tv: Underbelly Razor

Underbelly: Razor (Wikipedia blurb):-

Underbelly: Razor is a 13-part Australian television mini-series detailing real events that occurred in Sydney between 1927 and 1936. The series depicts the “razor gangs” who controlled the city’s underworld during the era and the violent war between the two “vice queen” powers, Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh.

It was pretty easy to get me into it, I mean, you’ve got a show about women, led by women, who actually existed, and I’m a shamelessly easy hook.

However, it’s as triggery as all get out and hard to watch most of the time.

Are the women as fierce and awesome? Yes. Very much so. Would I recommend it? Well that depends, how much are you willing to put up with for a show with awesome women who are smart, quick, and dangerous?

Things to hate right at the start of the series:


1) Introducing Tillie’s business, brothels, one of the prostitutes in the house gets pregnant (not for the first time according to her and she looks appropriately apprehensive about it). Turns out she’s not apprehensive because she’ll have to deal with not being able to work but because her boss takes her outside and has her repeatedly punched in the stomach to induce a miscarriage.

2) Tillie’s lover/boyfriend/lackey is a domestic abuser. He cheated on her in this episode, she called him on it and he beat her. The next day, she confronted the woman he cheated on her with, one of the girls in her house, and threatened her while making it clear that it wasn’t her lover’s fault. So there’s that psychological mindfuckery that comes with domestic abuse.

3) A bit unbelievably, there’s only one POC, a black man who apparently goes by the name of n****. Yeah.

4) Antisemitism; a local crime thug known as Phil the Jew, and his Jewishness is called up as a derogatory attribute pretty constantly.

5) There’s a thug called the midnight raper who’s apparently discovered a penchant for slicing up women in the middle of the night, just for kicks.

And all that’s just in the first two intro, get to know your players, episodes.

I’m hooked by the female characterization. There’s a woman who’s not penalized for having sex how and when she wants to, a woman who’s had to deal with rampant sexism to become a respected officer of the law, and two crime queens with major personalities. So I kept watching.

By the end of the show, I wasn’t as angry at myself for putting up with as I thought I would be. I need to examine whether that’s a matter of being deadened/slowly numbed to all that was wrong (this is the problem with marathoning through a show).

1) We finally had some more POC – I will forever blame the writers for waiting till the last episode to include more (even just token) characters.

2) Tilly and Kate seemed to have come to some odd little understanding at gunpoint. She also seemed to have gotten rid of her abusive husband down the road.

3) Forever annoyed at the side-eye constantly thrown to Lillian Armfield (the only female officer) for being single. I also highly doubt that she was just devoid of any life outside her work life, despite her dedication to her job. Would have loved to see more of how she navigated gender and straight relationships (she seems to feel very strongly about identifying as straight when confronted with a different possibility). However, her politics on rape were refreshing to see on tv: consent can be revoked even if consent has been given. Fuck yes! Now can we hammer this in again and again on more media, please?

4) There was a canon lesbian! I didn’t expect them to even bother (yes, I’m cynical) who tried to hit on Officer Armfield but was unfortunately rebuffed; she ended up marrying one of the male cops. That’s a matter of the time period though, so I won’t fault the writers too much.

5) Nellie. Oh, Nellie, this lady here is fascinating to watch. Like a train wreck is fascinating to watch. However, she owns it even as she fools other men into thinking that they can posses her. Her sexual politics were extremely fascinating to watch. There was a side of how problematic it was that she got involved with men who ultimately wanted to own her, but I appreciated the bits where she got to express who she was sexually. She wanted sex, as many times as she wanted it and she wanted it kinky.

In the end this show had some truly complex and VIBRANT female characters; from the crime queens to the ladies working the streets and houses and salons. The women had their own mind, the queens showed incredible agency, and they knew it and made sure everyone else knew it. Even with their less than great decisions I love that it didn’t vilify them for their weaknesses or their strengths.

The show was also flawed, very much so.

