You are part of a fandom. There are a lot of yous in this fandom. In fact, a fandom cannot exist without so many yous loving and cherishing a thing and wanting to share it with each other. This fandom that you are in happens to be the Welcome to Night Vale fandom.
These charts represent the Cecils created in November. There is an incredibly uneven amount of white to nonwhite amount of Cecils, even worse when you take out the iterations of the Actor. Individually, these are not wrong. You are fine with your headcanons. Plenty of incredible artworks are featured on this blog, and even more sketches are saved in the drafts because people are so eager to create.
However, there is… quite the disparity. In the overall total; in the averages; in the percentages. As a whole, it only contributes to the minimalisation of PoC in the world. Yes—the world. Television shows, movies, books, and podcasts do not not influence the world, and although fandoms often interact in seemingly enclosed spaces on the internet, the vast “series of tubes” actually has far-reaching consequences.
There is no “IRL” as you call it that is totally separate from “Online”. When you say “In Real Life” you know you're really talking about “Away From Keyboard” or “Offline” but these things exist in your real lives and impact you—words, videos, emotions, depression, et cetera—just as much as if they were a newspaper, a television set, or another human being speaking coldly to you across the dinner table.
Even the crew behind the podcast you love so much recognize how much it is influencing people over the web. How it is helping people who are anxious or depressed, and how it is recognized and beloved by members of the LGBT*QQIPA communities.
So, too, has it even been recognized by them (or, rather, Cecil Baldwin, since he gets the most interviews) as intentionally meant to be inclusive of and welcoming to People of Color, using names evocative of nonwhite cultures and deliberately describing characters—especially Carlos, the secondary main character—with dark skin. It featured a white character whose only function was to be a racist and to be called out for his racist actions (actions that white people don’t think of as actually being racist, but in fact they are), and by the main character no less. The one you all keep picturing as white.
You are not being asked to forsake your headcanon, merely to consider drawing and writing other possibilities. This is, after all, a story full of all possibilities at once. You can think more than one thing at once. It is possible to think two things; you are not limited to the types of thought policing that goes on in Night Vale, you know. And if one of these other possibilities does supplant your headcanon? Well… what is so bad about that?
Now, if this shadow has offended, think but this and all is mended:
You are part of a fandom.
You have proudly chased off homophobic bloggers who would intrude on your fandom’s space. Yelled at them. Ranted about them. United in fandom spirit over banishing the bigot.
You laugh when the main character yells—never kindly, never politely—at someone doing something racist. You do not laugh at the main character, but at the unlearning fool unto whom he unleashes his righteous rage.
You cry when a detached hand gets a chance at her dream and it is then snatched away from her, only for the main character to nobly rhapsodize over it. Her dream becomes your dream, your sympathy.
You rally and stir and you check that your hearts are beating normally and prepare for revolution and bloodshed.
Do you realize, though, that:
“There’s never not something that, when feeling pressed to the wall, to a place with no room left to run, gathers its numbers, gathers its forces, and turns on its oppressor. Turns viciously and without inhibition, even on those who merely look like its oppressor.”?
Read it again to be sure.
No. Read it again.
You are part of a fandom, specifically, the Welcome to Night Vale fandom.
Act like it.
Here we go again, but don’t worry, we were fooled too: You think you’re looking at beautifully staged and lit photographs, but these still lifes are absolutely not photos, they’re painstakingly-rendered paintings. They’re the work of Vankleek Hill, Ontario-based artist Jason de Graaf, whose astonishing hyperrealistic still life paintings truly defy belief.
The artist focuses on every extreme detail to create realistic depth in layers of crisp reflections. With a steady hand and a strong vision, he produces a new reality based on his own imagination. One reviewer states, “[De Graaf] stretches depth and skews perspective ever so slightly, infusing the painting with a spectre of mystery that pushes the viewer to search for an ever-escaping point of equilibrium.”
Let us no longer wake up
sweating in a summer bed.
Let us never eat grapefruits
from each other’s laps.
Let us stray quickly
into this Garden of Sleeping Alone.
This Garden of Heartache has found itself
a labyrinth inside me.
Let this be easy.
Let this be the last time
my heart is wrong.
Let his hands not surrender
up my thighs. Let him not
unwrap me. Let him
not find in me a new body
again and again.
Let him not love me.
Let it not be so.
Rosary, ca. 1500–1525
German Ivory, silver, partially gilded mounts Overall: 24 11/16 x 2 1/8 x 1 3/4 in. (62.7 x 5.4 x 4.5 cm) Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.306) Each bead of the rosary represents the bust of a well-fed burgher or maiden on one side, and a skeleton on the other. The terminals, even more graphically, show the head of a deceased man, with half the image eaten away from decay. Such images served as reminders that life is fleeting and that leading a virtuous life as a faithful Christian is key to salvation.
