The One About… Just Like Halee Berry…

…and you look like Mary Tyler Moore…

Apologies to Weezer fans out there, but I’m resurfacing after a very busy (and semi-productive) few months because something has caught my eye – specifcally, the casting of Hailee Berry, the young star of “black-ish” and its spinoff series “young-ish,” to be Ariel in the live action remake of “The Little Mermaid.”

Oy, talk about asking for trouble. People were upset that Disney cast against design with this choice. So, of course, the company released a statement defending the casting choice.

Yes. The original author of ‘The Little Mermaid’ was Danish. Ariel…is a mermaid. She lives in an underwater kingdom in international waters and can legit swim wherever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute zaddy). But for the sake of argument, let’s say that Ariel, too, is Danish. Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black. Ariel can sneak up to the surface at any time with her pals Scuttle and the *ahem* Jamaican crab Sebastian (sorry, Flounder!) and keep that bronze base tight. Black Danish people, and thus mer-folk, can also *genetically* (!!!) have red hair. But spoiler alert – bring it back to the top – the character of Ariel is a work of fiction. So after all this is said and done, and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she “doesn’t look like the cartoon one”, oh boy, do I have some news for you…about you. 

@Freeform (Instagram)

That statement is, at best, inelegant. So much so that Freeform deleted it shortly afterward – but not before screenshots of it were posted and reported on elsewhere. What I really take issue with is the tone of that post. Disney did not have to defend the decision. It’s made. Think of how many other casting decisions have been criticized by fans, only to turn out to be wildly successful (a good example – Daniel Craig as James Bond).

Instead of being confident in their choice and staying above the fray, this statement is so defensive and so insulting that it speaks to insecurities on the part of someone inside the organization. The failure to remember not to talk down to the audience is stunning.

Casting a different sort of actress – white, black, red, purple, green, whatever – in the role is, at best, an artistic choice, and at worse, pandering. But as people have pointed out, it’s their IP – they can do what they want.

I know as an author I have had people suggest to me that I change certain characters in my young adult manuscript to fit different identity groups. It’s problematic – I want to go nowhere near any identity politics in my stories. My IP, my choices. And the same holds true here.

I was kind of looking forward to the new version. As I’ve posted elsewhere on social media, Ms. Berry has pulled off being “black-ish” and “young-ish.” I figure “Dan-ish” is totally in her acting range. But if people who control the megaphone at Disney are going to continue to insult the intelligence of its fans in statements like this, I’m going to take a pass.

Besides, for me, the Little Mermaid will always be Sherri Stoner, the actress and writer who was the live-action model for Ariel.

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The One About… Piles and Driving

I have too much stuff.

This comes not as a dawning revelation. I’ve probably been aware of it for some time, but have ignored it because having stuff has met another need in my life. There were times when I haven’t had stuff. There were other times when I’ve only been able to afford less than quality stuff, stuff that is, or was, at best mediocre.

But really, why does one man need thirty-seven t-shirts?

A new method of cleaning one’s space involves taking all the items off your shelves, placing them in a pile in the middle of your room and then going through them, one by one. If it inspires joy, you keep it. If not, out it goes. Hence, not so many t-shirts. Or socks.

Or books, it turns out.

Part of what is driving this is a reevaluation of what priorities matter. I’ve stepped back to consider those projects in progress.

My YA novel HEX is a mess. I started workshopping it with a writing group over three month period, and I totally lost it in that time. I took so many of their suggestions to heart that I lost my confidence in the story I wanted to tell. So it’s now in a drawer, cooling off, waiting for me to return to it, probably in 2Q of 2019.

My novelization of The Agency for Think Alike Productions is in the midst of its final draft. We’ve negotiated my split for compensation from sales of the book and percentage off the back end as the IP goes onto other media based on my work. We’ll be looking for an editor early in 2Q of 2019.

I’d like to return to the Triangle series. I have the plot for the third novel, as well as a prequel, but I’d like to do some travel for research. Pam and I are discussing a trip to Europe for this. Brexit may complicate this.

The Finder’s Keeper online story has been on hold for quite some time. It needs a resolution, but I was writing it on a tightrope, a week at a time, and I frankly am not sure where it will go from here. It may be an unfinished story for a while longer.

Finally, there is the Tao of Maud. I’ll write a post that details the experiences I had in December regarding the decision to continue that project. But it does, for another year, under modified design. However, it is part of the consideration of what brings me joy. Considering all the attacks, it no longer does.

That should tell me something going forward.

Posted in Enlightment, personal, Writing

The One About… Post and Regret

ZenMaud

Yesterday, there was an incident associated with the Tao of Maud, the daily inspirational message that I send out across multiple social media platforms.

I use Hootsuite, an application that aggregates mentions of my Twitter ID. It caught a partial tweet from September 25:

@TaoOfMaud Don’t you have any remorse for the fact that you ‘inspirational’ quotes were used by Chris to bolster his belief in…

When I went to look for the original tweet, it had been deleted. Additional digging pointed me toward this Chris. It turns out to be a person – I use the gender unspecific term because that is their choice, to be gender-fluid. However, they also turn out to be reality-fluid. This person appears to believe they have created an alternate anime universe, populated it with characters from different animated properties (among them, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario Brothers, and My Little Pony), added in some original characters, and declared themselves royalty within it.

Okay, just another day on the Internet. However this person swears this place is real, they visit and rule it regularly, and have convinced several people along for the ride. Like almost 24,000. And now this person has started to use the Tao of Maud posts as daily writs of wisdom from On High within that world. Think of it like a prophet interpreting a burning bush sort of thing.

It would be humorous, I suppose, and an excellent way to get some messages to a bunch of people, except I’m not sure the spin being placed on the notes, and the person doing so has been accused of some very unsavory acts, including sexual harassment and sexual battery.

I decided that I needed to deal with this myself in a series of tweets:

Hootsuite caught that on Sep 25 someone posted, then deleted: “Do you have any remorse for the fact that your ‘inspirational’ quotes are being used by @CWCSonichu to bolster his belief in…” It then cuts off. Okay, let’s discuss that.

No, I don’t feel any remorse about any ‘inspirational’ message I send out. The messages are sent out to remind people about the better, more aspirational points of their lives, The same gentle lessons were originally included in MLP – and are all around us in everyday life.

However, whenever messages are put together like this, there is always a chance they will be misused. How many atrocities have been committed in the name of religion? The Bible and the Quran are used daily today to justify treating each other inhumanely.

Do I wish this @CWCSonichu would not misuse my messages? I wish my messages were not twisted by anybody to serve their own purposes. But they would end up finding someone else’s, for that is their nature. Do I condemn them? No. I pity them.

But, as I said when I started, I feel no remorse for sharing these lessons. I had a discussion recently with a senior member of the show’s production team. She thanked me for what I do, reinforcing the positive ideals the show has at its core.

So expect the Tao of Maud to continue, in some form or another, for quite some time to come.

Be well on all your journeys. Namaste.

It is so strange. There is in the Christian Bible, in the Book of Genesis, a verse about evil being used for good:

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20

Yet, as many who read this blog are sophisticated enough to be aware of, there is such a meme as Rule 34.

If something exists, there is pornography of it, without exception.

In other words, no matter what your intention for something, it will be corrupted. No matter how you meant it for good, someone will use it for evil.

In the end, what keeps me from being too outraged is remembering this:

The opposite of a great truth is also true. – Zen Proverb

There is, as always, balance. I will continue to bring good into the system. Someone will always try to introduce evil into it. In the end, the balance is maintained.

Posted in Enlightment, Tao of Maud, Writing | Tagged , , , , ,