Today I sat down to watch the new X-Men movie and from the beginning I became disturbed but not upset since being upset is an emotion that coincides with anger and sidetracks you from rectifying the situation constructively. So like any person that have watched countless movies over the years and witnessed the non-diversity applied to script writing and casting in movie and television productions, I began a journey via research and online investigation to find out why?
I’ve came to the conclusion when it comes to casting for movie and television productions. executive producers have the final say in casting, so if non-diversity is applied to movies and productions than instead of getting mad, get active. Get 100 and halt your weekend and weekday $ by not supporting Whitewashing.
This is suspect on high levels when casting practices in the film industry employ pale and light red actors in black, brown, yellow and caramel skin character roles. Since the silent film era when pale faces were painted black or yellow to exaggerate the perceived behavior of different races to appease a pale and light red audience, the film industry has frequently casted roles that were meant for other ethnicities. Whether implicitly or explicitly expressed, institutional racism is rampant and depending on who you ask, some will deny or acknowledge its existence. It really boils down to the people who fund a production, market, distribute and show that production, the audience that support that production so profits are generated to produce such like productions of similar content. Hollywood escaped the civil rights movement in the early and late 60s even though racial disparities in tinsel town are similar to bias in politics, justice system, banking, housing and employment when certain groups are targeted and discriminated against based upon ethnicities. Institutional racism can go unnoticed as it is not always explicit and can be overlooked.
I still continue to doubt the power of institutional racism when America with a diverse population than any other nation upon the globe continues to struggle with the collective failure of the entertainment and media industry to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in script writing, crew employment, casting, funding and distribution which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping that only intensifies the public perception of those labeled as disadvantage minority ethnic people.
There’s no mistaking influence of advertisement, news, drama, comedy and cartoons on general public but when money is power and total power corrupts leaving one group holding the keys to the cameras that produces 80% of the productions viewed yearly, and it’s not surprising that casting, production crews and financing depicts a majority of the ethnic groups of the executive producers. This reality has created the argument that executive producers only produces movies with the intention of having a huge financial return on their investment but if a producer or bank doesn’t think a film or production is going to be successful it will not bankroll it. This same arguments also include distribution into global markets that attracts international audiences who are used to seeing pale and light red skin actors in movies and popular sitcoms but if there were more diversity in argument one than argument two would be irrelevant. Discrimination in movies, television, advertisement isn’t going unnoticed but what has changed from the days of blaxploitation films to our generation that only cast black, brown, caramel and yellow complexion people in 15% of roles in film and TV. Today, it has fallen to 13% and black directors make up only 4% of the Directors Guild of America. Many people have questioned why so many talented Black, Latino and Asian actors are passed over by Hollywood. People argued that Cleopatra was Greek and not dark skinned, this is no different than the old cowboy movies where the white cowboy kisses the Indian girl, but the Indian girl isn’t really Indian, her character is played by a white actress wearing makeup. The entertainment and media industry has “a long and painful history of misrepresentation in many films claiming casting directors and executive producers only want the best talent, no matter what the color. Hollywood needs to stop concentrating on skin color and having a full pale and light red cast and more on producing a good film. i think black and white people are equally capable of starring in successful films, now we need Hollywood to believe. “It is typically believed that black film, minus a Tyler Perry, will not bring in the box office receipts that a film with an A-list star would.” It is simply unfair that we are convinced a white film will sell better than a black film, we must give equal opportunity to all people that deserve it, no matter what the skin color.
There is much to be said when pale and light red audiences watch films that are of a predominantly non-white casting. It’s ironic when a show/film that is predominantly black becomes a urban or gangster movie, but a show/film that is predominantly white is just normal. Because of this bias, some Hollywood films push to minimize the roles of minority roles (even in films where the original stories were conceived to have extensive non-white characters: Avatar: The Last Airbender, 21, Dragonball:Evolution, and the as-yet-made Akira live-action film are just a few examples). Part of what made “Slumdog Millionaire” such a pleasant surprise was that it was a film with a completely South Asian cast and was immensely well-received in the US. All this with a cast of relatable characters and a story that was not reliant on the exoticism that drove other non-white film successes such as “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”. It is also not surprising that a film like Slumdog was created outside of Hollywood. when the public found out that the characters of Cinna, Rue and Thresh were to be played by black actors there was an uproar with the fans. Despite the fact that both Thresh and Rue were described as dark skinned in the book many people were still shocked at who was actually filling the roles. Brnshoff said “despite certain character descriptions being spelled out in the book, people typically project themselves onto a character in order to emphasize with that person.” “for a white person reading a book, they’re very rarely going to go, I’m just assuming this is a black character if he or she isn’t marked as such.” Most people see themselves in characters and if that person is white then that is how they most likely see the character. Hollywood sees it as ” the more people who identify with a character , the more tickets a movie might sell.” There are plenty of instances where white actors take minority roles.
