Take Two: Words We Cannot Say…Except When We Can

I originally posted this on 10 June 2010, just over a year ago. The issue of reclaiming derogatory terms for gender, racial, ethnic, or sexual identities is an ongoing struggle, and a controversial one at that.

Yes, he was missing a leg. Didn't keep him from a good fiesta, though!

For a blog post, I suppose it’s a bit long, but for the subject matter, I feel I barely covered the overview. This was also after my beloved Gomer Pyle passed away, but Zelda and Mrs. Parker were still in the future. So alas, no cat pictures to accompany the discussion! So here’s one of Gomer, just for good measure.

Hope you enjoy the post! I’d love to hear what you think of it.

On 23 July 2009, Henry Louis Gates was arrested on his own porch in Cambridge, MA for disorderly conduct. A neighbor thought he had been breaking in, the police were called, and then, though Dr.Gates’ identity and residence status had been confirmed, he was arrested. Judging from all reports and comments by people who would understand far better than me, the incident was an unfortunate case of wounded pride on both sides. I come to that conclusion, of course, having no personal knowledge of not only the events but the potential lingering racial issues that may or may not have led up to the arrest. Continue reading

Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

(This is a copy of the review I posted on Amazon for The Help, which I read for a book club. I was not nearly as intrigued as the majority of reviews, as you will see. There were other issues that I didn’t touch on for the sake of brevity, but I’m open to discussion on other aspects of the book.)

Kathryn Stockett’s The Help has a simple but intriguing message: relationships are complicated. Specifically, she seems to want to explain that the relationships between white employers and black maids in Jackson, Mississippi during the start of the Civil Rights era were much more complicated than they might seem to an outsider. This is sure to be the case and an insider view of the complex dynamics of this relationship would have been a insightful and thought-provoking novel. However, what was delivered fell far short of that goal. What ends up being “compelling and revelatory” about Stockett’s book is the idea that – gasp! – black maids have opinions on their white employers! Some of them hate their employers and some don’t! The potentially powerful exploration of the issue becomes diluted to the point of meaninglessness by the subservience of character development to plot development. Stockett knew what she wanted to happen in the book and by golly, it was going to happen, even if it meant  that she created stereotypes instead of fully-fleshed out characters. If she were Tom Clancy trying to create an action-packed exploration of strategic submarine movements during the Cold War, this sin would have been forgivable. However, in a character-driven novel, one that claims to focus on the inner feelings, motivations, thoughts, and desires of the people, the failure to create believable characters ruins the effort. Continue reading