1. Two posts about mixed-race identity (highly relevant to multi-ethnic actors and characters)

    Talking Mixed-Race Identity with Young Children
     by Sharon H. Chuang

    I know that race is very real, and that it needs to be constantly and critically addressed. I realize that my son, though he might not have the words or cognizance to tell me so yet, already knows a great deal about the racial hierarchy -– including that he most certainly does not sit at the top of it. And when I tell him he’s not white, I also know I’m telling him that some things will always be harder for him than for his white friends, and that people will sometimes treat him in ways his white friends will never have to endure. As a parent of color whose soul will be forever connected to the wellbeing of her child, it hurts that I have to be the bearer of this bad news -– especially because I worry that my son already feels “less” because of his race.

    Follow-up: Why Mixed with White Isn’t White by Sharon H. Chuang

    Telling my child he’s white also won’t help him understand why children who were less than one-quarter Japanese were interned during World War II; why a stranger would look at him and say there are no “pure races” anymore; why a leading theatre company in our city unabashedly staged a yellowface production of an operetta; why kids on the playground pull back their eyes in a slant and spit out one of those ridiculous anti-Asian chants that just won’t go away. When I tell my son that he is Asian, mixed-race, multiracial, and a person of color, I’m not denying him parts of his ancestral-ethnic heritage. I’m teaching him about the race politics that intrude upon our lives whether we want them to or not. I’m preparing him to exist in a world that obstinately persists in being racially divided. And I’m trying to let him know something about the ways he has and will continue to be judged throughout his life, not because he’s white — but because he’s mixed with color.

  2. juliecoopers:

    Okay, I have talked about OUAT’s race fuckery elsewhere, but the show’s treatment of Tamara irks me on another level. Because Tamara is the only character of color who has grown up in our world and has firsthand knowledge of our world’s race politics and it could have been so interesting- especially since the casting called for an African American woman in particular to play this character. We could have had Tamara actually point out the bullshit that is going on in a lily white town. Or if nothing (because ladies of color are not just there to point our your racism) she could have at least been given her meaty development and a backstory that almost every other villainous character gets. But instead here’s what we get:

    She is introduced as a love interest of a white dude purely to create a love triangle between him and his estranged long lost lover - the white female protagonist of the story. (i wonder who wins this love triangle)

    But it’s not enough that she is part of a relationship that is almost doomed to fail, she’s also revealed to be EVAL so Emma and Neal don’t feel too guilty about their lilywhiteromance and biological family and how all true love start with statutory rape and setting up a pregnant teenager to escape your own crimes.

    We also have Emma disrespecting Tamara’s privacy bigtime and also  involving her son in her suspicions (a child who would be Tamara’s stepson if you believe in Neal’s parental rights- i don’t) because white girls walking over African American girls rights is totally normal and  awesome and ofc, the white girl is validated in her suspicion.

    She kills off oneshot characters and tries to kill August and we learn that she is partners with Greg Mendell- oh and also sleeping with him because wild exotic promiscuity stereotype.

    Greg, the white dude, gets his backstory for hating Regina, SB and Magic. So, Tamara’s backstory and why she faked a long term relationship with Neal and why does she care about destroying magic is just right ahead, right? Lol, no, despite the fact that her role in the “Destroy Magic” storyline was far more involved- she was engaged to Rumpelstiltskin’s kid - we still don’t know why she hates magic.

    And then BOOM, she shoots Neal and kidnaps Henry and HEY, MAYBE NOW ITS TIME THAT TAMARA GETS DEVELOPED and maybe we see her relationship with the ‘son’ of a man she was pretending to love, maybe she see her guilt at having to shoot Neal. maybe we see her reacting to the fact that her anti magic mantra was actually orchestrated by a magical (white) boy (they r all white and not 1 of them ur friend, Tamara), maybe she has a secret deal with Pan where she gives him Henry and he promises to not let his Shadow attack young boys in her world anymore.

    LAWL NO, she is attacked by Lost Boys almost as soon as she gets there.

