Review: MOANA

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This last weekend, I was fortunate enough to get to see Disney’s latest animated movie Moana – which is out in theaters today!

Tenacious teenager Moana (voice of Auliʻi Cravalho) recruits a demigod named Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) to help her become a master wayfinder and sail out on a daring mission to save her people. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker, produced by Osnat Shurer, and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i, “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.  ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

I wish I could have had this review up earlier – but my basic reaction to the movie was !!!!!

And I’m not sure that an entire post of !!!! would have been interpreted in the way I wanted it to.

Moana is the story of the young woman who is the daughter of the head of the village, who finds herself drawn to the ocean instead of the life that’s been laid out for her. She finds herself set out on an epic quest to track down Maui, the demi-god.

This is a beautiful movie from any angle. The art is phenomenal – Disney took great care to show Pacific Islanders in all their diversity, breaking free from their recent streak of extremely similar looking princesses. The story is sincere, and there will be many people happy to know that there isn’t a love story in sight of this story – not unless you could loving yourself or your family. And the music…

The music includes songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (the man behind In the Heights and Hamilton), as well as Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foaʻi. As you might expect, the music written by Miranda both fits what you expect from a Disney movie (sweeping ballads) and exceeds it with fun songs for Maui and one of the movie’s villains.

The cast is nearly entirely made of Pacific Islanders – with newcomer Auli‘i Cravalho as Moana, Dwayne Johnson as Maui, Temura Morrison as Moana’s father, Nicole Scherzinger as Moana’s mother, Rachel House as Moana’s grandmother, and Jermaine Clement as Tamatoa. Alan Tudyk is actually the only cast member who isn’t Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and he voices the chicken.

The movie is touching (I wish I’d brought tissues) and at times a little scary – with some scenes of danger out on open water, as well as fighting some pretty epic bad guys. But we were at a screening with small children and most seemed unaffected.

I definitely recommend that you check it out this weekend!

Update: There are a lot of criticisms from Pacific Islanders about the movie mixing and mashing up various cultures (because there are a lot of separate and distinct cultures). I didn’t go in expecting accuracy, which is why I didn’t mention it. (Heck, I see how movies expect that Hispanic cultures are homogenous) But if you look, you can find some excellent twitter threads on the subject, and it’s worth checking out.

I am still excited that there is a movie featuring a Pacific Islander cast that is positive, and will hopefully get more people interested in learning more. And that while not perfect, Moana is someone that little girls can be excited to see themselves in.

Disney, can we get a real Latina princess now? Elena’s awesome, but one on the big screen would be fabulous.

(Picture from Walt Disney Pictures)

The Trump Administration and criticism.

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In case you missed it, VP-elect Mike Pence went to Hamilton in New York on Friday night. And was booed by theater goers, hardly surprising since the show attracts a lot of the LGBT community, POC, and allies who champion them.

At the end of the show, the cast gave a statement about tolerance and pointed out that their cast’s diversity represents America – and hoped that this might change his POV.

The Trump Administration…. (meaning Donald Trump) tweeted that Pence was lectured and judged and demanded an apology. He later deleted one part of his twitter rant.

I have a lot I want to address.

Mike Pence was booed. He was not ejected from the theater. He wasn’t pushed or shoved. By all accounts, nobody did anything to him other than asking him to stay a moment to hear the cast’s thoughts. Which again, were kind, loving and hopeful, and reminded people that all were welcome at their show.

None of the things that happened are out of the norm for a politician anywhere. As a prominent politician, you are asked to hear things from differing points of view. You are often subjected to boos from people who disagree with you. And going to a pro-immigrant show about revolution (filled with minorities who urged the youth of America to vote against the man who won)? It’s not an entirely unexpected reaction. Especially given Pence’s political history.

So to act as though this was an insult of the highest degree? Either the Trump Administration is thin-skinned and not prepared for common and mostly respectful ways of expressing dissent, or they were trying to change the narrative.

The same day that Pence went to see Hamilton, it was announced that President-Elect Trump agreed to pay a $25 million settlement for the lawsuit alleging fraud with Trump University. Care to take a guess as to which story is dominating the media?

It isn’t the settlement.

