Run time: 8 seconds
July 3, 2015 6:41 AM   Subscribe

 
Creator: Dylan Marron, aka Carlos from Welcome to Night Vale.
posted by damayanti at 7:00 AM on July 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


Did you watch the videos? #enoughsaid
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:04 AM on July 3, 2015


Into the Woods. Heh.

That said, I wonder how this would play differently if it was "Every single word spoken (or sung) by a non-desi person in [Bollywood Film]" or "Every single word spoken by a not ethnically Korean person in [Korean film].
posted by leotrotsky at 7:12 AM on July 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


This is brilliant! Can't wait to see this fill out.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:16 AM on July 3, 2015


This is one of those things where you don't notice the problem in isolation, but when you see the patterns of marginalization it starts to become way more clear.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:17 AM on July 3, 2015 [12 favorites]


That said, I wonder how this would play differently if...

Let's just not, okay?
posted by Etrigan at 7:18 AM on July 3, 2015 [100 favorites]


The Fault in Our Stars one really highlights something I call the X-Files Effect. None of the main or recurring characters are POC so every time you need a throwaway smart-person-in-a-lab-coat character you make them a POC to even the score.
posted by phunniemee at 7:19 AM on July 3, 2015 [24 favorites]


Leotrotsky: these are all American films, not Films of the Caucasus.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:19 AM on July 3, 2015 [57 favorites]


The United States is a majority caucasian country, but is much more racially diverse than either India or Korea. There is such a thing as ethnically Korean or ethnically Indian, but not ethnically American. And white people do make a fairly regular appearance in Hindi films that I've seen - which I'd attribute to the same cultural hegemony Marron seems to be pointing out.
posted by callistus at 7:20 AM on July 3, 2015 [13 favorites]


Yeah last I checked America was not 99% ethnically white
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:21 AM on July 3, 2015 [12 favorites]


That said, I wonder how this would play differently if...

pretty different
posted by danb at 7:23 AM on July 3, 2015 [12 favorites]


But what if you have a scene where you don't have a cop, doctor, or cool club Dj? That's where 100% of POC work, so
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:24 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


This could be even more effective if they tackled a few mainstream movies that inspire a lot of devotion in people. I'd like to see them try "The Big Lebowski."
posted by demonic winged headgear at 7:30 AM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


There is such a thing as ethnically Korean or ethnically Indian, but not ethnically American

*Cough*
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:30 AM on July 3, 2015 [38 favorites]


(Of course, "every single word spoken by an ethnically American person in [film]" would generally have a 0 runtime too, but that goes hand in hand with the idea that Native Americans, despite the name, might as well be immigrants in their own homeland.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:37 AM on July 3, 2015 [23 favorites]


This could be even more effective if they tackled a few mainstream movies that inspire a lot of devotion in people. I'd like to see them try "The Big Lebowski."

...The only non-white person in The Big Lebowski I can think of is the guy that pees on The Dude's rug.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:37 AM on July 3, 2015


Man, this is great. What a fantastic way to make the point. As noted Pototmac Avenue, seeing this all at once really drives it home.

Now if there was only something we could *do* about it..........
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:39 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Does John Turturro in brownface count?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:40 AM on July 3, 2015


Only if Mickey Rooney counts for Breakfast At Tiffany's.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:41 AM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


[A few comments removed, let's keep the meta commentary to Metatalk.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:42 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I suppose that wasn't really my point, but I can see how it could be misinterpreted. A lack of meaningful diversity in Hollywood film is capital B Bad, no argument. But can't the same critique also be fairly leveled at other regional film industries? If not, why?

Perhaps they actually are more diverse, in which case it's a distinctly American Film problem.

Or Is American film so hegemonic that it can and should be held to a higher standard?

Or is it that we simply have higher expectations of our films because it's America, damnit, and that we should hold ourselves to a higher standard of diversity and authenticity?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:45 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


...The only non-white person in The Big Lebowski I can think of is the guy that pees on The Dude's rug.

The cab driver (who LOVES the Eagles) is black. There is a black police officer and a Latino police officer. (does Latino count as "of color"?) Arthur Digby Sellers' wife(?) is Latino. The doctor "please take down your shorts" is Indian or possibly Pakistani.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:47 AM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


But can't the same critique also be fairly leveled at other regional film industries?

