‘Had to see it to believe it’: Good luck topping this hot ‘Orient Express’ take

Read more: http://twitchy.com/sd-3133/2017/05/03/had-to-see-it-to-believe-it-good-luck-topping-this-hot-orient-express-take/

Denver Post writer sees racism in the renovation of Union Station

http://twitter.com/#!/bobolson8/status/524915082720206848

Can architecture be racist? Well, according to the Denver Post’s Ray Mark Rinaldi, YES IT CAN! Here’s his piece from October 19:

And his headline:

Did diversity miss the train in Union Station’s architecture?
The urban playground at Union Station isn’t drawing people of color and it may be the building’s fault

People of color don’t like the way the building is constructed so they’re avoiding it? That’s kind of a racist thing to say. And tweeters were quick to point out the inherent racism in Rinaldi’s claim:

Ah! So this piece was written in the course of calling other people racist, so that makes it OK. Got it?

More outrage and mockery at Rinald’s assertions:

But, hey … what do we know. Maybe African-Americans do avoid coming to Union Station. Just last week Hillary Clinton and Sen. Mark Udall were busy shaking hands and campaigning at the station, or as Rinaldi described it in his piece, “Denver in 1950″ and we don’t  see any African-Americans in the photo:

And this:

Vanilla ice cream, no doubt.

And here’s Udall from back in May at a ceremony for the opening of Denver’s finest example of, again in Rinaldi’s won words, “architecture of exclusivity”:

Kind of odd for two of the top politicians in Democratic circles — Sen. Mark Udall and Hillary Clinton — to be seen at such a monument to racism, no?

Come to think of it, President Obama has been noticeably absent from the campaign trail in Colorado. We’ve assumed that it’s because Sen. Udall didn’t want to be tied to the president’s failed policies, but could it bet that it’s actually President Obama who doesn’t want to be seen with Sen. Udall because of Udall’s love of racist structure? We’re just asking questions…

Related:

‘Just what we need now’: Jesse Jackson all set to battle Ebola-induced racism [photo]

‘Racism?’ WaPo’s Dana Milbank asks why Obama commands ‘little loyalty’ from Panetta, Clinton and Gates

‘Django Unchained’ actress Daniele Watts cries racism, cops say indecent exposure

 

 

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2014/10/22/progs-of-pallor-alert-denver-post-writer-sees-racism-in-the-renovation-of-union-station/

The Forgotten Story Of Classic Hollywood’s First Asian-American Star

Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong was a trailblazer despite the openly racist industry in which she worked. Remembering her story and contemplating how much things have changed.

Justine Zwiebel / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The following is a bonus chapter from Anne Helen Petersen’s Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema. You can read previous installments — on everyone from Katharine Hepburn to Marlon Brandohere.

In a December 1933 issue of New Movie Magazine, society reporter Grace Kingsley described her visit to screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart’s famed costume party, where the who’s who of Hollywood showed up dressed, as the year’s theme dictated, as other Hollywood stars. The actress Fay Wray described the scene to Kingsley, cooing over each of her friend’s excellent costumes (“There’s Jack Gilbert as Lionel Barrymore in Rasputin!”) but really losing it when she sees “a little Chinese lady dancing about.”

But that lady wasn’t Chinese: She was the (white) comedienne Polly Moran. “I’m Anna May Wong!” she said, running over and brandishing her hands. “And my fingernails cost me a dollar and a half!”

New Movie Magazine / Via lantern.mediahist.org

As the picture that accompanied the article shows, Moran was decked out in full yellowface — including makeup to darken her skin, a wig, Chinese-style dress, and approximations of Wong’s signature long, pointed nails. In the picture, she makes a face intended to simulate a “Chinese” expression, and if you look closely, you can see that her eyes are taped up in an exaggeration of the Asian facial structure.

Moran, and whoever dressed her, would be familiar with this makeup technique (often achieved by using fish skin as an adhesive) because so many non-Asian women had been made up to play the role of Asian women. These were leading roles that could’ve been (but were seldom) given to classic Hollywood’s first and only Chinese-American star.

Anna May Wong, like other Hollywood actors of color, was not allowed in society, and would not have been invited to Stewart’s party. She couldn’t hang out with the very stars who exoticized and imitated her. In classic Hollywood, not only was it OK to act Asian, it was celebrated. And even though Stewart’s soiree was just a party, the behaviors modeled there bespoke the dominant understandings of Hollywood and America at large: White people can play at other races, and other races can play at very little.