    And unlike Greg, she doesn’t die then/ She lives long enough to serve a purpose to Rumplestiltskin (yet another white dude of the same family tree, no less) before being healed and coldly killed by Rumple and it’s seen as a badass moment with audience loving every second of it because who doesn’t rejoice when a fan fave white dude kills a lady of color?

  3. juliecoopers:

    So, my discussion with Mari  has gotten me thinking about race and OUAT and just how much more problematic OUAT is about race than other lily white tv shows just because of how the show’s premise is built.

    OUAT conveniently has an in-text  explanation of why it gets a free pass in not engaging in race narratives because the main characters (aside from Henry who is born to white FTL natives) are all literally from another world. A world which happens to be mostly white but it is also a world with no explicit or implicit colonial or race narratives. Which means the race issues we see today- whether on a global level or the race politics of North America- do not apply in FTL and by extension in the ”protected from real world by a boundary” Storeybrooke if you are doing a Watsonian reading. POCs just conveniently don’t happen to exist for the most part in either the cursed Storeybrooke or the leftover FTL that Cora protected from the curse. Or even Neverland.

    So, if you are doing an in-universe reading of the show and relaying on canon events rather than your knowledge of the world we live in, you cannot claim conclusively that racism- as we understand it today to be a power imbalance skewered in favor of white people against other races through systematic oppression- actually canonically exists in FTL. Because we have no evidence of that. We don’t have evidence of POC smallfolk being mistreated in disproportionate amounts as compared to white smallfolk. We don’t have Prince Henry or Princess Rapunzel’s respective kingdoms being conquered by white royalty or young !Regina mocked for speaking Spanish. FTL is a raceblind  place. It’s not even post racial, it’s like racism never existed.

    And that’s what makes OUAT worse in many ways than any average racist show on American television. For instance if we take idk Gossip Girl. we can infer that the character of Vanessa- who is a person of color in a show that doesn’t engage in race narratives- has suffered from the effects of racism simply because the show is set in our world and she’s a woman of color in North America even if the narrative itself never explicitly refers to the racism. However, when it comes to any of the handful of POC characters in OUAT except Tamara (i have a whole caveat on why this show sucks ass because of its treatment of Tamara), we cannot look at the text and say that what these characters are suffering from is racism rather than individual instances of violence against people who happen to not be white…. simply because the show isn’t set in our world and most of the people were not born or raised in our world and there is no evidence of racism in FTL.

    And to add the cherry on top, OUAT then uses racist tropes for its treatment of POC while still forcing us to engage in a universe where racism doesn’t officially exist.

    - So we have a Latina Regina who is forced into service as the young  bedslave/concubine/nanny to a powerful white man by her white mother but what we don’t have is the text saying it’s because she’s Latina that she’s forced into this role. What we don’t have is textual evidence that it’s common in FTL to exploit young girls of color this way as it is in our universe. We don’t even have in universe acknowledgement that this is exploitation by the white man. Regina is is shown as an individual case rather than one of the many victims of the systematic violence against Latina women in FTL. 

    - And then again in Storeybrooke,  we have Regina, a Latina single mother whose son is snatched away from her by a white family on the basis that she’s an unfit mother, a criminal and also not his real mother. Now, we can argue that Regina in season two might be anunfit mother  who is abusive towards Henry in a single instance of We are Both Now but it doesn’t take away the fact that OUAT decided to show a Latina woman as the person whose son was snatched by a white family and the text unequivocally condoned the actions while still dancing around on the mantle of :”this isn’t an example of systematic oppression against Latina women because racism doesn’t apply in Storeybrooke.”

    (Add in the fact that Regina, as the caster of the curse, is consciously aware of and tries to hide her ‘immigrant’ status from the white raised in our world Emma in season 1 specifically so she doesn’t lose her son- a son that  was born in “our/Emma’s” world and therefore doesn’t really belong to Regina- and it’s just a messy pile of racism here.)

    - We have Sidney an African American dude (the only recurring African American dude) who is literally and metaphorically enslaved and trapped in service for eternity but that’s because he’s a genie- not because he’s African American and oh, whaddaymean it’s problematic that an African American dude is shown to be evil as well as subservient to the point of obsequiousness in both FTL and in Storeybrooke before being put on the bus. Again, we have no way of saying that the poor treatment and exploitation of Sidney in-universe is because he’s African American and he’s suffering from racism because it’s actually because he’s a genie. oh and evil. He also happens to be African American. oops.