"Hollywood is not a regional film industry" is the main reason I'm answering "No."
posted by Etrigan at 7:48 AM on July 3, 2015 [17 favorites]


There are Canadians among you...
posted by Nevin at 7:49 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


...The only non-white person in The Big Lebowski I can think of is the guy that pees on The Dude's rug.

The cab driver (who LOVES the Eagles) is black.


And one of my favorite scenes to boot.

"Out of the fuckin cab!"
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:50 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


...The only non-white person in The Big Lebowski I can think of is the guy that pees on The Dude's rug.


In addition to the above, a quick browse of the IMDB page tells me that the owner of the Corvette that Walter smashes up is played by one Luis Colina, and he definitely has lines. Loud ones.

Leotrotsky, in addition to the fact that Hollywood is not regional, the other difference is that the United States has a much more diverse ethnic makeup than the other countries you listed. 96% of South Korean residents are ethnically Korean. 75% of US residents are white.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:51 AM on July 3, 2015


I suppose I need to rewatch The Big Lebowski then! It has clearly been too long.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:51 AM on July 3, 2015


I have never seen Noah but you have got to be fucking kidding me.

Why is it that total fantasy seems to be the whitest genre of all. Actually don't answer that.
posted by selfnoise at 8:03 AM on July 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


But can't the same critique also be fairly leveled at other regional film industries? If not, why?

Sure, any film industry that has casting that deviates in a significant way from its "home" market1 can be criticised the same way.

If, for instance, Bollywood or its South Indian equivalents systematically cast high caste actors much more often than their prevalence in the population that would raise questions.

Or if Japanese cinema barely ever cast ethnic Koreans or people of Ainu descent (though they are relatively small minorities, so even at population parity you wouldn't expect that many).

I have never seen Noah but you have got to be fucking kidding me.

Why is it that total fantasy seems to be the whitest genre of all. Actually don't answer that.


One of the ways that the hegemony of dominant groups is expressed culturally is that they are the 'default', un-marked ethnic group, they haven't got a racial identity, they're just considered 'normal'. When you cast a role that doesn't have a clear ethnic identity (like fantasy) you tend to pick actors who aren't racially marked in the dominant culture.
posted by atrazine at 8:12 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think it'd be interesting to focus on major studio films with big budgets. Major productions like that are heavily influenced by committees and focus groups. With smaller, independent, auteur films, it's kind of different, because these are small groups of people telling their own stories in their own ways. But mainstream Hollywood films are held to pretty strict standards to maintain a specific formula and story progression, to maintain a PG-13 rating, things like that. They are specifically designed to appeal to the largest possible audience, and I guess enough people are used to dominantly white casts that they either don't care about the lack of diversity, or they don't even notice anymore.

Think about how few people even noticed the bizarre representation of women in films before the Bechdel test became better known.

We've gotten acclimated to these formulas without even realizing it.

And if you think there's a similar trend or a counterpoint to make about diversity in Bollywood or any other genre of film, OK, pick your top ten favorite Bollywood (or whatever) films, and go through them.

If you can't name ten Bollywood films off the top of your head, then see the difference?

BTW, the Coen brothers' first feature film, Blood Simple, is set in a small Texas town, and features exactly one person of color in a major speaking role (maybe the only one in the whole movie), Meurice the bartender. There is a scene when he's telling a story to another character, and starts it out with, "This white guy walks in..." and then proceeds to tell a story that has nothing to do with the guy's whiteness. It's a hilarious and totally self-aware acknowledgement that Meurice is the only non-white guy around. So I'd think that's a point in the Coen brothers' favor.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:14 AM on July 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


...The only non-white person in The Big Lebowski I can think of is the guy that pees on The Dude's rug.
How can you forget about The Jesus?
posted by xedrik at 8:14 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


In addition to all the excellent points made, "Everybody else does it!" is never a good justification for bad behavior.
posted by Frayed Knot at 8:16 AM on July 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Of course, Noah isn't fantasy along the lines of LOTR or Game of Thrones, it's an adaptation of a Middle Eastern myth. So, fuck Darren Aronofsky, basically.

(Also John Turturro's Italian)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:16 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


96% of South Korean residents are ethnically Korean. 75% of US residents are white.

49% of Los Angeles (y'know, where Hollywood is) residents are white.
posted by explosion at 8:19 AM on July 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


*Cough*

You're right; I should've said no single predominant American ethnic culture, as Native Americans collectively are the American ethnic group.