Anna May Wong never scandalized Hollywood with her string of fiancés, like Clara Bow, or an outré sex philosophy, like Mae West. Ultimately, the scandal of her career had little to do with her, or her actions — it’s the way that Hollywood, and the audience that powered it, remained so hideously stubborn about the roles a woman like her could play, both on and off the screen. Wong was a silent-film demi-star, a European phenomenon, a cultural ambassador, and a curiosity, the de facto embodiment of China, Asia, and the “Orient” at large for millions. She didn’t choose that role, but it became hers, and she labored, subtly, cleverly, persistently, to challenge what Americans thought an Asian or Asian-American should or could be — a challenge that persists today.

Wong was born in 1905 in Los Angeles, just off Flower Street on the outskirts of Chinatown. Fan-magazine renderings of Wong’s childhood didn’t shy from evoking the discrimination she faced, especially in her integrated elementary school. One boy would stick needles into her every day, to which she responded by simply wearing a thicker and thicker coat. A group of boys pulled her long braids, shoving her off the sidewalk and yelling, “Chink, Chink, Chinamen. Chink, Chink, Chinamen.” Sometimes the profile would admit that such children were of “lesser parents,” but the anecdotes were framed as a simple trial of childhood: no different than a white star getting teased as a child for an embarrassing name or pair of glasses.

Profiles also labored to reconcile an identity that was at once wholly Chinese yet also American. She worked in a Chinese laundry, but that laundry wasn’t in Chinatown. Her parents forced her to go to Chinese school after American school, but she skipped it to go to the movies. She had a Chinese name (Wong Liu Tsong) that meant “Frosted Yellow Willows,” but she opted for the Americanized Anna May Wong. Her parents were skeptical of the moving image — her mother purportedly believed that cameras could steal a bit of the soul — but Wong eschewed Old World superstition. She was, in many ways, a classic child of immigrants, incorporating the behaviors, beliefs, and vernacular of her homeland with the heritage of home.

As Wong grew, she became increasingly fascinated with the Hollywood pictures that would film in Chinatown, which, in the late ‘10s and early ‘20s, studios would regularly use as a visual substitute for China — a conflation that made it even more difficult for Americans to understand that Chinese-Americans were a distinct culture from the Chinese.

To make Chinatown seem like the bustling streets of China, directors needed Chinese faces — which is how Wong first appeared, as an extra in Alla Nazimova’s The Red Lantern at the age of 14. She had asked for her father’s permission, but he was reluctant: As one profile explained, “Of course, many Chinese girls had played extra, but there are many Chinese girls who are not nice.” It was only after her father made sure that other “honorable” Chinese extras, all male, would guard her that he agreed to let her participate.

Over the next two years, Wong appeared in bit parts in various films, still attending school, before quitting in 1921 to focus full-time on her career. She was immediately cast in her first leading role in The Toll of the Sea, a nonoperatic take on Madame Butterfly that blew up the screen for two very simple reasons: It had Technicolor (two-strip, which meant only tones of reds and greens, but no matter, COLOR, that was sick), and Wong was actually a decent actress.

Wong’s acting was subtle and unmannered; her eyebrow game was on point. She had a piercing stare that made you feel as if she saw the very best and very worst things about you, and her signature blunt-cut bangs made her face seem at once exquisitely, perfectly symmetrical. Given the quilt work of exotic roles she’d played on the silent screen, audiences expected her to speak with a broken, accented, or otherwise un-American English. But her tone was refined, cool, cultured, like a slap in the face to anyone who’d assumed otherwise.

Her early success, like that of Japanese star Sessue Hayakawa, can at least partially be attributed to the global market for silent films. Yet to truly understand Anna May Wong’s unique place in Hollywood — and the particular type of racist role available to her — you have to understand both the rampant fetishization of the “Orient” by the West and the place of Chinese-Americans in California in the early 20th century.

In very broad terms, “Orientalism” refers to the overarching tendency of the “Occident,” or the Western world, to fetishize and exoticize the “Orient” (“The East,” or civilizations and cultures spanning the Asian continent). Scholar Graham Huggan defines exoticism as an experience that “posits the lure of difference while protecting its practitioners from close involvement” — and that’s exactly what Westerners wanted: a taste of “difference,” usually in the form of an evocative song, poem, or painting, without the actual immersive and possibly challenging experience thereof.

Mediated through the lens of Orientalism, members of distinct Asian, Middle Eastern, and African cultures are grouped together into one vast sultry and quasi-backward “Orient,” replete with heathens, pungent spices, snake charmers, mysticism, and all sorts of other offensively stereotypical renderings. For the Occident to reify its position as potent, masculine, and dominant, it had to figure the Orient as diffuse, feminized, and passive. It’s bullshit, but it pervaded everything from political speeches to children’s bedtime stories. Think Madame Butterfly, think the entire oeuvre of Rudyard Kipling, think “Rikki Tikki Tavi,” think Aladdin.