“Red Tails” a movie based on the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII was produced and funded by George Lucas, producer of Star Wars. He couldn’t receive funding from Hollywood because they stated, “‘No. We don’t know how to market a movie like this.’ ” referring to the all black cast of the movie. The movie cost around $58 million, more than an average mainly black cast movie would have. Lucas has been on multiple talk shows explaining that “the movies been held up for release since 1942.” Planet of the Apes: The original Planet of the Apes, starring Charlton Heston and released in 1968, served as a “what if the shoe was on the other foot”-type scenario, where white men experience the type of discrimination regularly experienced by Black people. Though it was intended to show support for Black people’s fight for human rights, it reinforced the racist notion of Blacks not being fully human, choosing apes and monkey of all animals as stand-ins for Black people. It also played into the issues of skin-color hierarchy, making lighter apes more intelligent than their darker, more uncivilized counterparts. Lord of the Rings: The motion picture trilogy and the novel by J.R.R Tolkien, upon which it is based, has been accused of being racist for having all the good guys white-skinned, mostly blond and mostly blue-eyed. The bad guys, on the other hand, are described with combinations of black, slant-eyed, unattractive, inarticulate or a psychologically undeveloped horde. Although Tolkien had an entire Black civilization in his novel, director Peter Jackson didn’t include it or any Black actors, for that matter. Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope: The original 1977 Star Wars movie was justifiably criticized for not casting a single Black person, except James Earl Jones for the voice of Darth Vader. George Lucas had planned for the character of Han Solo to be a Black person. He auditioned several Black actors (including Billy Dee Williams) and even musicians until finally settling on Glynn Turman. But later, he decided to make the role white. The Godfather: The Godfather is seen by many as the world’s greatest film. In the 1972 film, there’s not a single Black role, but the film’s creators thought of Black people enough to make a reference to them as “darkies with no souls,” running numbers rackets and driving Cadillacs. Ben-Hur: Let’s not mention the depiction of Jesus as a blue-eyed European in the 1959 epic Ben-Hur, starring Charlton Heston. There are plenty of other offensive images to go around, such as white actors in black face, depicting Arabs and the white horses vs. black horses in the famous chariot race scenes. On top of that, in a film about Christians, Romans, Egyptians, Hebrews and other groups, the film depicted none of them as Black. Birth of a Nation: The epitome of racist films, D.W. Griffith’s 1915 Birth of a Nation is notable for its depiction of the Ku Klux Klan as heroes of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era and Black men (or rather white men in blackface) as unintelligent and sexually violent toward white women. The Last Samurai: an ex-soldier who takes a job in Japan to help suppress a Samurai rebellion. However after he is captured by the Samurai, he learns their ways and saves them from being destroyed by the Japanese army by teaching them how to properly fight using their own techniques. Breakfast At Tiffany’s: The actor wore makeup and prosthetic teeth to play up the stereotype of an Asian man. Soul Man: A young man gets into Harvard but realizes he can’t pay the tuition. So what does he do? Dons blackface to get an affirmative action scholarship, of course! “Soul Man”racism is topped by its terrible logic. How long is he going to have to stay black? Why would anyone believe he is black in the first place? “Mandingo” follows James Mason as Warren Maxwell, a plantation owner who rejects his wife after their wedding when he discovers she was not a virgin. He later seduces his female slave while his wife seduces his male slave, Mandingo. The two love affairs end bloody and tragic when the wife claims Mandingo raped her and he is hung for the crime. The Birth of a Nation: The silent film by D. W. Griffith follows two families during the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era: the pro-Union Stonemans and the pro-Confederate Cameron’s. “The Birth of a Nation” was heralded as a milestone in the advancement of filmmaking. But from its release, it’s always been known as one of the most racist movies due to its portrayal of African Americans by white actors in blackface, and it’s sympathetic showing of the Ku Klux Klan.