Monday, August 30, 2010

Emma Watson and the Race Issue

I’ve long said that East Asians should be the most vocal opponents of affirmative action in America, given that their numbers on college campuses have been kept artificially low relative to their test scores by lefty proportional-to-the-population regulations. But there’s no reasoning with people attached to the symbolic anti-racism of such regs, regardless of practical outcomes.

A reminder of just how dangerous it is to let government wade into these matters at all was noted on Drudge, in the form of an ABC piece that paints blatantly racist Mississippi middle school rules about which students can hold which school positions as a legacy of Jim Crow — when in fact the rules in question were put in place in 1969 as an ostensibly-progressive quota system to ensure black participation. Just stay out of the whole area, politicians. And abolish public schools while you’re at it — but more about that this coming weekend.

In more-elite school news, Emma Watson’s short haircut has left people saying that she’s left her youthful Hermione days behind, but what they really ought to be saying is that she finally looks like a Brown student. Might the haircut indicate that the time for an experimental lesbian phase has arisen? Has Brown taken steps to ensure that a resulting sex tape does not leak out? I’m only asking questions.

Watson will, of course, appear on film in one of the year’s three big remaining nerd films (after this week’s Machete, the year’s most perfect date movie). November brings the first half of the final Harry Potter film, and December brings both The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Tron: Legacy, which is arguably the major-movie sequel longest separated from its original, at twenty-eight years. Let us hope we are not in for another Phantom Menace experience.


jenny said...

that was almost my comment on EW – although I noted she’s shown a great deal of restraint, not shaving it all off, which is what many of us did.

Christopher said...

I’ve often wondered why you consider the Harry Potter films “nerd films.” Hasn’t every kid age 10-25 read all the books? Very different from LoTR (the books) which has a more exclusive, if still wide-spread, readership. It doesn’t seem like there’s any even vaguely exclusive nerdish Harry Potter fan community. I realize that Star Wars was hugely popular, but there was always a difference between those who just watched it and those who became obsessed.

Todd Seavey said...

Just because a franchise succeeds in turning _everyone_ into a nerd does not make it cease to be a nerd franchise. Likewise, if 99% of the population sees _Tron: Legacy_ in December, it will still be at heart a nerd film, the kind of thing about which nerds are particularly apt to care.

I think you, sir, are slowly turning into either a linguistics professor or demographer as you age, or possibly even a hair-splitter.

More ambiguous — and addressed in my August 2008 Book Selection entry (around the last protracted time I was a single nerd, as it happens) — is the question of whether Harry Potter _is himself a nerd_, with Benjamin Nugent arguing that he is more a Tom Brown aspiring-athlete type:

Christopher said...

No, I just worry when words seem to be used so broadly that they lose their useful meaning.

The LotR *films* turned everyone into a nerd because the films brought them into what was previously a nerdish subculture based on the books. I can thus buy the idea that they were nerd films (the same would apply to the film versions of many comics).

The Harry Potter books were hugely successful across basically all social groups from the beginning. They have been THE culture, not a subculture, almost as soon as they were published. Don’t get me wrong, I personally loved the books (but haven’t seen any of the films), it’s just that unless anything dealing with the supernatural is going to count as nerdy, I don’t think it really tells us anything meaningful (or accurate) about the books/films to call them “nerd films.”

Not to split more hairs, but I think you sometimes do something similar in conflating “wrong” and “insane.” I think many leftists have vastly mistaken beliefs about how societies and economic systems tend to work, but it seems you often think these beliefs indicate insanity whereas I think that makes the definition of insanity too broad to be really useful.

You may disagree with me here, but that’s because you are a RAVING LUNATIC MUGGLE!!!

Todd Seavey said...

Well, I question whether the fact of a text’s popularity can, as it were, rescue it from being the sort of material that _normally_ appeals to nerds. Checking ticket receipts alone might, for instance, make _The Incredibles_ plainly a “kids’ movie” rather than a “nerd movie,” but it wouldn’t change the fact that the ultimate source material is the genre of superhero comics, usually regarded as nerdy.

Ditto sword and sorcery type stuff — but then, I’ve never been one to have much patience for overly-precise policing of these boundaries, which I think usually does more harm than good, such as having strictly-divided “sci-fi” and “fantasy” sections of the bookstore, despite a large amount of aesthetic overlap (I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it’s not clear it must be).

The uses of “insane” you’re describing are clearly colloquial and I give you permission to take them less seriously. I hope _Machete_ will be good, but if I declare it “the end of Western Civilization,” that too is meant to be understood as hyperbole.

More intriguing to me is the question of whether one can be both truly insane _and_ truly evil, or whether the former in some sense diminishes the latter — even while oftimes exacerbating the _effects_ of the latter. And for me, it’s not a question of free will vs. innate tendencies, as I am a determinist who believes it equally possible for someone to be “born (or made) insane” and “born (or made) evil.” And being a determinist in no way means dismissing the necessity of punishment, since it is a major causal means of curbing future evil. But it does mean that carefully watching educational, deterrent, and, yes, even reform effects is a major duty of the punisher. By which I do not mean the Marvel Comics character (after three failed movies, we’ve seen enough of _him_).