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Films like “Aladdin” do not accidentally harm us, they do so with intention so that they may continue to define our ways of life for us.

By Lily Bolourian I will be the first to admit that I grew up obsessively watching Disney princess movies for years. I had pencil pouches, backpacks, dolls designed with princess-everything.  For Halloween, I have gone all-out dressing up as Snow White, Belle, and Jasmine. At 26-years-old, I am still amused by the songs, animations, dresses, and escape from reality that those movies provided. When Disney announced the plans for a live-action “Aladdin” film, my stomach dropped as I realized that every single orientalist stereotype that was born of that movie would now come full circle. For people of color the fear of erasure, whitewashing and racism is based on the experience of having it happen over and over. Disney’s “Aladdin”, amazingly, manages to cast a net on two different continents and about a dozen countries and squeezes all of our unique cultures into one “exotic” box. Indeed, riddled throughout the movie are elements of Indian, Persian, and Arab culture. 
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White female innocence is predicated upon violence against Black women in which white women are complicit–that is why Sofia Coppola erased a crucial character.

By Sherronda J. Brown This essay contains spoilers and includes discussion of sexual violence. Sofia Coppola’s newest film and remake of The Beguiled sets itself apart from both the 1966 novel and the 1971 original film adaptation in terms of style and tenor, but carries the same themes of solitude and fear. Most significantly, it brazenly disrespects its original source material and the history that it drew from by removing an enslaved Black woman, Hallie, from a narrative about women in the Confederate South during the Civil War. Her reasoning for this erasure is less than convincing, citing a desire to “respect [the] history” and to spare young girls the image of a Black woman in such a degrading position on-screen. However, when looking at the original story, the vision of a resilient and assertive Hallie becomes clear. She has unapologetic disdain for whiteness and refuses a passive victimhood. Sofia Coppola deliberately chose not to show this – not to save us or Hallie from indignity – but to ease her own discomfort around the white subjects of her “girl power” western drama being slave-owning enactors of violent white supremacy. Her version of the tale relies on white female innocence, but white female innocence is predicated upon violence against Black women, in which white women are complicit. The Keeping Room, a 2014 film directed by Daniel Barber and written by Julia Hart, tells a story that is closely related to that of The Beguiled, but far more engrossing and compelling. While it isn't perfect, it gives us an enslaved woman whose character is fully visible in a similarly “revisionist western” that is not ahistorical and, frankly, has better writing, better direction, and better performances.
Related: WORKING WITH WHITE WOMEN IS THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE

Not only does Matt Bomer’s portrayal of a transgender woman enable violence against trans women, it also takes away yet another job from a trans person.

TW/CW – Mentions of transmisogyny and physical violence against trans women.
In yet another setback for the transgender community, the film Anything written and directed by Timothy McNeil, premiered mid-June at the Los Angeles Film Festival. The film portrays cis male actor, Matt Bomer as a transgender woman who enters a relationship with a widower (John Carroll Lynch) who recently moved to Los Angeles. Cis people playing and being rewarded for their roles as trans people is nothing new — Robert Reeds, Elle Fanning, Jared Leto, Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Tambor, Eddie Redmayne and many other cis actors have portrayed the roles of trans people in both film and television. The transgender community has repeatedly criticized these films because we are being misrepresented and this is deeply troubling because only 16% of the population knows someone who is transgender. However, our critiques and demands for fair representation are continuously ignored as the film industry keeps hiring cis actors to portray us, ultimately leading us to wondering why this persists.
Related: 4 WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR TRANS WOMAN PARTNER AND FIGHT TRANSPHOBIA

Reclaiming racist stereotypes for yourself isn’t political or edgy when it harms the very people to whom you owe your basic political rights.

When it comes to “freedom of speech,” white, cis, able-bodied Americans have a long history of valuing their right to say whatever they want over the bodily safety of everyone else – even and especially when their words openly inflict violence on Black, Indigenous, and people of color by upholding and reinforcing systemic racism. Speech doesn’t operate in a vacuum. We have learned time and again that, like everything else in America, speech is a commodity that, while presumably freely available to all, is in fact always distributed unevenly based on race, class, and ability. In short, those with more capital, more privilege, and more power will always have more access to platforms that broadcast and circulate their speech, thus further consolidating their power. In particular, since the election of Donald Trump, freedom of speech has become the official rallying cry of the alt-right: white nationalists and Neo-Nazis have seized this historical opportunity to publicly insult and ridicule trans women, undocumented students, disabled people, and BIPOC, claiming that their right to freedom of speech must be protected at all costs, and that any attempt to criticize this fundamental constitutional right is a form of censorship.
Related: NO, INTERRACIAL LOVE IS NOT “SAVING AMERICA”

Claws shows us how Black women deserve to explore the scope of their sexuality without scrutiny or consequence.

It's New Year's Eve in Palmetto, Florida. Desna Simms, played masterfully by Niecy Nash, haphazardly pulls into the vacant parking lot in front of the strip of neighborhood businesses, one of which is her soon-to-be-bustling nail salon, Nail Artisans of Manatee County. There, she meets her fellow nail technicians and friends, Jen (Jenn Lyon) and Quiet Ann (Judy Reyes). Before she can fully exit her ivory Lexus, the first emotion you immediately register from her is unmitigated excitement. Desna takes a moment to show off the lacy black catsuit that she plans to don for that night's festivities – the one that's going to lovingly embrace every single curve of her body. And as she playfully struts up and down her bit of asphalt while the rising South Floridian sun kisses her brown skin, I'm in awe of the way that Clawswithin the first minute of its inaugural episode, Tirana – commits to giving Black women the freedom to unabashedly revel in their sexuality.
Related: BLACK AND BROWN SISTERS ARE DOING VISUAL MEDIA FOR THEMSELVES

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