If any of those countries were nearly as diverse as America, I think they would be open to the same critique the FPP makes. And perhaps they are anyway - certainly the casting of TV and film in many Latin American countries and in India reflects colorism if not racism. Not an example I'd defend.

But my first response to this post is self-reflection: I notice when shows or movies I otherwise like don't reflect the diversity I see around me. And these casting choices teach racism to children, because only white people get to be full characters, even when POC actors would be great for a part. I remember being shocked by Chris Rock's article in the Hollywood Reporter because he exposed how blatant the racism is. Another point he made that struck me: as kids we all imagine ourselves as the protagonists regardless of our race (because it is irrelevant when we are young), but as adults generally only white actors get to be the protagonists.

I'd imagine the list of movies on this site will grow a lot longer.
posted by callistus at 8:29 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]




A few years ago, I was talking about a friend about a queer feminist poetry compendium, based in NYC. Some queer POC poets had made a statement saying that they resisted being included into the compendium, because the compendium had a history of bringing in one or two 'token' POC per issue.

My friend said: "But how else are the editors of the compendium supposed to bring in people of color into the issue?"

And I replied: "Maybe the editors should explore why it is that they live in one of the most diverse cities in the world, yet their network of friends / collaborators consists almost exclusively of people who look like them?"

Hollywood is not a regional film industry, indeed, but the same question still stands.
posted by suedehead at 8:45 AM on July 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


The United States is not even 75% non-Hispanic white anymore--it was down to about 64% in 2010 and is predicted to become minority-majority within the next 30 years. And among children, non-Hispanic whites are expected to fall into the minority perhaps as soon as 2018. It gets framed as "diversity" but its really more about "representativeness". The U.S. film industry is deeply unrepresentative of the country as a whole in terms of race and ethnicity.
posted by drlith at 8:53 AM on July 3, 2015 [17 favorites]


That said, I wonder how this would play differently if it was "Every single word spoken (or sung) by a non-desi person in [Bollywood Film]" or "Every single word spoken by a not ethnically Korean person in [Korean film].

If you want.

But I'd also say that film industries are a reflection on a group of people's anxieties and fantasies. More dramatic Korean movies of late have played with the tension of societal whiplash, for instance. Few of them deal with minorities or foreigners because immigration has only become an issue within the last few years (and I bet we might start seeing more on that outside of Failan, which came out over a decade ago). That, and Korea is overly homogenous and overly urbanized, and while seeing non-Koreans is no longer a huge rarity in large cities, almost none of them are actually Korean, but foreigners.

America, though? We've had minorities in large numbers here for at least a decade or two. We even fought a war and had some Supreme Court decisions over whether they were people or not. And we've had quite a few movies that talk about the immigrant experience, provided they came from a European country. Even with that though, a lot of our movies and shows kinda focus on power fantasies of when we were great.

And mostly white.

With magical negroes who liked being kinda subservient, Asians who don't exist at all, Latino/as who are sassy sidekicks...
posted by qcubed at 9:38 AM on July 3, 2015


Although the Coen brothers could probably do better, they have consistently cast non-whites in significant roles in their films, such as Steve Parks in Fargo and Chris Thomas King in O Brother, and Guatamalan-Cuban Oscar Isaac in the lead in their last film.
posted by maxsparber at 9:59 AM on July 3, 2015


I'd like to see more mainstream films included here too, but I mean huge box office stuff like some of the Marvel movies and Transformers. They fill out small, random parts with POC sometimes but all that dialogue probably still takes up about 5 minutes of screen time.

Frances Ha and Enough Said (and any Coen Brothers film really) are almost the opposite of "mainstream" Amercian films.

Also, I'm not entirely sold on equating Hollywood the industry with Hollywood the location in Los Angeles in this instance.
posted by dogwalker at 10:17 AM on July 3, 2015


The term person of color feels alienating all on its own. It's the currently acceptable euphemism for a nasty idea and as such it will eventually be replaced with a fresher euphemism.
posted by alpheus at 10:28 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why is it that total fantasy seems to be the whitest genre of all. Actually don't answer that.

