Disney knows The Little Mermaid is going to be a shitty movie. It was always going to be a shitty movie. Race has nothing to do with it. If you recall, they have been trying to make this movie happen for quite some time with various white leads in talks to be cast. Eventually, they realized the movie just didn’t work, and their only hope was to play the market. Children are undeterred. Little boys don’t care about the Little Mermaid and little girls don’t care about the race of the cast. So they’re out. What’s the secondary market? Millennial Parents. The most easily manipulated group on Earth.
If they had any confidence that their live-action Little Mermaid was any good, they wouldn’t have to employ this tactic in order to drum up false interest. They did the same thing with the new Star Wars trilogy. Drum up anger and divisiveness over the new cast. They know it sucks. So they need to create the controversy.
In contrast–they know the “live action” The Lion King will be good. So there’s no online backlash about the almost 100% Black cast. They know their subsequent Star Wars products will be well received, so that methodology dies down. They know their Disney/Pixar animated movies with diverse casts and minority characters won’t hurt sales at all, so they don’t need to stir up race hatred over those movies. They knew the same thing about Black Panther and about their recent decisions in the Marvel Universe to make female characters more prominent, and make Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man’s girlfriend black. Nobody really cares about anything but quality.
But notice how that narrative changed to “If you support women, you’ll see CAPTAIN MARVEL!” They knew it was a shitty product and needed to add motivation to viewers who felt politically frustrated and attacked by their ideological opponents.
It’s all manipulation. And they know the fastest way to spread manipulative memes, especially when it comes down to racial identity and ideology, is through Black Twitter.
Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older and more prone to daydream about being a father, or maybe my perception of the comic con crowd is actually legitimate, but it seems to me that the annual Wizard World Comic Con event in Philadelphia is becoming increasingly targeted toward children. As it should be.
The weekend-long events have always been largely family-friendly and adult Stans and fandom devotees never resisted the urge to drag their children along for the ride due to some fleeting hope that a switch may flip in Junior’s subconscious, causing him to suddenly be fascinated with low-budget sci-fi from the 1970s.
While it is difficult to tell whether there were really more children in attendance or if I was just noticing them more frequently, the stands, merchandise and set-ups featured ball pits, stuffies, children’s costumes, people talking in cartoony kindergarten voices, and more.
Now, I could be horribly wrong and the reality of the enigmatic landscape of Wizard World Comic Con could just be catering to the sophomoric desires of its giddiest attendees. But there was something about seeing loads of parents with their bright-eyed kids (with varying levels of excitement) actually able to enjoy and participate in the festivities without having to narrowly avoid being trampled by a stampede of 30-somethings desperate to get a picture with an adult man who portrayed a cartoon character in a movie.
The levels of exuberance amongst adults seem to be a bit subdued when the celebrity guests aren’t a tremendous draw, leveling out the attendees to those who simply want to bring their kids, hang out, buy some pop culture merchandise, and get some pictures of the bewildered.
Saturday, the busiest of the Con days, wasn’t even overloaded with large elaborate costumes. It seemed to be mostly young people and young children having a solidly good time. The moderate level of celebrity photo ops were engaging but not distracting. In fact, one of the longest lines I observed was in the food area where costumed grown-ups waited for hot chicken tendies.
When the crowds aren’t overwhelming and the booth operators and merchandisers are able to breathe while they converse with potential customers, everything seems a little bit more fun.
The only thing to which I can attribute this perceived new Comic Con dynamic is the lack of truly A-List celebrity guests. And in a world where the pop culture comic book fandom has become ubiquitous and over-praised, children are often alienated, or at least pushed to the sidelines.
Think about it. When you were a kid, it was far more exciting to play with toys, imagine yourself as a superhero or Jedi, and be able to share those moments with your parents than it was for you to meet the guy who played Chewbacca. I think that’s the key.
Can the comic book pop culture, toys, costumes, and imaginative play survive on its own merit once the deadpan seriousness with which it’s taken in the real world subsides?
Do we even remember what it’s like to see toys and games that require us to utilize our imaginations rather than be visually fleshed out in all its detailed cinematic glory?
While it doesn’t seem likely that these indulgent fantasy fandoms will deteriorate from the mainstream pop culture ether any time soon; but it was nice to see actual children being able to embrace it all without chaotic adults running the show.
You remember children; the audience all of this nonsense was always intended for.
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