When Anna May Wong rose to stardom in the 1920s, the “great” empires of the West were in decline — but that simply made it all the more important to shore up the ideas and attitudes that were under threat. Which explains why every. single. article. I found about Anna May Wong somehow manages to sexualize and exoticize her while also placing her — her upbringing, her family, her heritage — in diametric opposition to “American” and Western practices.

Motion Picture Magazine / Via lantern.mediahist.org

“Anna May Wong symbolizes the eternal paradox of her ancient race,” wrote one fan magazine. “She reminds us of cruel and intricate intrigues, and, at the same time, of crooned Chinese lullabies. She brings to the screen the rare comprehension and the mysterious colors of her ivory-skinned race.” That sort of rhetoric — directed to an almost entirely white audience — that’s Orientalism. That Wong was American, however, complicated the normal Orientalist discourses: She forced magazines to perform a lot of tricky rhetorical maneuvering where they acknowledged that she was somehow, magically, almost inconceivably, at once American and Chinese.

Wong was also opposite of what many had come to associate with Chinese-Americans, which, at least in the late 19th and early 20th century, comprised a subculture that was conceived of as being segregated, unknowable, and almost entirely male. The reasons for that reputation were complicated: When Chinese laborers first came to America in the mid-19th century, men traveled to make money, while women mostly stayed at home. With the passage of the Page Law in 1875, Chinese women with even a hint of “immoral character or suspect virtue” were banned from entering the United States, which resulted in even more gender imbalance.

Because Chinese lived in these nearly all-male configurations that didn’t match with American understandings of what community should look like, it was easy to further stigmatize and exclude them, both socially and legally. See, for example, the 1882 passage of the “Chinese Exclusion Act,” which prevented Chinese from entering the U.S. based on claims that as a people, the Chinese were immoral, unhealthy, and posed distinct threats to the American way of life and labor force (rhetoric that may sound familiar to anyone following contemporary immigration debates).

Photoplay Magazine / Via lantern.mediahist.org

That was the environment of systemic racism in which Wong was operating in the early ‘20s, when her turn in the Technicolor Turn of the Sea was such a novelty that all of Hollywood saw it — including Douglas Fairbanks, then-ruling King of Hollywood, like Tom Cruise meets Brad Pitt only with a swashbuckling mustache. Fairbanks needed a dastardly “Mongol slave” for his production of The Thief of Baghdad, and immediately wanted Wong for the part.

What do these two roles have in common? In one, Wong plays a Chinese “Lotus Flower” who falls for a white man who loves her but can’t possibly be with her; in the other she plays “the scheming handmaiden” who tries to prevent the love between the handsome, swashbuckling lead and his princess (the daughter of a caliph who is unaccountably white). So: a victim who can’t have love, or evil temptress who prevents a white woman from having love — these are the two roles that Wong would play again and again, with slight variations for ethnic specificity, time period, and plot, over the next two decades. A victim or a villain, with very little, in most cases, in terms of character development, ethnic specificity, or anything else to suggest that the depth, charisma, or worth of white counterparts.

Wong’s roles may have been shit, but the fan magazines loved her, unlike black actors, who were either relegated to even more demeaning bit parts and/or ghettoized in black films shown only in black theaters for black audiences. For various complicated reasons that have a lot to do with American racial history and the way that Orientalism actually weirdly celebrates the people and civilizations it fetishizes, it was OK for the fan mags to profile her, run pictures of her, and generally acquaint American audiences with her — but not put her on the cover.

In these profiles, you can see the press continuing, with extreme awkwardness, to reconcile the idea of a star who is at once American and Chinese:

To prove that she was Chinese:

From Crown to Sole, Anna May Wong is Chinese. Her black hair is of the texture that adorns the heads of the maidens who live beside the Yang-tse Kiang. Her deep brown eyes, while the slant is not pronounced, are typically Oriental.

But oh, wait, she’s totally American:

Improbable as this sounds, it is absolutely true. Anna May Wong, among Americans, is so thoroughly one of us that her Oriental background drops completely away.

No, seriously, guys, she’s Chinese:

She is as Chinese as kumquats and the lotus. … She is of centuries ago and yet of today. … Animation scarcely ever ruffles the tranquility of her round face.

NO, SERIOUSLY, SHE’S AMERICAN:

Anna May Wong has never even been to China, and you might just as well know it right now. Moreover, she has seen NY’s Chinatown only from a taxi-cab, and she doesn’t wear a mandarin coat … her English is faultless. Her conversation consists of scintillating chatter that any flapper might envy. Her sense of humor is thoroughly American. She didn’t eat rice when she and I lunched together, and she distinctly impressed it upon the waiter to bring her coffee, not tea.

