Blade as allegory for dealing with privilege

22 Oct

OK OK, I’m being serious here.

I’ve been thinking about issues around privilege a lot lately. And I watched Blade last night, and the third Twilight movie a couple of weeks ago. These two movies combined have created some weird connections in my brain. This is my attempt to convey these connections. It will probably make better sense if you have seen both of the films, but I wouldn’t spend money on it.

The third twilight movie is a good example of colonialism/racism and how the vampire concept plays into it. In that movie they actually show white, colonist vampires engaging in genocide of indigenous people. Who happen to have the ability to turn into werewolves. The werewolves are indigenous people of color. The vampires are almost exclusively white- blindingly glittery white. The movie itself is full of racism in terms of the representation of the indigenous people. The movie also contains a lot of promblematic content in terms of how emotionally and physically abusive etc. the relationship is, as well as the Mormon points of view about sex, marriage, and monogamy that are very clearly promoted in the content.

Basically I am bringing up Twilight only to explain why I was originally starting the think about silly vampire movies in contexts of racism and privilege. Twilight is pretty racist. And so I started thinking about vampires as having a lot in common with white people.

In Blade, Blade is a person of color who was born right after his mom got bitten by a vampire. Wacky genetics made him into a ‘daywalker’. He has vampire powers and strength and regeneration, but he can walk in sunlight without bursting into flames. The downside is he ages like a human, not super slowly like a vamp.

His mission is to destroy the vampires. The vampires with their vampire privilege are killing humans. Blade has the same thirst for domination and oppression that the other vampires do, but he chooses not to use his vampire privilege for evil.

In one scene the villain, Frost the vampire, confronts Blade, and essentially calls Blade out on having vampire privilege. Blade responds that he does have privilege, but it doesn’t mean he has to engage in fucked up oppressive behavior. What Frost was essentially trying to do is what a lot of people with privilege try to do- deflect criticism of their privilege and act all defensive by attacking the privilege of someone who is trying to call them out on their fucked up behavior. The person calling someone out on privilege, or calling the system out for being fucked up and oppressive is not denying their own privileges.

Blade has privilege, which is not something he can help (that is kind of what makes it privilege yall). How he decides to act and to use that privilege is important. His personal privilege does not neutralize the things he does to stop oppression.

Attacking them for being privileged, as a means of deflecting one’s own privilege and responsibility to stop being oppressive, does not work. I mean it might work in social situations to create drama, and it might work to isolate those individuals. But it doesn’t do anything towards learning productive ways for people with privilege to behave or in ways to fight oppression.

The other really fantastic aspect of this movie is the acknowledgment of the corruption of the police. The police are in the hands of the vampires, and work to support and maintain vampire privilege. Sound familiar?

Beyond my use of this movie to try and talk about issues of privilege, I will say that overall Blade has some really good messages. It is one of the few movies that has people of color as the main and supporting characters. It also does not contain scenes of sexual assault that might be triggering- there is one scene where Blade is sucking blood and the person he is getting it from is kind of moaning/and then starts to ask for him to stop, but aside from that, it is way better than most movies out of Hollywood. As long as you can deal with violence, this movie is a less risky one to watch.

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