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Tell me your thoughts on . . .
Tell her everything you feel 
6th-Jul-2010 07:58 pm
'Sup, fandom?

I have a dilemma, and it's a pretty specific one, and I was hoping some outside voices would help me unpack it.

(Fair warning: this question involves a White Person fretting over How To Write [or, in this case, How To Vid] People Who Are Not White. If this is not something you feel up to dealing with today, please start scrolling now.)

Basically, I want to vid Billy Joel's "Tell Her About It." The premise of the song is that it's an Older Guy singing to a Younger Guy with advice on how to properly treat a girlfriend, based on the Older Guy's own past experiences. Like so:

Listen, boy, it's good information from a man who's made some mistakes
Just a word or two that she gets from you can be the difference that it makes...
Tell her about it, tell her everything you feel
Give her every reason to accept that you're for real

...and so on. (Full lyrics here.)

The vid I have in mind involves two of my OTPs (both m/m). Between the available footage and their individual dynamics, it could work in pretty much any combination, with any of the guys being the singer, and either half of the other pairing being the person sung to.

The catch is that, while three of the characters are white, one of them is black. As a result, every combination I've come up with falls into some problematic area or another:

Option #1: Black guy as the Older Guy
Plays into the trope of "characters of color only existing to facilitate the lives and/or sexual relationships of white characters."

Option #2: Black guy as the Younger Guy
Plays into the trope of "COCs not being able to handle their own lives without help from white characters." Also involves the black guy being addressed as "boy" by a white character who is approximately his age, which is a terrible trope all its own.

Option #3: Black guy as one of the girls being sung about
Plays into the trope of "COCs not having their own voices at all, but being props in the story of the white characters." Also has some skeeviness related to the history of men of color being de-masculinized, although that may be ameliorated by the "it's a slash vid in a world dominated by het songs, so some of this is inevitable" factor.

Option #4: Do the vid with some other pairing, involving all white characters
Plays into the trope of "white fans avoiding dealing with COCs because they're scared of doing something wrong."

Option #5: Do the vid with some other pairing, involving all COCs
There are barely four COCs in the entire fandom. There's not enough footage of them in any combination to do the vid effectively, even if I did ship them all in some pattern that worked for the story. And trying to force it would play into the trope of "let's pair up the black characters, not because they have any chemistry or screentime together, just because they're both black."

I'm pretty sure option #2 is right out, due to the sheer visceral egregiousness of the "boy" line. Beyond that, though, I could really use some feedback. It doesn't have to be as clear-cut as "I think you should do X!", either. Even the most freeform undecided teal-deer rambling would be welcome.

So. Any thoughts?
7th-Jul-2010 01:04 am (UTC)
I am feeling very ill today and have only a simplistic grasp of US race dynamics (plus, white), but: I don't think 3 is too bad, myself. The CoC may not have a voice but he is being held up as a desired romantic partner which is not a position non-white/POC men get put into very often (if it was a woman it might feel skeevier).

racism_101 has a very fannish membership, they might be able to help (and I see you're a member).
7th-Jul-2010 04:15 am (UTC)
Yeah, I thought about posting to racism_101 - I may go there next, depending on how this conversation shakes down.

(Also, your icon gives me warm fuzzy feelings about humanity.)
7th-Jul-2010 05:46 am (UTC)
I think number one isn't as bad as all that. It's going to be obvious (or at least, I assume it will be, from your description) that the older black guy has a successful, caring relationship, right? So if you show that this advice is coming from his success, then it could be quite an awesome vid.
7th-Jul-2010 06:24 am (UTC)
Other way around, I'm afraid. Older Guy made mistakes and lost the girl, and is trying to encourage Younger Guy not to follow in his footsteps.
7th-Jul-2010 06:48 am (UTC)
Ah, I misread your explanation then *sadfaces* I must need more coffee.
14th-Jul-2010 12:31 am (UTC)
Yup, #2 goes in the bin. (So helpful, I know.) Which is sad because just looking at the personalities of the characters that I think you might be talking about, I like that option best. But you're right. Too icky.

So...I think I like #3? #4 and #5 just seem like cop outs. (There is always #6: Not do the vid at all, but that seems equally meh.)

Argh, I am so unhelpful today. So to make up for it, have some Larry Wilmore talking about mostly unrelated racial issues. :) http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-may-28-2008/obama-s-running-mate
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