If this is simply a twitter temper tantrum- I’m concerned about the potential ramifications of a President who will use Twitter to avoid the Press, rally supporters and then delete impulsive statements. His own campaign placed an emphasis on the importance of not deleting digital documentation – and like it or not, Twitter is the same thing. Deleting tweets is exactly the same as deleting emails. (Though I feel I should point out that deleting emails is something he was guilty of doing with his own business)

But if this was an attempt to manipulate the media against covering Trump’s shortcomings? That’s also something that people need to be aware of, especially since it seems to have worked. Freedom of the press is important. The press is considered the Fourth Estate – there to check against corruption in government. And while I think we can all agree that the modern state of press on television is pretty bad, it’s still important to have, even if journalism on TV is interested more in ratings.

Art is quite often a political work. It’s an artist’s reaction to many things, and Hamilton is a reaction to inequity in the way we remember our own history as well as the way we see our world currently.

Frankly, more people should engage with artwork that is in opposition to what they believe. It makes you think, it makes you challenge your own beliefs. And you grow as a person when you do that.

Instead Trump supporters are calling for a boycott of Hamilton – which is the easiest boycott there is. It’s impossible to get tickets to the show, so it takes zero effort to avoid it. (So far we’re two for two on failed boycott attempts, what with the Trump cup thing not actually doing anything more than giving Starbucks money) Maybe they should actually take a listen to the show, if nothing more that to get a listen and see what happens when a politician is so concerned with controlling their story and their legacy that they essentially destroy their own lives.

Edited to add: Please compare what happened with Pence to the Trump supporter who actually interrupted a performance in Chicago with profanities, showing great disrespect to the cast as well as everyone who paid to see the show. Nobody barred Pence from seeing the show or interrupted his viewing. Whether he was given tickets or bought them – he was allowed to experience the show the same as anyone else in that room.

What’s with the political posts?

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I’ve been writing a lot about politics, which might seem like I’ve come a far way from where I started – blogging about my family.

But it’s what’s weighing on my mind, largely in part due to the conversations I’ve had with my children. Do I really want this to be the world my children inherent? Do I want to teach them that bullies can steamroll over them? Continue to insist that their voices, that their fears are not as important as white voices?

My children believe in the American Dream. It’s been heartbreaking to watch them realize that our country isn’t as fair as it says on the wrapper. That freedom is given first to those with privilege- both financial and societal.

Judging by the response I’m getting from friends and family, I’m going to keep writing.

I’m not an expert. I’m just a woman who started reading and listening to those who know what they’re talking about (though admittedly I’ve read a LOT). I’m someone with empathy who recognized injustice. I’m someone working through how I feel in the way I process – by writing.

So when I muse about my own decisions about stuff – like my feelings on the Galactic Empire – that’s me working through my own stuff.

The only thing I ask of any of you is that you keep reading, especially if you disagree with my point of view. Because to anyone who complains about people protesting, you need to stop to listen about why people are so upset. Why people are so afraid.

(Actually one more thing – if you’re going to wear a safety pin? Just donate money to a charity that supports marginalized groups – like the Trevor Project, Trans Lifeline, BLM, ALCU, SPLC, or a NoDAPL legal fund. If you’re really determined to wear the pin, just find something in your junk drawer. Don’t buy something off etsy. Passive support like pins isn’t going to cut it. Passive support is what got us here. Time to be active, even if it’s just by financing those who CAN/WILL protest.)

Shaking things up.

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Anyone who’s known me for any period of time knows that I have a soft spot for the Galactic Empire. Sure they’re the bad guys, sure they lose in the end (as they should) – but I always had fun pretending. Sneering, etc. And the Imperial March is kick-ass.

No more. It’s fun to be the bad guy when it’s just fiction – but the truth is, the line between fiction and fact has blurred to a point now where I can’t. It’s harder for me to ignore that the Galactic Empire is based on human supremacy… which would be white supremacy in real world terms. It’s not a stretch – their lingo was taken from Nazis. Lucas didn’t invent the name stormtroopers. He built on something terrifying that we would recognize to create the ultimate cinematic evil. (And they’ve made it even more blatant. My son recognized the First Order’s assembly as looking a lot like the Third Reich)

With politics as they are, I can’t pretend anymore. It was easy to think that sort of evil didn’t exist as a large group anymore, that it was scattered pockets of hate – but this election legitimized it. Normalized it. It told people filled with hate that they could step out of the shadows and wouldn’t face retribution for it. Indeed our president elect and his family attempted to tell us that those reports were overblown and likely lies. (Which is a little something called gaslighting. It’s done by abusers to continue their abuse- it’s telling someone that their perception of reality is wrong. It isn’t correcting a lie or being mistaken.)