    - We have Prince Henry who is shown to be a weak and ineffectual man who is too powerless to stop his white wife from abusing their daughter and forcing her into marriage with a white dude. Who is such a non entity that cursed!Regina’s last name comes from her white mother’s background than Prince Henry’s background. 

    - And let’s not talk about the Asian Mulan being in service to our white royals, Aurora and Philip. You can call it friendship or true love but Mulan is pretty much ready to sacrifice herself for Princess Aurora because her sole purpose is to protect the white girlfriend/wife of a white dude because he asked/ordered/same diff. And it’s not like we have any other Asian in SB/FTL to see if there is a pattern of systematic oppression here.

    So, tl;dr

    1. There are barely any POC characters in OUAT

    2. Those which are are there killed off, evil, put on the bus or used in racist tropes (usually a combination of two or more of these).

    3. All while the universe of SB/FTL is set up in such a way that racism does not actually exist in-universe

    4. OUAT is the worst

  4. Regina, rape, and the myth of the perfect victim (MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING for frank discussion of rape)

    Placing under a cut for those who may be triggered by frank discussion of rape.

    Read More

  5. tldr; actually, leopold is the worst


    "Leopold was never even implied to be vile."

    You’re right, the narrative never presents him as anything less than the good king.

    Except that’s the entire thing that is so wrong with his character.

    That’s what makes him all the more fucked up.

    OUAT does this thing where it boasts about how its characters are so morally ~complex~ but the problem is that even when characters are written as morally gray, the narrative itself does not treat them as such.

    On OUAT, where a character supposedly falls on the morality scale is almost completely, if not entirely, based on how the narrative presents them. It’s all about how we’re supposed to see them, because good and evil is somehow tied to their very beings.

    The very issue with Leopold is that he does all of these fucked up things, and yet none of the characters ever consider these actions of his and determine his character based on them. Rather, the very first thing he is seen doing (freeing the genie) is perhaps the one genuinely good and selfless thing he actually does, and this one good action, simply because of its placement, is seen as the determining factor for who he is – a kind, fair king – and thus we are meant to overlook his awful actions that follow because the narrative already told us he was supposed to be one of the “good guys”. People continue to tell us this, and yet what we are shown is a different story.

    Truly, one does not even have to look at “The Stable Boy” or “Bleeding Through” to make this argument, because Leopold’s problematic nature as a character can be traced all the way back to “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”.

    What is Leopold seen doing in that episode? After the genie scene, he ignores his now-wife at his daughter’s birthday party, instead singing praise to his late wife, not so much as glancing at Regina. He later reads her diary, discovering that Regina is perhaps gaining feels for a man because he actually pays her the time of day. Leopold’s response is to summon the genie (evidently, freeing him from his bottle is enough to expect Sidney to, what? Repay the favor? Even that one kind/selfless act leads Leopold to later employ the genie for his own benefit) and ask him to find the man who has “stolen his wife’s heart”, as if she is a possession without agency. He admits he knows she is unhappy (which also makes his neglect all the worse, for he is making no attempt to rectify this), but overall seems less concerned with her feelings than the fact that, by her displaying a sense of emotional independence, she is less his. While the genie is, to his knowledge, “investigating” the matter, he places Regina under house arrest. She has not even committed any sort of adultery, only privately expressed the stirrings of for someone who might be able to love her in the way Leopold admits he cannot, and his response is to lock her away and ban anyone from seeing her, including her father.

    "But this was all part of Regina’s plan!" you might say, but this only makes Leopold look worse. Regina did not force him to do any of these things – they were his own actions. For her to know he’d read her diary, or that his reaction to her expressing agency would be so extreme?

    Regina wouldn’t have formed such an important plan based on hunches, which means these are things that have probably happened before.

    That’s not something we’re supposed to think about, though, not something we’re supposed to ponder on, as it violates the “good king” image the narrative wants to believe in.

