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June 8, 2011 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Black Actors in Love Scenes: No Need to Apply. Observations by African-American sci-fi novelist Steven Barnes.
posted by hermitosis (279 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
this is too bad, I can think of a number of Black actors I've very much enjoy watching in a sex scene!
posted by supermedusa at 9:43 AM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


When I first read this I thought "0%, that can't be right!" and then I thought back to every movie with a black male lead and yeah, nothing ever goes beyond a kiss here and there.

Morgan Freeman has only had ONE on-screen kiss in his entire career?!
posted by mathowie at 9:45 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I keep thinking of films I love that have non-white dudes in love scenes (holy shit Do the Right Thing!) but then I remember that the Venn Diagram of Movies I Love and Movies That Have Earned More Than $100 Million looks like an illustration of the North and South Poles.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:46 AM on June 8, 2011 [26 favorites]


On a related topic touched upon by the article, and to avoid spoiling too much, I'll just say: really, X-Men First Class? Did you really just do that? I actually liked the movie for the most part, but there's a few particular plot points that seemed to indicate the writers have never heard of avoiding cliches.
posted by kmz at 9:46 AM on June 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


supermedusa, seems that's exactly the problem...
posted by vivelame at 9:46 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Morgan Freeman has only had ONE on-screen kiss in his entire career?!

Was it on The Electric Company?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:46 AM on June 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


(Just parenthetically, I kind of wish this article didn't go all "dudes and their genetically-determined hard-wired territorialness over their ladies!" at the end. Also, the "all white women are fascinated by black actors having sex while all white men are repulsed" bit was a bit unappealing.)
posted by Frowner at 9:49 AM on June 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


The last episode of The Wire season 3. A certain black actor. You know what I'm talking about.
posted by Plutor at 9:49 AM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I agree with the issue, but not the idea that:

a) it's about some biological male "thing" instead of a cultural one (see societies with polyandry, which isn't about recessive genes)

b) that it isn't part of the larger issue of disenfrachisement and structural racism - how many filmmakers and directors are people of color? (or women? or LGBT? etc.) How many advertisers? Etc.
posted by yeloson at 9:49 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


On a related topic touched upon by the article, and to avoid spoiling too much, I'll just say: really, X-Men First Class? Did you really just do that?

Yes, yes they did.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:50 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


On a related topic touched upon by the article, and to avoid spoiling too much, I'll just say: really, X-Men First Class? Did you really just do that?

SERIOUSLY OMG.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:52 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"all white women are fascinated by black actors having sex while all white men are repulsed"

More like, he noticed that the women were having a natural response to a sex scene in a movie between any two attractive people. He seems to think that for the women, the racial aspect was secondary (to the extent that it existed at all) to their enjoyment of portrayals of sex and romance. In the men he observed, it seemed to be primary.
posted by hermitosis at 9:54 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Okay I don't care about X-Men First Class can someone just memail me what the fuck they did so I can join you in pissed-offness?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:55 AM on June 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


More like, he noticed that the women were having a natural response to a sex scene in a movie between any two attractive people. He seems to think that for the women, the racial aspect was secondary (to the extent that it existed at all) to their enjoyment of portrayals of sex and romance. In the men he observed, it seemed to be primary.

Wait, why is the natural response to a sex scene in a movie "lean forward"? I can enjoy something just as well without my eyelids being 18 inches closer to a 30 foot screen.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:57 AM on June 8, 2011


When I first read this I thought "but I just saw one!" and then realized they put a box office gross limit to the list. I did just see a sex scene with a black male lead, but, of course, the movie was criminally overlooked, grossing only $73,857.

The movie was "Night Catches Us", which has white actors only as bit players. It is a fabulous movie. Well-written, well-acted, a nicely paced drama without a pat ending. It has a pretty steamy sex scene between Kerry Washington and Anthony Mackie. What I thought was interesting about the scene is that almost all of the nudity it his--last shot of the scene, she is entirely covered and he's completely naked except for her arm strategically hiding his man-parts. Turns out what else was interesting about the scene is how rarely it happens in Hollywood.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Morgan Freeman has only had ONE on-screen kiss in his entire career?!

I believe, though I could be mistaken, that this is Christopher Walken's only screen kiss.
posted by EarBucket at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Probably why you've never seen the SciFi apocalypse film The Quiet Earth.
posted by justkevin at 9:59 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Movies that make over $100 million tend to be blockbusters, and America is still predominately white. I'd like to see more intelligent, challenging and probably by proxy diverse (in all ways) movies break the $100 million mark at the box office. These movies ARE being made, they're just not breaking the bank... so... uh, I guess I don't see the point of the article.

Also, I'd like to be memailed about the X-Men thing you're all talking about. Besides desperately wanting Charles and Erik to kiss, and I'm a straight dude, I don't remember anything bugging me too much.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:00 AM on June 8, 2011


I believe, though I could be mistaken, that this is Christopher Walken's only screen kiss.

Pretty sure he kisses Dennis Hopper in True Romance. Or are we only counting on the lips?
posted by justkevin at 10:00 AM on June 8, 2011


Wait, why is the natural response to a sex scene in a movie "lean forward"?

Pretty sure the natural response to anything you're interested in is to lean forward. I mean, I'm imagining he's describing is a very slight gesture, I don't think he expects anyone to believe that suddenly all the women in the theater were tilted at a 45 degree angle.

I don't think he's confusing his anecdote with data, it's just one small point in his article.
posted by hermitosis at 10:01 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The funniest thing about this is the image of the author going through and checking every movie for the race of the dude.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 10:01 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Black Actors in Love Scenes: No Need to Apply.

And people wonder why Tyler Perry movies are popular among blacks. A big part of it is that they feature a variety of black people doing normal everyday things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:01 AM on June 8, 2011 [37 favorites]


I don't know about the whole territorial thing. Speaking for myself, if it fits the movie and the people involved are reasonably attractive, I'm all for watching two people of any race or color get their funky swerve on.

In the arena of male territorial behavior, on the other hand, I can think of a number of white dudes that I would love to see eaten by giant cockroaches.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 10:02 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


If anyone actually tells me I'll pass it along, OnTheLastCastle. Seriously guys! I have no plans to see this movie!
posted by shakespeherian at 10:02 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]




Mouseover for X-Men spoilers.
posted by kmz at 10:03 AM on June 8, 2011 [28 favorites]


Pretty sure the natural response to anything you're interested in is to lean forward.

I'll be more direct. Unless he pulls out some science, I don't have any reason to believe that people lean forward at everything they're interested in. When I'm really interested in something, I lean back.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:04 AM on June 8, 2011


Morgan Freeman has only had ONE on-screen kiss in his entire career?!

Was it on The Electric Company?


No, it's in Bruce Almighty. Jim Carrey says, "YOU'RE God?" and Morgan Freeman says, "I sure am, Bruce. But let me prove it to you." Then he pulls Jim Carrey in close, and licks his lower lip playfully. Jim Carrey says, "Oh, God" and Morgan Freeman says, "exactly" and then there's a 8-9 minute long scene of them brushing their fingers against the front of each others' pants without actually undressing, while they tongue kiss each other. Partway through, Jim Carrey says, "mmm... you taste like God" and Morgan Freeman says, "That's because I AM God," and then they laugh. After the scene is over, they lie down in a field and Jim Carrey says, "Wow, I guess that proves it!" and Morgan Freeman says "I knew you'd... COME around!" and they laugh but actually you specifically see anything explicit, 'cause of the fucking MPAA and their fucking PURITAN VALUES
posted by Greg Nog at 10:04 AM on June 8, 2011 [111 favorites]


If you scan the same list for American films with non-white leads (again, there are about 50), you'll find love scenes in zero percent. That's right, zero. No blacks. No Latinos. No Asians. Hollywood makes such films; you can find them further down on the list. But America won't watch them.

I guess nobody saw Jungle Fever then?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:05 AM on June 8, 2011


Just to point this out - the article is from October 17, 2006. It's still probably true (of the films that have come out since late 2006 to June 2011) though.
posted by cashman at 10:05 AM on June 8, 2011


I'll be more direct. Unless he pulls out some science, I don't have any reason to believe that people lean forward at everything they're interested in. When I'm really interested in something, I lean back.

Are you genuinely missing the point of the article, or are you just trying to sound like you are?
posted by hermitosis at 10:06 AM on June 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


Dammit Greg Nog. You just made me clean freshly spit coffee off of my monitor.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:07 AM on June 8, 2011


Mouseover for X-Men spoilers.

Thankee.

Also, more on-topic, I'm reasonably surprised there aren't any Eddie-Murphy-Suggestively-Mugs-At-The-Camera-When-The-Naked-Woman-Comes-Into-The-Bedroom-And-Then-The-Camera-Pans-Towards-The-Fireplace movies from the 80s that cracked $100 mil.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:07 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Morgan Freeman has only had ONE on-screen kiss in his entire career?!

Don't forget the offscreen kisses at the end of Shawshank Redemption.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:08 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Men in Black was interesting in this respect.

The film makes a point of reminding you that Will Smith is black. [i.e. "It's just raining black people in New York." "This is Special Agent White."] And when he encounters the white main female character, she expresses sexual interest in him almost immediately. [And why not? The guy has charisma.]

Now I don't know about you. But if Linda Fiorentino was that warm for my form, I might find myself at least a little distracted from the investigation. But despite J's general heteronormativity - cop, handy with a gun, etc. - his only reaction to this is detached curiosity. ["She's got kind of a Queen of the Undead thing going."]

So to recap: Although we have a white woman openly lusting for a black man, he is not permitted to show the slightest reciprocal interest.
posted by Trurl at 10:08 AM on June 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


10th Reg: Jungle Fever's gross (at IMDB) was only $32,482,682 (USA). The article has an earning threshold of $100 million.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:09 AM on June 8, 2011


Besides desperately wanting Charles and Erik to kiss

The hoyay was so strong in that movie that you don't even need slash goggles to see it. In fact, you'd need anti-slash goggles to not see it.
posted by kmz at 10:09 AM on June 8, 2011 [7 favorites]




Are you genuinely missing the point of the article, or are you just trying to sound like you are?

Jesus, I get the point of the article just fine, I just object to his bullshit way of trying to provide insight as to why movies with black men in love scenes aren't more popular.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:10 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


And people wonder why Tyler Perry movies are popular among blacks. A big part of it is that they feature a variety of black people doing normal everyday things.

But they are HORRIBLE movies, which is why I (and a ton of other people) refuse to see them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:12 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's that one superhot scene in Transformers where a shirtless sweaty gun-toting Tyrese Gibson leaps off the screen and starts making out with me, which is totally awesome until I wake up in the middle of making loud and socially unacceptable noises in the IMAX theatre. So, uh. I guess that doesn't really count.

dammit.
posted by elizardbits at 10:13 AM on June 8, 2011 [35 favorites]


But they are HORRIBLE movies, which is why I (and a ton of other people) refuse to see them.

At the same time though I sort of want to go see them (or at least buy a ticket and the go home) just so I can lazily dream of a future where commercial films include non-white people.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:14 AM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


So to recap: Although we have a white woman openly lusting for a black man, he is not permitted to show the slightest reciprocal interest.

So you're talking about Will Smith in that mid-90's buddy cop movie? Or Will Smith in that mid 90's buddy cop movie?
posted by cashman at 10:14 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Five minutes later, Winfield got eaten by giant cockroaches.

Best title ever.
posted by zarq at 10:14 AM on June 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


elizardbits: "There's that one superhot scene in Transformers where a shirtless sweaty gun-toting Tyrese Gibson leaps off the screen and starts making out with me, which is totally awesome until I wake up in the middle of making loud and socially unacceptable noises in the IMAX theatre. So, uh. I guess that doesn't really count. "

Don't worry. The movie was so deafening that no one probably noticed.
posted by zarq at 10:15 AM on June 8, 2011


Regarding the slashfic-a-licious X-Men: First Class (Erik gazes soufully into Charles' eyes...),
It's set in the 60's, but of all the 60's memes to use...
posted by djrock3k at 10:16 AM on June 8, 2011


America loves watching Halle Berry or Lucy Liu get busy — as long as it's with Pierce Brosnan, Billy Bob Thornton or Josh Hartnett. You won't see Denzel Washington or Jackie Chan dropping trou onscreen anytime soon.

To be honest, the thought of Billy Bob Thornton naked is not an idea I'm comfortable with, with or without Halle Berry.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:16 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mouseover for X-Men spoilers.

Hee, I haven't see it yet, but that doesn't surprise me at all. Remember the subplot of Deep Blue Sea?

So to recap: Although we have a white woman openly lusting for a black man, he is not permitted to show the slightest reciprocal interest.

Didn't get get to kiss a black woman in the next one?

But they are HORRIBLE movies, which is why I (and a ton of other people) refuse to see them.

Taste is subjective and Tyler Perry's bank account isn't hurting from your lack of attendance.