Take all compliments and criticisms with a grain of salt, and all that.


What Justice? It’s Just A System

There’s no processing this for me. There’s just no way I can get my head and heart around the fact that we all got to watch another murder go down. There’s no way to get myself to understand that this isn’t the last that’s going to go down exactly like this. There’s no way I’m doing myself the mental anguish of trying to process people like this.

There are some things that need saying (again), however:

Capital punishment is disproportionately invoked on people of color.

Capital punishment is disproportionately invoked on people of color who are convicted of killing a white person.

Capital punishment is legalized murder.

So as for me, I’m going to take a time out from humanity tonight because I simply can’t, and I just won’t tonight.

RIP Troy Davis, 11:o8pm ET, 9/21/11

signal boost: Major Lazer: Cyborgs, Dancehall, Racism, & Colonization in Music

You should definitely check out Bianca Laureano’s article, Major Lazer: Cyborgs, Dancehall, Racism, & Colonization in Music. She discusses how music made by people of culture, music culture made for and by people of color, has become something to be appropriated for popular (usually white) entertainment- and that it is they who assign a capitalist value to our work, and create a system that ensures them as the major beneficiaries. I see you Diplo. She uses the Major Lazer faux-credited Pon De Floor, a beat that’s become recently even more popular through Beyonce’s use of the track in her Run The World (Girls), and its video as the gateway to a very necessary conversation we all need to have.

After doing some searching I found the video for Major Lazer’s Pon De Floor. I was immediately excited because the dancing in the video was very much the kind of Dancehall I find fascinating, yet also complex as it is overly sexually graphic…I was excited about was that the women dancing were large bodied women. Some may even call them “fat dancers” yet for me their bodies were so much like my own it was as though I was watching myself dance…

My online searching led me to the shocking knowledge that Major Lazer  is a fictional Black cyborg created by two White men, Diplo  from Philidelphia (of M.I.A. fame), and Switch from the UK who specializes in “House” music…I realized that two White men created this image of Major Lazer, created the music, and then used Black and brown bodies in the videos…It’s 1 thing to have people of Color do the videos I love, and it’s another when White boys do it. Not that I love it any less (but I kinda do), but now it’s a different perspective with over-sexualized components.

At the end of the day I kind of feel duped, hoodwinked, bamboozled. I fell for imagery that was crafted by outsiders to represent something meaningful that I valued as an important part of my Caribbean identity. There are revolutionary aspects, yet there are so few in comparison to how many troubling aspects of the music, imagery and representations of Major Lazer…

I now understand that Major Lazer is a symbol, yet I’m unclear what it represents because I realize it does not represent me or the community I find myself a part of. I’d love to hear what those of you who either identify with any of the artists we mentioned her or who enjoy Major Lazer think. This is definitely me as an “outsider” to some extent but an “insider” in others. An interesting space to occupy.

It’s a fascinating article, you should definitely read in full.

6) Erasing Racism From Racial Issues*

So according to the Daily Show (at least from the mouths of Larry Wilmore and Jon Stewart) this whole birtherism clusterfuck had nothing to do with race and was just about scaring old (let’s face it, white) people because they did the same thing to Bill Clinton.

The fuck?

Now, Clinton endured some mess from the GOP, but I don’t remember anyone asking him for his papers.

Or dressing him up as a pimp or ‘witch-doctor’.

Or a monkey.

Or having to deal with racists asking for their country back because it didn’t look white enough anymore.

Liberal fail, Daily Show, and somehow it always burns more than the shit we expect from the GOP and their ilk. Listen, Beef Stew, I need you and your staff to go read the following posts, right damn quick, because apparently we do have to acknowledge this fuckery:

Texas Birther Rep.: More Study Needed – motherjones

Is Obama an ‘affirmative action president’? – thegriot

Pull Over, that Ass Is Too Black! – elle, phd

A Daily Show dodge, racism is racism, not “opportunism” – reachblack

*heading is from content in my previous post.

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