Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is the stink still stunk?

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know of the stink that was made over the cover of Justine Larbalestier's Liar (here). The original cover was the top one. Thing was, the MC is an African-American tomboy with nappy hair. Doesn't really look too much like that cover, does it?

So stinkies were made. Larbalestier never liked that original cover because it didn't portray the MC accurately. Unless you're Helen Keller. Then the bloggers started shouting and damn did our voices get loud (this is the first time I'm commenting on this here but I voiced my opinion about it on my writing blog). The publishers came back with the defense that the MC is an unreliable narrator and the one thing we all decided to believe her about was her looks?


Lame, I know. Sorry excuse much? So the stinkies kept being made and what happened was the publisher just couldn't stop listening. Book sales were at stake. So they gave the world the second cover, with a chick that more closely resembled the MC of the book (here). Granted I still don't think that's what the author had in mind and that's the most put together tomboy I've ever seen but it's a minor victory and voices were heard. None of that can be denied. Should the cover even more accurately portray the MC? Yes. It's still sad that after all these years we're still taking baby steps towards progression but eventually the baby has to grow up. Eventually.

What I'm really getting at here is not the race issue but the fact that the publisher thought this cover was ok, a white girl for a black MC. Had we not made a stink, the cover would have stayed the same. Again, I'm not talking about race, not explicitly. I'm talking about thought processes and common sense.

It's like Costco's Lil Monkey doll issue they're currently having. Yeah, sure, there's a white doll and an Hispanic doll. But a black doll with a headband calling it Lil Monkey? Are you fucking serious? It's just common fucking sense. I can totally understand that no harm or ill will was intended but in the words of Carlos Mencia, dur dur dur. Unfortunately, I do think people can be that ignorant where they are completely oblivious of things like that and believe they are acting with the best of intentions.

It's like there's only one side of the coin with these people. White-washing a book cover and giving a black doll a racial slur for a name should be obvious things when sitting in on those brain storming sessions. But it makes me think if pot was involved in any of those meetings. Holy crap.

Considering the fact that such issues didn't come up before things like this were released, does remedying the problem by changing a cover or pulling the toy really mean anything? Because if people hadn't said anything, they would have stayed the same. If those brain-stormers did think of the possible repercussions of what they were doing, they didn't care and did it anyway. If they didn't, did they learn their lesson and see the error of their ways or are they going to remain oblivious? So really, does changing it mean all that much? They were forced into the change. Their arms were twisted so painfully behind their backs that they couldn't ignore it.

So is it really a win? Or is it little more than a slap upside people's heads to think things through a little more thoroughly next time so they don't look like ignorant asshats the second time around? I mean, the lack of common sense on these things is absolutely astounding.


April said...

That's certainly something to chew on.

I guess, the good thing about the whole dramz is the awareness it brought up.

It sucks that some people don't think through all angles of a product (Lil Monkey, come the fu-k on!)

Anyways, I just wanted to say your post was so well-thought and fascinating. :-)

Barbara said...

Well I don't leave under a rock but I do live in a basement so this just flew right over my head. But I did just hear about the Twilight sex toy so that's progress I guess.

Taste Life Twice said...

This post was very funny for its serious subject matter. You're totally right, though. They didn't see the error in their ways. Their bottom line was hurt. Money makes the world go round.


Donna said...

Thanks, April!

At the end of the say I don't think they thought before they acted and you know what happens when you ass/u/me something's ok.

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