A few days ago Shonda Rhimes, producer of just about every show on ABC, participated in the recent round of TED talks in Vancouver BC. TED stand for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and the talks cover just about every conceivable topic, my personal favorite is about how being an introvert is perfectly OK even when everyone is telling you isn’t.
Shonda’s talk was about her year of saying Yes to everything; as the TED website described it:
Shonda Rhimes, the titan behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, is responsible for some 70 hours of television per season, and she loves to work. “When I am hard at work, when I am deep in it, there is no other feeling,” she says. She has a name for this feeling: The hum. The hum is a drug, the hum is music, the hum is God’s whisper in her ear. But what happens when it stops? Is she anything besides the hum? In this moving talk, join Rhimes on a journey through her “year of yes” and find out how she got her hum back.
I think it’s no secret that the state of diversity in video games is even worse than that of movies these days. Game designers are overwhelmingly white males and, no surprise, they design large numbers of white male characters. Woe to anyone who points this out, the white males will turn out in droves to defend their turf and their right exclude anyone who isn’t a white male. Ask Anita Sarkeesian who reviews video games from a feminist perspective about it, she has received rape threats for speaking the truth. Look up #gamergate if you don’t believe me. (Fair warning if you look up #gamergate, you will need a shower and stiff drink afterwards. Those dudes are damaged goods.)
So knowing about all this, I was still surprised that the Houston Press could count only 14 playable black women characters in all of video gaming, since the start of video gaming. (This excludes games where you can design your character and choose their skin color like the old Tony Hawk skateboarding games, and it also exclude games like X-Men that are licensed from other properties.) The Houston Press kinda had to fudge the number a bit to get it that high by including a couple of characters whose ethnicity is a bit questionable, like one character who generally considered black in gamer circles but belongs to an alien race. Of the 14 on the list, three of the characters are killed in the end by the white hero. I see no problems there, do you?
The comments on the article point out a few more playable black women, but the numbers are still dinky even when you add in those new names. Of course a lot of commentators take the author to task for their criteria, but I think the author has a point. If you are not a white dude, playing character who actually looks like you is pretty rare. This probably due to the fact that white dudes dominate game design. Only 18% of software engineers are women and despite how engineers like to think of our profession as a meritocracy, there are real barriers to WOC. Full disclosure, I am a female software engineer with nearly 30 years in high tech, and I have only worked with one black woman in that whole time. Until we have more WOC game designers this in equality will continue.
Michelle Obama is that person you hated in school. You know, the one who could scroll right through the center of an epic food fight in the cafeteria and emerge as perfectly dressed as when she entered. She’s a Harvard trained lawyer, she married the guy who adores her beyond reason, and she wears designer clothes like a boss. She represents with grace and class, no matter what manure is thrown at her. It just slides off without leaving a mark while she smiles and glides on by.
Yup, she’s close to perfect, but who ever thought she could RAP? Why yes she can, as if you had any doubts.
In an effort o motivate more students to go college, College Humor has released their new music video Go To College. In support of this worthy effort, FLOTUS rapped a few bars about her college experience and, as they say in gymnastics, she stuck the landing.
Franchesca Ramsey’s MTV Decoded videos are some of the best things ever posted on YouTube. Her discussions on race and racism are timely, informative and don’t pull any punches. I love them all, but her recent video “White People Whitesplain Whitesplaining” is probably one of my all time favorites.
It shows how even someone who truly thinks they’re doing something good and well-meaning can be harmful and offensive. Watch and be amused amazed:
And if that wasn’t awesome enough, one of the comments that the video received certainly is. Just not in a good way.
Angela Bassett, Currently starring on your screen in American Horror Story has had over 84 roles in both movies and TV. To add to her already scary impressive resume, she will be making the crossover to video games in the upcoming Rainbow Six Siege, releasing December 1st.
She talked with the Huffington Post about how she chooses a role and diversity in Hollywood:
What transitions have you witnessed Hollywood undergo when it comes to racial and gender diversity?
It’s a conversation that’s been coming for decades. For many years, I was always asked this type of question. But it’s more obvious now with the number of folks who look different from each other that you see on television, especially with shows like “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Quantico,” “Scandal,” “Black-ish” or “How to Get Away with Murder.”
The landscape has changed in terms of color and sexuality — and it’s a good change. We are a diverse land and that’s what we are known for. But in terms of the way we projected our images on screen, it was very different from who we were. This is a positive change. It’s a good time.