fandom, Geekery, media

Let’s Talk about Reba McClane

Okay, I need to talk about Reba McClane.

I don’t know if you watch NBC’s Hannibal. Hell, I’d stopped watching four episodes into Season One. I have a low threshold for gore no matter how high the production values are. But I’m back on board for the second half of Season Three. Reba McClane is the reason why.

Rutina in white

Casting Rutina Wesley in the role is nothing short of genius. Her performance is such a breath of fresh air, not only for a show mired in death, darkness and psychopathology but for beleaguered Black women TV viewers everywhere. Wesley plays Reba with a hint of innocence, naivete and open-hearted sweetness that we never see in Black women characters on any screen. After six years of playing the burdened Tara Thornton on True Blood, watching Wesley be so relatively carefree is a joy to behold.


I know it’s a huge fact to set aside but let’s not focus on Dolarhyde and his transformation into or ‘becoming’ the Great Red Dragon. But I don’t believe it’s relevant to this discussion of Reba McClane. Because even if he was not psychotic or scarred by abuse and disability, I think he would have fallen for Reba McClane, especially as played by Rutina Wesley. In addition to her kindness and acceptance of Francis, Reba’s able to communicate with him without artifice or double-talk. Reba’s sweetness and straight-shooting is irresistible to Francis despite his disconnection from reality. I doubt that would change if his mental health were more stable, in fact I think Reba’s pull would be even stronger.

In Reba McClane, Wesley gets to be open-hearted, sweet and unequivocally lovable on-screen. It’s such a contrast from her last TV role. Her Reba McClane is not laden down with the stereotypes generally attributed to Black women. And Ms. Wesley seems to revel in that fact. I can feel that joy in her performance.

reba mcclane open face

I was so invigorated after watching Hannibal 3.9 “And the Woman Clothed with the Sun”. I had to get online and squee with a fan who had decided since Wesley was cast as Reba to view Season 3 with rose-colored, AU glasses. (She also promised fic and I’m holding her to that.) This fan loves Rutina Wesley even more than I do so we’re able to focus our fangirling on Reba/Rutina and her interactions with Francis/Richard Armitage. We’re both basically coming back to the show after skipping the first two and a half seasons. So rose-colored glasses is a pale descriptor for our delusional version of squee. In our heads, we’re watching the beginning of a great romance, not a tragedy. Yes, we may need help but we’re not seeking it at the moment.

This may sound sad to some but it speaks to the dearth of Black women characters like Reba McClane. There’s no denying she’s a love interest but her personality sets her apart from every other character on the show. Reba has no ulterior motives, no sinister master plan. She knows she’s great and wants to share that greatness with someone else. (Too bad she’s chosen a psychotic serial killer, but hey, a lot of awesome people have bad taste in men.) She’s also free from so many hurtful stereotypes that stick to WoC characters even when they’re race-bended.

My only hope is that the writers don’t lose their way with Reba’s characterization the same way that Sleepy Hollow has with the Mills Sisters, or The Flash has with Iris West. Please don’t get distracted with shiny white characters and mess up the good thing you’ve got going here. Don’t place your WoC character’s development on the backburner. Let us have this. Let us keep having great things to say when we talk about Reba McClane.

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Geekery

New Podcast: Black Girl Squee

oitnb cast in blue

OITNB cast in Blue. Credit: Essence Magazine

Apologies for the irregular updates here. I’ve been splitting most of my online time between Tumblr and Twitter. But I want to make better use of this space.

What’s better than announcing new content? Inda Lauryn and I have started a new podcast called Black Girl Squee! We released our first episode this past Tuesday. Check it out  Black Girl Squee! – The Pilot  and feel free to send us feedback via  Twitter  or Gmail.

Why Black Girl Squee? Because black girls (and women) suffer attacks and aggressions both large and small on a daily basis. Which sucks because we’re pretty awesome. So Black Girl Squee! is a place to celebrate that awesomeness and just be joyful and talk about things that make us happy. If you want an elevator pitch, it’s a pop culture podcast with a focus on Black women.

