The term identity politics inhabits a similar space that political correctness did in the 90s when some people were like, “Oh shit! Words matter!” and other people were like, “I am confused and resistant to change.” This piece is a quick and dirty run down of what identity politics is and what it’s about.
First of all, while the rise of the term “Identity Politics” in popular discourse is relatively recent, the idea that groups of people will have shared perspectives and experiences based on aspects of their identity, which will then affect their political goals and positions, is pretty old. The Civil Rights Movement, suffragettes, even the Huguenots incorporated aspects of identity politics. Of course, this is also true of the Nazis, the Cultural Revolution in China, and the KKK. However, most of the time you will see the term used is in regards to those who are marginalized in some way: minorities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, women, and more.
To understand how identity politics function, you need to understand what I mean by marginalization. Marginalization doesn’t mean that the people in these groups are never wildly successful, never assholes, or don’t contribute to oppressing others. Indeed, many suffragettes were racist AF and the Civil Rights Movement had issues with sexism. What marginalization means is that it is culturally acceptable in large and small ways, consciously and unconsciously, to limit how certain people interact with the world. This can mean fewer opportunities, curtailing of civil rights, the threat of violence, or discounting and/or appropriating their contributions.
Another factor of marginalization and how identity politics function is that individual achievement alone does not erase problems with marginalization. Female Olympic athletes are still picked apart for not being properly made-up or skinny enough, despite exemplifying physical prowess. President Obama still faces racism as one of the most powerful men on earth. Yes, gaining power, wealth, PhDs, sponsorships, etc. may lessen the ways an individual is affected, but they do not make a systematic problem go away.
So if you are a marginalized person who is ignored, not taken seriously, or threatened, you can find people with similar backgrounds and views to organize and create coalitions. You figure out how to best get your interests taken care of, whether it’s through piecemeal legislation, all out protests, lawsuits, awareness campaigns, etc. Several people whose individual concerns were deemed unimportant become a larger political entity that demands attention and creates change.
Sometimes people take action organically without a ton of planning, and sometimes they are highly organized. That doesn’t mean everything always goes smoothly, of course, because shared perspectives do not translate into everyone in a group having the same beliefs. People will have different ideas about how to get things done; the classic example in the U.S. is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Malcolm X. People within a group will also have their own prejudices, which can limit their effectiveness and cause further conflict.
If it sounds like identity politics is flawed, messy, and uncomfortable that’s because it is. There are also people who consider it the purview of the frivolous, overly sensitive, and divisive. So why bother with identity politics? Especially when they apparently need a whole article to explain the basics without a single gif or picture?
For one, people engage in identity politics all the time; it’s just usually considered less controversial if they say, “as a parent,” or “as a small business owner” when explaining their perspectives, indeed if they note their identity at all. We may as well talk about our politics accurately instead of pretending some people are objective and neutral while others who have different views are advocates of special interests or worse, maliciously divisive.
This brings me to my second point. Those who believe that talking about marginalization causes societal fractures are usually those who haven’t had to deal with it. The fractures were already there; it’s just that these people weren’t aware of them. No amount of playing nice, conforming, or achievement protects you. Think of the sexual harassment of female Fox News anchors, or the treatment of Tim Scott, the only black GOP senator. Having an education, good job, and loving family did not save Sandra Bland.
To assume that party politics and platform building is neutral or more serious when they do not include different perspectives is disingenuous at best and bigoted at its worst. (Think of Gov. Mike Pence’s policies targeting the LGBTQ community and punishing women who have abortions.)
Identity politics isn’t some kind of silver bullet against every ism or injustice. Like I said in the beginning, identity politics are also at play in hate groups and dangerous nationalism. Who you are and what’s important to you shouldn’t overtake the rights and liberties of others. But identity politics can help us recognize and address problems even when they don’t directly affect us, and help us make an impact in our own society.
Should fans care that Deadpool was nominated for a Golden Globe?