NEVER MIND, HERE’S A POEM, SHE’S TOTALLY CHINESE:

Motion Picture Magazine / Via lantern.mediahist.org

You can see how Wong would grow weary, both of this treatment in her publicity and the relative dearth of roles, especially complex ones, available to her. She was also understandably pissed that when an Asian role did come along, directors found an actor of basically any other ethnicity — Latino, Eastern European, Irish — to cast as the Asian character.

In 1928, when an opportunity came along to go to Europe, she jumped at it. There she could make films that might exoticize her slightly less. She’d be able to do things like hang out with her white co-stars. She’d maybe even be able to have a romance, which, to that point, had been wholly unavailable to her, at least publicly.

Making her home in Berlin, she not only got to star in all of her own films, but was celebrated as a great beauty. She hung out with Leni Riefenstahl; she palled around with Marlene Dietrich; she sparked a few vague sapphic whispers. She appeared in five British films, and while she didn’t get to kiss the white co-star, she did get a chance to shine, especially in Piccadilly (1929), her last silent film and widely believed to be her best performance.

Across Europe, Wong inspired very explicit adulation: Composer Constant Lambert wrote Eight Poems of Li Po and dedicated it to her; Eric Maschwitz wrote “These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)” to commemorate the end of a rumored romance. “They were all so wonderful to me,” Wong said upon her return to America. “You are admired abroad for your accomplishments and loved for yourself. That made me an individual, instead of a symbol of my race.” The extent to which Wong’s European films refused to make her a “symbol of her race” is questionable, but it’s certainly true that Wong, like Josephine Baker, Nella Larsen, and Langston Hughes, was celebrated in a way she had never experienced in America.

According to an American gossip columnist visiting Europe during Wong’s tenure, she was “acclaimed by nobility,” “the toast of the continent,” with “attendant stories of princes and even kings being madly in love with her.” This veneration was, at least in part, self-congratulatory: cultured Europeans’ way of showing just how much more sophisticated they were than those silly, racist Americans, even as they reproduced much of the same fetishizing rhetoric and narratives, just while letting the stars sit with them at dinner and waltzing cheek to cheek afterward.

Motion Picture Herald / Via lantern.mediahist.org

In 1931, Wong returned to Hollywood, lured by a contract from Paramount, which was busy scooping up European talent, and the promise of more substantial roles. She agreed to appear as a classic evil vamp in Daughter of the Dragon, but only because it meant that she’d then get a meaty part alongside Shanghai Express with Marlene Dietrich. To promote the film, Wong submitted to the studio’s attempt to further define her image by its exoticism. A January 1932 Picture Play profile titled “A Lone Lotus,” for example, slathered the Orientalism on thick.

The cultured Oriental woman makes an ideal companion … Her meditative presence is restful to a man worn ragged by the American girl’s zest for parties and sports. Then she listens with flattering respect to her superior. The unfolding of her own intellectual development usually fascinates him with its surprises.

AND THEN (quoting Wong, supposedly):

“Usually, I am accorded greater chivalry than the American girls — because I let men serve me. They have told me, ‘Modern women are too efficient; they will not permit us to do things for them.’ I have an inborn dependence upon man.”

BUT WAIT:

Her religion, embracing love and patience and service, is one that she has evolved from the mating of the old and the new. The rhythm of life, she calls it. “All good things work together for our benefit,” she often says, “if we grant our ‘Yeah, in holy meditation, shaped in a perfect syllable.’”

Here’s when, as readers more than 80 years after the fact, we have to ask ourselves: What the hell is going on? Who is coming up with this stuff? Would Wong actually say that? Can we attribute it, like so much of what was published in fan magazines, to her studio’s publicity department, trying to shape her star image into the Panda Express of Hollywood stars, right before the release of Shanghai Express?

Probably. Wong’s role in Express was, in many ways, a classic person-of-color best-friend role — only this best friend had an amazing resting bitchface and a gaze that could shut a man up with a single glance. Her true feat, of course, was getting people to look at something, anything, that wasn’t Dietrich’s intoxicating face for more than a minute. Plus, under the direction of Josef Sternberg, she got the most awesome German expressionist lighting of her life. Just look at her and Marlene. This is majesty.

