Posted by Galatea
[TW: This post contains discussion of racism and misogyny]
Neytiri the Na’avi
Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan
“Am I the only one who saw this and was disgusted? I immediately decided I didn't want her to win because I don't want her to get any more full of herself than she seemed right there.”
“Sorry this Quvenzhane kid annoys the fuck outta me. She's insufferable. Ever see her on a talk show? She is dangerously carried away with herself - way past the point of cute. You're never too young to learn humility.”
HOWEVER, I suspect that this interacts in some important ways with who we as a society deem worthy of ‘extra’ time and effort: we're much quicker to get over our cognitive bias about unfamiliar names when we think the person causing it is important or powerful. When I was little, adults didn't make much effort to say my name properly and were often rude and dismissive when they got it wrong: now that I'm an adult with a professional job, other people tend to be more careful about pronouncing it right and get embarrassed if they mess up. Funny, that. And thus back to Quvenzhané Wallis and an attitude that many powerful people seem to be projecting: who does this kid, this girl, think she is, ‘demanding’ (with her very presence) that we go to the trouble of learning how to say that tongue-twister? Can’t we just call her ‘Annie’ instead?
To my mind, this explains in part why there's been very little crying about having to learn how to say names like 'Jake Gyllenhaal', 'Gerard Depardieu' or 'Arnold Schwarzenegger', and why I've never seen a reporter bounce up to Ralph Fiennes on the red carpet and demand to be allowed to call him 'Ralf'. The 'name pronunciation effect' seems to entangle itself with other factors affecting the way in which we deem people in society to be worthy of our effort and respect, and age, gender and whiteness are all key in this. Having been someone who, by age and gender, was not deemed worthy of that respect at various times in my life (oh, but that "I am not Annie!" expression in the gif above is identical to that which frequently appeared on the face of the infant Galatea), I see what's going on here and I don't like it. I dislike even more the fact that it's still going on in 2013, and that we'll apparently spend more effort on learning to say the name of a fictional hobbit, alien or dragon-keeper than a real live nine-year-old girl.