    So the story does not address it.

    Meanwhile, what does Regina do in this episode?

    During the birthday party, her look is forlorn, tearful, lonely – and more than likely fully genuine, for who would even be watching her in this moment? She has no audience, no point to prove. Which is why she gets up and leaves. The genie follows her, and you know how the episode goes. In the end, she uses his feelings for her to her advantage (in order to eliminate her abuser), and sure, it was wrong of her to manipulate and frame him in the way she did. But, besides the fact that she actually organized him an escape plan, she seemed legitimately upset and conflicted over letting him take the fall. She didn’t do it just to screw him over; she saw her Leopold’s demise as an end that justified the means. It is only Sidney’s objectifying wish, to gaze upon her face (reducing her to her appearance, showing that he was primarily attracted to her beauty, not her personhood), and the result of his own wish that she becomes truly victorious.

    It is interesting how Regina shows inner conflict over her actions in this episode, and Leopold does not.

    But, anyway, guess which one of these two the episode presents as the big bad villain, and which one is shown to be the poor innocent victim.

    Because the narrative has already established that Regina is badbadbad and that Leopold is goodgoodgood, and this is the more important than their actions in this particular episode. The hero and villain were decided before the battle had even begun.

    (A semi-related sidenote: I find it interested that people will argue that Regina is responsible for all of her actions because she made a choice – which is absolutely true, even if this is often used as an excuse to handwave Rumple’s, Cora’s, and yes, even Leopold’s immense influence on how she became the way she is, but yes, Regina’s choices were her own – and yet frequently say that Regina murdered Leopold, with no mention of Sidney, as if Sidney himself did not suggest they use the snakes to kill Leopold, as if he did not offer to do the act himself, as if he did not go and stick those snakes in Leopold’s bed all on his own, as if he is not, y’know, Leopold’s murderer, as if Sidney’s choices were not also his own. But that’s an argument for another day.)

    I really, really should not have to go into how The Stable Boy and Bleeding Through only make Leopold look even more disgusting, and I already feel like I’m losing my original point, so I’ll leave you to think about those two episodes yourself.

    The important thing: none of Leopold’s actions are outright called into question by the characters. Never are we, as an audience, formally prompted to consider his actions and determine him to be anything less than the good man we are supposed to see him as.

    Leopold is one of the best examples of OUAT’s twisted way of morally defining its characters, of the toxic idea that people are innately “good” or “evil” and that this is defined by something they just are, rather than their actual actions.

    And he is an example of how harmful this narrative method is, because, while fandom may take it upon itself to analyze characters and plotlines think about them on a deeper level, many casual viewers do not.

    And for every casual watcher you have who calls out Leopold on how gross he is, you have people who swallow him just as he is served.

    I have a friend who I once mentioned my hatred of Leopold to, and she seemed confused, like she couldn’t think of why I could possibly hate him. I brought up his actions in “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”, as well as reminded her of the details of his proposal to Regina, and the expression on her face was one I will not forget: one of vague horror, of suddenly seeing what the narrative did not mean for us to see.

    "Bleeding Through" is the nail in the coffin. Leopold’s relationship with Cora ultimately solidifies his later proposal to Regina as, yes, vile (and it was really not that much less even beforehand; it’s only now more so), except this entire situation was done for plot purposes. To give Cora a reason to give up Zelena, to further explore the Cora/Eva blood feud (and, surprise surprise, root it in a rivalry over a man), and perhaps to make the family tree that much more fucked up.

    Leopold is never called out by anyone for proposing to the young daughter of his old flame. Regardless of audience reaction (because the writers frequently underestimate the intelligence and attentiveness of their watchers). The narrative does not even attempt to address this. In fact, it all but states him to be the only innocent party in the mess…

    …Because, ridiculously so, Leopold’s vileness is fully overlooked in favor of framing Eva as the one with “darkness in her past”.

    Goodness gracious. At least Eva outgrew her classism, yes? After all, when young Snow shows signs of being a classist, Eva quickly calls her out on this behavior and attempts to correct it.