So  subscribe here and come squee with us!

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Geekery

The Raven Moody Chronicles | Chapter 2: Emergency Landing

dustdaughter:

Great new sci-fi story in progress. Check it out!

Originally posted on Corner Store Press:

Chapter 2: Emergency Landing

“We have to land. Soon we’ll have no fuel.”

They had been knocked off course. They were nowhere near the vicinity of the Eicho system. Raven did not know how where such a strong force could come from so suddenly and take them so far away from their destination. Shuttlecrafts were built for the short excursion between the base and the star. She had never had to test one without the base as a safety point.

The black emptiness expanded all around them as Raven kept her eyes opened for any sign of the Cuafour System. The sporadic star pattern indicated they were closest to the technologically quiet system. Many of the colonized planets in the Cuafour System eschewed most technology, but there were means of communication. Most inhabitants of the Cuafour System preferred to live quiet lives yet still had ways to find out the…

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Geekery

Thinking about the deeply embedded misogyny of white feminists

dustdaughter:

Excellent and timely post from ApatheticAcademic on white feminism and the ways it excludes and alienates trans women, queer women and people of color.

Originally posted on I've Thought About It And...:

I’ve been thinking about this for a few months now; what to make of white feminists and the state of feminism in general. The erasure of women of color. The erasure of queer women. The deep hatred by many feminists of trans women. The willingness to participate in patriarchy to oppress other women or people of color. I was thinking about it in relation to my own conflicted feelings about feminism. Do I still call myself a feminist? Am I really a womanist? An Africana womanist? Do I just want to abandon the label of feminist to these horribly oppressive white women?

I’m still unsure, but a few weeks ago I had a moment wherein I realized that these white feminists who frustrate me with their willingness to oppress other women were not just garbage humans who don’t understand what “feminism” means. (Hint: it’s not the radical idea that women are…

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music

Not a Review: Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions

Mary J Blige - The London Sessions

Mary J Blige – The London Sessions

Okay, here’s the situation. I live-tweeted my first full listen of The London Sessions the day that it came out. And I was happy with what I heard for the most part. Because it’s Mary and I love Mary. Her voice sounded better than I’ve heard her in a long time, even on tracks that I didn’t like. So I recommended the album to a couple of folks on Twitter, with only a twinge of doubt about my co-sign.

Later that day, other folks tweeted their responses to the album. And it wasn’t as positive as I’d felt during my first listen. I started questioning my taste in music for a second. But the critiques were coming from fellow music lovers whom I respect.

So I listened to it again and again. After a few listens, I noticed which songs I wanted to skip and which ones I wanted to repeat. I started to see the dissenting point of view about the album.

Here’s my thing about The London Sessions. I hate the idea that since Mary J. Blige put out her most successful albums at a time in her life when she was suffering from relationship abuse and drug addiction that she should go back to that state to regain popularity. Like, y’all really want this Black woman to regress and put herself through further pain just to entertain you? SMFH. Let that woman be happy, that’s all she really wanted in the first place.

There are some good songs on The London Sessions. The best of these is the single, “Whole Damn Year”. There are some misses too, where Disclosure and Co. give her impersonal dance tracks to sing over. She slays them, of course, she’s not the Queen of Hip Hop Soul for nothing.

But the heart of Mary’s art has been making the personal universal. There’s not much for her fans to connect to on songs like “My Loving” and “Follow”. Some of the dance tracks belong to the 90’s and probably should’ve stayed there. (I give “Nobody But You” a pass. Four on the floor never goes out of style, right?)

Even the ballads lack the intimacy that’s been the trademark of Blige’s best work. After listening to The London Sessions for a few days, the kindest thing I can say is that the album is a collection of stellar vocal performances. The material itself is less than stellar as a whole. There are a few standout songs (“Therapy”, “Doubt”, the aforementioned “Whole Damn Year”) but the rest of the album consists of  impersonal tracks that any singer could’ve performed – just not as well as Mary has. Thirteen albums into her career, Blige deserves a higher class of material to sink her chops into.

Next time, I won’t recommend an album right after the first listen.

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