New Movie Magazine / Via lantern.mediahist.org

A friendship with Dietrich, however, wasn’t the same as Dietrich-sized roles. Even though Shanghai Express was a success, meriting Best Picture and Best Director, that didn’t mean that there were necessarily parts for Wong. When MGM cast the leading female role of Lian Wha “Star Blossom,” in The Son-Daughter, they claimed that Wong was “too Chinese” for the part, instead opting for LILY-WHITE WHITE AS THE DRIVEN SNOW WHITE LIKE DAD SOCKS WHITE Helen Hayes.

Movie Classic / Photoplay Magazine / Via lantern.mediahist.org

Hayes’ casting was but one of hundreds of instances of yellowface that, like blackface and redface, were wholly normalized in Hollywood at the time. Yellowface was everywhere: in movies, at costume parties, in the pages of fan magazines — for example, in the feature “Loretta [Young] Goes Oriental.”

Wong thus retreated to Europe, where she toured Britain and Scotland, made a few small film appearances (including one in which she got to kiss her white male lead), and generally resigned herself to living a more awesome life without the frustrations of Hollywood. In 1935, however, MGM began casting for its adaptation of Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth: a monster of a best-seller — we’re talking Dan Brown meets Harry Potter — and the winner of the 1932 Pulitzer Prize.

Talking Pictures Magazine / Via lantern.mediahist.org

Buck had grown up in China as the child of missionaries, and her rendering of the Chinese experience, however imperfect, was nonetheless miles ahead in terms of complexity, sympathetic characters, and generalized rejection of the tropes that usually characterized white narratives of China. In short: It was the perfect Wong project.

Which is why she obviously didn’t get it.

Let’s recite the basics: MGM was making a high-profile movie set in China, depicting a Chinese family. A Chinese family in which both main leads are Chinese. There was one major Chinese actress in Hollywood — one who could also act. Which is why it makes TOTAL AND COMPLETE SENSE that MGM cast Paul Muni (Austrian) as the lead male and (the very German) Luise Rainer as the female lead.

MGM offered Wong the consolation prize of the role of Lotus, the slinky teahouse dancer who seduces the main moral character and becomes his second wife. But Wong refused. As she said, “You’re asking me — with Chinese blood — to do the only unsympathetic role in a picture featuring an all-American cast portraying Chinese characters.” She took MGM’s offer as an insult — which it unequivocally was.

Instead of returning to Europe, Wong decided that if she was “too Chinese,” she was going to own it by actually visiting China for the first time. At first, the Chinese press was antagonistic — rightfully angry at Hollywood’s depictions of China and the Chinese — and blamed Wong, who had appeared in so many of those texts, for enabling those depictions. But Wong acquitted herself well, acknowledging that a) China had every right to be mad about its depiction, b) she never had control of her roles, and was forced to play her characters in a certain way, and c) she was super tired of playing “sinister” types.

Wong’s passport application for travel to China United States Department of Labor

Touring the cities and countryside of China, Wong was a HUGE hit. As recollected in daily dispatches from The China Press, she came off as charming, beautiful, and the closest the Chinese, who lacked anything approximating a film industry, had to depictions of themselves on the screen, however warped.

By the time she returned to Hollywood in the late ‘30s, Wong’s disillusionment was increasingly difficult to mask. In interviews, she refused to hedge her criticisms of the industry, speaking frankly about her circumscribed American life: “I can’t treat a love affair lightly enough to discuss it,” she told one critic. “When I felt myself becoming fascinated, I put a stop to it before it became love.”

That is BRUTAL. But it was also the story of Wong’s life: At least, as she confessed years before, she could go in public with a man and no one would start placing them as a couple. “Life has special difficulties for the Oriental woman in the Western world,” she explained. “I sacrificed many fine friendships through fear that either the man or I might be hurt.”

Wong couldn’t be associated with a white man, and even if a man did risk falling in love with her, she knew that it would doom both her career and his…unless, of course, he was also Chinese. People wanted to talk to her about her love life constantly, but her rarefied position in Hollywood made it so the answer always had to be a lack, an absence, a solitude, a sadness. It’s no wonder that when asked about her idea of happiness, she claimed that it was “an island of solitude with books. Not material things — but wisdom.”

As Wong’s career faded over the course of the ‘40s and ‘50s, she was granted a semblance of that solitude. Like so many relics of the silent and classic era, she made appearances on early television, exploiting the most basic and exoticized components of her image. The only way to make audiences want to see an aging star, it seemed, was to evoke the facile characteristics of her image that had always irked her most.

In truth, Wong was never a star of the magnitude of the others previously featured in this series. Her story is worth telling, however, not because of the magnitude of her stardom, but for its smallness — studying the inability of Hollywood to make use of a star of her potential says just as much about Hollywood and the fan base that fueled it as examining the stars that dominated it.

