As a nerdlesquer, I have a lot of strong opinions about geeky media. I get particularly fired up about representation—or more accurately, misrepresentation. Friends have witnessed my rants on social media, but sometimes that's not enough. Sometimes I have to dance it out.
Three years ago, Avengers actors Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner called Black Widow a "slut" and "whore". Although they apologized, it was, to me, a tipping point in the mistreatment of this kickass comic book character. She's often left out of merchandise, and despite having a very interesting backstory, producers refuse to give her a solo movie. Even in the Avengers universe, she's not free from misogyny (as much as I love Loki, the rape threat was not necessary).
|Tuesday Tease: Spy Who Teased Me|
Photo by Danny Fox-Trot
My anger at the whitewashing of a Japanese character could be a post in itself, but there's already a lot of exiting commentary. I took this somewhat personally because my name came from the Ghost in the Shell anime. Motoko Kusanagi was the hero I needed when I first tried to reinvent myself as Hana Li. Casting Johansson as The Major, even if The Major's apparently-white body is artificial, sends the message that Asian women are not complete individuals— that our stories aren't worth telling.
Burlesque has given me another way to tell stories, and now I could get my revenge. Not only could I strip away how the names Black Widow has been called along with her tough exterior, I could strip away her identity as a white woman. After all, Marvel Ultimate's featured an Asian Black Widow named Monica Chang. Even if few audience members would make the connection, I'm still depicting an idea of hidden identities. The last word I take off before shedding the red wig is "unseen". That's what I refuse to be.
|Glitterbomb: Guardians of |
the Glitter Galaxy
Photo by Saraphimart
Glitterbomb gave me the opportunity to make this idea reality with their Guardians of the Galaxy show. The production also made me realize I could get more specific with my nerdlesque themes, as the audience enjoyed what was presented to them whether they were familiar with the film/comics or not. A bonus for me was getting kudos for referencing Mantis' comic book costume with my bra and panel skirt (from Risk by Raven). Original Mantis had her own issues in terms of Orientalism, but I felt like I was able to write my own narrative for her. You get another chance to see my Mantis act next Tuesday at Tease:
You can also catch me this week as part of Viva Dallas Burlesque's weekend of Star Wars show. I'll be debuting a new act inspired by the newer movies on Saturday night. There's still a few tickets available at the door, but I recommend arriving early to either of the shows. May the 4th be with you!