Killing Your Role Models

Over the past week I’ve had a conflict of epic proportions, one that kinda sorta went at odds with everything that I had believed up until recently. I thought voice actors were untouchable role models, someone that everyone should look up to. They come in all shapes and sizes, had a range of voices that could be sorted almost into a rolodex, and having met many of them in person, it’s no surprise that I could see them as people to look up to, and for the most part that had not changed…until this month.

Sexual harassment claims fly around Twitter, which had now been turned into a minefield of toxic Tweeting and allegations, and everyone who dared to step into it had gotten blown up. The lines had been drawn and I was forced to choose one, and choose it fast.

Sometimes silence is a valid option.

maxresdefault.jpgTelltale Games told me so, but now they no longer exist, so your mileage may vary.

That isn’t to say, I don’t have an opinion on the matter. But rather, it feels and even becomes irrelevant in the face of the thoughts expressed by the voice actors that I once considered role models. The amount of contempt, hatred, and unprofessionalism all around; can it be justified, given the context? Justified, given the lack of actual evidence given and the amount of false evidence generated? I’m not quite sure, but I do know it doesn’t feel right. No matter who may be right or wrong in this case, I do feel a little shaken up by the revelation that people who I looked up to, could be as hateful and mean as I had seen in this past month.

This begs the question, where do I separate the art from the artist? I’ll admit, the volume of the hostile opinions coming from many of my favorite voice actors has begged me to question as to whether my opinion on them should extend to the work they are featured in as well. The rational part of mean is saying that of course, they are separate. Bill Cosby’s (mis)deeds doesn’t take away from my fond memories of Little Bill, why should my opinion on a show or character change because of the actor? But deep down, I’m still coming to terms with the degrees of separation that I should be giving this situation. Nice actors play mean actors all the time in movies and films. So why does this feel so different? I believe this comes from the fact that voice actors give a character much of their personality that can’t be expressed from physical appearance. Sure, they have written lines and scripted actions, but you can never really take away that feeling that the voice actor delivers a performance that gives a character a life of their own, and therefore you typically associate a character’s strengths and flaws as an extension of the actor playing them.

But I digress. If there is anything that I’ve learned from this entire real-life anime, is that you don’t have to actually meet your role models to follow the rule of “never meet your role models”. Ironically, every single voice actor I have met (including the ones involved in this incident) have been nothing but pleasant and gracious in my interactions with them, and I hope that will never change in the future. But I did learn how to “kill” your role models as a result; recognizing that they are not without flaw or opinion and therefore you should not take it too personal if they do something that goes against your own thoughts. I’ve had a few broken pedestals since this happened, but I feel this is even more inspiration to work on my own projects; nothing would flatter me more to be a role model one day to someone, and hopefully I’ll do nothing that’ll change that too.

A Little Behind But Catching Up!

Hey~

So, in my last couple posts, I mentioned sticking to a rather strict schedule–one in which I complete a section a week of my thesis until I hit spring break (the second week of March). Then, I’m supposed to go hard into editing and revising mode so that I can have a final product to present for Research Days (which I got approved for!!!) at the end of April.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been fairly consistent with this schedule. More, I’ve been able to devote certain chunks of time to thesis work during the week. Unfortunately, in the past two weeks, this schedule has gotten a little “wonky”, to say the least. I was supposed to have the Metalworks section done last week; it was half done. I finished it this week, though. It’s definitely rough but I can finesse it in the revision stage. Right now, it’s functional enough.

Taking some extra time to work on this section allowed me to explore more artists who are incorporating CAD (Computer Assisted Design) technologies and combining some of these technologies with traditional craft techniques. I found artists like Caitlin Skelcey, Annika Pettersson, Joe Wood, and Joshua Demonte. All of these jewelry-making artists use CAD technologies in different ways to explore concepts like self and perception. Skelcey is of particular interest to me and my work. (You may remember I mentioned her in last week’s post as one of the artists who’s FIT symposium presentation I was interested in?) Skelcey’s work explores the intersection between self and advancing technology. Mainly, her works seems to focus on how a sense of healing and a restoration of self can be achieved through digital intervention. Her work is very compelling and I recommend checking out her Fabricated Bodies series.

Collar_Process2.Skelcey.Thesis

ABS plastic, stainless steel machine screws
3d printing pen, implanted screws
8”x 7 ½” x 9”
2016

Honestly, I think viewing the digital as means through which to promotes self-healing is a fascinating topic and a totally different thesis. More, though, I like the idea that digital means can restore a sense of self by providing this “piece” that makes one feel more whole. I think it’s something to explore, even in the periphery, in my own work. It seems related to Page’s idea about the “partiality” of self and how the digital is a way through which to not only emphasize this fragmentation but also a way through which to work through it. Very interesting work.