And yet, how much has changed over the last 80 years? It’s only been in the last decade, give or take, that Asian characters have begun regularly showing up in mainstream television and film, whether in “blindcasted” shows like Grey’s Anatomy (Sandra Oh as Cristina Wang), characters involved in actual romance (Daniel Dae Kim as Jin-So Kwan and Yunjin Kim as Sun-Hwa Kwon in Lost), and even those permitted to make out with/love characters who aren’t also Asian: Cho Chang (Katie Leung) in Harry Potter, Lane Kim (Keiko Agena) in Gilmore Girls, Han (Sun King) in the Fast and Furious franchise, Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) in Pretty Little Liars. Today there’s more work for Asian actors — notably, on channels like The CW, which is cultivating and catering to mostly teens and other niche audiences. This season’s crop of new shows also includes plume roles for John Cho (Selfie) and an almost entirely Asian cast in Fresh Off the Boat; time will tell how they fare.

But even with China posed to become the primary source of film revenue over the next 10 years, it’s startling to realize just how persistent and pernicious the stereotyping remains. In action cinema, the Asian male protagonist only gets to hug where his white counterpart would get a fuck; in films as various as The Hangover and Pitch Perfect, Asian characters become cutout punch lines, incredibly offensive clichés played for cheap laughs. Lucy Liu is arguably the only mainstream Asian star in Hollywood, and her roles have been relegated to voicing animated characters in Kung Fu Panda and playing the female version of Watson in CBS’s Sherlock Holmes adaptation, Elementary.

Wong, along with Dorothy Dandridge, Dolores Del Rio, Lupe Velez, Sessue Hayakawa, Paul Robeson, and Bo Jangles, are celebrated as trailblazers: the ones who did all the hard, often demeaning labor so that those who came after them would be able to walk the path to stardom free and clear. The scandal of contemporary Hollywood, then, is that every would-be star of color must seemingly blaze that path again, fighting a seemingly endless battle against the generalized racial logic that continues to guide so much of the industry.

Buy Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema.























Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/anna-may-wong-your-new-favorite-star

This Is What Goes On Inside One Of The Biggest #Oscars Parties In…

Actually watching the Academy Awards at a huge Hollywood viewing party is easier said than done.

Inside the party. Not pictured: me. Jamie Mccarthy / Getty

An Oscars viewing party is only as good as the people you’re watching with. Do they know when to be snarky and when to keep silent? (Julianne Moore is speaking. That means you are not.) Do they get appropriately emotional at the right moments? (When David Oyelowo cries, you cry too.) Have they seen most of the nominated films, or are they at least willing to withhold judgment based on a single clip? (I sat through The Judge, and I have earned your respect.)

Which is to say, a lot can go wrong. After all, there’s a reason I’ve taken to hosting a viewing party for one where the only mandatory attire is sweats and the only distraction is my own tweeting. Nevertheless, this year, I ventured out into the world outside my apartment for a chance to check out Elton John’s annual Oscars viewing party, a fundraiser for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and an excuse to rent a decent tux.

First things first, the Elton John AIDS Foundation does amazing work, having raised more than $45 million, according to a publicist. That’s not really surprising given the fact that the viewing party is punctuated by stars like Alec Baldwin and Sharon Osbourne asking attendees to dig a little deeper into their pockets. Guests’ pledges are also projected onto a large screen, which adds incentive to make a big donation. (I know exactly how much you gave, Chris Colfer, and I’m proud of you.)

I acknowledge the great cause, because regardless of my personal experience at the Elton John viewing party, I’m glad that it happens every year. But since you asked, my personal experience was actually rather uncomfortable. When I first arrived, I milled about trying to go against my better judgment and make conversation with strangers. I did engage Lisa Rinna for a few seconds before realizing I had nothing particularly interesting to say, aside from complimenting her dress. And I managed to sneak a peek at Aaron Paul’s ballot, but only after I’d turned mine in.

Eventually, we were escorted into the dining room where the dinner and viewing party would take place. And that’s when things took a turn. I quickly realized my table was chatty. Listen, I am not an antisocial monster. I think it’s nice when the people around me want to know my name and what I do for a living and where I got my tux. (Men’s Wearhouse, thank you very much.) But this is the Oscars. This is the one night of the year I actually care about watching TV live and sharing my opinions with the internet, because I’m a millennial. The people at my table were more interested in loudly talking about how they hadn’t seen the vast majority of nominated films. Ida is streaming on Netflix, people! Come on.