I’m not going to set aside my anger and rage, no matter what politician tells me ‘it isn’t really that bad’ (even one hateful act committed because someone was emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric is too much). I’m not going to believe that Trump’s followers will listen to his half-hearted “just stop” from his interview on 60 Minutes – especially not when he hired a white nationalist to be his chief strategist. Complacency is what got us into this mess.

People with far more privilege and influence than I have kept looking around and saying, we have laws in place to stop discrimination… we’ve done enough. And ignored all the marginalized groups who said the fight wasn’t done. (And that includes gays and lesbians in the LGBTQ community, white feminists – who repeatedly overlook the needs of marginalized groups within their numbers.)

So I’m putting away my Imperial cogs. And pulling out my Rebel crest. This is a Rebellion isn’t it? I rebel.

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Image: mine – I made the vector off an image of the logo, added text

The Day After.

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I’m sitting here, angry and frustrated. Heartbroken.

I watched so many people on my Facebook feed talk about how they were going to vote for a third party… whether it was out of principle or protest. Because they “just couldn’t vote for either candidate.”

You’d have to be delusional not to understand that while we do have third parties – we are not set up for a third party system. What ends up happening is that a third party forms a coalition well after Democrats and Republicans begin campaigning, so all they do is gain a small amount of momentum once the primaries are complete.

So votes for third party candidates (and write-in candidates) end up splitting the vote between the two main parties. And typically cause close races and upsets. Like they did with Bush & Gore, and like they did tonight.

I noticed a common thread amongst those third party voters. All were white. All were straight. None identify as LGBTQ. Most had a college education. (These were the ones who were open about it in their feed)

In short, they’re the people who would do just fine no matter who came into power.

You and I can discuss whether or not it’s a shame that we don’t have a system that supports a third party (it is – third parties are historically agents of major political change). But that doesn’t change that of the two major candidates, you had a person who spent their entire career in public service, but who admittedly is not a perfect person. And you had a celebrity whose entire platform catered to white individuals, by wanting to undo progress. That painted all Muslims as dangerous, painted Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers. That said whatever it felt like, and pretended they didn’t say things that they did. Whose candidate spent more time on Twitter bashing his enemies, than he did actually learning about foreign policy and the basics of how the government works.

It doesn’t change that in order to stand by his principles, you had to ignore how his presidency could affect all of those minority groups. And decide that it would be okay, because it wouldn’t affect you. Because you could stand by your “principles.” (I’m sure a lot of them are the same people who sniff that they’ll move to Canada. Because they have the resources to do so)

I’m standing by my own. Because, imperfect system or not, it’s our duty to try to pick the candidate that we know has a shot at winning and who would do the best job. And all those privileged third party voters… ignored so many people in our country that this administration would leave behind.

But the blame isn’t solely on third party voters. A lot of the blame lies with the television media who gave Donald Trump a platform when he was a joke. Who brought him on to morning shows because his outrageousness drew in viewers who wanted to see what he’d say next. And they normalized his hate, his arrogance, his ignorance.

When it was clear that he had a shot at winning, they tried to backtrack – but it was too late. Every television station is guilty of this, local to national to cable networks. It’s one of the reasons I’ve begun relying on newspapers for coverage.

So thank you, ambivalent white people and ratings hungry networks. Thank you very much. The damage that this presidency is already doing will take time to untangle.

But really, thank you for giving me a focus for the next four years. I am, as I have always been, committed to making the country a more fair place for all Americans (and not just to improve my own rights – I will readily admit there are minority groups worse off than me, and nobody deserves to live in fear). You’ve just lit a fire under me.

To everyone upset- Stay. Fight. Don’t give up on America. Show those filled with hate (whether it’s a small flicker of it or a bonfire) that they can’t destroy our light.

It doesn’t change the bitter disappointment. The lack of faith I have in people, for being able to overlook someone who regularly gaslights everyone around him. Because the party he represents would benefit their status quo.