Looking the IMDB list of the top grossing movies in the USA, there aren't a lot of black people in most of them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:17 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bill Cosby proved 25 years ago that you can have a popular show about Black people. Tyler Perry is a step back.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:17 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Winfield got eaten by giant cockroaches

In Salt Lake City no less.
I will forever be pissed off about that.
posted by djrock3k at 10:19 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I recall that Gregory Hines gets some action in "Running Scared". It wasn't a particularly good movie, but it came out in 1986 which has to count for something.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:20 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bill Cosby proved 25 years ago that you can have a popular show about Black people. Tyler Perry is a step back.

I think it's frustrating that Tyler Perry has to be the de facto Black Entertainment Person whose films are Standing For All Things Black. Can't Tyler Perry just make movies that he likes and that his audience likes without him having to Represent All Black Voices?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:21 AM on June 8, 2011 [15 favorites]


I can lazily dream of a future where commercial films include non-white people.

At least as far as actual commercials are concerned, I find myself noticing more often that they've cast non-white actors in situations where, blessedly, their non-whiteness has nothing to do with anything.

Of course, we won't reach the Promised Land until it's no longer rare enough to be noticeable.
posted by Trurl at 10:21 AM on June 8, 2011


I like what I have read of Barnes. Blood Brothers was neat. He's also the only author I have read who wrote martial arts in science fiction well. I cringe through most martial arts stuff that is written (and filmed) but The Kundalini Equation was spiffy.

And, yeah, the X-Men: First Class thing is dead on. I mentally CGId in an hourglass to that scene.
posted by adipocere at 10:21 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]



I think it's frustrating that Tyler Perry has to be the de facto Black Entertainment Person whose films are Standing For All Things Black. Can't Tyler Perry just make movies that he likes and that his audience likes without him having to Represent All Black Voices?


I think that's mostly Tyler Perry's doing. He's branded his movies to be that.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:23 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


At least as far as actual commercials are concerned, I find myself noticing more often that they've cast non-white actors in situations where, blessedly, their non-whiteness has nothing to do with anything.

One of my favorite things about That Mitchell and Webb Look (other than all of it) is that when the script calls for them to play a couple, as often as not they'll just be a gay couple if there's no special reason one of them needs to play a woman, and it's never even mentioned, it just happens.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:24 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Bill Cosby proved 25 years ago that you can have a popular show about Black people. Tyler Perry is a step back.

Bill Cosby proved you could have a popular show about black people for white people. The Huxtables were astonishingly milquetoast and palatable to white audiences. An often repeated complaint among blacks was that the characters weren't really black, just different colored white people.

Can't Tyler Perry just make movies that he likes and that his audience likes without him having to Represent All Black Voices?

From I understand Perry isn't thrilled with the movies or being stuck with that character, but hey, the money is gooooood.

There's so few black filmmakers in mainstream theaters, it's sort of natural they get painted with being THE black experience.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:25 AM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


There's plenty of black men in porn. Not much kissing, though.
posted by chavenet at 10:27 AM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


The worst part of all of this is that my first reaction is, "OMG! This dude cited Damnation Alley! That's awesome!"

...I fear I may be a horrible person.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:28 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


More like, he noticed that the women were having a natural response to a sex scene in a movie between any two attractive people.

That's supposed to be a natural response? I've seen a lot of movies in my day and I've never seen 50% of an audience simultaneously lean in towards the screen for anything, let alone a handful of seconds of a trailer. (And I've seen movies with sex scenes, and I haven't seen noticeable groups of women leaning in towards the screen, let alone every single one of them all at once, as is supposed to be a "natural response.") So color me a little suspicious that, on cue, every single woman in the theater just leaned in away from their white boyfriends, entranced by the merest glimpse of a white woman making love to a black man, while simultaneously every single one of those square white dudes harrumphed back in their seats, arms crossed, "as if utterly repulsed." I'm not disagreeing with any of the points the author makes in the article, I just think it would have been stronger if he left out the ridiculous anecdote.

Also: Did he run the stats for non-white actresses in love scenes? I'm curious as to how that compares.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 10:29 AM on June 8, 2011


There's so few black filmmakers in mainstream theaters, it's sort of natural they get painted with being THE black experience.

That's very true, although for whatever reason I don't feel like the Hughes Bros have gotten this treatment. Is it because of From Hell?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:29 AM on June 8, 2011


On a slightly less sexy scale, but still related to race: I was watching Tangled the other night with the family and I noticed that there is not a single non-white character in the movie. And it's not like they have to be faithful to the fairy-tale setting, because they already aren't being faithful to it in the slightest! Would it really kill the story to have a little diversity? And not just for diversity's sake, but because this is for all intents and purposes a modernized take on the Rapunzel story and yet the world is somehow completely devoid of anything but WASPs.

So dumb.
posted by jnrussell at 10:31 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now I don't know about you. But if Linda Fiorentino was that warm for my form, I might find myself at least a little distracted from the investigation. But despite J's general heteronormativity - cop, handy with a gun, etc. - his only reaction to this is detached curiosity. ["She's got kind of a Queen of the Undead thing going."]

I just assumed that Will Smith's character had seen Vision Quest and was, therefore, not interested.

Also, in real life, not every hetero man instantly reacts positively (or even clues in) to flirting by an attractive woman.
posted by The World Famous at 10:31 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can't Tyler Perry just make movies that he likes and that his audience likes without him having to Represent All Black Voices?

It's weird how nobody ever points out Larry the Cable Guy and asks why white people have such shitty taste.
posted by EarBucket at 10:33 AM on June 8, 2011 [29 favorites]


Guys, we're talking about blockbusters here. I.e. commercial movies made with the explicit intention of selling as many tickets as humanly possible. All that can really be said about these movies is that they're good at attracting large audiences. Pandering to the majority, seeking the lowest common denominator, is basically the only way to do that. Call it racist if you will, but the fact remains that 63.7% of the country identifies as "white alone". Unless there's something inherently wrong with wanting to read stories and see movies about People That Look And Act Like Me--something that most minorities claim to want to be able to do--none of this should be all that objectionable.
posted by valkyryn at 10:36 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


DENZEL!
posted by clavdivs at 10:37 AM on June 8, 2011


none of this should be all that objectionable.

While not a proponent of the FTFY meme, I think the word "comprehensible" might be better than "objectionable". As in, we can understand why it happens, but that doesn't mean we don't object to it.
posted by immlass at 10:40 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


(Just parenthetically, I kind of wish this article didn't go all "dudes and their genetically-determined hard-wired territorialness over their ladies!" at the end. Also, the "all white women are fascinated by black actors having sex while all white men are repulsed" bit was a bit unappealing.)

Ladies, look at your man. Now look at me. Now back at your man. Now back at me. I'm a meme from a few months back that exploits precisely this point to sell deodorant. Your man could smell like me if they weren't busy elbowing you in the side and going "harrumph harrumph." Yeah, I caught that, dude. Now I'm Will Smith in Independence Day, who's dating an incredibly hot stripper but doesn't get to do more than kiss her. Now I'm playing Luke Cage in a movie--well, that's my fantasy, but never mind--but, even if it gets made, don't count on seeing Jessica Jones in it. Now I've got Tyler Perry on speed dial.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:40 AM on June 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


Unless there's something inherently wrong with wanting to read stories and see movies about People That Look And Act Like Me--something that most minorities claim to want to be able to do--none of this should be all that objectionable.

This explains why so many blockbusters are about guys who process invoices all day and sometimes work through lunch, as opposed to space marines and wizards and shit.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:40 AM on June 8, 2011 [26 favorites]


It's weird how nobody ever points out Larry the Cable Guy and asks why white people have such shitty taste.

Because of Larry the Cable Guy?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:41 AM on June 8, 2011


While I'm baffled by people who are reacting to the whole "women leaned forward while men leaned back" issue by saying "what's this about 'leaning forward' if you think something's hot" (poetic license, people, ever hear of it?), I was myself skeptical of this being "proof' of his claims -- but for a different reason.

Namely: how do we know that the men were recoiling because of race? Maybe it was just a matter of, "ew, watching a guy doing it in a movie that's not porn. I'm not too into that."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:41 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Namely: how do we know that the men were recoiling because of race?

My favorite was when I saw 300 (I know!) and there was pointless female nudity for like ten minutes and then there was a brief ass-shot of whatshisname and the guy behind me in the theater went 'Ugh! Was that necessary?!'
posted by shakespeherian at 10:43 AM on June 8, 2011 [43 favorites]


Namely: how do we know that the men were recoiling because of race?

All white men react alike, of course!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:44 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


And it's not like they have to be faithful to the fairy-tale setting, because they already aren't being faithful to it in the slightest! Would it really kill the story to have a little diversity?

That's similar to an odd issue I've noticed with BBC's Merlin, in a way. They've got an anachronistically diverse cast, but only one minority is represented. I guess it just seems weird to me that there aren't any Asian actors on the show. (this is largely based on my unsubstantiated assumption that they wanted the cast of the show to represent the current racially/ethnically diverse population of modern-day UK, which would be awesome.)
posted by elizardbits at 10:44 AM on June 8, 2011


It's weird how nobody ever points out Larry the Cable Guy and asks why white people have such shitty taste.

Okay, actually, funny story, I remember when I was a teenager and went to see "Face/Off" in the movie people and near the end during the big chance sequence, where John Travolta and Nick Cage we shooting tons of guns at each other on speedboats after they escaped from a church with pigeons flying around in slow motion, I suddenly heard two people lauhging. Like, uncontrollably laughing. Turned to my left and and it was two 20-something black guys, who concluded their giggle fit with one saying to the other "white people. Dude. White people think of this shit."

I didn't think at the time that the movie was actually directed by an Asian guy but I understand their point.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:45 AM on June 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


My favorite was when I saw 300 (I know!) and there was pointless female nudity for like ten minutes and then there was a brief ass-shot of whatshisname and the guy behind me in the theater went 'Ugh! Was that necessary?!'

Oh, right, that one brief moment of gratuitous male flesh.
posted by EarBucket at 10:46 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I always press away from the screen during sex scenes. Makes it easier to undo my pants.
posted by orme at 10:46 AM on June 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Pretty sure the natural response to anything you're interested in is to lean forward.

I'll admit I also leaned back during that scene from Mo Better Blues.

Leaned back and opened my pants.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:47 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


God damn you to heall, orme.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:47 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


HEALL!
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:47 AM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter: Leaned back and opened my pants.
posted by hermitosis at 10:48 AM on June 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


This explains why so many blockbusters are about guys who process invoices all day and sometimes work through lunch, as opposed to space marines and wizards and shit.

I resent your implication that I am not a shit wizard space marine.
posted by The World Famous at 10:48 AM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Way to spoil the ending of the Harry Potter series
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:50 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Diary of a Mad Human Centipede
posted by phaedon at 10:50 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Physicial, heall thysealf!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:51 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, right, that one brief moment of gratuitous male flesh.

No no no. Eroticizing and fetishizing big muscly guys thrusting phallic symbols into one another's sweaty flesh is awesome, but seeing a guy's ass?! Gross.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:52 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess this is why interracial porn never really took off as a subgenre.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:55 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm baffled by people who are reacting to the whole "women leaned forward while men leaned back" issue by saying "what's this about 'leaning forward' if you think something's hot" (poetic license, people, ever hear of it?)

Dear Penthouse Forum:

I never thought I'd be writing to you, but the other day I went to the movies, and during the Denzel sex scene, I turned around in the theater to look at the white people. All the men were leaning back, to try and get away from the Denzel sex. All the women were leaning forward, to try and get toward the Denzel sex. Now bear in mind, I didn't really see any of this, because I'm just being poetic. But I feel the point still remains: it's totally okay to make up a story and try an pass it off as real (especially to prove a point that I don't want to bother making any other way).

Best,

A Licensed Poet
posted by 23skidoo at 10:56 AM on June 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


At a showing of (I think) Terminator 2 in midtown Manhattan, with a very racially mixed audience, during one of the scenes showing the Connors interacting, someone in the audience called out "How white." The rest of the audience burst out laughing, as when pointed out the scene was stereotypically leave-it-to-beaverish. I wish I could remember which specific scene it was, but I'm drawing a blank.
posted by Blackanvil at 10:57 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I feel the point still remains: it's totally okay to make up a story and try an pass it off as real

I'm so glad we're focusing on this instead of talking about institutionalized racism.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:57 AM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm so glad we're focusing on this instead of talking about institutionalized racism.

The question of "Hmmm, so why is it that movies where black men have sex scenes in them aren't popular?" is an important one. I think it's much more interesting to have that question be part of the conversation than to just go "Okay, movies where black men have sex scenes in them aren't popular. I guess there's no point in discussing why that is."
posted by 23skidoo at 11:01 AM on June 8, 2011


At a showing of (I think) Terminator 2 in midtown Manhattan...

My personal opinion is that T2 was a crap movie, but it has a soft spot in my heart for its very positive portrayal of a black male.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:02 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Frankly I'm leaning towards plate-of-beans analysis.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 11:03 AM on June 8, 2011


Say what you will about black lovemaking in film, I was practically raised on music by countless black groups like Boyz II Men, Soul For Real, Jodeci, PM Dawn and Bel Biv Devoe. Not to mention all female groups like En Vogue, Salt-N-Pepa and SWV. So, you know, what the fuck ever.