Deadpool is the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture, and that a superhero movie has been nominated for anything other than its effects.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced Monday night its nominations for the Golden Globes, and amidst the usual gossip of snubs and surprises, the biggest shocker came in the form of nominee for Best Picture – Comedy/Musical, Deadpool. This marks the first time that a superhero movie has been up for Best Picture at the Golden Globes, and honestly one of the few times ever that a superhero movie has been nominated for a major award for anything other than its effects. The question is, should we, as fans, care?
Now first off let’s just say that Deadpool was a hell of a movie. It zipped back and forth between crass and witty in a wonderful comedic ride that stayed true to the heart of the titular character that even the best of superhero films struggle to accomplish. The story of how the film came to be made probably deserves a documentary all it’s own, with the climax, of course, being the moment the test footage was leaked to an adoring public. No one is trying to say that Deadpool didn’t deserve to be nominated as one of the best comedies of the year.
The Golden Globes have been notorious for years as the ultimate “Who Gives a Shit” awards. The Oscars have a voting pool of over 6,000 members, the Emmy’s have more than 18,000 members, and the Screen Actors Guild gives a vote to each of its 165,000 members. And how many people vote on the Golden Globes? 88.
And these are 88 people with some of the most tenuous of credentials possible. To become part of the voting bloc, an applicant must first be sponsored by two people who are already a part of the HFPA, but after that, all they must do is produce four published articles a year. This combination of nepotism-based admission and one of the lowest bars imaginable to maintain membership has always marred the Golden Globes and kept them from being truly respected as an award. Thus, them nominating anything for anything has very little meaning to it.
As we said earlier, Deadpool‘s nomination marks the first time a superhero film has been up for Best Picture. In a way, it is a huge accomplishment for a genre that has always been viewed as merely action spectacles with little substance. Every year superhero films have managed to take a few steps closer towards wide-spread critical legitimacy with recent films beginning to take on serious topics and truly explore the emotional complexities of its characters.
When viewed from that light, Deadpool‘s nomination for Best Picture, even if only for a Golden Globe, could, in an incredibly optimistic, best-case scenario, serve as a precedent for future superhero films to earn awards beyond Best Visual Effects.
Which brings us back to the original question, should fans of superhero films care that Deadpool was nominated for a Golden Globe?
Sadly, no. While Deadpool is no doubt deserving of the honor, even should it win the award – it won’t, it’s going to go to La La Land, we’re calling it now – the Golden Globes simply aren’t respected enough for their opinions to sway any of the other award communities.
If you are one day hoping to see all of the Avengers (or the Justice League . . . I guess) on stage accepting the Academy Award for Best Picture, then please, don’t hold your breath.
Reasons to take a news break over the holidays
I am determined to have a Trump-free holiday. I wanna focus on the warmth and fuzziness of family and friend togetherness instead. It will be a total and complete news break.
Donald Trump has taken up residence in my brain and is making himself at home. And he’s invited Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, and all his other white nationalist friends over too. They’re even tickling my brain and invading my dreams. Well, as the holidays approach, I say “NO MORE!”
That’s right. I am determined to take a “Trumpcation” (A portmanteau of “Trump” and “vacation”) during the forthcoming holidays. Chanukah and Christmas overlap and, as a Jew who celebrates both, that means that my Trumpcation will last for a full eight days. That means no reading about him, no talking about him, no going out of my way to check his Twitter to see the latest gaseous explosion that spurted up out of his mind. Now the man is so ubiquitous right now that it’s impossible to completely avoid him, so if he comes up in a conversation or happens to be on TV, that’s fine. But other than that, I am determined to have a Trump-free holiday. I wanna focus on the warmth and fuzziness of family and friend togetherness instead. It will be a total and complete news break.