Edit: There’s a lot more at work here – but I’m going to need a lot more time to mentally unpack and discuss the white women who refused to vote for Hillary. (Which mostly is on how divisive the primary elections were)

State of the Whitney

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I am a busy person.

I lost track of this fall and found myself trying to get my Rey costume together last minute…. and no. I’m going to save that costume for Wondercon. She deserves my full effort. The good thing is that I have everything I need to make the costume, but the time. Everything for the wig, everything for the basic costume. I was still waiting for the bandages for her arms – so I don’t have to worry about that now.

And I have plenty of things I can put together for a cosplay (and for Halloween).

Lots of things to do, not enough time. So I’m just gonna do what you do. Postpone the things you can and focus on those you can’t.

(Speaking of postponing – this week’s Supergirl vlog will likely go up on Thursday or Friday. Due to circumstances beyond my control I can’t film today, which makes it impossible to get up tomorrow. But feel free to DM me if you want to talk about the episode! I’m @whitneyd on Twitter)

Down w/ Locker Room Banter.

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This post is shamelessly inspired by TW’s post on FB about something her daughter said, but it’s been on my mind since last week.

It’s easy to say that what Donald Trump said in that Access Hollywood tape was vile – especially when he claims it’s locker room banter. But the issue is that the more we talk about how it isn’t locker room banter, we ignore what men do talk about in spaces where they feel like they can say whatever is on their mind.

Sure, I’m a woman. But I’ve worked in a lot of male dominant jobs and have a lot of guy friends. So I’ve heard a lot of things over the years. Mostly from close male friends complaining about how they were disgusted by conversations.

Things like male coworkers discussing the ‘color of the day’ about underwear that women were wearing. Rating women on scales, often to their faces. Coming up with unflattering nicknames used behind the woman’s back. Sharing pictures their girlfriends sent them, that probably weren’t intended to be shared. Talking about how they cheat on their significant others.

And that’s “normal.” That’s “acceptable.” That’s also rape culture. (Which, for those new here is all the stuff we do as a society that normalizes sexual violence. Like wondering what a victim was wearing or what they were doing, not placing the blame on the aggressor. Discounting assault as boys will be boys.)

(more…)

The Vlog is BACK!

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Well, after a long gap in vlogging (I really was having a hard time getting over the cancellation of Agent Carter) – the Vlog is back!

I’m doing another #WhitneyWatches video, but this time I’m taking on my biggest challenge yet – Season Two of Supergirl! This video’s mostly about the new additions and what changes switching to the CW has brought.

If you haven’t yet, please take a second to subscribe to my YouTube channel and give the video a thumbs up! (Even though, the Pens fan in me is tickled that I’m currently at 87 subscribers)

Biphobia and some really shitty timing.

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bisexual visibility dayI’m out. I’m bi. I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I can be more or less out in all of my life. My family, my close friends all know. I work for a company where that doesn’t matter, and so things are good.

But growing up, I knew I liked boys and girls. (Okay, by middle school I knew) Sex ed classes mentioned it was okay to like boys or to like girls. But not both. I knew that bisexuality was a thing, but to be honest, the only time I’d heard about bisexuals it was about bisexual men at Studio 54. And that was all about hedonism and excess.

Which, I just wanted a one person to date. So that wasn’t me.

In community theater, I knew a lot of people who slept with a lot of other people of both genders- but it was either described as a lesbian phase, a self-described slut, or there was no descriptor.

None of which helped me. In fact, I drank a lot in high school in order not to think about how outside of everything I felt. The guilt I felt for covering up noticing someone’s curves by joking that I wished I had bigger breasts, too.

College was where I found my label, and where I realized that biphobia was a real thing. I met a girl. And she liked me. But when she found out I was bi, she told me it wouldn’t work. She didn’t want to be my experiment. And I literally didn’t tell anyone about that until I was already living with TheBoy. Because it hurt and it was mortifying. (Biphobia is any stereotype that suggests that bisexuals aren’t entitled to their own label – like the idea that we’re experimenting, damaged, or sex addicts… not people who happen to be attracted to more than one gender of people)

This week has been Bisexual Visibility Week (and today’s Bisexual Visibility Day), and odds are you’ve seen some silly tweets about myths about bisexuals. It’s the community’s way of dealing with the idiotic things we’ve heard about ourselves.