*rolls down windows, pops seat, leans back*
posted by phaedon at 11:04 AM on June 8, 2011


While I'm baffled by people who are reacting to the whole "women leaned forward while men leaned back" issue by saying "what's this about 'leaning forward' if you think something's hot" (poetic license, people, ever hear of it?), I was myself skeptical of this being "proof' of his claims -- but for a different reason.

Namely: how do we know that the men were recoiling because of race? Maybe it was just a matter of, "ew, watching a guy doing it in a movie that's not porn. I'm not too into that."


Actually, that anecdata seems weird to me simply because I too often turn around and look at my fellow movie-goers, and unless it's a goddamn small theater and very thinly populated, I can't make any statements about what they're "all" doing, nor do I think I could say with confidence that a majority were leaning slightly forward or back - unless they all did it in unison and with emphasis, like some kind of synchronized-swim routine. Articles that are like "once under imperfect conditions I totally observed all these people doing this little tiny thing and I'm absolutely sure of what I saw and it proves my point" seem a bit dodgy to me, especially when they purport to "prove" some kind of nebulously ev-psych nonsense about gender and "territoriality".
posted by Frowner at 11:04 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


T2 was a crap movie

This doesn't even make sense as an English sentence. What was the original language you were translating from?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:04 AM on June 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


I'm so glad we're focusing on this instead of talking about institutionalized racism.

Blockbuster movies represent institutionalized racism? Reminds me of when people were harping on a dick joke for being a "trigger event".

I think it trivializes something very bad, and I don't like that.

Anyway, y'know what, Purple Rain grossed 80 million in the 80s. Too bad he chose $100 million as his arbitrary number... oh what's that, he didn't adjust for inflation? Nerts.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:05 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I resent your implication that I am not a shit wizard space marine.

I see that your tie is from the 4th Interstellar Copromancers.

*sternly* Did you EARN it?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:05 AM on June 8, 2011 [21 favorites]


Frankly I'm leaning towards plate-of-beans analysis.

I'm confused, does that mean you are for it or against it??
posted by hermitosis at 11:05 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Too bad he chose $100 million as his arbitrary number... oh what's that, he didn't adjust for inflation?

Yeah that's a shame, he coulda gotten Gone with the Wind in there.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:07 AM on June 8, 2011


No no no. Eroticizing and fetishizing big muscly guys thrusting phallic symbols into one another's sweaty flesh is awesome, but seeing a guy's ass?! Gross.

300: The most homoerotic homophobic movie of all time, or the most homophobic homoerotic movie of all time?

Answer: Both!
posted by kmz at 11:07 AM on June 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


My favorite was when I saw 300 (I know!) and there was pointless female nudity for like ten minutes and then there was a brief ass-shot of whatshisname and the guy behind me in the theater went 'Ugh! Was that necessary?!'

>Oh, right, that one brief moment of gratuitous male flesh.


A friend of my mother refers to 300 as "the ultimate chick flick."
posted by riruro at 11:09 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


it's the hot gates.
posted by clavdivs at 11:14 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Frankly I'm leaning towards plate-of-beans analysis.

I'm confused, does that mean you are for it or against it??


If you lean towards it, you'll eventually be against it.
posted by chavenet at 11:15 AM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


300: The most homoerotic homophobic movie of all time, or the most homophobic homoerotic movie of all time?

Psh. It's no Top Gun.
posted by The World Famous at 11:18 AM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's homoerotic, but with a caveat. Pumped gym rats are hot. Giant kinky weirdos are not.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:20 AM on June 8, 2011


Had to laugh when the writer noted that he turned around in a darkened theatre and looked at the entire audience to take his pole on how many men were turned away and how many women were watching the screen. BS.

Where I live, if I go (seldom) to a movie house (a place with a number of separate films showing), I notice that if lots of blacks in line, they will go into a film that in fact has all black cast and seems to be about being black, whereas the whites (myself included) go to a different film.

I assume things are evolving, though. Films with a young black falling in love or kissing a white girl are not common but it does happen (and also on tv) these days whereas not very many years ago you would not see this. Also, way back, they managed to film in a city and not have a single black on the streets unless it was a film (seldom) that called for blacks.
But then of course we had (the South) Jim Crow. And in jazz, the reverse, Crow Jim--no whites played in black groups because not wanted.
Color and Sex=two great American bugaboos. Put them together and....
posted by Postroad at 11:20 AM on June 8, 2011


Pumped gym rats are hot. Giant kinky weirdos are not.

Someone disagrees in 3, 2, 1
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:21 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Giant kinky weirdos are not.

*changes profile pic, weeps*
posted by hermitosis at 11:22 AM on June 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'm not expressing my own viewpoint, merely that of the film.

I was rooting for the giant kinky weirdos.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:23 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like this piece, but he's writing about something that's been long noticed by critics and culturalists.

I remember reading an essay in the early 1990's by a film critic noting the de-sexualization of black males in lead roles. One example given was the Lethal Weapon films: Mel Gibson's got serious relationships while Danny Glover's relationships were either de-emphasized if stable (his marriage) or played for laughs (overweight black women throwing themselves at his character).

I disagree with him about not blaming the suits for this though. I think the suits are hyper-sensitive about negative reactions. For example, I've read that, despite NBC's fears and attempts to avoid showing it, there was very little negative reaction to the Kirk-Uhura kiss in Plato's Stepchildren. If the suits would cowboy up and take chances, things would be different.


But, that said, there are many other things going on that might explain this de-sexualization. Some prominent black actors have expressed mixed (see what I did there) feelings about having their characters pursue relationships with white women for fear it sends a negative message to black women: you are not attractive enough to be desired by the Male Lead -- even when he's black like you. I can see this, as I've heard black women say pretty much exactly that in response to WF/BM pairings in both film/tv and real life.

I'm glad he wrote this article. This is exactly the kind of racial issue we need to keep talking about. Thanks for posting, hermitosis.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:24 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Blockbuster movies represent institutionalized racism? Reminds me of when people were harping on a dick joke for being a "trigger event".

Yeah, I know, right? What kind of fascist ultra-PC axe must this guy have to grind, that he would go around pointing out that a media form depicting stories as normative reality to hundreds of millions of people, reinforces codified racism stereotypes literally 100% of the time?
posted by Mayor West at 11:24 AM on June 8, 2011 [29 favorites]


This is an awesome and insightful set of observances from one of the best science fiction authors in the business. And one of the VERY few black science fiction authors. Which makes him one of the few black male authors in all of publishingdom.

But he lost me when he started trying to explain it. With the alpha males and the territorial behavior and all.

Do we need to reach for an explanation for the lack of black people in sex scenes?

We do not.

It is racism.

That is the explanation. Racism.

Why gild the lily with a hodge podge of pop psychology and evolutionary biology nonsense?
posted by ErikaB at 11:25 AM on June 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is probably my favorite love scene in a movie, and the scene near the end of Lost Highway is probably my second favorite, so I know I'm not really the target audience for Major Hollywood Blockbuster 9: Electric Blockboogalooster, but I have noticed this before.

The kiss at the end of Strange Days is one of my favorite moments in a film, though, and that has to count for something, even if I'm not sure I want to filter the reversed genders through a cultural lens.
posted by byanyothername at 11:25 AM on June 8, 2011


the writer noted that he turned around in a darkened theatre. . . to take his pole on how many men were turned away

lol. That is all.
posted by The Bellman at 11:25 AM on June 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Anecdata, and I'm only half-Black, but IRL doing very well with the white women. And I don't look anything like Tyrese Gibson.

Hollywood, pls catch up. And call me, if you need some help getting your swerve on.
posted by Eideteker at 11:29 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


the scene near the end of Lost Highway

I'm not sure if that counts as a love scene, what with the terror and the self-contempt and whatnot.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:31 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if that counts as a love scene, what with the terror and the self-contempt and whatnot.

It's not fun without terror and self-contempt.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:33 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


T2 was a crap movie

This doesn't even make sense as an English sentence. What was the original language you were translating from?


It may not be a good American sentence, but I think it is a perfectly good English one.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:34 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let me note that Black Dynamite opened with a love scene.

AND WHAT A LOVE SCENE.

I don't know why that film didn't break $100 million. I myself have seen it 25 times.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:34 AM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's not fun without terror and self-contempt.

You'll... never... HAVE ME
posted by shakespeherian at 11:35 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie: "Let me note that Black Dynamite opened with a love scene.

AND WHAT A LOVE SCENE.

I don't know why that film didn't break $100 million. I myself have seen it 25 times.
"

Would have been better had I been in BD's place...

Just sayin'.
posted by Samizdata at 11:38 AM on June 8, 2011


For the record I was leaning backwards to rub one out. Better?
posted by nathancaswell at 11:40 AM on June 8, 2011


This doesn't even make sense as an English sentence. What was the original language you were translating from?

My bad.

T2 was a shitty movie.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:40 AM on June 8, 2011


T2 was a shitty movie.

Can I suggest you use Google Translate instead of Babblefish? You're literally trying to communicate an idea that is self-evidentally nonsensical and cannot be understood by humans.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:42 AM on June 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


I'm assuming AZ was implying that T2's greatness is epistemological fact, rather than commenting on the grammar, since calling something a "crap movie" is a bog standard construction.
posted by kmz at 11:42 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Get the fuck out of here T2 was a shitty movie.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:42 AM on June 8, 2011


Come with me if you want to derail the thread.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:44 AM on June 8, 2011 [28 favorites]


The trailer in question on Youtube has, by my count, 71 cuts in its 2:51 running time. There are about six shots of love scenes, the longest of which is maybe a second and a half. His thesis -- that black males do not get much action in big movies -- is sound; the notion that he could have spun his head around and assessed the exact tenor of every member of the audience in a second or so is absurd.

Then again, possibly he means he watched the audience throughout the trailer. In this case we have many many variables. In any case, he is starting with an acorn of speculation and growing an entire forest of results.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:44 AM on June 8, 2011


MASS APHASIA!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:44 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just found out the other day that Linda Hamilton has a twin sister and she was in T2. I love how this thread is derailing.
posted by phaedon at 11:46 AM on June 8, 2011


Get the fuck out of here T2 was a shitty movie.

Yes, it was pretty. Good cinematography.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:46 AM on June 8, 2011


The trailer in question

Man I love how Spike Lee moves his camera.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:49 AM on June 8, 2011


That's, um, not his camera.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:51 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hasta la vista, on-topic discussion.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:51 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pursue the so-called pop psychology a little farther: is being threatened by a black man's sexuality alpha behaviour? The question answers itself.

The article's author might have messed up on who exactly is threatened by black men in sex scenes, but there's a pretty simple (and mainstream) explanation for the phenomenon he identifies in terms of stereotype threat. White men don't want to feel sexually inferior, and the racial stereotypes many of them hold about black men can induce that.
posted by topynate at 11:52 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just KNEW we'd end up talking about Spike Lee's joint.
posted by hermitosis at 11:54 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm reminded of the scene in Jungle Fever where the women are talking amongst themselves:

- If it will make you happy, I'll make a pilgrimage to Africa... the motherland, and find myself a true tribesman.

- A true Asiatic black man.

- With a dick down to his knees, to keep me happy for days.

- Oooh! Zulu dick!


Maybe that stereotype threat cuts both ways.
posted by Trurl at 12:00 PM on June 8, 2011




Some prominent black actors have expressed mixed (see what I did there) feelings about having their characters pursue relationships with white women for fear it sends a negative message to black women: you are not attractive enough to be desired by the Male Lead -- even when he's black like you. I can see this, as I've heard black women say pretty much exactly that in response to WF/BM pairings in both film/tv and real life.

Denzel Washington reportedly asked that a love scene with his white co-star be edited out of "Man on Fire"
posted by The Gooch at 12:18 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


We are white people, suck our dicks!
Sorry that was the best link I could find for this
posted by Lorin at 12:28 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was from 2006, which seems pretty dated. Indie Wire ran The Crisis of the Black Leading Man which is far more up-to-date and is getting quite a bit of attention.

But many African-American oriented films are very family-oriented, which limits sex scenes a great deal.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:29 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I skimmed through this and maybe I'm wrong here, but on pg 25 of this PDF it seems to show there is a good relation between affinity and body lean. I'm not sure but I think there's SCIENCE! in there.
Now whether his anecdotal observation was a good choice to put in the article, probably not.

Also, Tyler Perry may have some over the top characterizations but at least his Rom-Com movies are far more realistic than the run-of-the-mill crap that's generally produced.

By the way, didn't Will Smith have a sex scene with Rosarios Dawson in Seven Pounds? It looks like it made 166 million.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:42 PM on June 8, 2011


Terminator 2 featured a brilliant black man who heroically sacrificed his own life.

He's also an example of a genius who does great things, who also can't envision or fix the disasters he's inadvertently created.