Of course, that is what I said two days before Thanksgiving. I planned to spend the entire weekend in a Trump-free bubble. I thought I had prepared by blocking his Twitter feed and yet the Twitter feed did not block me. Facebook friends posted screen caps of his latest bilious Tweets. Relatives and friends brought him up in nearly every conversation. His orange visage glowed forth from every TV I passed. And, of course, once somebody brings him up, I’ll be knee-deep in an endless conversation about our rage, our sadness, and our fear. Because I am a hopeless news junkie and I maybe have a masochistic streak where I fill my head up with the scariest news stories I can.
Intellectually, I know that it is high time for a Trump break. Writer Martijn Schrip, of the site High Existence, makes the argument that taking a news break is good for the brain. He states that too much Facebook checking for the latest horrible newsworthy event makes us neglect the issues in our own lives in favor of the bigger problems facing the world. In addition, too much reliance on news makes us “junkies” looking for our next fix of information. People go to the restroom solely to check Facebook and whip out their phones whenever they see someone else on their phone, as if it’s a Pavlovian response. For me, it gets rough because one of my first acts when I wake up is to check Facebook. Since I have so many friends ( ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)) and am following so many pages, my brain gets inundated with a typhoon of information, think pieces, rants, and listicles. And since Trump is everywhere, he is usually the first thing I see every morning. Talk about a great start to my day….
It’s rough, guys. My way of coping with my intense fear of what’s coming is to constantly see what Trump is up to. His Twitter feed gives me a weird feeling of control. I know I don’t actually know what he’s doing but, since he Tweets so often, I trick my brain into feeling like I’m keeping tabs on him. I’m obsessed with seeing what new policies he is adopting or which old ones he’s backing away from. That’s how I cope. I enmesh myself deeply in Trumpism so I don’t forget that he’s out there.
But this may have the complete opposite effect, unfortunately. For all of my posting the hashtag #ThisIsNotNormal, I feel as if my constant obsession with the latest outrage is normalizing him in my mind. And that is not okay because this may lead to me passively accepting whatever horrible thing ends up happening.
I wish it were possible to be on Facebook for even a day and not run across his scowling face. Before Thanksgiving, my thinking was that I can avoid him for a few days and know that he would unfortunately be there when I got back. But, alas, this was not to be. But I am determined to actually do it for the eight days of Christmakkah (A portmanteau of “Christmas” and…oh you get it). If I run across his name or face on social media, I will quickly scroll past. I’ll change the channel if he’s on TV. It’s going to be tough but I think it’s important to try. I need to keep my brain sharp and ready to fight.
How I learned to stop feeling powerless after Trump’s election
I am still not used to the words “President Donald Trump”. I sincerely hope that one day I will but I do not foresee it happening.
I am still not used to the words “President Donald Trump”. I sincerely hope that one day I will but I do not foresee it happening. I feel that the election of Donald Trump is a national tragedy. It has made me feel the same way I did after the September 11th attacks. I feel as if a coup has taken place. And how appropriate it is that the result was called on November 9 (11/9) because it kind of did feel like an inversion of the September 11th attacks. This was not an outside force coming in to do harm but an insidious evil movement that somehow rose through the ranks without anyone realizing it to achieve the highest power in the land. I hope I am not causing offense with the comparison to 9/11 but, for many people of color, women, LGBTQ people, those with disabilities, and anyone else who is not a rich white straight ablel-bodied male, this is one of the most terrifying times in recent memory. As I watched Trump’s rise through election night, the only images on my mind were of the kids who were watching in horror as they saw an entire country tell them to get the hell out because they don’t fit the Trumpian ideal of “Make America Great Again”.
I am seriously terrified of what is about to happen. All of the progress made during the Obama administration is about to be wiped clean. Millions of people are about to lose their health insurance. Millions of families are about to be torn apart. Abortion could become outlawed. Marriage equality is under attack. I am horrified. I have never felt more powerless. I am scared for my friends and their families. I am scared for the rights that are about to be curtailed. And, more than anything, I am completely afraid of the fact that the US election has now legitimized Fear of the Other.
