Real Feminist Stories with Cameron Airen
My Nerds of Prey cohosts and I were invited to appear on Cameron Airen's Real Feminist Stories podcast to discuss Black Representation In Current TV and Complex Women Characters.
Here are long-version show notes from our appearance.
I chat with the hilarious and awesome hosts of Nerds of Prey. These ladies are four Black women who are fulfilling a need for more space of diverse perspectives and experiences in nerd culture. They nerd out about a variety of aspects of nerd culture including comics, gaming, tv shows, films, and fandom culture like cosplay and attending cons.
"It's important to hear what nerd culture is like from marginalized voices" -Shannon
Nerds of Prey offers you fresh perspectives that differs from mainstream nerd culture. You'll hear about badass queer women of color characters in comics, the representation of women in current films, how the Marvel series has denied Black women, and feminist games you'll want to play.
In this interview, we focus on Black representation in TV since 2016 has been a great year for it. First, we discuss the show that many of us have been waiting for, Luke Cage, and its top notch representation of women, Black women in particular. What we love about the women in Luke Cage is how complex they really are, how strong AND vulnerable some of them are, which we need to see more of in Black women onscreen. Not only are the women complex in Luke Cage, but their relationships are complex and different from what we normally see, like between Misty and Claire (watch the series on Netflix to find out more of what we're talking about here). Luke Cage does an excellent job at creating complex villians, including women villians, and humanizning those characters.
It's refreshing to see that women's power, in Luke Cage, doesn't solely stem from their sexuality or sexism or oppression. Instead of giving women their power from stereotypical roots, Luke Cage makes them independent, unique, non-gender specific, strong and vulnerable human beings. In addition, we all agree that the lack of any overt romance in Luke Cage worked perfectly. Normally, a romance is what largely fulfills a woman's character but Luke Cage didn't need any specific romance to propel any character's story or role. The subtle romantic emotions and exchanges that Luke Cage expressed were sufficient.
Secondly, we expressed our feelings for how beautiful the TV series, Queen Sugar, created by the ever talented, Ava Duvernay, is. As Shannon described, Queen Sugar"is quiet, intimate moments that we haven't gotten to see in Black shows." Like Luke Cage, the characters are complex, every single one of them, which is one way that it's a beautifully, well done show. Queen Sugar raises an array of important issues and shows us representations that we've hardly seen much of onscreen, like Black women's bisexuality/pansexuality. And as Mel points out, the sex scenes and sensuality in the show are unlike anything we've seen on network television. If you enjoy beautiful, well done dramas with a variety of characters, then you'll love Queen Sugar. Plus, the entire series is directed exclusively by women-how awesome is that??!!
In addition, the Nerds of Prey ladies give you their take on Atlanta, which they describe as "feeling like home," a show that explores a different side of Black comedy, one that we don't tend to see onscreen. Insecure is another new show expressing different and real representations of Black women friendships and relationships. And you'll hear these women's mixed feelings about the return of Empire. Whether you like all of these shows or not featuring mostly Black casts, the point is to have multiple options starring people of color, and not people of color on the sidelines or as tokens. But, people of color as front and center, and taking up SPACE. This is one of the aspects I love about some of these newer shows with more Black representation-they have an almost all Black cast and that is a much needed, beautiful thing! How long have we seen TV shows and films featuring an almost or ALL White cast? It's time to represent reality, which is diverse, and give marginalized folks places, voices, and opportunities!
Lastly, I ask the Nerds of Prey hosts what they want to see more of in terms of Black representation. CG expresses how she wants to see more depiction of smart Black folks onscreen as well as more Black queer women in fulfilling relationships who live complex, long lives.
"Can you name one Black woman who is an action star?" -Lauren
Lauren wants to see more Black women in action, who are villains and anti-heroes. It's simple really, she wants to see "more women where men have plopped down and taken space."
"Can you name a decent female buddy cop movie?"
What about one featuring Aisha Tyler and Jessica Williams? Would that not be the greatest film you've ever seen? We've already bought our tickets!
Mel points out that we desperately need to see a Black woman main character in Star Wars and more presence in Sci-Fi in general. Come on, Star Wars, this needs to happen ASAP!
More coming of age comedies featuring Black women and girls is what Shannon's craving. We need comedies where Black women and girls explore everyday problems and whacky situations as she points out.
The common denominator is that Black women have been denied proper, complex, multiple, and abundant roles onscreen and we are seeing this growth one seed at a time. But, we can speed up this growth by supporting shows that feature Black women and creating more opportunities for Black women onscreen and beyond.