Short version (and how my friends and I thought about this character in high school): sure he's smart, but he also ultimately destroyed the world as we know it. Of course that character has to be black.

More broadly, and speaking as a minority male, very few people of any gender or any race are allowed to be seen as love or sexual interests in mainstream entertainment. There is, of course, the exception of Asian women - but their exception is itself pretty racist.

People will allow themselves their token friends or co-workers, but if you really want to know how racist someone is - spend some time thinking about who's on their sexual fantasy list, or who've they've dated over their entire lives. You'd be surprised.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 12:47 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


but if you really want to know how racist someone is - spend some time thinking about who's on their sexual fantasy list

Well, then I know I'm hanging out with the right people, because our lists are all over the place. Score.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:56 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh weird all my sexual fantasies have me in them that is so twisted.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:58 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


All my sexual fantasies have you in them too!!!
And AZ. It's complicated
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:00 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I often wonder why couples have to have the same (apparent) skin colour in tv, movies and ads. It doesn't make any sense.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:03 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


People will allow themselves their token friends or co-workers, but if you really want to know how racist someone is - spend some time thinking about who's on their sexual fantasy list, or who've they've dated over their entire lives. You'd be surprised.

BUT SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS ARE BLACK
posted by 23skidoo at 1:04 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Come with me if you want to derail the thread.

GET TO DA METATALKPPA
posted by zephyr_words at 1:04 PM on June 8, 2011


Wow, I didn't know ANYBODY enjoyed sex scenes in blockbuster movies, irrespective of the ethnicity of the lovers.

I am fascinated that there are people who require them in their movies to have an enjoyable time.

(Smaller films I can understand. Usually the sex scene isn't quite so trite or predictable.)
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:07 PM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


X:men first class.

What made me sad wasn't that they used that particular lame-o race trope, but that I was *utterly* expecting it.

I've come to the conclusion that I give up.

Female empowerment, and considered race representation will NEVER be balanced or fair within any of my geekdoms. I can give up the geekdoms (which Is unlikely to happen as that were my tastes lie), or I can let someone else fight the feminist / race fight, because the genderfails, and the sexulaityfails and the racefails just keep happening in SPECTACULAR fashion.

Instead of fighting the institutionalised >insert ism here< I now simply encourage others to be creators, because the broader the rang of people creating geek content (be it literature, film, music or any mashup of the above), then the greater the chance that eventually there will be something representing nearly everyone out there that they can enjoy - without the overt politics.
posted by Faintdreams at 1:11 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


This explains why so many blockbusters are about guys who process invoices all day and sometimes work through lunch, as opposed to space marines and wizards and shit.

Gimme a break. Taking that route, there's no reason for minorities to complain about unequal representation, because hey, it's all made up anyway, right?
posted by valkyryn at 1:14 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


What? You said that it shouldn't be controversial that black actors don't get love scenes in blockbuster films because the majority audience is white, and people like to see characters just like them. My point is that, if I'm able to empathize with some 3-foot-tall guy who has to escort a magic invisibility ring through a fantastical landscape of goblins and monsters and spells, it's pretty bullshitty if I can't empathize with the protagonist of some Chicago-set romantic comedy because he's black and I'm not.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:20 PM on June 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


Get the fuck out of here T2 was a shitty movie.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:42 PM on June 8 [+] [!]


You humans just can't stand to see a movie where robots are in any sort of position of power. Oh sure, you love it when it's just harmless little R2D2 with his tiny shock probe and his cowardly pal C3PO. Or maybe if it's naive Johnny Five. But the second it's all about robots coming and killing you all, suddenly it's 'a bad movie'.
posted by Comrade_robot at 1:21 PM on June 8, 2011 [27 favorites]


I often wonder why couples have to have the same (apparent) skin colour in tv, movies and ads. It doesn't make any sense.

I know we still have a way to go before TV gets its race problems figured out, but a lot more shows are having interracial romances these days. Just from shows I watched this season,
  • Happy Endings has a married black man and white woman
  • 30 Rock revisited Jack's past relationship with Condoleezza Rice
  • Community had (white) Annie and Britta crushing on (black) Troy, a potentially black/asian pregnancy, and (SEASON FINALE SPOILER ALERT) Annie initiating a serious crush on half-Palestinian Abed
  • Archer continued the will-they, won't-they tension between ex-lovers (white) Sterling Archer and (black) Lana Kane (not to mention (white, elderly) Mallory Archer's ongoing fantasies of taking a young black lover)
I don't watch a ton of TV so there are probably more examples I've missed, but obviously you can find examples in older recent shows too (Lt. Daniels and... don't remember her name in the Wire immediately springs to mind). And really... a lot of people in real life date people with the same apparent skin color too, so although the representation may not be realistic quite yet, I think it's getting there
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 1:21 PM on June 8, 2011


Yeah I think teevee is a lot more progressive than (mainstream) filmmaking in a lot of ways, probably because the monetary investment is significantly less.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:25 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


But the second it's all about robots coming and killing you all, suddenly it's 'a bad movie'.

Forget it, man; I've had exactly the same discussion about zombie movies. They don't want to hear it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:25 PM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


if I'm able to empathize with some 3-foot-tall guy who has to escort a magic invisibility ring

It sure was a let down when they didn't show the Hobbits consummate their obvious feelings for each other on-screen.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:28 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I also don't know what it means (if anything) that all of the examples I noticed from this season were from comedy shows and none from the action/drama things that are also in my Hulu queue
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 1:31 PM on June 8, 2011


It sure was a let down when they didn't show the Hobbits consummate their obvious feelings for each other on-screen.

Oh, didn't they?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:33 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


another Walken kiss... (no blood this time)
posted by tigrrrlily at 1:37 PM on June 8, 2011


Comrade_robot: "You humans just can't stand to see a movie where robots are in any sort of position of power. Oh sure, you love it when it's just harmless little R2D2 with his tiny shock probe and his cowardly pal C3PO. Or maybe if it's naive Johnny Five. But the second it's all about robots coming and killing you all, suddenly it's 'a bad movie'"

Yeah, maybe robots should just go make their own movies. With Blackjack! And Hookers! In fact, forget the movies!
posted by I am the Walrus at 1:40 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


People will allow themselves their token friends or co-workers, but if you really want to know how racist someone is - spend some time thinking about who's on their sexual fantasy list, or who've they've dated over their entire lives. You'd be surprised.

Really, we're scrutinizing people's sexual appetites for evidence of their immutable racism now? There wasn't enough shame in American sexuality to be getting on with, let's just interrogate people's fucking fantasies for proof of their illiberalism. This is a truly perverse and disheartening statement.
posted by Errant at 1:41 PM on June 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


Indie Wire ran The Crisis of the Black Leading Man which is far more up-to-date and is getting quite a bit of attention.

Wow, that was a great article. I highly recommend it for those really interested in this thread's main topic.

It made me think of something the creators of The Wire said about how angry they were with Hollywood for limiting roles and ranges for black actors after working with -- and seeing in auditions -- so many fine black actors on The Wire and their other projects.

So, yeah, I'm convinced more and more that it's the suits, after reading Crisis of the Black Leading Man and even reading things like the TV Tropes page on "Black Guy Dies First" and seeing instances where the studios changed scripts so that black characters who would have otherwise lived died.

if I'm able to empathize with some 3-foot-tall guy who has to escort a magic invisibility ring through a fantastical landscape of goblins and monsters and spells, it's pretty bullshitty if I can't empathize with the protagonist of some Chicago-set romantic comedy because he's black and I'm not.

This actually made me think about something else that might be affecting the portrayal of black male sexuality in blockbusters. Black men are still too "Other" for many of the 18-35 year old American white males in the audience to identify with in the love scenes. So if you have Idris Elba getting with Scarlett Johansson, their reaction isn't necessarily one of disgust at the thoughts of black naughty bits but an inability to see themselves in the place of The Hero.

I think that's also the reason a large number of interracial videos on porn sites also are tagged "cuckold" or "cheating": the flip side of some white males being put off by an Other getting intimate with a white woman is some white males being greatly turned on by the transgressive nature of an Other getting intimate with a white woman.

And this brings me to a final point: as is so often the case, it appears the studios aren't even bothering to ask women what they want to see. Not that I think every single white woman in the theater watching Mo Better Blues was leaning forward during Washington's sex scene, but I know plenty of white women who would love to use those two tickets to that thing they like with the guy from the Old Spice commercials, for example.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:56 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hi. Steven Barnes here. I'm not sure why folks are so interested in the observation about the women leaning forward, the guys leaning back. I'm certainly not saying it was "every single woman" and "every single man" in the theater--but that when I looked around, that was what I was seeing: women leaning forward, men pressing back into their seats. It was striking. Then I went back to watching the screen, so I can't comment on what happened after that point

I simply interpreted that as the women leaning toward something they found delicious and attractive, and the white guys leaning in an aversive fashion: they didn't like what they were seeing. Simple aversion and attraction, really.

I don't think television is more progressive. I just think it is harder to measure the ratings "hit" a show takes if a black male character gets laid--but my strong suspicion is that if you looked at the ratings, that's what you'd see.

I actually liked T2, since he ultimately died to protect his own family--which is cool. James Cameron is an interesting case. While having a decent number of black characters, it took until Avatar to have a black male character survive his films (presumably...there were a couple with small speaking parts, and if they died, they died offscreen.)
posted by sebarnes at 2:02 PM on June 8, 2011 [37 favorites]


I was having a conversation last night where one woman at the table challenged us to think of a single openly gay actor who was cast (after coming out) as a heterosexual romantic lead in a movie. The closest we could get was trying to make Dr. Horrible into a "movie" for the sake of argument, but this is obviously another area where television is far more progressive than cinema these days.

In a way, that's not surprising. Television is ascendant and cinema descendant in terms of both commerce and storytelling craft these days. Hollywood doesn't want to take a risk on anything and that, to them, means putting almost all their chips on young white male audiences. This means (a) generally casting only young white males in order to ensure that nothing aside from dubious talent or bad writing could stand in the way of the audience projecting themselves into the lead character, and (b) rare sex scenes, because they run too much of a risk of dragging the film out of the PG-13 sweet spot.

It's still disheartening, of course. But yeah, television is getting it right. HBO and to a much lesser extent Showtime are setting the high water mark for quality on television, inspired by their freedom to do whatever they want both artistically and politically, and so we get sex scenes of all flavors and colors.

This has trickled down to network tv as well, though. 30 Rock and Community are probably the best about this, with a very high amount of racial diversity in the main casts. As was said above, we've seen Troy involved in crushes with both Annie and Britta, though nothing yet has come of those, and the only things close to "love scenes" in Community have been between Jeff and Britta or Shirley and Chang.

We will see more of this in the future, I predict, thankfully, but look towards the small screen for it. Hollywood right now is too terrified to do anything it hasn't already succeeded with before.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:03 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was having a conversation last night where one woman at the table challenged us to think of a single openly gay actor who was cast (after coming out) as a heterosexual romantic lead in a movie.

....I can't believe this is where my mind went, but -- wasn't John Barrowman already out when he got cast in Shark Attack 3: Megalodon?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:06 PM on June 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


oh my god that was the stupidest argument ever someone kill me
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:07 PM on June 8, 2011 [24 favorites]


Really, we're scrutinizing people's sexual appetites for evidence of their immutable racism now? There wasn't enough shame in American sexuality to be getting on with, let's just interrogate people's fucking fantasies for proof of their illiberalism. This is a truly perverse and disheartening statement.

Is your quibble the idea that someone's sexual appetite can be an indicator of their racism? Or that I have no right to observe, conclude, or judge their dating history?

The hard truth is I'm not the only one who observes who other people choose (or would like) to fuck. Those observations inform the visual shorthand television and movies use to inspire thoughts of love and sex, and right now in American mainstream entertainment, we're pretty much still at the point where that shorthand pretty much runs through white people and white people only. Which is why you have kids growing up as minorities often thinking about the stereotypical Caucasian barbie dolls so often held up as the media's ideal. That's also at least partially why many white people can't or won't think of minorities sexually.

So, yeah. We're scrutinizing. All of us. All the time. Symbols matter. Why is it important for girls to see women in power? Why is it important for gay kids to see openly gay athletes or actors or leaders or marriages? For the same reason it's important that black men (or any racial/gender minority) should be allowed to be the love interest.

BTW: all the examples of pieces of entertainment where all of the above isn't true? Boomer as Asian female in Battlestar or Starbuck as female or someone involved in interracial relationship in just about every art house movie ever - also all shorthand, but the inverse - used to signal the character or the show/movie itself is more modern or edgy or whatever.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 2:12 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


sebarnes: "James Cameron is an interesting case. While having a decent number of black characters, it took until Avatar to have a black male character survive his films (presumably...there were a couple with small speaking parts, and if they died, they died offscreen.)"

Hello Steven. Welcome to Metafilter.