Except for Will Smith movies, science fiction too.
posted by octothorpe at 10:34 AM on July 3, 2015


BTW, the Coen brothers' first feature film, Blood Simple, is set in a small Texas town, and features exactly one person of color in a major speaking role (maybe the only one in the whole movie), Meurice the bartender. There is a scene when he's telling a story to another character, and starts it out with, "This white guy walks in..." and then proceeds to tell a story that has nothing to do with the guy's whiteness. It's a hilarious and totally self-aware acknowledgement that Meurice is the only non-white guy around. So I'd think that's a point in the Coen brothers' favor.

As best I can recollect, there are only seven people in the whole movie who have speaking roles at all: the husband, the wife, the husband's employee with whom the wife is cheating, the private eye the husband hires, the aforementioned Meurice, his friend he is talking to, and the landlady of the apartment that the wife moves into. Both Meurice and the landlady are POC, and while both are supporting roles, you would be hard pressed to find many American movies made where 28% of the cast are POC.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:01 AM on July 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


And I would add that the four principals in Blood Simple are all pretty morally compromised in different ways: Meurice is the voice of ethics and reason in the story.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:04 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


"The U.S. film industry is deeply unrepresentative of the country as a whole in terms of race and ethnicity."

The U.S. film industry is deeply unrepresentative of the country as a whole, period. How many fat people do you see in films? That are there for other than comic relief? How about romantic leads? Whereas two thirds of the general population are overweight or obese. And most of those manage to have a romantic and sexual life.

How often do you see non-young women represented as other than moms? How often are older women represented at all, let alone as full human beings with a distinct, rich, non-stereotypical old lady personality?

All sorts of populations that are already marginalized have it brought home to them that they don't matter.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 12:08 PM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


The whole percentage of the population thing makes no sense to me. Asian Americans may only be 5.6 percent of the US population, but that doesn't mean that the stories of their lives are only 5.6% as interesting or relatable as that of White americans.

I wish I had the resources to make full-budget, shot for shot, word for word remakes of classic all-white films with diverse casts. I'd start with The Breakfast Club.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:21 PM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: There is such a thing as ethnically Korean or ethnically Indian, but not ethnically American …/…*Cough*

Ooh, good point: let's do something like this but "every line spoken by a Native American". I predict it'll be 99% Graham Greene.
posted by traveler_ at 2:21 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


isn't Johnny Depp one-nineteenth Cherokee?
posted by philip-random at 2:38 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ooh, good point: let's do something like this but "every line spoken by a Native American". I predict it'll be 99% Graham Greene.
posted by traveler_ at 5:21 PM on July 3 [+] [!]


As long as we leave room for Gary Farmer and at least a few iterations of "Stupid fucking white man."
posted by McCoy Pauley at 2:39 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Also John Turturro's Italian)

No, he's American.
posted by biffa at 3:44 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


You could certainly do this with Bollywood, particularly if you focused on how many people of tribal or Dalit or OBC origin spoke in the film.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 4:53 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Without being super insistent on it, I've found myself finding more diverse movies to be simply more interesting. Given a choice, that's what I prefer to watch, and the fake diversity of assigning minor and sidekick roles to minority actors does not cut it.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:02 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I don't want to forget the Northeastern populace either. People from the seven sisters states (Manipur, Assam, etc) -- you will almost NEVER see them on screen in a popular Hindi film, because (so the story goes) they don't "look Indian" enough. This population faces a great deal of discrimination in the plains.

On that note, I find it odd that some people here seem to be implying not only that India is ethnically uniform but also that it does not have large immigrant communities. There are sizable immigrant populations from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Tibet, and also increasingly some countries in northern and central Africa and Eastern Europe.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 5:03 PM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think the first thing most people could probably do is to just start noticing. Just not noticing it is a big part of the problem.

It seems to me that when people talk about the Bechdel test, some of the most resistant to the premise were the people who saw the most mainstream movies. Obviously, this is my biased observation of a tiny, self-selected sample group, but it was mostly the people who were regularly going to major release movies who were insistent that the trends the Bechdel test illustrated were flawed. That the movies were cherry picked, or even that an equal number of big release movies would fail a reverse Bechdel. (LOL.)

I think people just get acclimated to the "Hollywood" model of reality being dominated by white guys, to the point that they have outsized memories of the times they saw someone who was not a white man in a role where they're actually doing stuff. If you talk about how disproportionately white movies are, people will trot out counterexamples, but usually it's the same few actors, often playing supporting roles, standing off to the side on the movie posters. (Look at how tiny Samuel L. Jackson is in the poster for the Avengers movie that's in theaters now. He kind of blends in with the background rubble, so you may have to look carefully.)

