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Do I Bleed Red?

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So two weeks ago I went to see Pacific Rim, and surprise of all surprises, I loved it. (This should not actually be a surprise to anyone. At all. Ever.) Things to love about this film:

  • Robots
  • Giant sea monsters
  • Aforementioned robots beating sea monsters to death
  • Mako Mori
  • Stacker Pentecost
  • Mako. Mori.
  • Stacker Pentecost.
I could continue the list, but I think we all know where it's going (Mako Mori and Stacker Pentecost). The point is I super duper enjoyed it, and I've been enjoying the art and fanfiction that's cropped up after immensely. 

One of the really interesting things to watch in fandom, though, is a sort of...struggle, I suppose, with the thematics underlying the film and where they come from, and how they inform several of the characters. The movies an incredibly humanistic one, that, as Del Torro says is about 'the world saving the world'. And people have taken that and run with it kind of to the exclusion to a very important part of the film: it's set in the Pacific, based out of Hong Kong and (as Travis Beachem has said) a lot of the philosophy about robots and the approach to fighting the kaiju is Pacific based (specifically Japanese). (Yo man, have you even seen Evangelion or Gundam?)

So there are all these really nice posts going around about how we're all human and we're all in this together and it's not true? And, to me in a lot of ways its symptomatic to our culture's (Western culture, but mostly the USA) approach to what diversity looks like and how we should react to it and that we all bleed red to the exclusion of all else.

As a woman of color, as a Black and Arab woman I can tell you my life experience is different from a White American's, from a Latin@ American's, from a Nigerian American's. The way I approach life is informed by my cultures, the way people approach me is informed by the way I look and the way they think about my culture and upbringing (regardless of how wrong they often are). And to say that you can tell a story about me or someone like me, and make it a 'human story' where my suffering and culture and difference doesn't matter seems, to me, incredibly disingenuous and hurtful. It's erasing a lot of things that make me the person that I am today, a lot  of the things that inform my strength and resilience, my ticks, the things I'm not willing to tolerate and the things I welcome with open arms. My culture certainly isn't the end all be all of me as a person! But it informs a lot of me.

Just like the cultures of the pacific inform the film Pacific Rim (hey, the Jaeger design that relies on two pilots is deeply rooted in the notion of community over the individual which actively works against  the very American lone cowboy hero trope).

And ignoring that and acting like all things are vanilla human is missing a whole lot of really important layers in this person, and in a chunk of narratives (both in writing and consuming them). 
Somaiya Daud

Somaiya Daud received her BA and MA from a university in DC in English. She is currently working on her PhD. When not writing or studying, she spends too much time on the internet yelling about comics and robots. Her first novel, Mirage, is coming 2017 from Flatiron Books.

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2 comments:

  1. I totally identify with this, Sumayyah. A lot of the arguments used against racism (or, heaven help us, 'reverse racism') is that "we're all human", so we can treat others how we want to be treated and that's going to solve our problems and blah blah blah. But as you said, that's ignoring a huge chunk of history and culture and things that happened which made some of us different. And others shouldn't try to erase that. Especially when it handily allows them to ignore the oppression & troubles faced by other people.

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  2. I'm with you on most of this, and also loved the movie, but I'm having a hard time understanding your post. You're seeing posts online about "we're all in this together," and you're saying it feels a bit exclusionary. Can you expand on that? I think I get what you're saying but I didn't quite get the full picture from this post.

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Item Reviewed: Do I Bleed Red? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sumayyah