That's interesting. You're right. I can't think of a single male black actor who survived to the end of any of Cameron's movies other than Avatar.
posted by zarq at 2:18 PM on June 8, 2011


Also, MeTa.
posted by zarq at 2:19 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


sebarnes: I think Television is more progressive in that it is willing to take the risks associated with possible ratings hits. Maybe it's because it's harder to measure - though there are obviously a number of rating systems - but I'd argue that the bigger issue is that the suits have less say over final product. There's just too much of it and it has to air on a certain date and time. Showrunners can give them a half-hour of the characters just talking shit about the network and under the right circumstances the network will just suck it up and air it.

I myself can't wait until Donald Glover gets to create his own show one day, which I'd put at better than even odds. And I'd kill to see Spike Lee in development with HBO for a full series.

Also, welcome to Metafilter. We're glad to have you join us.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:22 PM on June 8, 2011


Is your quibble the idea that someone's sexual appetite can be an indicator of their racism? Or that I have no right to observe, conclude, or judge their dating history?

I think, at least from my viewpoint and maybe others, that you seem to think it is an inherent fact in the first and inherently right in the second.
How does that viewpoint, that someone who finds another race sexually appealing, inform anything about them other than that is their preference? Let's say an Asian man prefers only to date women of Latino descent, what does that tell you?
posted by P.o.B. at 2:24 PM on June 8, 2011


I can't think of a single male black actor who survived to the end of any of Cameron's movies

Keep in mind that for the most part, only the leads survive into the final scene of most of Cameron's big films. So while there's certainly room to examine why he doesn't have any black male leads, I'm not sure the survival aspect is quite as telling in his films as it is in films with a lower body count.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:25 PM on June 8, 2011


I think Television is more progressive in that it is willing to take the risks associated with possible ratings hits.

I think I'd say that, due to the episodic nature of television, the very fact that you can recover from a ratings hit dictates that risky behavior will occur. If the black lead gets laid in your movie, that's what happens in your movie, and people will go see it or they won't; if the black lead gets laid in your teevee show, presumably that isn't happening in every episode.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:26 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So if you have Idris Elba getting with Scarlett Johansson

I would watch the shit out of that hypothetical movie.
posted by elizardbits at 2:29 PM on June 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


Is this the thread where we can suggest black leading men for sex scenes? crowd cheers back: It is now Haven't seen much of his work, but that Anthony Mackie has got a little sumthin' sumthin' mama likes.
posted by dabitch at 2:31 PM on June 8, 2011


Oh and PS can I complain truly and sincerely that Donald Glover didn't get the part of Spider-Man? I don't know if he even would have taken it but that would have truly been the best thing ever.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:33 PM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


but my heart belongs to Eideteker.
posted by dabitch at 2:33 PM on June 8, 2011


Oh and PS can I complain truly and sincerely that Donald Glover didn't get the part of Spider-Man?

IT IS AN OUTRAGE OH MY GOD. Especially as they have made the inexplicable choice to cast the hideous creeper Andrew Garfield instead.
posted by elizardbits at 2:35 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would watch the shit out of that hypothetical movie.

Then you'd probably really enjoy Luther. :-)

(I could easily watch an hour of Idris Elba and Ruth Wilson just standing there.)
posted by lord_wolf at 2:36 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Re: Anthony Mackie.

I was like 'Who?' and then I clicked the link and was like 'Oh I love that guy!' and then I was like 'What's he been in?' and it turns out I've only seen him in Half Nelson but still remember him as being awesome so pretty clearly he is insanely awesome. Also so is Half Nelson.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:37 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why folks are so interested in the observation about the women leaning forward, the guys leaning back. I'm certainly not saying it was "every single woman" and "every single man" in the theater

I think people are hung up on that "observation" because that is almost exactly what you did say (unless "all of the women in the theater" != "every single woman in the theater"):
All of the other moviegoers were white, and I saw something fascinating: All of the women in the theater leaned forward, toward the screen. All of the men pressed away, back in their seats as if utterly repulsed.
and it was so implausible that it undermined an otherwise thought-provoking article.

So an interesting commentary piece about how Hollywood relies on facile, questionable representations of race relations in film... contains a facile, questionable representation of race relations in print.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 2:37 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the problem with Idris Elba is simply that America doesn't know they want him yet. Most of the country hasn't seen The Wire and he didn't really get to bring the fireworks in his one or two episodes of The Office. Hopefully Thor will give him a big push in that direction but I don't know, I haven't seen it.

And yeah, Donald Glover would have been AWESOME as Spider-Man and I believe he was campaigning for the role, hence why they had him in Spider-Man pajamas in the first sequence of Community's season 2 premier.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:38 PM on June 8, 2011


shakespeherian and elizardbits:

It's no Spider-Man, but if you wanna see Donald Glover as an awkward teen detective, check out the hilarious Mystery Team (which he and the other members of Derrick Comedy wrote and self-produced)

Bonus: It has an interracial romance between Glover and Aubrey Plaza!
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 2:39 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


So if you have Idris Elba getting with Scarlett Johansson

Data point: I am leaning forward now
posted by chavenet at 2:40 PM on June 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


So if you have Idris Elba getting with Scarlett Johansson


Can we combine this idea with some sort of Face/Off reboot? I like my shit freaky.
posted by neuromodulator at 2:41 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mystery Team had a bit too much gross-out humor for me (that's just me). And it didn't feature even one single scene of Donald Glover swinging through Manhattan and tossing sarcastic asides at a bad guy in a giant rhinoceros suit.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:42 PM on June 8, 2011


I think the problem with Idris Elba is simply that America doesn't know they want him yet.

dear america,

come the fuck on. you know you want it.
posted by elizardbits at 2:45 PM on June 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


dabitch: Night Catches Us: Anthony Mackie is totally starkers in it. Plus, it's a really good movie.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:57 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chiwetel Ejiofor needs some love. The line starts to the left.
posted by EvaDestruction at 3:06 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


1) I saw the Halle Berry/Billy Bob Thornton sex in Monster's Ball and I felt like she deserved an award for just making it through the awkward hell of that scene.

2) I'm not sure where people are going with the racial makeup of sex fantasy lists...there is a whole subset of kink where people fetishize race because it is taboo in their minds; which doesn't indicate any sort of liberalism in their daily non-sex lives.
posted by nile_red at 3:11 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chiwetel Ejiofor

::swoons::
posted by epersonae at 3:13 PM on June 8, 2011


come the fuck on. you know you want it.

I would like to thank you for singlehandedly turning my day around with that image. Though I don't know that my fiance is happy about my request that he show up to pick me up in that hat.
posted by Zophi at 3:14 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been in love with Chiwetel Ejiofor since Dirty Pretty Things.
posted by nile_red at 3:15 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The Left Hand of Darkness"
IMO, one of the top five stories.
posted by clavdivs at 3:15 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's why I give props to Sweet "Sweetback's Baadasssss Song"; Melvin Van Peebles not only gets his swerve on, he does it in full color, with graphic sex on set (and no body doubles), revealed explicitly (albeit with shadows and cuts) on celluloid. Stream it on Netflix if you don't believe me.
posted by Gordion Knott at 3:16 PM on June 8, 2011


Is your quibble the idea that someone's sexual appetite can be an indicator of their racism? Or that I have no right to observe, conclude, or judge their dating history?

I have "quibbles" with both, if that's the word you want to use. You are literally discussing thoughtcrime: the idea that what someone is thinking is in violation of some more, taboo, or norm. As for your "right" to judge a person's dating history, sure, you have the right to judge whatever you want, and I have the right to consider that being a judgmental prick. It's not about whether you have the "right" to turn your nose up at people for their taste in sexual partners, because you certainly do. There are just other words for people who do that, and you're probably familiar with some of them.

So, yeah. We're scrutinizing. All of us. All the time. Symbols matter. Why is it important for girls to see women in power? Why is it important for gay kids to see openly gay athletes or actors or leaders or marriages? For the same reason it's important that black men (or any racial/gender minority) should be allowed to be the love interest.


The most casual perusal of my commenting history will amply demonstrate my sympathy with this notion. But you're arguing that a person's fantasy life is or should be subject to the same level of public scrutiny and criticism as a movie's casting decisions and plot direction. Surely you comprehend that what is put forward for public consumption is a very different proposition than the private thoughts of an individual. Surely you comprehend that a person's internal dialogue is not a symbol. Your thesis would have as its natural output some evidence of multicultural personal romance as a purity test for liberalism: date one person from each of these boxes in order to prove that you're not a racist. I find that repellent.
posted by Errant at 3:22 PM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


This piece (appearing elsewhere on MeFi) is framed around the challenges of getting realistic women characters into mainstream films, but has some broader commentary relevant to the issues in this thread, too - namely, that most of the people making the decisions about what gets produced in Hollywood have very definite, and extremely limited, ideas about who their target audience is and what appeals to them.
posted by EvaDestruction at 3:24 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mouseover for X-Men spoilers.

DAMN YOU IPAD!
posted by Mooski at 3:26 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


wasn't John Barrowman already out when he got cast in Shark Attack 3: Megalodon?

How can you mention that movie without also linking the GREATEST MOVIE LINE OF ALL TIME?!
posted by kmz at 3:31 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


DAMN YOU IPAD!

Ack, sorry, does it not show it correctly in iOS?
posted by kmz at 3:32 PM on June 8, 2011


But you're arguing that a person's fantasy life is or should be subject to the same level of public scrutiny and criticism as a movie's casting decisions and plot direction. Surely you comprehend that what is put forward for public consumption is a very different proposition than the private thoughts of an individual. Surely you comprehend that a person's internal dialogue is not a symbol. Your thesis would have as its natural output some evidence of multicultural personal romance as a purity test for liberalism: date one person from each of these boxes in order to prove that you're not a racist. I find that repellent.

I'm saying that one individual's publicly perceived actions and their private thoughts inform value judgements for everyone else. Consequently, yeah - you do bear some responsibility for the choices you make. "It's just how I'm wired" is no less a cop-out than a movie producer saying "well, that's what they want to see!" Do you honestly believe there's no interconnect between people's private thoughts and what they've been shown in media? That there's no feedback loop there, at all?

Also: at no point have I said anything about thoughtcrimes or rainbow dating to pass some purity test. That's you trying the logical conclusion angle to shout down a point you don't like. Use of words like "prick" and "repellent" are similarly loaded, SYMBOLIC words you're using as short cuts. It's a lazy, bush league way to communicate, and lazy in exactly the same way as a movie producer deciding not to let the black guy kiss on camera. BTW: I'm not doing any mind reading - these are your public words that you're submitting for the perception and judgement of others.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 3:47 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mouseover for X-Men spoilers.

DAMN YOU IPAD!

Ack, sorry, does it not show it correctly in iOS?


No such thing as mouseover in iOS. Now, I have a greasemonkey script that will toggle the title of an ATTR with the contents of an ATTR, but again, no such thing as greasemonkey in iOS...

(Complain like hell as people do about ROT13, at least it's vaguely possible to cut and paste it on phone/tablet. )
posted by Artw at 3:54 PM on June 8, 2011


Holy shit, kmz et al: I never noticed!

Also, although it's a complete dog at the box office, for the record: the real theme of Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (now in the cheap theaters) is: "Miscegeny is bad."

Everyone who so much as looks coyly at someone outside their ethnic group dies horribly. If G_d had intended vampires to date werewolves...

But seriously: Big bad dude is a black vampire, who only dates pale white girls. Dies horribly. So does anyone else who even flirts outside their ethnic group.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:13 PM on June 8, 2011


I was having a conversation last night where one woman at the table challenged us to think of a single openly gay actor who was cast (after coming out) as a heterosexual romantic lead in a movie.

Rupert Everett is one who comes close. He's been a straight lead character in both An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Ernest.

Perhaps it's just that actors tend to come out of the closet later rather than earlier (although that's changing) and romantic leads tend to be young and cute. How many out actors would you consider reasonable romantic comedy lead material? NPH I don't really consider movie material. He's had some great bit parts in movies, but he's a tv guy all the way. Who else?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:15 PM on June 8, 2011


Hah! I brought up Rupert Everett but we were a little tipsy and I couldn't remember his romantic leading roles!
posted by Navelgazer at 4:19 PM on June 8, 2011


NPH isn't a romantic leading man but he sure plays the shit out of a womanizing scumbag.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:21 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Consequently, yeah - you do bear some responsibility for the choices you make.

Nothing I've said here suggests otherwise. So tell me: what are the consequences of someone choosing to date members of one race, or choosing to fantasize about one race, in your mind? Are those negative or positive consequences? You appear to be arguing that there are negative consequences; does this not then suggest that you would like to mitigate those negative consequences in some way?

I'm saying that one individual's publicly perceived actions and their private thoughts inform value judgements for everyone else.


How should I value-judge things I don't know anything about, namely someone's private thoughts? How can something I don't know to consider inform my consideration?

Also: at no point have I said anything about thoughtcrimes or rainbow dating to pass some purity test.

No, you haven't. What you said is this:

People will allow themselves their token friends or co-workers, but if you really want to know how racist someone is - spend some time thinking about who's on their sexual fantasy list, or who've they've dated over their entire lives.

