An Open Letter to The Alamo Drafthouse: Please stop with all the Ala”bro”ing.
Freelance reporting in a city built on oil money will, as The Silver Jews’s frontman David Berman notes, “Make you want to sit with the bad kids in the back.” I unceremoniously turned away from two freelance posts earlier this year because the work would not jibe with my sense of morality.
In the end, I can say it was all a lot of flash, but in all journalism I’ve ever had the opportunity to commit, I have to say that this round had very little substance behind it, and very little heart.
And if I am to be frank, the in-crowd/out-crowd “cul-de-sac” geometry here is killer. I’ve never lived on the “right” one, and I’m probably not going to. I suppose that’s the most solid reason why I don’t do much writing any more, when it comes to the subject of Dallas. But when I am asked to pick up my pen by a former colleague, I suppose I must, even if it’s coming out of a long period of hibernation and transformation. It’s not like I’ve got a lot to risk by saying what I think anymore, and maybe that’s what that period of my life was really about.
When I think of “#gamergate” I think of things. A lot of things. Various and sundry things, and yes–I will stop being vague and describe the “things” in just a moment–but perhaps the most important concept that comes to mind when I consider the phenomenon is the absolutely polarizing and negative effect the situation had on most forms of internet-based feminist commentary.
The short story: It’s my theory that few people want #feminism to be exactly what standalone posts or blogs on Tumblr and Anita Sarkeesian and crew are presenting. I mean, we’re happy for some of the points that various Tumblr collectives and Sarkeesian are presenting, but unless we consider all the voices on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook as some sort of chord struck by the hand of a larger and imaginary “4th wave monogloss,” they’re neither representative of the holistic picture nor any monolithic voice.
So when voices like Adam Baldwin’s, or even voices like Doug Stanhope’s come out and decry some public attempt a woman makes at starting personal feminist discourse surrounding a subject, and hordes of internet followers work together to shut it down before it can truly begin, I feel like it’s an entirely reasonable reason to be upset.
The conversation surrounding events like #gamergate, or the Penny Arcade Dickwolves controversy, or any specific point of interest or never gets into the nitty gritty details that explain that Women’s and Gender Studies departments often have entire classes and blocks devoted to “Studies in Masculinity” and that feminism is for everyone, and not always just about the shitty way female tropes are portrayed in media and how we need to address that (and that we do need to address it, and that we are addressing it with better ones). I wish I knew how to start that conversation more often, and effectively. It’s difficult.
No one wants to get into arguments on the internet anymore, and I suppose I don’t blame them, if topical and transitory arguments on the internet are taking up too much of our collective time. It’s time that we could better spend catching Pokemon or taking body-positive Snapchats as we learn to love our respective thigh-gaps, collar bones, and curves.
But not engaging in some kind of robust discourse surrounding the issues that affect us, in one way or another is equally problematic. We need to argue on the internet, sometimes. We might just need to be a lot more selective about what, when and why. And maybe how. If we looked for the areas of our concerns that intersected in some sort of “Rogerian” trying to understand each other bliss, we might do a lot better than we are currently.
So that all said:
Alamo Drafthouse, I love you, but your problem is not exactly one specific itemized concern here. It’s all a lot harder to address than just telling you to do a “thing.” You should really do a lot more things for the sake of diversity.
When I was at your press roundtable for your Cedars opening, your lack of concern about showing some kind of block of film featuring people of color in the middle of the Oscars Boycott was unsettling. I appreciate that you offered that you were planning events centered around queer film, but it wasn’t enough. I’m sorry if the question was uncomfortable, but I was incredibly uncomfortable in needing to ask it.
I appreciate your Afternoon Tea and Slumber Party themed events, but I haven’t seen anything so awesomely feminist I had to attend it, because not doing so would be a travesty, since your Jem and Breakfast Cereal viewing with Samantha Newark in 2014. It was awesome.
So I feel it’s fair to say that your events *do* need some help. Not because Devin Pike and the rest of your crew are bad MCs, not because it took you forever to get your food and drink right between the theatre and Vetted Well, but because of some of the attitudes that direct your programming. Sometimes they’re just not very “shiny.”
Seriously. You Keep Using That Word; I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means. Unless maybe you mean “(mi)s(o)hgyny” with some silent letters as are listed in parenthesis. I don’t think you do. But if you do, there is absolutely nothing shiny at all about that.
Your Serenity event would be far more shiny if you had at least one other, female cast member (okay, I know that’s expensive) or like some other counter-balance to address the fact you’ve got a pretty controversial guy at your quote-along.
I don’t necessarily expect you to fix it, but it’s a reason I don’t spend a hell of a lot of time at your theatre. If I want queer film, I’m going to a CinéWilde event, because they’re already doing entire picture diversity much better. If I want a feminist film, well, I know where I can see a screening of No Mas Bebes without running into too much trouble, save a bit of an uncomfortable scuffle with a theatre manager who was only kind of into me sometimes, maybe, but not enough to actually pursue anything to actually do with me in a series of events that has made visiting the place far too awkward.
If it weren’t for that, I’d drop in for a moment or two of Women Texas Film Festival in August, because it’s going to give me a whole lot more of what I actually want, as The Texas Theatre is prone to do as an institution, at least since they decided not to let that shitty white supremacist, rape apologist perform there.
I mean, it’s not exactly a competition. Everyone can do better.
But it would be cool, and I bet it would be a decent potential market to tap, if you could just consider getting a bit more flexible with what you’re doing, Alamo. That’s really all I’m trying to say.