I have been shaking as I read these reports of white Trump supporters attacking people of color in the street. They are emboldened by the fact that we elected a candidate endorsed by the KKK and Kim Jong Un. The alt-right movement, which rose out of the anonymity afforded by the internet to closet racists, has now been legitimized. No matter what a Trump presidency actually accomplishes, the alt-right movement is not going anywhere and will likely get stronger.
It is not normal that the Ku Klux Klan plans to have a victory parade in honor of Trump’s win.
I am in disbelief as I watch the first black President of the United States meet with the President-elect who is endorsed by the Klan. Reading the stories of Day 1 in Trump’s America of incidents of racial hatred all over the country ramping up is breaking my heart. Is this how it’s going to be? I may be a straight white male with a lot of privilege, but I am also Jewish. This means that, in most public situations, I am usually the only Jew in the room. Despite my privilege, I am still a minority in some sense. Trump’s talk of “a global conspiracy” tied to Jewish CEOs and bankers is making me very, very nervous.
I’ve been writing this over several hours. I have gone through a huge swath of emotions. When the victory was final, my immediate thought was that the world would end in nuclear war or a massive terrorist attack. Do you really trust Trump with the nuclear codes? I felt like I was on a plane with a kamikaze pilot who didn’t know how to fly. I suddenly had the terrifying thought that I, at age 29, may not be able to live out a full life. Whether it’s Trump using the nuclear codes in a fit of blind rage at three in the morning or defunding climate change research, I feel as if my right to live in a healthy environment is being stripped.
I have gone from complete despair to anger to optimism that movements can form and activism will thrive and I am now in a place of cynicism as I finish this piece. I feel now that having hope is useless. Americans elected Trump after months and months of overwhelming evidence that he would be incredibly unqualified and dangerous. Why do I think that a rebellion can happen? Ok, I’m not cynical anymore. I think what is giving me hope is focusing on the things that I can control. I can control how I treat other people. I can control the people I associate with and call friends and family. I can stand up and defend those facing injustice and bullying. And I can stay involved and engaged. That is, pretty much, all I can do.
I am heartened, though, by the amount of activism currently happening. Under the Bush administration, we did not have the capabilities to form movements on social media. We did not have Black Lives Matter or Occupy Wall Street. I am also heartened by the fact that progressives in power, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, are vowing to fight against bigotry and hatred. Also, the amount of alternative media sources are now more plentiful than ever, so now we are not completely dependent on the monolithic corporations for our information. If you need a reason at all to watch Democracy Now!, just realize that the head of CBS, Les Moonves, once said, “Donald Trump may not be good for America but he will be good for us.”
Every American citizen should stop trusting corporate media immediately.
I finished this piece three days after the election. I am still in a state of shock, anger, and sadness but I refuse to despair. I know that, if I were to give up, Trump, Pence, and the rest of his horrible cronies will then truly win. I want to use this dark moment as a way of reaching out to my friends and strangers and recommit myself to fight against oppression, bullying, and prejudice of all kinds. I want to be more aware of my surroundings and do everything I can to help others who are in danger.
And hey, here’s another wacky thought. I already consider Donald Trump to be the worst president ever, and he has not even taken office yet. Perhaps he could surprise us. He’s certainly been doing that for the past eighteen months. For all of my incredible hatred of him (and I really don’t think I have ever despised a public figure more, which the exception, perhaps, of Ted Cruz), I am willing to have faith that he wants to unite a divided country. That is certainly what he called for in his surprisingly humble victory speech.
Ah, but you know what? As he was calling for unity, someone in his audience yelled out “Kill Obama” and he did nothing so…yeah…he is going to be monumentally shitty.
Well, you know what, I think I still believe that Trump can bring about unity. I have faith that all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations and political stripes can come together. To fight against him. Let’s do this, guys. We may have let Donald Trump win the presidency, but we cannot allow him to win history.
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