A table inside the party. (Not my table. If I were sitting with Gigi Hadid, don’t you think I would have mentioned that?) Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

I tried to focus on the show, but it was increasingly difficult to hear. (With each drink, the woman next to me was becoming drunker and drunker and louder and louder, which might have had something to do with that.) I took note of the fact that Gillian Anderson and JC Chasez were sitting at a table together, and I desperately looked for reasons to join them. Can you imagine how well-timed and expertly delivered Gillian Anderson’s barbs are? I can just see JC Chasez throwing his head back with laughter.

I continued to live-tweet the drunken exploits of my neighbor and tried to mentally will Sir Elton John to turn up the audio so I could actually hear the broadcast. Things reached their nadir at my table when John Legend and Common performed “Glory” — which was, to be clear, the highlight of the Academy Awards themselves — as another woman at the table rolled her eyes, accused people of fake crying, and loudly lamented the public conversation about racism in Hollywood that Selma‘s snubs had inspired.

I wish I could say I handled this all better than I did. I asked her what her issue was with “Glory,” and she claimed she didn’t have one, just that it had to win the Oscar for Best Original Song because people were so angry about the film not getting other nominations. And when it did win, she kept repeating “no surprises here,” before muttering something to her friend about having to give the blacks something. “I’m not going to sit here with a racist,” I said to no one in particular, before getting up and walking away. (I am a man of honor, but one who is also terrified of confrontation.) I never returned to my table, watching the rest of the broadcast from the cocktail area. My biggest regret is that I didn’t actually try to engage with that woman over her racism, and my second biggest regret is that I left the table before dessert was served.

That uncomfortableness at my table was luck of the draw: I happened to be at a viewing party with the wrong people. (And to be clear, not everyone at my table was terrible! But as with any family gathering, the drunkest and the most racist attendees always get the most attention.)

Once the show was over, I quickly discovered that the Elton John Oscars viewing party is a lot more fun once the actual viewing portion ends. As is the case with any Hollywood party, I spent most of my time walking around, silently acknowledging the presence of various actors (it was basically a shit ton of TV people, who are often considered to be less important than movie stars; but I happen to watch more TV than movies, so nyah), and wondering how long the valet line would be (it ended up being not so bad. I stood next to Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller, who is always a hoot, bless her heart).

Ultimately, I feel very lucky that I was able to experience a glamorous Hollywood night, but I was also comforted by the fact that my sweats were waiting for me at home.

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/louispeitzman/what-its-like-inside-elton-johns-annual-oscars-viewing-party

Adam Serwer in the Sewer, Democrats and Obama Attempt the Reverse Racism Card

“I haven’t met her before, she seems like a compelling person. The fact that you’ve got a woman as the nominee, vice presidential nominee of one of the major parties, is one more hit against that glass ceiling,” Mr. Obama said.

Barack Obama does not seem to consider such a comment congratulating a woman for hitting up against their “glass ceiling” sexist. But perhaps he should consider that a black man has never been president, and he has his own glass barrier to break through. Implying that women face any greater a barrier seems to demonstrate a sexist bias towards women and possibly the reason Obama steered clear of Hillary Clinton when choosing his running mate. Perhaps two glass ceilings were one too many?

Geraldine Ferraro, the 1984 Democratic Vice Presidential candidate in the NYT story, terms Obama “terribly sexist.” And, as a result, she says she may not be able to cast her ballot for him. Ferraro went overboard here and we realize that. Obama could have steered clear of Hillary for a number of reasons, like not wanting a name bigger than life on the ticket alongside him or perhaps the vicious battle in the Democratic primary between the two. But when Democrats attack Republicans as sexist for choosing a woman as a Vice Presidental candidate, we cry foul.

Adam Serwer, an Obama supporter, but ultimately a nobody, took reverse sexism to a peak. Adam spoke out.

“Palin’s addition to the ticket takes Republican faux-feminism to a whole new level.” As Adam Serwer pointed out on TAPPED, “this is in fact a condescending move by the GOP. It plays to the assumption that disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters did not care about her politics — only her gender. In picking Palin, Republicans are lending credence to the sexist assumption that women voters are too stupid to investigate or care about the issues, and merely want to vote for someone who looks like them. As Serwer noted, it’s akin to choosing Alan Keyes in an attempt to compete with Obama for votes from black Americans.”

No Mr. Serwer, we believe it is people like you that clearly demonstrate your sexism and clear misunderstanding of what is intelligent. Are you saying that anyone that selects a woman as a candidate is condescending towards women unless that person is a Democrat? Women are being played for stupid, according to Mr. Serwer, because of course a woman should not have been selected, and women would be too smart to think a woman deserved to take office if not selected by Obama?