Just notice. Just start noticing how many stories are stories about white people, and how many stories that are not even necessarily about white people are cast as white by default, like there has to be a reason for someone not to be white. It seems unusual for a not-already-famous person of color to be cast in a role, especially a leading role, that's not racially specific. (Think Ben in Night of the Living Dead, and how that movie from 1968 seems downright progressive in 2015 for casting a relatively unknown black man to play a role written for a man.)

Those are two distinct things, and they're both weird and disconcerting once you start noticing them. It kind of ruins things a little when you step back and notice how weird and stupid it is, but some of it needs ruining.

Also, ricochet biscuit, you are absolutely right, and we agree, I think, that the Coen brothers deserve the benefit of the doubt. But also, I got curious and looked up the cast and you missed another white guy, listed on IMDB: Barry Sonnenfeld ... Marty's Vomiting (voice) (uncredited)
posted by ernielundquist at 5:43 PM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's cool, Tyler Perry movies balance everything out.
posted by MikeMc at 5:52 PM on July 3, 2015


Remember the kerfuffle about the "black Human Torch" in the upcoming Fantastic 4 movie? Of course, superhero movies have been very very white (except when Bruce Banner 'Hulks Out', and does green even count here?). But then, I think they're still reacting to the disaster that was Richard Pryor in a Superman movie in 1983 (and not even Frozone in The Incredibles could change that).

Of course it gets infinitely more complicated when you get into animated films. The emotions in Inside Out are yellow, blue, red, green and purple (just short one color from making a rainbow flag), but they're all in the head of a white girl. And the Minions are all yellow... same shade as most of the cast of The Simpsons (and why are the few black characters like Dr. Hibbard a much more natural skin color?). Big Hero 6 was smartly inclusive; set in 'San Fransokyo', it mixed Caucasian and Asian and still had a major black character named Wasabi. But then Disney went right back to the Caucasian Fairy Tales with Frozen, and you don't get any whiter than a snowman. Whatever point I originally intended to make is lost in the haystack, isn't it?
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:59 PM on July 3, 2015


(Think Ben in Night of the Living Dead, and how that movie from 1968 seems downright progressive in 2015 for casting a relatively unknown black man to play a role written for a man.)

George Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead is as important an artifact of United States cinematic history as any. It inaugurates the era of the postmodern zombie (distinct from the colonial zombie depicted in films such as Tourneur's I Walked With a Zombie).

obscured but discernible SPOILER AHEAD

Ben's blackness is not serendipitous or incidental. His ultimate demise is a distorted reflection of what was happening to black males in and around the Civil Rights era, something noted by scholars and Romero himself (e.g. The American Nightmare 2000).

But, yeah, Romero's decision to cast Duane Jones as Ben was arguably even more shocking for then-contemporary US audiences than the depiction of human flesh-eating "things" in his landmark film.
posted by mistersquid at 6:06 PM on July 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


Dang, you people keep tricking me into looking things up and learning new stuff! That documentary looks really interesting.

I had not heard that interpretation before, and was apparently remembering the first half of this version (spoilers in the unlikely event that someone hasn't seen Night of the Living Dead but wants to) and missed the part where he did actually make modifications for Ben being black.

Modifications or no, though, the Hollywood film industry is still about 50 years behind George Romero.
posted by ernielundquist at 7:18 PM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also John Turturro's Italian)

No, he's American


He's Italian-American, which is what Americans mean when they say that.
posted by maxsparber at 7:25 PM on July 3, 2015


And the response was to his ethnicity; not his nationality.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:45 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, ricochet biscuit, you are absolutely right, and we agree, I think, that the Coen brothers deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Especially for a movie from more than thirty years ago. I am trying to recollect other 1980s American movies I saw then where a larger proportion of the cast was not white. So far I am not coming up with much outside of Spike Lee's output (School Daze was the first of his I saw) and The Color Purple and possibly Coming to America (haven't seen it in 28 years).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:53 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Don't want to derail too much more over Night of the Living Dead but I did want to say, ernielundquist, that article you linked is fantastic. I'd not seen it before. Thanks!
posted by mistersquid at 8:15 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was just reading Anansi Boys again, and I was thinking "this would make a great movie!" And it would, but then I started wondering how you could make a mainstream movie for an English-speaking audience in which 90% of the characters are POCs. I really think you couldn't; the fact that everybody is Afro-Caribbean (?) would immediately become the most interesting thing about it and you wouldn't get the big audiences.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:44 AM on July 4, 2015