Binary Expectations: Revisiting the Aegean Skin Color and Gender Convention
Quite recently, one of my readers dropped this little gold nugget into my inbox:
Hi, I responded to an ancient Aegean art post you put up with a quick question about a convention I had heard of about skin color denoting gender. I googled it a bit right after and I guess this can be traced back to one guy who worked a lot on the Palace of Knossos and I found this great article picking this convention apart. Maybe the skin color/ gender convention I was told about isn’t so set in stone anymore.
Now, the Aegean Color Convention is definitely taught in classrooms as the gospel truth: That in Greek Bronze Age Art, “red”-skinned figures are male, and “white”-skinned figures are female. Which of course ignores the existence of black, brown, and yellow-skinned figures depicted in art from the same cultural era.
The person who decided this was Sir Arthur Evans (1851-1941), a white, male art historian from England who made this claim over 100 years ago. I’ve made mention here before that the problem with historical disciplines is that claims like these will go unexamined for quite literally centuries. It is only in the last 20 years or so that anyone has bothered to re-examine this belief that color denotes gender, despite the (occasionally glaring) inconsistencies present in the surviving art and art fragments.
The first article, linked above and free to read, begins to make inroads, examining the many surviving works that do not fit into the expectations between gender, color, costume, and activity. The first disappointment in this article was that it does not question the gendering of activities:
Most red-skinned ﬁgures are characterized as male not by the naturalistic details of physiognomy but by their costumes and stereotypically active, aggressive behavior which favors sports, hunting and ﬁghting.
Despite going on to make this point:
The fresco evidence suggests that some types of clothing, such as ﬂounced skirts, were closely associated with gender identity. But other costumes, including tunics, loin cloths, and long robes, were probably worn by both men and women for speciﬁc activities. These “unisex”costumes were likely selected for their functionality rather than for their association with gender.
Despite giving a brief nod to scholarship challenging not only the inconsistencies inherent in this theory, but academia’s expectations of a gender binary:
The result is a more nuanced sensitivity to the issues that recognizes the role of variability in prehistoric constructions of gender, in the nature of the surviving evidence, and in today’s reading of that evidence.
Before limping to this counterintuitive conclusion:
In this author’s opinion, transgendered or third-gender individuals have yet to emerge clearly from the evidence of Late Bronze Age fresco painting.The color convention likely remained shorthand for a prehistoric binary conception of male and female gender categories, just as Evans supposed.
So I immediately decided to start digging, and came across another article on JSTOR by someone who got funding to base her analysis on examining the original fragments, rather than the subsequent restorations:The preceding statement does not, of course, address the question of gender identification, an issue that was once confidently settled in terms of the conventional color of the skin, red for a male, white for a female, used in ancient art, particularly in the Aegean and Egypt. In contrast, multidisciplinary approaches used in the interpretation of Aegean iconography make one aware that this criterion is not as straightforward and definitive as once believed.For instance, wall paintings in Egypt display a range of colors to indicate not only gender but also age and ethnic identity, making it difficult to see where the convention for gender applies. In addition, anthropological research is making it clear that ancient peoples may not have always thought in terms of distinct polarities in their definition of gender, and such ambiguities were registered in their artistic depictions.
And yet, and yet. Both articles end up supporting the Color=Gender convention. I have yet to see a definitive answer to the following:
How does the color convention account for brown, black, and yellow-skinned figures?
Why so some “male” figures lack penises, and why do some “female” figures lack breasts?
How does one classify figures whose costumes, color, secondary sexual characteristics and activities all seem to contradict attempts to determine their genders?
Both articles contain titillating footnotes regarding articles that sound more in-depth, but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to dig them up in any of the databases I have access to.
The images at the top of this post consist of several of the more contested pieces discussed among historians of Ancient Art. You can view more frescoes at the Met’s website here, from the exhibition Historic Images of the Greek Bronze Age: The Reproductions of E. Gilliéron & Son.
1. Emile Gilliéron père (Swiss, 1850–1924), Reproduction of the “Priest-King” from Knossos, ca. 1906–1907. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1907 (07.99.9a-f). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Sir Arthur Evans (British, 1851–1941) Frontispiece to The Palace of Minos at Knossos, vol. 2 part 2, showing the painted stucco relief of the “Priest-King” restored. The Onassis Library for Hellenic and Roman Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Images © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
2. Attributed to Emile Gilliéron fils (Swiss, b. Greece, 1885–1939), Reproduction of the “Saffron Gatherer” fresco from Knossos, 1914. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Dodge Fund, 1915 (15.122.3). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
3. Emile Gilliéron père (Swiss, 1850–1924), Reproduction of the “Bull Leapers” fresco from Knossos, ca. 1906–1907. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1907 (07.99.17). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
4. Emile Gilliéron père (Swiss, 1850–1924), Reproduction of the painted limestone sarcophagus from Agia Triadha, 1909-1910. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Dodge Fund, 1910 (10.38.1). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York