Anyway, all this is to say that I spent most of the two weeks since we last saw each other working more on one section than on two. Tbh, I’m planning on working on another section of my thesis tomorrow afternoon before class. I’m hoping I’ll have the time between tutoring students to get some of my own work done. Regardless, the section I need to work on is on meme, gifs, and sh*tposting–a topic I have a sh*t-ton of thoughts on so I’m not anticipating too many issues conceptually with the section. I have an abundance of resources to draw on from my independent study last semester as well. I feel a lot more confident about approaching the remaining sections of my work. I feel like more of myself and my own percolating ideas are going to finally get the chance to make an appearance. You all know how much I love to talk about myself.

In addition to this written work, I’ve also begun working in the studio on the installation part of my thesis (progress pictured in the Featured Image for this post). I finally got all of my materials. Last week, I flattened some wire and began to play around with how I want to structure the piece. Also, I found a website that can translate a message into binary code. So, I think I’m going to chase some numbers into the wire I flattened last week that spell out a message. I’m thinking of the message, “TAKE ME SERIOUSLY” or “TAKE ME ME SERIOUSLY”. That’s playing off of the Dada slogan, “TAKE DADA SERIOUSLY” that was scrawled haphazardly on the walls of the Degenerate Art Exhibition as a form of mockery. I’m thinking about reclaiming it. (It really bothers me the more and more I think about how it was mocked.)

Anyway, that’s where I’m at with my thesis this week. Whatever time isn’t spent at work or filling out scholarship/job applications  or working on #netnarr stuff is spent working on my thesis. I wish I had more time to devote to just my thesis but life hasn’t worked out that way. I think I’m making it work the best I can. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

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~Till next time~

Now vs. Then

One of the struggles that I experienced when writing Godreign was the inevitable question of setting and protagonist. Particularly, what time period would this take place, and what about the main character would reflect that? While I can safely say that the final selection of the late 19th century and the character of was always my original choice, I have to admit that it wasn’t always the intended one.

Nothing in fiction happens without a reason. Even the non-linear structure of Ulysses or Pulp Fiction adds something to the narrative and presentation that wasn’t there if it didn’t include it in the first place. But I’m a strong believer in the idea of picking something and sticking to it as much as possible, so the non-linear approach simply wasn’t for me.

So, back to Godreign. I actually wrote parts of it in the present time, and called this experiment in scenery Modreign, both as a modern interpretation of the story and as a moderation of the story I have now. I ultimately decided to forgo the modern-day setting for a few reasons. For starters, most of the heroes carry a lot of weapons throughout the story; Zach (the protagonist) has a small arsenal by the end of the story, including a (semi-relevant to the story) revolver, lever-action rifle, shotgun, and short blade. Annabelle has her longsword, a blade attached to a chain (scarier than it sounds) and eventually learns to use a gun down the line. Considering the current climate in England and most of Europe today, where even home improvement tools can be considered deadly and illegal depending on who is using them (that’s a slope alright), it’s probably best if the current climate stays as far away from the story as possible.

Pictured: “Weapons” that Annabelle would sneer at endlessly.

On the subject of the present-day, there are some areas that I cover that may not be as transparent today as they were in the past. Women in most of the world couldn’t vote until 1928, even. Aside from the idea of a female knight being mostly wishful thinking at the time (which partially helps me explain a little more about Annabelle in the process), there’s also the tensions brought about thanks to the class system in place at the time. Zach used to work for an extremely wealthy businessman who was self-made, a concept that for some reason wasn’t entirely embraced back in Victorian times. Apparently it was considered “dirty money” and those people were considered outcasts anyway. Rich people, am I right folks?

Racial tensions were a problem, but not nearly as significant as they were in the United States at the time. Zach’s former mistress was of mixed British and Chinese descent, and combined with the “dirty money” she inherited, naturally she would end up making a few enemies even among her own class. It’s their fault, however. There’s also another character who is of Spanish/English descent, but had convinced everyone that she was exclusively English. She had also lived for several centuries up to that point in the story, so she’s had plenty of time to work on an accent too. Racial discrimination doesn’t have a major role in my story themes or lessons, but it helps explain why some characters seem larger than life; it’s because they had to be at the time.

Ultimately, the plot of my story can be done in most “modern” time periods, and I still haven’t completely given up on re-writing it for a modern setting. But so much of the character dynamics between Zach, a Victorian era Englishman, and Annabelle, a French knight during the last years of the Middle Ages, rely on them being from majorly different settings, yet developing camaraderie from their mutual sharEd military experience. That is the “now vs. then” within my story, and hopefully it expresses a good part of the humanism themes that do play a major role within my story.