I don't think that talk about Night of the Living Dead is a derail; it's a great example of a film that might have been effective with more "traditional" casting but really jumped to a different level from having a black actor in the lead. Think how boring most action movies are these days and how they could be more interesting if they didn't always seem to cast Chris Pine or some boring Australian hunk in the lead role.
posted by octothorpe at 9:04 AM on July 4, 2015


So it's Christmas in July on the Hallmark Channel and when we finally woke up, we watched "Christmas at Cartwright's." I was impressed that there were three black characters in it--the Black Best Friend (of course), the nice teacher, and the TV news reporter. And then I thought, "Yeah, but when are you ever going to see a non-white lady in the lead on a Hallmark movie?" and got all depressed.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:35 PM on July 4, 2015


The Fast and the Furious franchise is probably anywhere from 75% to 99% of the total running movie times...
posted by khappucino at 5:04 PM on July 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Just not noticing it is a big part of the problem.

Very true. Many people who happen to be paler skinned simply don't believe that racism is a thing that exists. Just the other day I got into a conversation with a person who said "why not 'all lives matter?' etc. When people have some awareness of the existence and pervasiveness of racism (as most people I willingly spend time with do) it's easy to notice, but with those who are blind to it it's hard to begin to demonstrate it without a long discussion they don't have patience for (because they generally have very limited patience for the topic, period). I've talked with many people about the Bechdel test: it's really neat because it is so simple and it makes something previously imperceptible stand out in stark relief. More tools of that nature can be very useful.

After seeing this post I saw the new Terminator movie: people of color had less than five minutes of screen time. Apart from a truck driver there were two menacing robot-killers and the aforementioned brilliant doctor/scientists making speeches. No depth, no multidimensionality that engages audience's emotions. Anytime I see a film these patterns will be apparent in a way they weren't before.
posted by callistus at 9:40 AM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Neil Gaiman has said he'd love to see Anansi Boys on a screen, but people are resistant to the importance of people of color in it - specifically black people, British, US, and Caribbean. He characterized it as stupid. I maintain it is stupid and racist. The main character of American Gods isn't white as well, but his ancestry is ambiguous (he's identified as possibly Italian, Romany, Native American, or Latino, and his eyes are described as dark and gray). The race of his father is known, of course, but the race of his mother is never explicitly stated, though it's implied she's from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Gaiman took a lot of critique for his treatment of race in Sandman (the black women in it ALWAYS DIED, and even though there's a canon reason for it, the reality of what happens and that there are pretty much no other black women or black people in general really sucks) and as near as I can tell he's been trying to improve on that end ever since.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:28 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wasn't Hob Gadling's girlfriend still alive—as far as we saw—at the end of the series? Granted not as big a character as Nada or Ruby, but I wonder if he wasn't trying to turn that around already toward the end of Sandman.
posted by traveler_ at 8:50 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen 500 Days of Summer, Enough Said, Her, or The Fault in our Stars, but as I understand it, they are all pretty much about a small cast of friends/acquaintances "doing stuff" together. I like to think I'm not a racist, but in my circle of friends and people that I regularly interact with, there aren't any POC, unless you count my Filipino wife.
If one were to make a movie about my life, I guess it would be horribly racist for not shoehorning in a few different ethnicities. Not everybody has a token black friend, and there are large swaths of the country where you're only gonna see whitey, especially if you're narrative is focused on a group of friends.
posted by Mr. Big Business at 7:56 AM on July 6, 2015


If one were to make a movie about my life, I guess it would be horribly racist for not shoehorning in a few different ethnicities.

No one is saying this. It is not a problem that any single movie depicts mostly if not only white people. What is a problem is that almost all movies do. Or, they put minorities in token roles (Asian scientist, Latina maid, Black judge).

Additionally, not all movies are autobiographical. When you're creating a work of fiction, you can create the world so that the circle of friends isn't all white, if you want to, and all white shouldn't be the unexamined default.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:00 AM on July 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


I like to think I'm not a racist, but in my circle of friends and people that I regularly interact with, there aren't any POC, unless you count my Filipino wife.