    Obviously, Eva did not tolerate this type of thinking anymore. So I wonder which parent Snow learned it from.

    I understand that I’m reaching into subtext and probably headcanon now, but the point is that this is undoubtedly another thing we were never supposed to actually think about.

    Leopold was never even implied to be vile.

    You’re right.

    That’s the problem. That is the proof of my point.

    Not once – not once – has the narrative encouraged us to actually think about Leopold’s actions, the harm they have caused. Not once were we ever meant to think of him as anything than what we were told he was.

    Leopold is a character who displays possessive tendencies, who grossly puts a ring on a girl maybe a third his age despite the horror on her face because her mother’s consent meant more to him than her own, a girl he later ignores once she’s under his ownership, a girl whose probable depression he handwaves, a girl he locks up for displaying agency.

    And he is never actually presented as anything less than a victim. He is not held responsible for his actions because people are too busy babbling about how he’s such a “fair king”. As if his awful actions are excused or a non-issue because of who he fundamentally is.

    Add in the fact that he’s a rich white man in a position of high power, and the fact that there are so many people out there, on tumblr and off, who do not even regard his actions as anything problematic, and the fact that he is not the only character this line of thinking applies to, and this narrative becomes toxic. It is harmful.

    That is what makes him so vile.

  6. How many people do you have to kill to be considered Evil?


    customdomaynname submitted:

    Deemn, something I have been thinking about a lot is that there are so many deaths attributed to Regina but so many of them are second or third hand accounts from less than trustworthy sources (ie straight up gossip/lies) so how many people have we seen her actually kill? All I can remember is Graham, her father, rando flying monkeys, that rando guard/blakknight are there any other that she actually killed on screen herself, I ask because so much of the bad side of fandom want to paint her as this mass murder, but I just don’t think she has that many actual victims ? 


    Obviously, I will be talking about murder below.  I will be talking about murder in rather… absolutist, abstract, amoral ways.  If discussion of murder in ways that are not concerned with the humanity of the victim makes you uncomfortable and/or angry, this is not the conversation for you.

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  7. thisrevolutionwillbeliterary said: Hi! I know you've talked a lot about the double standard between Regina and Rumple on this blog before. I'm not sure if you're an Avengers fan, but I feel like Rumple is the OUAT's version of Loki, where his atrocities are glossed over entirely because the fandom prefers him as a woobie. Thoughts?

    I’ve seen the Avengers, and I enjoyed the Thor films, but there are other fans who can probably do the topic more justice than I. Publishing so they can respond.

  8. Womanist Glasses corrects the blurred, distorted visions of women of color in film, television, and fandom. Womanist Glasses seeks to do this by putting women of color front and center in discussing the meaning and impact of film, television, and fandom.

    Womanist Glasses asks things like, “How does this aspect of media or fandom impact women of color?”

    And, “What messages about women of color are being reflected and reinforced via media and fandom?

    And, “How does this aspect of media or fandom reinforce white supremacy and patriarchy?”

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that Womanist Glasses will exclude discussions about sexuality, class, disability, mental illness, and so on. But even so, women of color will be the focal point of those discussions. That means sexuality and women of color, class and women of color, disability and women of color, mental illness and women of color, and so on.

    That’s not to say that Womanist Glasses will be a dry, academic space filled with jargon that nobody will understand. Or that there is no room for humor or passion in this space. Far from it. Poking fun at media and fandom racism, misogyny, heteronormativity, cissexism, etc. is fully welcome here. There is room for frustration, anger, sadness, and disappointment too.

    But it is first and foremost a space for women of color to talk about media and fandom as women of color without the usual exclusion, erasure, and derailing that happens with frustrating frequency everywhere else. You don’t have to be a woman of color to follow or participate, but you must be ready to put women of color first in how you examine the things you see talked about here.

  9. bluedragon-silence said: Forgive me if this was asked before, but I've been looking through the meta, and I'm curious about Snow's role in Regina's anger, and subsequently becoming the Evil Queen. I am of the opinion that at eleven years old, she should have been able to keep the secret, and it was wrong that she didn't. My sister argued that you can't hold a child culpable and that 100% of the blame should be on Cora. I don't disagree that Cora IS to blame, but I don't feel like Snow is blameless in that instance.