Serwer took the selection of a woman by the Republicans and made it all about gender in his attack, and it was shameful. According to his own writings Mr. Serwer is sexist and racist as well. He appears to think that any selection of a black man would be racist if not selected by a Democrat, and blacks would be therefore stupid to assume any black man should assume office if he were not a Democrat. Serwer has resorted to the sewer of commentary.

We are hoping that Mr. Serwer is not a sexist or a racist and suggest he resort to proof-reading his articles before he prints them. They insult both women and black men that do not agree with his politics.

In the 2008 Presidential Election, We Don’t Care if We are Sexist, Racist or Biased

W e are what we are, fabricated over years of exposure to the realities of our lives.  If you were attacked or mugged by a member of a specific race, you likely harbor a prejudice against that race.  If you were impoverished, oppressed by or at war with a race of people, you likely have a bias against them.  And sexism touches us all from the “glass ceiling” to the destruction of “father’s rights” by the women’s movement to the horrors of rape.  There are so many other facets of racism and sexism that span the globe that one could write a book the size of “War and Peace” and not cover them all.

The sexist card is hard to totally understand.  Many men blame it on a women’s movement that has made every attempt to minimize the importance of men, especially fathers, in their children’s lives.  But sexism and abuse of women was around long before there was any solidified women’s movement.

Women, on the other hand, want equal wages and fair consideration, and because of physical differences, suffer at the hands of men.  Internationally, sexist acts against women are rampant and the indignations they suffer are broad-based.  In some societies, they are deprived of basic education to ensure their advancement in society is impaired and their social status retained as subservient to men.

In America, it is quite possible the pendulum has swung too far, when a female population that outnumbers men is treated like a minority.  But world-wide, that is anything but the truth.

The sexism issue is an important one from a political standpoint.  Statistically, women vote more than men, and women of voting age outnumber men.  One has to only go to political websites to find that almost every candidate addresses women’s rights, while few address the rights of men.  If you want the vote of women, you don’t mess with the sexist argument and if you want the vote of the aged, you don’t mess with Social Security and Medicare.  And what do we call the equivalent of racism against the aged?  Aged-ism?  Plenty of that against McCain, as there was against Reagan.

These two issues go way beyond what is stated here and they have become a central focal point of who we are as a nation.  Most of us do not wish to be classified as racist or sexist, but in some measure, we all are, whether we admit it or not.  In humor, Avenue Q, a Broadway Show has a tune they include in their performance, in which they sing, “Everyone’s a little bit racist…sometimes….”.  We would add sexist and just about every other bias to that.

And so enters politics, in which we expect the candidate to be a perfect reflection of our ideals.  As such, no politician wants to be considered sexist or racist, and yet, by their own nature they must be.  So, when you see one or the other play the racism or sexism card against their opponent, one has to examine the motivations behind their statements and the likely desire to cover up who they themselves truly are.

That aside, one thing to examine closely on the internet with respect to the Presidential Election is how both sides are playing the sexist and racist cards as we write this.

Here are the various claims:

1. If you don’t vote Republican, you are sexist.
2. If you don’t vote for Obama, you are racist.
3. The Republican’s choosing a woman as a VP candidate was sexist.
4. Had the Republicans chosen a black man as a VP candidate, that would be racist.
5. Obama choosing a white man as a running mate was racist.
6. If you think Obama is a Muslim, you are a racist.
7. If you voted for Obama over Hillary you are a sexist.
8. If you resent Obama’s choice of a male VP over Hillary, you are a sexist.
9. Obama was sexist for choosing a man as a VP when Hillary was available.
10. Bill was a pig for fooling around with Monica.

We have read some of these with disbelief in how twisted some people have become in classifying others as sexist or racist.  The reverse logic is the most twisted.  When one uses the logic that the only reason to choose a woman for a political office is because you are sexist, then, of course, that in and of itself is sexist against women by definition, the ultimate sexist catch 22, in which your opponent is damned if they do and damned if they do not.  When one says that you should never choose a black man for office because it would show you were trying to play the race card, again, you oppress all black men that were excellent choices for that office.

We would like to see this election steer clear of these issues, but we also know that other issues, such as Roe vs. Wade will find their way into the debates and they, in and of themselves have sexist overtones.

We just find most often, when one political candidate accuses the other of either sexism or racism, they are most often calling the kettle black.  It isn’t that simple, but in an effort to divide the nation into votes for their respective candidates, an attempt to simplify things into cut and dry categorizations is attempted, and life is not as simple as they paint it.

Our conclusion…

If a headline accuses the other side of being sexist or racist, realize it is most likely sensationalism to sway your vote.  You may, just may, find you want to read it with skepticism if not downright contempt, and possibly consider the authors’ desire to direct you away from their own weaknesses with respect to these broad-based issues.