Tuesday, June 17, 2008

it's been 3.4 weeks since the last time my fandom showed its ass

You know, it's bad enough that SGA has skeezy race issues where their two regular alien characters are played by actors of color. But the fact that the majority of the fans don't think that there's a problem is, frankly, part of the problem.

This time it's the ever fascinating topic of Jason Momoa/Ronon Dex's hair. The story goes like this: when Jason got the part, the producers were a little iffy about his dreads. They went with them for a couple of years and then Jason got tired of trying to play a very physical character with six pounds of hair on his head. And really, who can blame him? So he got permission and cut his hair. A scene where Ronon cut off his dreads was written for an episode set early in the upcoming season and all was good. Oh sure, some fans complained, but Jason and the writers/producers where happy. Sadly, the SciFi channel was not and they axed the loss of the dreads to the tune of a few really painful days after Jason had them sewn back in and then, finally, a $10,000 wig.

In a conversation--which has since been frozen--elsewhere today, more than one person said they were glad the dreads stayed because they made Ronon look more alien. Actually, the word "non-human" was used.

I'm sorry, but what?!

First, there is the plain and simple fact that dreadlocks are worn by a hell of a lot of people here on Earth and have been as long as...well, people have had hair, really. There's nothing alien or non-human about them.

Secondly, Black people (and other people of color) wear dreadlocks, and like other natural Black hairstyles, it can be a controversial decision to make. People have gotten fired for having dreads--or braids or other "ethnic" hairstyles. And honestly, white people, when was the last time that the desire to wear your hair in a natural white person style was controversial?* So yeah, we're already talking about controversial hair here, hair associated with PoCs.

Thirdly...oh God, I can't believe that in this day and age I or anyone else has to explain that calling something associated with PoCs "non-human" is offensive. But apparently, it needs to be said. Putting weird ears on people and doing funny things to their eyebrows makes them look non-human. Putting rubber prosthetics on people's foreheads or painting them blue makes them look non-human. Giving a person physical attributes that don't occur on Earth makes them look non-human. Giving them a HUMAN hairstyle does NOT make them look non-human. And when Black people have been called non-human and/or sub-human for centuries and are still being called that, then no, we shouldn't have to say "hey, that's kind of offensive."

So if you really honestly think that Ronon's hair makes him look non-human, then I have two things to say to you. One: you need to look around and expand your definition of human to include people who have different hair than the white people around you. And two:


*And yes, I know that maybe a few extreme cuts or very long hair on men can be problematical in the workplace, but the fact is that naturally styled white people hair is rarely controversial the way dreadlocks or braids are. This is a part of white privilege that a lot of us don't even think about.

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