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signal boost: racefail in j2 big bang
children of dune - leto 1
So guess how I spent my time between careful food choices and actual work (which was not as worky as one might hope:

Signal Boost for RaceFail J2 Fic by amazonziti, for anyone who happened to miss this one hitting their flists this morning. Recommended reading here where [personal profile] bossymarmalade pulls quotes from the J2 Big Bang fic, Caught Between the Earth and the Sky to illustrate why the premise of using Haiti as a setting for J2 romance is--well, in this case, not questionable but faily beyond fail.

Unfunny Business at Journalfen has a full report here, but I recommend amazonziti first for an excellent link round-up of early initial reactions. I also--I feel it's problematic for me to wander at the internet equivalent of three days later (time passes fast on the internet) to give my thoughts on yaoi, and I think amazonziti says pretty much everything I could think to say about it and more. She also has a pretty thorough links list on other posts made on the subject; I've read about two thirds of them, so definitely recommend reading them all.

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Haiti is way, way to soon to be written as anything but the tragedy it is. Backdrop to romance? Wait, what?

I've read a large amount of this stuff about half a day ago (which is like eons in internet time, ha technology), so I'm sure to have missed recent developments, but it's an interesting one for me because of the issues of colonialism and racefail as separate from... Hm. How to put this? Previous racefail has, as I've read it, been primarily a discussion of race from a pretty American-centric perspective. This one is different because some of the things people have said in discussion have really made me stop and think about things outside of my cultural paradigm in ways which I am finding personally exceedingly valuable. I am not sure what precisely but something I read somewhere in the whole thing got me mulling about privilege from a slightly different angle than I'd ever approached it from before, though I'm worried that's on me because I've certainly read things which perhaps ought to have done that before.

I think describing it solely as racefail also really... hm. Fails to describe the other aspects of fail at work here, which are some entirely shocking to me in ways that, unfortunately, racefail isn't any more (because frankly, I've been in fandom for half my life; if racefail is still shocking I haven't been paying attention. "no longer shocking" != not BAD, clearly. Just the surprise aspect).

When I very first heard about this (as in, halfway through the first post it showed up in on my flist*), I had made a set of assumptions about the story which have turned out to be... shall we say premature and unfounded? I really wish we were having a conversation about the sort of fic I'd initially assumed. It would have still been a conversation involving a lot of discussion about colonialism and paternalism and race, but it also would have been a rather different one in some really very crucial ways! Like, the author would certainly still not have gotten a cookie, but my impressions of intent and approach and, you know, understanding of the -- not even of the MAGNITUDE of this, because frankly I think I can't wrap my brain around it, but of the fact that there was an unspeakable depth to the devastation and suffering -- would have been very different.

I really regret having misjudged this (again, initially - I figured out I'd misjudged about three paragraphs in). I would rather have been having the other conversation. This one makes me sadder at the world, frankly.

* for what I'd initially assumed this fic would be, please see my comments over there. Which have some awkward and perhaps unfortunate wording, but I don't think that killed the expression of the thought I actually meant. I hope.

I... wow. World War II, sure, go ahead and set your characters there. But Haiti?? In ten years, maybe the Haiti earthquake (or the Sichuan or the Boxing Day Tsunami) could be used as a "backdrop". Maybe. But using a natural disaster of that magnitude, a REAL LIFE disaster involving REAL PEOPLE being pulled from the rubble as she wrote it? That's horrible and shows extreme myopia on the side of the writer. I haven't read the fic, so I'm not going to comment on the race side of the issue-- but my initial reaction is that no matter the content, a disaster area that has ongoing rescue/recovery/refugee issues on a massive scale is not an appropriate "setting" for a romance story. A story about Haiti should be dealing with the emotional and physical devastation of the earthquake, not bringing two (rich, white) people together in gooey prose with children's bodies as a backdrop.

i saw the bigbang post and i immediately skipped it because of the setting...i didnt even try to read it...

haven't read the story. Not going to. What really upsets me about this whole race!fail thing is the racist comments, on both sides. Just because you are black doesn't mean you are not racist, just because you are white doesn't mean you are not racist - and the reverse applies. Racists come in all colors and so do non-racists and assuming one or the other because of skin color alone is just wrong, imo. It's what you do that counts.

So talking about race can be very enlightening or it can drive people further apart.

I would like to clarify a few things having read the story. There is massive racefail in this, and it's hard not to notice reading it. But it was not "porn set in Haiti". It's an actual story, complete with gory details of medicine in a crisis.

What I do think the author is guilty of (IMHO) is concocting a story with "disaster in less developed nation" and sticking a Haiti sticker on it. This is part of the reason WHY it feels so stereotypical (and why it ended up with some of the racefail that it did, because that happens when you rely on stereotypes rather than actual knowledge about a situation). This could have been ANY less developed nation after any disaster (which is insulting in and of itself). This is probably one of the reasons that it didn't cue her how wrong it was to be using a very recent tragedy - it was extremely nonspecific. And that's not ok.

Authors do take shortcuts with certain things all the time. But with tragedies, they have a much higher responsibility to get facts right. If the author had made this an AU, in another time and place that didn't actually exist, there still would have been racefail. But there wouldn't have been the utter failure to take the time to represent a people and their tragedy.

amazonziti's round-up post is really impressive, thank you so much for linking it here. What really struck me was the last part, where she called people out for thinking silence = boycotting or being helpful. Silence can come from discomfort, or confusion, or shyness, or true apathy. If one actually has an opinion or wants to support this kind of discussion, it's worth overcoming discomfort, confusion, and/or shyness and saying something, even if it's just "thanks for pointing this out" to the people who write the summary posts (which I did on amazonziti's post). I'm really glad to have had this pointed out to me.

I remember pointing out many years ago the complete and utter inappropriateness of using a horrific real life Asian tsunami as a backdrop for Brian and Justin being separated, having the hawt makeup reunion sex and then considering how they could help out by adopting an orphan or two.

It's nice to see that the stupid, it spans space, time and fandoms.

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