    Honestly, the telling of the secret is so low on the list of violence Snow has committed against Regina… its only relevance is that it is the first.

    But I’ll play ball.  

    First: Snow was not eleven, she was just about thirteen.  At thirteen—and also at eleven, but whatever—you absolutely are capable of understanding that your actions have consequences.  When you are explicitly told that there will be terrible if unnamed consequences to telling a secret, there is no additional metacognition that needs to happen for you to understand the stakes.

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Snow telling the secret shows that Snow believed she had more right to determine the course of Regina’s life than Regina herself did.  Snow prioritized Regina’s relationship with her mother even after Regina herself said that her mother was the danger.  Snow did not do this because she knew anything positive about Regina’s relationship with Cora; Snow did this because of her own beliefs about the importance of mothers.

    [Nevermind that Snow ended up getting what she wanted: Regina as her new mother.  Only a minor detail.]

    Snow, as a thirteen year old, believed that she knew better, about Regina’s life, than Regina, and proceeded to take the one action that she was explicitly told not to take in order to direct Regina’s life to be in accordance with her own preferences.  That is an act of violence.  That has nothing to do with Cora, or Daniel, or anyone or anything else.  That is Snow reigning over Regina.  That is active oppression.  That is subjugation.  

    A thirteen year old with limitless power seizes control of a comparatively powerless seventeen/eighteen year old’s life against her explicitly expressed wishes. As a result, that seventeen/eighteen year old is subjected to rape, isolation, suspicion, imprisonment, infringement of privacy, and other untold levels of direct and indirect violence.

    Forget Cora.  Forget Daniel.  That is the root of Regina’s anger.

    As for everything else that followed: see here, here and here.

  10. helebette:

    In response to an anon’s innocent questions about the dream catchers on OUaT…Maybe. Might be a hint at future canon. If Emma and Regina are linked by some dream catchers though…well I just really hope they’re not. 

    It’s a weird form of cultural appropriation that I would normally roll my eyes at, but after a day of fuck-duckery, I have to add to the eye rolling. 

    The thing with OUaT is that I think there are always two sides to the colonial coin. The first is the exclusionary side. I’m advocating for more queer representation and yet strangely, don’t want them to *touch* for even a second, any of the cultural forms that are a part of Indigenous life. Dream catchers are a form of craft that maybe have been rooted in something authentic, from particular parts of Turtle Island, but that are so far from those roots that they’ve become this way of settlers just sort of…I don’t know…making something ‘authentically Native’ for their own cosmologies. to make them into Emma and Regina’s magical unicorn medium is just…I’m too baffled to deal with it. 

    I don’t want them to touch Pocahontas with a ten foot pole. She was a sacred woman. A woman who worked hard within the context of her time, knowing that her people were in incredible danger, to act as a spy on the other side. For that, she’s been hugely misunderstood and her story has been misappropriated. 

    I want the dream catchers to stop being used on OUaT. I’m starting to realize that people didn’t quite get why I was LOL’ing over Emma’s unique form of magic before. Didn’t Neal give her some element of that? And Rumpel did as well? Rumpelstiltskin has shit-all to do with the cosmology of the Americas, so there’s that. You can’t transport other beings here and make any sense of it all because these places have spirits of their own. 

    I read the world’s most messed up post earlier tonite and I’m still shaking the feelings off from it. If Indigenous folks aren’t well understood by non-Indigenous folks, then I’m happy to answer questions. We know the struggle we’re engaged in and the cultures we’re rooted in better than anyone. 

    OUaT is going to have to hire some consultants if they’re going to go further into the cosmology of Maine (since they’re there and otherwise run the risk of disappearing the Indigenous people yet again). I read a post earlier, not a bad one but a bit misguided, that said that all Disney needed was better research? No. Disney needs to hire some Indigenous people to fill in the blanks but also as pay back for the stereotypes and fairytale cosmologies imposed on our lands. 

    that’s my complicated answer to the dream catcher question…