Why wouldn't she count? If the female lead in 500 Days of Summer had been Filipino, the amount of speaking time for a POC would have been probably 20 percent of the movie. It's not unheard of. The romantic lead in the Wayne's World movies was Tia Carrere -- admittedly, they had her playing a Chinese character, but it is certainly possible to cast non-whites in lead roles.

Additionally, 500 Days of Summer is set in LA, where you have to sort of strenuously decide to avoid people of color in order not to have them in your social group.

Mostly, I remember a discussion that included Jay Smooth where he said when he starts a project, he very deliberately has to make the decision to include women in the room, or else, no matter how good his intentions, it always winds up being a room full of men. Hollywood needs to take this approach. 500 Days of Summer is not a documentary -- it's a romantic comedy that includes a song and dance number. Perhaps some people in the real world have no friends who are nonwhite, but movies don't need to use that as an example, and certainly don't need to make that the only example. I mean, I am one of the least sociable people I know, and have always had friends (and girlfriends) who were nonwhite, and maybe Hollywood could use people like me as an example instead.

Or, I don't know, maybe they could even try making movies where people like me are the supporting characters, and let the people who have been left on the margins of film star in them once in a while. Some of the best -- and most profitable -- films of the past few years have featured actors who are not pasty white dudes. Let's see more of that.
posted by maxsparber at 8:16 AM on July 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


If one were to make a movie about my life, I guess it would be horribly racist for not shoehorning in a few different ethnicities. Not everybody has a token black friend, and there are large swaths of the country where you're only gonna see whitey, especially if you're narrative is focused on a group of friends.

The question really isn't whether POC are being shoehorned in, but how they are portrayed when they appear. Whitewashing, in other words. In the old days, African Americans were often Stepin Fetchit caricatures . Or they were Magical Negros. Asians become the protagonist's smart best friend, or the wise assistant. Etc. It's a problem that's being addressed, but hasn't gone away completely.

Movie houses are often wary of casting minorities in protagonist roles because they believe they won't pull in decent box office numbers. Which means that often movies helmed by minorities have difficulties finding backers. Or a white person will be cast in a part originally written for a POC. Also, token black dude in a drama, scifi or horror film dies first is a trope in and of itself.
posted by zarq at 8:54 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Major studios doing major studio productions are not going to take chances. They're heavily dependent on formula, and if they're committing a really big budget to something, they're largely going to rely on things they know are going to work. And the things we know that work are still heavily male and white.

And that is why it's so important to seek out and support independent, auteur filmmaking. Go find your local arthouse and remember to check the schedule regularly. If you're looking for new movies that don't follow all the standard formulas, that's the first place they'll be showing up, and that's one of the best ways to "officially" register your support.

Right this minute, if you're looking for non-white stories, both Brother from Another Planet and Girlhood are available on Netflix streaming in the US, as well as Reel Injun, which is a straightforward documentary about the representation of Native Americans in film; and there's a move called Dope in the theaters right now that is getting very good reviews.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:28 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seconding the recommendation of Girlhood. BTW, it has nothing to do with Boyhood; the french name is Band of Girls.
posted by octothorpe at 2:03 PM on July 6, 2015


Seconding the recommendation of Dope. It's fucking dope as hell.
posted by dogwalker at 7:16 PM on July 6, 2015


Wasn't Hob Gadling's girlfriend still alive—as far as we saw—at the end of the series? Granted not as big a character as Nada or Ruby, but I wonder if he wasn't trying to turn that around already toward the end of Sandman.

That's a play on the overall theme - the reason the other black women died was, itself, no longer in existence, so it's effect dissipated. Like i said - canon reason, the effect still sucked.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:50 AM on July 7, 2015


The Arab Film Festival (AFF), one of the largest independent showcases of Arab movies outside of the Arab world, is being kicked out of its San Francisco office months before it hosts its next festival.

The Prado Group, a privately held real estate development and investment management company based in San Francisco, purchased the building that houses the AFF’s office nine months ago. The company has given the AFF until the end of August to move out.
There's a link to a funding campaign at the end of that article.
posted by jaguar at 8:41 AM on July 7, 2015


But, yeah, Romero's decision to cast Duane Jones as Ben was arguably even more shocking for then-contemporary US audiences than the depiction of human flesh-eating "things" in his landmark film.

"Remember when George Romero made a zombie trilogy from 1968-1985 where the leads were all women and black men? "
posted by brundlefly at 5:06 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


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