And most of yesterday, the book side of Twitter and Tumblr watched as VOYA Magazine pulled a Hamilton & the Reynolds Pamphlet.

Here’s the cliff notes version – VOYA Magazine (Voices of Youth Advocates) is a publication for YA librarians. Because of the thousands of books that come out, they review books so that librarians can read the reviews and decide what books to add to their YA sections. They posted a review of Run by Kody Keplinger that was a little odd. The book features a bisexual main character, and ultimately the book warned for a bisexual character and mature themes, saying it was appropriate for mature young adult readers.

But it warned for the bisexual character and didn’t even warn for the heterosexual sex mentioned in the actual review. (Which the author of the book actually pointed out via Twitter)

So SFF author Tristina Wright (who is bisexual) emailed them with her discomfort, talking about the importance of inclusive reviews for LGBTQIA youth. And got a really terrible response from one of VOYA’s editors.

(This is where I noticed it popping up in my Twitter feed)

When people asked for some form of apology for posting a biphobic review, and tried really hard to at least get VOYA to understand WHY librarians and authors alike were upset by this review… VOYA posted an apology on their site. And tweeted a link to it that it was the apology demanded by the LGBTQ community.

And it was one of those apologies that parents hate for their children to give (and frankly, that everyone hates to get from anyome) – where they’re sorry you’re upset. With no actual admission of guilt.

All while someone at VOYA sniped at people trying to explain what was going on, policing tone.

There was another clarification from one of the owners of VOYA that was much better – though it referred to bisexuality as a lifestyle, and people who pointed that out got flack for it.

Then VOYA just started deleting things. Comments, blocking people who posted criticism, and then… deleting everything relating to this entire thing.

If you want to see screencaps, Sarah from Bisexualbooks.com has been documenting it. It’ll show it all in reverse, but there are a lot of screencaps, and it’s worth the read.

Unbiased reviews are important, especially for a publication like VOYA. It’s disappointing to see such an immature reaction to a serious issue, especially given the timing of all of this.

If someone says you’re being any kind of phobic, whether it’s Islamophobic, homophobic, biphobic… you owe it to yourself to listen. It’s hard to hear that you’re saying something hurtful, but take a moment and listen to what they have to say – because odds are, you just weren’t aware that something was hurtful or why.

Don’t double down and act like VOYA’s staff.

Trauma. Recovery is A Never-Ending Fight.

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20160912_183408_20160912183547741Note: If you’re one of the parties mentioned in this ongoing drama, just stop reading my site. This post is about my recovery, and I share it in the hopes that it might help someone dealing with Trauma feel like they aren’t broken. Or help loved ones understand what someone is going through. I’ll be sad to miss one of the 10 regular readers of this site, but you really aren’t going to find what you’re looking for here. I’m not going to out anyone. I just need to work through this stuff.

Last night, I had a weird freak-out. It’s all related to The Tape. While TheBoy still has The Thief in his life, I’m shielded from him – there’s no direct conversation with me. But TheBoy’s friends now with someone who is also friends with The Thief… and they don’t know the whole story.

And because TheBoy is friends with this person (which btw, I have no issues with that person or him having new friends), The Thief and their immediate circle are bound to pop up in my social media feeds.

So I freaked out. It’s a testament to how far we’ve come, that he sat there and let me talk and talk while I fumbled for the right words to explain exactly what’s bothering me. And clarify what wasn’t the issue. In years past, that wouldn’t have happened. (Neither of us were patient in our 20s, which shouldn’t be too surprising)

And once he understood that this was Trauma related, he knew exactly what to do. Told me to pour myself a drink (I got through the Tape incident thanks to the occasional glass of sipping rum to help me unwind) and made sure I didn’t feel alone.

Granted, it’s been long enough since I had a freak-out like this, I forgot about rehydrating right before bed and woke up with a headache.

Emotional hangover. It’s a thing. (Learn from my mistakes – if you get in a big fight with someone or have a meltdown, drink something with electrolytes. And do the same thing when you wake up.)

So for those who have a loved one who is dealing with Trauma – you don’t just “get over it.” Sure, they might be find the majority of the time… but just like grief, sometimes you run into unforeseen landmines that trip you up. All you can do is support them through it.