This strongly implies that you observe racism in people's dating history, and that you don't if their dating history is sufficiently racially varied. What this says is that if I have only ever dated white people, I am a racist according to your litmus test. You contrast this with "token friends", so what you're saying is that friendships don't matter, associations don't matter: the true measure of racism -- how to "really know" if someone is a racist -- is in who a person wants to fuck. Is the next logical step not to conclude that a person must want to fuck multiracially in order not to be called a racist by you? If that isn't the next logical step in your argument, what is? Where do we go from your thesis?
posted by Errant at 4:27 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jesus Christ, somehow I skimmed over this comment entirely the first time, but

if you really want to know how racist someone is - spend some time thinking about who's on their sexual fantasy list, or who've they've dated over their entire lives

Are you goddamn kidding me? First of all, you're seriously suggesting drawing conclusions about one's views of race based on their sexual fantasies. Sexual fantasies, which are not necessarily even related to physical appearance. (One of my top ten is a guitar player who's so good that I get turned on watching her play, even though I'm not attracted to her physical appearance. At least one other is up there primarily for her personality) Sexual fantasies, which even when related to physical appearance are not necessarily related to race. (I tend not to prefer blonde hair and pale skin, as an unexplainable preference that I guarantee has nothing to do with an innate disgust of white people) Sexual fantasies, which may represent an exotic escape from the type of people you actually know, date, are married to, etc.; which may relate to some kind of fringe interest like furryism or balloon fetish; which may just plain feature the cute cashier at the record store you saw on the way home, or any number of other motivations conceivable. As an indicator of whether or not someone is racist.

But even that's less ridiculous than making that call based on someone's dating history, since at least you have SOME kind of control over your fantasies, even if they're informed by subconscious desires. Whereas, to date someone of race X, you actually have to:
  • Live someplace with a significant proportion of race X members of the population (sorry, everyone in Alaska!)
  • Encounter someone of race X in a context where you can feasibly begin a dating relationship (I'm not counting driving/sidewalk/subway encounters, and if you happen to like hanging out in bars or coffeeshops or workplaces without many race X people, you're out of luck too)
  • Successfully initiate a conversation with a person of race X with the potential to turn into a dating relationship (too bad if they're married/dating someone else, leave before you have a chance to talk, or you're too intimidated)
  • Find yourself romantically interested in person of race X (hope you like their personality, their physical characteristics fit an objective profile that you find attractive, they're really good at guitar, or however else you make this determination)
  • And, the hardest step: THAT PERSON LIKES YOU BACK TOO (a step that depends entirely on the inner workings of a totally separate human's mind, who might be racist him/herself!)
Seriously, if you've never managed to navigate every single one of those steps with someone of a particular race... that's supposed to give some kind of insight into your deep-seated opinions of that race as a whole? What does it mean if an Indian woman dates only Indian guys? Only white guys? What about the skinny white nerd who crushes exclusively on black women who aren't into him? He's never dated any, so he must be racist?

BTW: I'm not doing any mind reading
Yeah, no shit. Cf:
All the examples of pieces of entertainment where all of the above isn't true? ... someone involved in interracial relationship ... shorthand, but the inverse - used to signal the character or the show/movie itself is more modern or edgy or whatever.

Pretty sure there are other reasons interracial relationships get depicted in mass media. Or strong female leads for that matter, unless everyone was wrong all along and Ripley and Sarah Connor were only written as women for "edginess"
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 4:47 PM on June 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Keep in mind that for the most part, only the leads survive into the final scene of most of Cameron's big films.

Naw, most of the named cast survives in The Abyss and True Lies. And I don't think many people die in T2 except Connor's foster parents and Miles Dyson.

Query: Did OneNight live through Abyss?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:55 PM on June 8, 2011


Oh, also the original Robert Patrick cop must have died too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:55 PM on June 8, 2011


Query: Did OneNight live through Abyss?

Yes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:57 PM on June 8, 2011


*sigh* eventually it'll improve. also, to hell with narrating the sex lives on penguins, MORGAN FREEMAN NEEDS TO GET SOME ON SCREEN ACTION. not with penguins, mind you
posted by rmd1023 at 4:59 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah - The Abyss doesn't count because OneNight lives, and True Lies doesn't count because it's a shit movie that I refuse to acknowledge. T2, though, is an interesting mistake on my part (interesting to me, anyway). I've seen so much post-T2 Terminator universe, that in my mind, everyone in the T2 universe dies, minus a few special survivors. Now obviously, that's not really the way it ends, and God knows I've seen it enough times to know better. Which is why I find it an amusing faux pas. Everybody dies. Except, they don't. Not yet, anyway.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:11 PM on June 8, 2011


Archer continued the will-they, won't-they tension between ex-lovers (white) Sterling Archer and (black) Lana Kane

Sterling Archer: What? You're black... ish.
Agent Lana Kane: Ish?
Sterling Archer: Well, what's the word for it, Lana? You freaked out when I said "Quadroon."
Agent Lana Kane: Imagine that!
posted by Rangeboy at 5:31 PM on June 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


Too bad he chose $100 million as his arbitrary number... oh what's that, he didn't adjust for inflation?

Yeah that's a shame, he coulda gotten Gone with the Wind in there.

Oh, y'know, quite possibly something contemporary. Adjusted lifetime gross of "Inside Man" is $95 million, for instance. Failing to adjust for inflation leaves out a lot of titles. Who knows whether one/some of them challenge his claim of 0%.

That said, he's pointing out a legitimate problem. Which would have been more compelling if he'd done the legwork instead of trying to distract by tossing in dubious anecdata.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:05 PM on June 8, 2011


The Abyss doesn't count because OneNight lives

Also because OneNight is not a dude.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:51 PM on June 8, 2011


And how!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:55 PM on June 8, 2011


But yeah - I guess I was more focused on the racial dimension, but there's male right there in "single male black actor." So I guess I've compounded my mistakes enough times now to officially need to shut up.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:58 PM on June 8, 2011


> wasn't John Barrowman already out when he got cast in Shark Attack 3: Megalodon?

How can you mention that movie without also linking the GREATEST MOVIE LINE OF ALL TIME ?!


Fun fact: that was an ad-lib he blurted out as a joke, and they left it in.

(shakes fist) BARROWMAN!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


> I skimmed through this and maybe I'm wrong here, but on pg 25 of this PDF it seems to show there is a good relation between affinity and body lean.

I find Barnes' anecdote about Body Lean in the Theater completely believable. Did everyone lean forward or back six inches or a foot? Probably not. A half an inch or a couple of inches? Probably-- people's bodies display at least minute reactions to changes in their emotional states and objects of thought at almost every moment.

And whether or not all white men and white women leaned back or forward seems not that important to me; if the proportion was even 40%, that's very substantial and significant... and unsurprising. Still, I'm sure there's a strong generational effect in play, with those sorts of reactions being common among older folk and less so among younger ones.

(Actually, I yammered on for another paragraph, until, on review, I noticed that lord_wolf and others had anticipated my main point: hard-to-identify-with Sexual Other/Rival, etc.)
posted by darth_tedious at 9:28 PM on June 8, 2011


No, it's in Bruce Almighty. Jim Carrey says, "YOU'RE God?" and Morgan Freeman says, "I sure am, Bruce. But let me prove it to you."

That's pretty much all 100 minutes of "I Love You Phillip Morris," except that God is Ewan McGregor.
posted by blucevalo at 9:34 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've posted this link in comments in other posts, but it's relevant here as well: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/04/26/who-watches-movies/

According to this data, women account for more than half of movie ticket purchases, and make up over half of moviegoers in general. Nonwhite people purchase 40% of the movie tickets. 72% of moviegoers are adults over 18.

Yet, how many of the suits in charge believe that their audience consists of 12-25 year old males? Women are considered a niche market for no good logical reason at all.

Just to take a recent TV example: Game of Thrones decided to add an erotic expository scene with Loras and Renly, two gay men whose homosexuality was just hinted at in the books.

I noticed some reactions to the scene from men I know and anonymous internet commenters that were along the lines of "I didn't need to see that", "The episode was great, except for that shaving scene." etc, and justifications that I didn't mind due to being female. (I actually didn't mind the scene because there's nothing weird about gay relationships and the scene added depth to the characters and weight to their decisions, but I digress a bit.) Anyhow, this piece by Mr. Barnes made me think of that episode and reactions to it.

I think getting more minorities and women into film is only one aspect of how to improve this. It's the producers and moguls who hold the purse strings that really make many of the important decisions and that's what needs to be cracked. It's uphill to say the least.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:48 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the movie theater with a 13-year old and we're seeing X-Men: First Class.

Cliche happens.

13-year old looks at me with a brain-dead expression.

"It's the only black guy. Same as in Wolverine. I'm dumber now."

Greatest kid ever.

But seriously? Kid was right because I was too.
posted by humannaire at 11:02 PM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


A movie that always bothered me was Romeo Must Die.

Here you have a movie with a marial arts hunk Jet Li, and the very hot Aaliyah (the last movie she made before she died in a plane crash), and it is described as an action/romance movie, and they interact closely throughout the movie--he even sneaks into her bedroom. It movie is freeking called Romeo, for crying out loud!

And yet...there's no romance at all. No kissing, no nothing. They are forced to be just 'really good friends' throughout, and it is really awkward.

WTF!!!???

I'm told (and I'm too tired and lazy tonight to find any corroborating links) that the studios thought Asians and African Americans would be upset if they had a romance.
posted by eye of newt at 11:08 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


oh jeez--Aaliyah was in several movies after Romeo Must Die, though she was cut out of Matrix Reloaded
posted by eye of newt at 12:00 AM on June 9, 2011


You can have Idris Elba back when he's finished making the 1,000'th episode of Luther. Until then, you can keep your stinking American hands off him.
posted by seanyboy at 1:00 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Luther is weird - it has all these very American plots (a mad sniper! an anarchist terror plot!) in among lots of Brit police officers making each other cups of tea. And all the time Big Dris is pacing, pacing, like a polar bear in a children's paddling pool.

But Elba was in The Office? Which episodes?
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:15 AM on June 9, 2011


Oh! I forgot:

I was having a conversation last night where one woman at the table challenged us to think of a single openly gay actor who was cast (after coming out) as a heterosexual romantic lead in a movie. The closest we could get was trying to make Dr. Horrible into a "movie" for the sake of argument, but this is obviously another area where television is far more progressive than cinema these days.

If memory serves, I think Doctor Horrible was pre-coming out for NPH... but it's an interesting one. I think Jeremy Northam was out when he played Mr Knightley in Emma, although he was also a relative unknown. Rupert Everett?
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:20 AM on June 9, 2011


1) Finding my anecdote implausible is interesting, but says more about the commentator than the event or the observer. I saw what I saw. No, I can't say, nor do I believe that LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE WOMAN LEANED FORWARD, AND LITERALLY EVERY GUY LEANED BACK. But when I looked around, that was the trend, and it was so striking that it burned into my memory. I was there: you were not.
2) I don't think my thesis says anything unique about America. I just think it's a human tendency to embrace one's "own" and that blacks found themselves in kinda a pickle there, isolated within a culture with a predisposition to judge them negatively. If the position had been reversed, we would have screwed white people over just as badly.
3) It isn't "the suits" in Hollywood. The box office numbers suggest it is the audience. Hollywood executives are no more racist than people in general. In fact, having worked in the industry, I'd say that in general they are LESS racist in general (not hugely, but noticably). They are doing what statistics tell them they need to do to make money. The 100 million mark is the accepted standard for broad acceptance.
4) Others have already noted that plenty of white male characters have survived Cameron films. Dozens, at least, had dialog at some point in the film, and didn't die. It took until AVATAR for one of these to be black. This is quantifiable, and inarguable, and the information is there for anyone who bothers to pop in a DVD and look for themselves.
5) Yeah, I think you can determine unconscious racial preferences with things like this. And I don't pay attention to it because I have some particular interest in watching black guys get laid (although I do). I pay attention because I believe the differential between the rate white guys and black guys get laid reveals the "invisible hand" of racism in the marketplace, and that "invisible hand" influences a raft of other, far more important factors: incarceration rates, police shootings, hiring and firing...and that by watching that statistic, I know what's really going on behind the smiles.
posted by sebarnes at 5:46 AM on June 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


sebarnes: "I simply interpreted that as the women leaning toward something they found delicious and attractive, and the white guys leaning in an aversive fashion: they didn't like what they were seeing."

Then how do you explain interracial porn? It's not my cup of tea; I think it's racist in it's own way (the "black men are only good for their big cocks" way), but based on the sheer volume of it on the internet, there has to be a market out there. Is it just women watching? I don't have data on it, but I don't think so.

I think your movie experience was a case of observational bias, and I think you are wrong. I think television shows that our society can accept romantic scenes from leading black men, like Taye Diggs in Private Practice, or Donald Faison in Scrubs.
posted by I am the Walrus at 5:51 AM on June 9, 2011


Mr. Barnes: since you're speaking to the "lean forward/lean back" image, I will too.

First: don't worry too much about the fact that some people here are dissecting that with a fine-tuned comb. We kind of can do that in here.

