Episode 107: “Tropes and Traps in Culture” with Nayantara Sen & Sean T. Collins
Racial justice/sci-fi expert Nayantara Sen and TV critic Sean T. Collins reveal the narrative tropes and traps that prevent TV and film from being truly transformational, and help us imagine what stories are possible.
Guests: Nayantara Sen, Culture and Content Project Manager at Race Forward; Sean T. Collins, Cultural Critic for Rolling Stone
From laugh-tracked sitcoms to The Walking Dead, audiences see cliched, and often harmful, characters and storylines. Racial justice sci fi expert Nayantara Sen and TV critic Sean T. Collins explore these narrative tropes and traps — from redemptive justice to the heroic protagonist — that prevent our favorite TV and film stories from being truly transformational. Through their conversation, they guide us to imagine what new stories, characters, and themes could reflect more authentic experiences.
LISTEN TO THE NEXT EPISODE: Power to the People (2-part episode)
In Part 1, Tracy and fan community leader Shawn Taylor discuss the how people-powered storytelling influences the entertainment industry now, and how fan and social movements can work together. In Part 2, Black Lives Matter’s Alicia Garza and fan community designer Kenyatta Cheese discuss how the growth and connectivity within entertainment audiences and movements online networks is fueled by passion for a story and an idea.
Nayantara Sen is an activist, first generation Bengali migrant, poet and trilingual storyteller living in New York City.
Nayantara Sen is the Culture and Content Project Manager at Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. She works as a social justice trainer and consultant, facilitating workshops and seminars on anti-oppression, and developing curricula on issues of racism, immigration, public health and reproductive justice. She is also a Program Associate at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations, where she curates public programs and supports an oral history project on mixed-heritage identity politics in Brooklyn. She has co-authored two Better Together reports on building intersectional movement infrastructure for LGBTQ rights and racial justice. In the last four years, Nayantara has trained hundreds of public health and non-profit professionals, students, educators, grassroots activists, Occupy Wall Street agitators, and decentralized networks of organizers working with people of color constituents.
Nayantara writes lyrical short stories and poems about the diasporic experiences of migrant women, labor, politicization, and imaginary return. Nayantara is Board Member of CAAAV and an Advisory Board member for Youngist.org.
Nayantara received her B.A. in English Literature from Michigan State with specialization in Asian Pacific American Studies and Women, Gender and Social Justice Studies, as well as her Master’s Degree from the Galletin School of Individualized Study of New York University in Postcolonial and Diasporic Literature, Social Movements, Creative Writing. @NayantaraS.
SEAN T. COLLINS
Sean T Collins’ work runs the gamut of popular culture. If it’s popular he has probably written about it, and he’s been doing it professionally since 2001 for such outlets as Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Pitchfork, Vulture, Decider, The A.V. Club, Esquire, Vice, Thrillist, Mic, In These Times, Observer, Grantland, Wired, BuzzFeed, and DC Comics.
Comics are one of his major obsessions. He is the co-editor Mirror Mirror II, an anthology of gothic/erotic/horror comics and art from publisher 2dcloud with artist Julia Gfrörer. He reviews and interviews cartoonists for The Comics Journal and writes comics of his own. You can find them on his tumblr blog The True Black and published in places like Top Shelf, Partyka, and Family Style. In 1968, Collins and illustrator Matt Wiegle created the webcomic Destructor, an ongoing story of villainy and rage. Aside from comics, Collins co-hosts the podcast The Boiled Leather Audio Hour and writes about a plethora of subjects including ”coolness”, police brutality and Bowie/Beyoncé. You can find a good dose of defeated superhero images on his blog Superheroes Lose. @theseantcollins