paley_fertco_1

Copyleft Comics and Twitter Eclecticism, with a dash of “What constitutes a public figure?”

I follow a lot of people on twitter because I like knowledge and information, reading links, heckling journalists and politicians, and because it’s important to have a broad base of information in order to maintain perspective–a lot of people believe a lot of really questionable stuff on shaky grounds, and a lot of others have other sloppy intellectual habits that are just as consequential when applied in aggregate to political discourse.

Recently, I started noticing the cartoon avatar of a person I follow on twitter, …I’m not inclined to make this _actually_ personal and name this person, though I recognize that would make the story more interesting. Alas. In any case, I wound up asking who illustrated his avatar, and he said it was Nina Paley, whose name sounded vaguely familiar. When I loaded her web page, I recognized a couple of her characters, Mimi and Eunice, from research I’d done long ago on free and open source comics and cartoons.

From her site, I navigated to watch some of her videos and saw one called Fertco, which really tripped me out.  Fertco is a short, color animation, just a couple minutes long, that features a buxom blonde in sunglasses and a summer dress shopping for baby stuff:  sperm, eggs, DNA, etc., all while walking past images of starving children with darker skin.  The animation proceeds to illustrate the white woman’s cycle of life, with groups of white women going into Fertco thin and coming out pregnant, similar to the style in which the children were ground up by the schoolmaster in “The Wall.”  The animation zooms out to show that this is happening as far as the eye can see, white women birthing white children birthing children birthing children.

On the real, although I did enjoy it, I found myself feeling disturbed afterward.

As a blond person, I couldn’t help but feel it was somehow wrong to be alive when the starving children don’t get to be alive, much less blog about it or otherwise seeking attention. And then I went to read Paley’s autobiography.

And while reading her biography, I wondered if she thought her life is more worth reading about than other people’s and hence the long autobiography. And then I realized that I was willing to write about this woman by name because she put a public bio on the Internet, whereas the twitter user who told me about her never apparently opted in to being a public persona. Are these reasonable assumptions? Have I done Nina Paley wrong? I didn’t mean to, and in fact, I feel bad, like I should email her a link to this post, just so I’m not talking behind her back. But then perhaps that’s inappropriate?

In her bio picture, I can clearly see she has brown hair, and based on her video, I wonder if maybe she thinks blondes are the cause of suffering in the world, in which case she might not appreciate hearing from someone like me. For the record, though, I was not made from, nor do I desire DNA therapy-derived offspring, however, I read that the govt in China is pretty amenable to genetic engineering.

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