Second: the basic premise of your argument (that there aren't too many African-American men in movies who've gotten to get busy onscreen) is valid, and may be one of those "hey, yeah, I hadn't noticed that until someone pointed it out" kind of things.

That said: my question wasn't about "oh noes did literally every woman lean forward" kind of thing. What I was questioning, instead, was -- whether you may have considered that the women were interested just because it was a hot guy, and the men were recoiling just because it was "ew, I don't want to watch any guy, of any race, getting it on in something that's not porn"? In other words, maybe what you saw was more connected to gender than race?

that was just the question that popped into my head, though. No big.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:58 AM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


But Elba was in The Office? Which episodes?

The sexy, sexy ones.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:10 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It took until AVATAR for one of these to be black.

Now I think about it, I'm not even sure that a black man survived in Avatar.

Are you thinking of Tsu'tey (Alien Dude that was betrothed to Hot Alien Chick)? He gets shot up in the Big Futile Attack.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:56 AM on June 9, 2011


Also, wasn't he blue?

The sexy, sexy ones.

If Idris Elba slams someone up against the dividing wall of Michael Scott's office, causing the entire room to shake, before stepping back and with some effort recomposing himself, I am sold.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:09 AM on June 9, 2011




Just for the sake of argument, anyone want to research how many of these feature a non-white actor:

Top Grossing* Adult Feature Films (with at least 1000 votes on IMDB)

*not to be confused with gross-out factor or most engrossing
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:26 AM on June 9, 2011


Welcome to Metafilter, Mr. Barnes! It's good to have you here.

3) It isn't "the suits" in Hollywood.

I respectfully disagree. I don't think the suits meet as some sort of evil cabal where they fiendishly plot to keep black actors from getting a little onscreen loving in major films, but I do think they're at fault for playing things too conservatively and falling back on the lame "it's not my personal feelings, it's just the numbers" excuse. Similar to people who say things like, "Look, I have nothing against black people personally, but statistics show they're more prone to violent crimes than other groups" when explaining why they reflexively lock their car doors when they've stopped and a young black man approaches the vehicle.

This goes back as far as the Kirk-Uhura kiss I mentioned in an earlier post: NBC was deeply afraid viewers in the South would lose their sh*t and they tried not to include it in the episode. Nichols and Shatner conspired to have it included and the reaction, according to Nichols, was overwhelmingly positive -- she even claims people wrote Shatner asking him what it was like to have kissed her! So much for the suits just following the numbers....

See also the Crisis of the Leading Black Man article which relates how a few directors had to fight the studios hard to award leading roles to black actors...and how the movies went on to make a nice bit of coin despite the studio's concerns. Nowadays, the author of that article points out, there don't seem to be too many directors willing to fight the studios to cast "others" (blacks, gays, Asians, etc) in lead roles where the script doesn't specify race/ethinicity/gender/orientation.

So I think it's possible to cast a disapproving glance at the execs for the way things have played out in Hollywood without accusing them of KKK-style racism. It's more like fear...and stupidity. As others in this thread have noticed, non-whites and women spend a hell of a lot of money on the movies, so maybe the suits ought to wise up to this fact instead of falling all over themselves to tailor things only for the 18 - 35 year old white male demographic. I don't think anybody's saying that's an unimportant demo: we just wish the suits would try harder to be aware that it's not the only one.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:28 AM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ta-Nehisi Coates on First Class: You Left Out the Part About ...
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


With respect, Mr. Barnes, I think it largely is the suits in Hollywood. One reason that Cameron hasn't had a black man survive his movies that, in general, there aren't that many black people (or people of color in general) cast in movies. You have the black guy, the vaguely ethnic guy, the extremely hot black or hispanic or Asian woman, and a bunch of white people. Have a dozen black actors in a Cameron movie and some of them will live to the end.

You often hear the question, why are there no good roles of people of color in Hollywood? That's bullshit. There are tons of good roles for people of color in Hollywood, it's just that Hollywood casts white actors and actresses in them.

(I admit that I may be undermining my own argument by using Cameron and Hollywood in the same sentence, because Cameron appears to do what he wants to at this point)

Brad Pitt is going to be playing the role of Emilio Sandoz in the movie version of The Sparrow. Sandoz is Puerto Rican for Christ's sake. Okay, sure this book was optioned by Brad Pitt, so I guess it's a special case, but really.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:29 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Brad Pitt is going to be playing the role of Emilio Sandoz in the movie version of The Sparrow.

To be fair, Pitt's first role was playing El Pollo Loco, so he has experience playing Latinos.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:40 AM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


And the Root has a slide show of Jungle Fever's cast, where are they now, etc.

I have to confess I don't think of Wesley Snipes as a romantic lead. Nick Cannon in Drumline, is a different story.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:48 AM on June 9, 2011


This is off topic, AstroZombie, but actually in Brit and Irish speak it's common to disparage something as being crap. "A crap movie" is a perfectly meaningful idiom but slangy enough that any net translator or American might not produce it.
posted by Lisitasan at 12:48 PM on June 9, 2011


AstroZombie's claim was that any statement to the effect of "T2 is crap" is so incorrect, so utterly false, as to be literally incomprehensible.

Another example: "There was a sequel to Highlander."

See how you started off understanding what seemed to be a clear enough English sentence -- "There was a sequel..." -- but by the time I got to the "Highlander," this sudden burst of revulsion and confusion exploded in your brain so that, in the end, I might as well have said "Splipbble greekbrok slksjfklj23 Floont Artney."?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:27 PM on June 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Men in Black was interesting in this respect.

Purely by coincidence, I watched MiB last night. Not only is what you say true, but there's a whole scene where Linda Fiorentino is trying to subtly convey that Vincent D'Onofrio is hiding under the table, and he keeps misreading it as her coming on to him. And really overdoing the whole, "HEY WHITE LADY THE MPAA SAYS I CAN'T HIT ON YOU" thing.
posted by Sara C. at 3:04 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


if you really want to know how racist someone is - spend some time thinking about who's on their sexual fantasy list, or who've they've dated over their entire lives

Okay, so I'm going to need you to take a good long look at my dating history and contrast that with the people I've found attractive over my entire lifetime. Because I can't figure out if I'm racist or not. Please help.

Data point 1: I have dated a handful of white men, one Korean man, and one man of Japanese/Jewish ancestry.

Data point 2: I could not possibly list every single person I've ever found attractive, but a very small sample set is Donald Glover, Idris Elba, Oded Fehr, John Abraham (the actor from India, not the US football player), Javier Bardem, Nestor Carbonell, and Naveen Andrews.

So I can't tell if I'm a racist because I've only slept with whites or "model minorities", or if I'm a racist because I eroticize people of other races, thereby "other"-ing them in my mind and treating them as exotic sexual treats and not humans.

I mean, I guess it could just boil down to the fact that I've never had a crush object of those particular undated-by-me races that also had a crush on me at the same time, naturally leading to a dating situation. But obviously that's wrong, because unless my sexual past is a rainbow coalition, I'm a racist. Do I have that right?

So, please, help me out here. Can you tell me what kind of racist I am from my sexual data?
posted by palomar at 8:44 PM on June 9, 2011


(sigh. "if i'm racist or not, and if so, what kind i am." three minute edit pony, where are you?)
posted by palomar at 8:47 PM on June 9, 2011


Can you tell me what kind of racist I am from my sexual data?

You appear to be the worst sort of racist: A Human Racist!

*shudder*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:47 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


oh god noooooooo i'm melting

melllllllltiiiiiiiiiiiiiing
posted by palomar at 9:09 PM on June 9, 2011


If memory serves, I think Doctor Horrible was pre-coming out for NPH

FTR Neil Patrick Harris came out in 2006.
posted by Mike Mongo at 11:22 PM on June 9, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: "Second: the basic premise of your argument (that there aren't too many African-American men in movies who've gotten to get busy onscreen) is valid, and may be one of those "hey, yeah, I hadn't noticed that until someone pointed it out" kind of things."

Yes, I agree with this wholeheartedly. And I agree that it is an indicator that there is an underlying racism in Hollywood (and also in America).
posted by I am the Walrus at 6:32 AM on June 10, 2011


if you really want to know how racist someone is - spend some time thinking about who's on their sexual fantasy list, or who've they've dated over their entire lives

I'm confused by this. I've only ever dated and fantasized about women. Does that make me sexist? Or do sexual fantasies only reveal your racism, but not any of your other isms? If someone is only attracted to tall women, is he shortist? If he's only attracted to blondes, is he brunettist?

I am attracted to black and white women pretty much to the same degree. I am -- sorry -- not terribly attracted to Asian women. You can all cry RACIST if you want. I deny it. I've had Asian-women friends. I believe Asian women (and men) should be treated the same as all people. I do not think it's even slightly perverse if Asian women marry caucasian men. And I could probably BECOME attracted to a specific Asian woman given time -- assuming we had a lot in common. I just don't instantly see them and then WOW! That makes me racist?

The other reason I think this is silly is because ... do you remember the scene in "Schindler's List" in which the Ralph Fiennes, the concentration-camp director, was clearly turned on by a Jewish woman? And haven't any of you ever been physically attracted to someone you disliked? I have. I don't think I'm especially racist, but I can imagine being racist while still being attracted to the people I'm racist against.
posted by grumblebee at 6:47 AM on June 10, 2011


This is off topic, AstroZombie, but actually in Brit and Irish speak it's common to disparage something as being crap. "A crap movie" is a perfectly meaningful idiom but slangy enough that any net translator or American might not produce it.

I think what AZ meant was, "Terminator 2 was an awesome movie, so clearly someone saying it is a crap movie is speaking nonsense because how can such an awesome movie be called 'crap'?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:52 AM on June 10, 2011


There is an underlying sociobiological assertion being made by sebarnes here, namely "Women are evolutionarily adapted to being raped and carried off by a foreign tribe while men are evolutionarily adapted to fighting off said tribe."

Ain't nothing wrong with some good ol' sociobiology, but you better check the details or you end up with discriminatory just-so stories. Yes, there might be some gender bias around accepting "the other", but human racial conflicts probably aren't common enough historically for outright racial sociobiological explanations.*

Did you ever checked out the reaction for an all white love scenes? I haven't but I'd expect it's much the same, lacking additional sociobiological evidence.* There has otoh been an enormous conversation about "female porn" vs. the default male porn. Romance novels, love scenes, etc. all presumably serve as some "publicly acceptable female porn", plus women just watch that stuff more. Ergo, women are much more used to being sexually stimulated in a movie theater while men get all "porn shy". I definitely feel shy when watching love scenes in public.

In short, sociobiology has often given correct answers, but we'll take the feminist porn theory explanation first, all things being equal.

* Yes, you might obviously talk about racial prejudice predating humans, but I'll expect controlled experiments based upon laboratory animals in that case, not movie theater observations. Conversely, I'd accept animal racism experiments across numerous species as "proving" that human males are more responsible for racial discrimination than human females.

As an aside, interracial porn's prevalence does not contradict sebarnes point. Firstly, black guys watch porn and most guys enjoy racial variation in the female porn stars. Secondly, there are porn directors who claim that simply the skin tone contrast alone improves the porn, presumably because viewers aren't completely focussed upon the screen.

posted by jeffburdges at 10:31 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The movie was "Night Catches Us", which has white actors only as bit players. It is a fabulous movie.

Tanya Hamilton gives a speech on her film, her influences, and Philly at the TEDxPhilly event. (Video opens with the trailer for the movie).

As a resident of Philly and as someone who saw this presentation in person, I know I am a bad person because I did not see this film.

Of course, I never go to the theater anyway.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:17 PM on June 10, 2011


There is an underlying sociobiological assertion being made by sebarnes here, namely "Women are evolutionarily adapted to being raped and carried off by a foreign tribe while men are evolutionarily adapted to fighting off said tribe."
##
Wrong. You're making an extrapolation off my comment, and then attacking your own extrapolation, what is commonly known as a "straw man" argument. I said that, historically, men get killed, women get raped in war. I never said they were ADAPTED to this.
###

As for the argument about it being "the suits" because "not that many black men appear" in such movies, again, you aren't looking at what I'm saying. I'm not complaining that there are smaller percentages of black men in such films. I'm saying that when you examine what HAPPENS to black men in movies, it is different from the distribution of events occurring to white men in movies. That they die more often per capita. Cameron has had dozens of white male characters survive his films. The mortality percentage was, prior to Avatar, probably about 40%? Maybe less. But the mortality percentage for black men was 100%. "The suits" in Hollywood could only be thought to be "responsible" if the American public in general reacted negatively to this. They do not. They accept it. You would have to demonstrate that "the suits" are somehow different from the mass of the population from which they arise--and they come from all over the country, from many socioeconomic backgrounds, and in general are MORE liberal than average. I know these people, have eaten and partied with them, and in some cases know their families. And they are not some slavering racist minority far worse than white folks in general. The only way you get anywhere in Hollywood is if your instinctive taste, on average, is in alignment with what people want to see onscreen. If it isn't, you don't climb the ladder, because there is no formula for film success. You green light this, you "thumbs down" that. If it succeeds, you climb, if it bombs, you drop. I think that the disturbing thing is that Hollywood is a feedback between the artists, the "suits" and the audience dollars. If any one of the three is totally out of synche, you get a bomb. When audiences pay hundreds of millions to see something, they're saying "we like this." When patterns of behavior are repeated onscreen for decades, it is reasonable to assume that it isn't offending the unconscious sensibilities of wide swathes of the public.
posted by sebarnes at 6:30 AM on June 12, 2011


By the way, interracial porn is a fascinating case which should be commented upon.
1) from a feminist perspective, much porn is about the abasement of women. Seen that way, watching black men fuck white women is just a step up from watching them have sex with dogs.

