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re: I'm not shutting up, but asking for more information!
Posted by: Singapore/Fling 07:23 pm EDT 10/17/21
In reply to: I'm not shutting up, but asking for more information! - BruceinIthaca 04:50 pm EDT 10/17/21

In terms of context, that would help, but only if it is accompanied by the opportunity for the students to watch a different version. At the end of the day, there is no reason ason to show this version if the goal is to share a faithful version of the play text, because there are other versions that do that. Taking as a given that we would not show blackface performances in the classroom without both consent and a blackface-related purpose (this involved neither), this version is not appropriate for the simple goal of sharing the play, and at this point, the administration of U of Michigan needs to be doing the labor to implement this policy, rather than the students.

I’d go a step further, though, and say that for a younger audience, this version completely fails at providing an experience of the text. Watching Olivier in that outfit becomes its own, at best, distraction. We’re not watching “Othello”, we’re watching a white man in full body paint and a crinkly, curly wig playing a Black man. It becomes a racial spectacle, and not Shakespeare’s play as it is understood by audiences today.

As for my name, I think I’ve only talked about it once before on here: I chose it at a time when I was living in Singapore and went from being a longtime lurker to what I thought would be a one-time poster. Loving puns, in a phase of my life where I was into funky punctuation, and thinking that my time in Singapore would be a brief expat jaunt, I turned the Singapore Sling into a Singapore/Fling, not realizing that years later I would still be using it.

I don’t love it as a name, but I chose it and I’m living with it. I hope that it represents me as someone who is not East Asian but has spent part of my life over there and who stays connected to it… in truth, my time there became less of a fling and more of a commitment, but that’s a different story. This is part of why I do make sure to refer to my whiteness when we get onto these topics.

As to whether it is appropriate or offensive, I welcome that conversation from someone who is harmed or directly affected by that choice. Singapore, its colonial past, and its modern day identities are they own messy can of worms, but I haven’t felt that I have to justify using the name on those grounds. But I’ll change it if there is the need and/or the opportunity.
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