Wish I Thought of a Reading List Sooner!

adult blur books close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Two weeks ago, I was given the challenging task of diving into a deep reading of various books and articles from scholars in the topic I want to look at for my thesis. (African American Vernacular English or AAVE for short). Although I am only a month into the process of my thesis, finding exactly what I want to discuss. During our Peer Review session two weeks ago, I discovered that my thesis seems to be wet cement. I am holding bricks in my hand to build a foundation, but I don’t know where to put the bricks or where to start. I know that the subject of AAVE is what I am wholeheartedly passionate about but what exactly?

I am happy and proud to say that my deep reading and studying of the reading list below was a success. I wish it were something that I had thought about earlier, then maybe I would be a little further along in my thesis. However, nothing was lost. Once you check out the reading list, it is ambitious to finish everything in two weeks. As I was reading Lisa Delpit’s Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom, there was something that stood out to me, and it made me think that maybe this was where I could place my bricks. Native American teacher Martha Demientieff states this in Delpit’s book:

“We have to feel a little sorry for them because they have only one way to talk. We’re going to learn two ways to say things. Isn’t that better? One way will be our Heritage way. The other will be Formal English. Then, when we go to get jobs, we’ll be able to talk like those people who only know and can only really listen to one way. Maybe after we get the jobs, we can help them to learn how it feels to have another language, like ours, that feels so good. We’ll talk like them when we have to, but we’ll always know our way is best.” (pg 41)

In my previous blog, I expressed the concern or more the need to not write about my family for my thesis and focus on how language and the use of AAVE have affected not only me but my academic self. I am not going to fully exclude my family, but if you read the blog, you’ll see a few reasons why I want to go down a different path. I haven’t spoken to my professor or class about this decision yet, but I do believe I have done the right thing. I was about to focus on how language plays a part in forming one’s identity at a higher level and more than we think. The quote above from Demientieff perfectly articulates what I’m trying to develop my thesis around. (I think.) After reading that passage, I thought to myself, Yeah, why can’t we learn how to say things in two different ways?. I think about second language speakers of Polish, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, or French who are deemed to be skilled when balancing multiple languages even though their language use of Standard English is not always at its best. They may get a pass because they speak [set languages stated above]. However, when it comes to AAVE, switching languages seems to have a negative connotation to it. As if someone who speaks AAVE is considered having less knowledge or unintelligent.

Now, I do understand that when it comes to African Americans who speak this form of English has had ancestors who were denied access to education, and it was illegal for them to learn how to read and write. However, because of these limitations, we (the speakers of AAVE) have formulated a beautiful and complex language filled with vocabulary, grammar, and rhythm. We too can code-switch (switching back and forth from both languages) and know when and where to use Standard English and AAVE. I’m rambling, but I guess what I’m trying to say is: If it’s better to know two ways to say something, then why doesn’t my language fit in this category and not accepted? 

I’ll be honest, I still need help developing a thesis statement, but I do feel as if I am coming along well with the beginning stages of this process.

Reading List:

  • Lisa Delpit: Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom (2006)
  • Bell Hooks: Race and Representation (1992)
  • Paulo Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2005)
  • John R. Rickford: What is Ebonics (African American English)? (2012)
  • Alice Lee: Why “Correcting” African American Language Speakers is Counterproductive (2017)
  • Felicia R. Lee: Lingering Conflict in the Schools: Black Dialect vs. Standard Speech (1994)
  • Samuel A. Perez: Using Ebonics or Black English as a Bridge to Teaching Standard English (1999)
  • John Baugh: American Varieties: African Amerian English: Ebony + Phonics (2005)
  • Sonja L. Lanehart: African American Vernacular English and Education: The Dynamics of Pedagogy, Ideology, and Identity (1998)
  • Liberation Education Project: African American Vernacular English (2017)
  • Tylah Silva: What’s the Difference Between Slang and AAVE?: Understanding the Cultural History of Language is Critical When Deciding Whether to Bae or not to Bae (2017)
  • Lisa Delpit: The Skin that We Speak: Thoughts on Language and Culture in the Classroom (2002) *Recently added to the list*
  • *This isn’t a book but it’s part of my research* The documentary Talking Black in America (Click Here for the link to their website).

I am excited to present what I have for class tomorrow but also nervous! I want this thesis to be at my best.

Until Next Week Y’all!

Previous Blogs for Pleasure Reading:

Jumping to the Halfway Point: Too Early for a Breakdown?

Hop in the Delorean…We’re Going for a Ride