2) Porn stars have commented that having sex with black men hurts their careers--that their managers warn them not to do it, it reduces their subjective desirability. I have no stats to back this up, but it is certainly interesting.

3) How often do you see black-black sex in porn? Remember, my observation wasn't about interracial sex--it was about black men having any sex at all. If the rate of interracial sex is much higher than the rate of black-black sex, might I suggest that whenever you see a fantasy element that is hugely different from actual real-life statistics, you are seeing the unconscious drives of the market place? If men watching porn like interracial sex at a MUCH different rate from men watching ordinary film, I suspect there is something quite different going on here, and suspect those feminists just might have something.
##
In either case, the fact that there seems to be a difference in rates of black men having sex in porn versus theatrical films would seem worthy of study.
posted by sebarnes at 6:36 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh...and if you fantasize about sex with women, but not with men, of course you are sexist--in the sense of differentiating between human beings based upon gender. Not necessarily chauvenistic, however, which would be thinking one gender is better than another...except for your own sexual actions. In that sense, I'm sexist as hell, but not chauvenistic. I'd far, far rather have sex with an ugly woman than the most beautiful man.
posted by sebarnes at 6:38 AM on June 12, 2011


1) from a feminist perspective, much porn is about the abasement of women. Seen that way, watching black men fuck white women is just a step up from watching them have sex with dogs.


I keep re-reading this waiting for it to make sense and it never does.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:58 AM on June 12, 2011


Nathanial--if, as Feminists say, porn is about the debasement of women, then the popularity of interracial sex can be easily explained if white males watching it consider black men to be animalistic. In other words, in their minds having sex with black men is a debasing, degrading spectacle.
posted by sebarnes at 8:21 AM on June 12, 2011


What if it's black men watching it?
posted by nathancaswell at 8:24 AM on June 12, 2011


Oh...and if you fantasize about sex with women, but not with men, of course you are sexist--in the sense of differentiating between human beings based upon gender.

Are your saying that your definition of sexist is NOTICING that there are differences between men and women?

Do you feel that's a more useful definition than this?

sex·ism 

Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex


Or Wikipedia's definition?

"Sexism, a term coined in the mid-20th century,[1] is the belief or attitude that one sex is inherently superior to, more competent than, or more valuable than the other."

Or are you saying my willingness to have sex with women but not men is discrimination? I guess in some ultra-literal sense it is. But usually we care about discrimination when there's a valuable commodity and only one group is given access to it. My penis is about the farthest thing from a valuable commodity that there is. I promise you there are ZERO men out there saying, "No fair! I don't get access to grumblebee's penis!"
posted by grumblebee at 10:54 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


grumblebee--nah. In terms of trying to understand discrimination, those are far more useful definitions, and I confess to having been a bit playful in my statement.
posted by sebarnes at 11:13 AM on June 12, 2011


nathancaswell--
IF feminists are right about it, then black men watching porn is still them enjoying women being debased. However, black men watching black men having sex is merely enjoying watching guys who look like them doing the debasing. It would only be "more" debasing if those black men were self-loathing indeed.


I personally think the truth is somewhere in the middle. My perspective: if you wouldn't want your daughter, sister, or mother doing porn then there is a bit of objectification going on. Arguably, it is dehumanizing, and has a little bit of the "sure 'nuff dumped a fuck in HER!" attitude of a woman as semen receptacle. I've yet to meet a woman who encouraged me to pull out and come on her face. This is male fantasy, has nothing to do with actual healthy female sexuality, and is perhaps not actively hostile...but again, you wouldn't want your daughter doing it. So there's a little emotional distance, the willingness to act our our fantasies even if we have a gut feeling that just maybe this isn't the healthiest thing possible for these women. So while I don't take the position that all porn, or all porn lovers, are about debasing women I can understand how a lot of feminists feel about it, even if i disagree. There is, after all, hideously abusive porn...and some that is downright romantic, and some that is actively enjoyed by many women. So...what's the truth? That human beings enjoy watching depictions of romance and sexuality, and there is disagreement about which images are 'appropriate" and a wide range of tastes. Something for everyone, fun for the whole family. Everything from PG James Bond fade-outs to hard-core rutting. But in terms of widely accepted film fare (earning over 100 million), only white guys get laid. And that, to me, is telling. Your mileage may vary.
posted by sebarnes at 11:21 AM on June 12, 2011


1) from a feminist perspective, much porn is about the abasement of women. Seen that way, watching black men fuck white women is just a step up from watching them have sex with dogs.

2) Porn stars have commented that having sex with black men hurts their careers--that their managers warn them not to do it, it reduces their subjective desirability. I have no stats to back this up, but it is certainly interesting.


This makes no logical sense. If all pornwatchers wanted was the abasement of women, then women who did stuff that was deemed more debasing would be MORE popular, not LESS popular.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:09 PM on June 12, 2011


IF feminists are right about it, then black men watching porn is still them enjoying women being debased. However, black men watching black men having sex is merely enjoying watching guys who look like them doing the debasing. It would only be "more" debasing if those black men were self-loathing indeed.

I don't think ALL Feminists believe that ALL people who watch porn enjoy watching women being debased.

I've enjoyed some porn in my time, and if I EVER got the feeling that a woman (or a man) is being debased, even playfully, I shut it off. This has nothing to do with my political or ideological leanings. It's because debasement is a turnoff to me. (I don't even like playful stuff about dominance and submission.)

I have certainly seen porn that has an element of debasement in it. I don't like it. Are these "feminists" aware that there are lots and lots of different kinds of porn?

And even if, in some sense I don't understand, the women in porn are NECESSARILY being debased, that doesn't mean that all -- or even most -- porn viewers like (or are even aware of) that aspect of it. They might watch porn despite it, just as a lot of people watch born despite the fact that it often contains horrible music. It would be nuts to say that, "Since that music is in porn, and people like watching porn, they must like the music."

I personally think the truth is somewhere in the middle. My perspective: if you wouldn't want your daughter, sister, or mother doing porn then there is a bit of objectification going on.

Maybe that's the key. I would have no objection to any woman in my life appearing in porn, and I've known some people in the adult-sex industry (nice folks, mostly.) As long as we're talking about consenting adults making their own choices, I'm totally cool with it.
posted by grumblebee at 12:29 PM on June 12, 2011


Hey, I wasn't saying the feminists were right. I was merely commenting that their perspective, if true, might provide some perspective.

As to the question: would it be possible to reconcile these two perspectives? Sure (I'm not saying this is what I think, only that the argument doesn't take a lot of effort): that the fun is in debasing a "clean" woman. Once she's already "dirtied" herself, there's no more fun in it, and its time to find a new target. It would be like squeezing an orange twice.

See? Easy.
posted by sebarnes at 12:32 PM on June 12, 2011


Wouldn't that mean that there's be no porn stars? Once you'd watched a woman in one porno, she'd be debased. You'd never want to watch her again.

Of course, in the real world, there ARE porn stars. Fans seek out their movies.
posted by grumblebee at 1:00 PM on June 12, 2011


Not sure. If there is more turn-over in porn than in regular film, that might be a contributing factor. After all, even if feminists are right, they wouldn't be right 100%. That means that porn stars who learn how to work the system have an advantage over "newbies"--film is a business. The porn stars I've known (all three of them) were pretty smart on the business tip. I'm sure they wear out fast, but I'm sure a set of serious fucking skills can draw a repeat viewing for all but the most compulsive
posted by sebarnes at 1:11 PM on June 12, 2011


I don't think ALL Feminists believe that ALL people who watch porn enjoy watching women being debased.

Repeated for truth. It might be worth looking at Avedon Carol for an alternative feminist perspective on pornography - or Tristan Taormino and Annie Sprinkle, who are feminists who have worked in porn.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:36 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think ALL Feminists believe that ALL people who watch porn enjoy watching women being debased.

....For the record, I'm not sure anyone made that claim. sebarnes said that the feminist argument is that much porn is about this, not all porn.

Mind you (she said, turning to sebarnes), there is no one single unified "feminist" take on porn anyway, but (she said, turning back) no one ever made the claim that all feminists believed all porn was exploitative.

Personally, the reason this feminist here scoffs at most porn (points to self) is actually because the writing just sucks ass.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:11 PM on June 12, 2011


Personally, the reason this feminist here scoffs at most porn (points to self) is actually because the writing just sucks ass.

He fixes the cable?
posted by nathancaswell at 8:39 PM on June 12, 2011


I've yet to meet a woman who encouraged me to pull out and come on her face. This is male fantasy, has nothing to do with actual healthy female sexuality, and is perhaps not actively hostile...but again, you wouldn't want your daughter doing it.

Respectfully, I'm not super happy with the litmus test for "actual healthy female sexuality" being "experiences sebarnes has had with women". As for the daughter test, we have a whole thread about it over here, albeit in a political framework and not specifically a sexual one, but my thinking is the same: the imposition of my paternalistic tendencies acts directly to dampen the free and full expression of the discounted set. I don't have any desire to speak for what is good for women to be doing sexually; I'm pretty sure that if I just shut myself up, they'll tell me.

I don't have an actual daughter, but in the case of my hypothetical adult consenting daughter, I most certainly would want her to be able to express her sexuality as she sees fit according to her own modes and desires. You may be confusing "wouldn't want my daughter doing it" with "wouldn't want to see a film of my daughter doing it", in which case, sure, I'll cop to the latter.
posted by Errant at 10:29 AM on June 13, 2011


I've yet to meet a woman who encouraged me to pull out and come on her face. This is male fantasy, has nothing to do with actual healthy female sexuality, and is perhaps not actively hostile...but again, you wouldn't want your daughter doing it.

Women who do like this exist. (I'm not one, mind you, but they do indeed exist.)

I'm not so sure that it's possible to come up with generalized, all-purpose yardsticks about "healthy [blank] sexuality". Sexuality is a really, really individual thing, and is highly, highly personal.

so if you're basing your judgement on "I personally think it's oogy," that....is only going to make sense for you. I mean -- I personally don't get into watching porn at all, but the fact that "I don't like watching porn" absolutely does not mean that "therefore I do not like sex at all". (Quite the contrary, in fact.)

I mean, I get what you're saying in that the traditional "cum shots" deal with some murky areas of gender inequities and such. But for some people, that's what they like</em about it, and them liking it doesn't make them "unhealthy". In my book, the only way a sexual act can be "unhealthy" is if one of the participants is legitimately unwilling or is unable to have given consent. But if everyone involved is okay with what's going on, then hey, have fun.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on June 13, 2011


That's two different HTML fails in this one thread. What the hell is wrong with me today???
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on June 13, 2011


AND even if you could prove that cumshots degrade women, you wouldn't have proved that all or even most porn watchers like degrading women.

In the same sense, if it turns out that some porn actress is actually only 15 years old, that's horrible, but it doesn't mean that all the people who watched that movie are pedophiles. There may be some overlap, but there's a difference between the intent of the filmmakers, the feelings of the stars and the experience of the audience. If a star feels degraded, that's bad, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the audience is into her being degraded or even knows she's degraded.

I actually do think of cum-in-the-face as degrading. I'm sure there are women who don't feel degraded by it and men who don't intend to degrade women when they do it. Truthfully, I'm not even sure what it means for some act to BE degrading. Surely, there are just people who intend to degrade by committing certain acts and people who feel degraded by certain acts.

There are also probably some acts that feel degrading to most people. I don't know if cum-in-the-face is one of those or not, but it WOULD feel pretty degrading to ME if someone came all over my face. So when I watch that in porn, it seems degrading to me.

So I don't watch those parts.

Because I DON'T watch porn in order to get off on women being degraded. That's a turnoff to me.

I also don't watch porn scenes set in bathrooms. Yuck. Why do people find those sexy?

Oh, and nurses? What's with the nurse fetish? When I see a sexy girl dressed as a nurse, I immediately think of vomiting into a bedban, the smell of disinfectant, my grandfather in a nursing home and hospital food.

And those absurdly long fingernails? WHY?
posted by grumblebee at 11:51 AM on June 13, 2011


I just saw X-Men: First Class yesterday. On the whole, decent comic-book movie.

But, yeah, that thing? Yeah. That thing. That was...blatant, for more than one reason. Ridiculous.
posted by Errant at 10:25 AM on June 14, 2011


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