Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#41  Postby I'm With Stupid » Aug 04, 2018 4:34 pm

Macdoc wrote:Good post :clap:

The unfortunate reality is "stars" are cast outside their ethnicity for the draw factor their name produces and that is nearly impossible to counteract.

Not true imo. How are stars made in the first place? For the most part, by someone taking a punt on them in a lead role and them doing well. The reality is that in the vast majority of film roles, the character's ethnicity is irrelevant. Scarlett Johansson is a big draw because she's been offered leading film roles consistently for 20 years. The fact that you can barely name a black or Asian woman with the same profile is exactly the problem and entirely the fault of racist hiring practices.

And then the problem you get is that when someone like Scarlett Johansson is hired in a leading role, you can legitimately claim that she's the best person for the job. She's got vast experience, is a guaranteed box office draw, is probably a better film actor than people who have only ever had bit-part roles, knows how to do all of the press stuff surrounding the film, etc etc. This is how discrimination works. If someone is discriminated against at the start of their career, it's only a matter of time before their CV isn't as good as those who weren't discriminated against.

Here's a personal account of what exactly can happen in Hollywood.

It's even worse for disabled or transgender actors. It's impossible for anyone in a wheelchair to play someone who isn't in a wheelchair, of course, but how many roles are written for people like that? Perhaps more importantly, how many roles are written for characters where it doesn't matter if they're in a wheelchair or not? I remember listening to an interview with TV writer Sam Bain who was talking about how to get more female roles in his shows. His main tactic was to just to take the male character he's written and change all of the hes to shes. Because almost always, it's not really relevant to the plot and it allows you to give opportunities to people who might otherwise not even be considered for the role. Let's be honest, a lot of roles in film and TV could probably run gender-blind auditions.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#42  Postby surreptitious57 » Aug 04, 2018 4:47 pm


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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#43  Postby Ironclad » Aug 04, 2018 8:45 pm

It was an Asian journalist of an Asian-based magazine who griped about Scarlett Johansson playing the lead role, in a cartoon origin story. And from the same article I read, the Japanese were not bothered in the same way and expected an American to act in an American produced vision of their story.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#44  Postby Ironclad » Aug 04, 2018 8:47 pm

Spinozasgalt wrote:
Ironclad wrote:Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but dreadlocks are a Celtic design

Do you have sources for this dreadlock point, btw?
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreadlocks?wprov=sfla1
Here's something.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#45  Postby Thommo » Aug 04, 2018 10:09 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote:How are stars made in the first place? For the most part, by someone taking a punt on them in a lead role and them doing well. The reality is that in the vast majority of film roles, the character's ethnicity is irrelevant. Scarlett Johansson is a big draw because she's been offered leading film roles consistently for 20 years. The fact that you can barely name a black or Asian woman with the same profile is exactly the problem and entirely the fault of racist hiring practices.


I think this is a good point. I'm perhaps not 100% certain it's entirely due to racist hiring practices, but it's a problem worth highlighting.

One of the factors in the Scarlett Johansson example though is that the proportion of Americans who are ethnically Japanese women is actually miniscule (around 0.25% of the female population). We wouldn't expect to be able to name more than 5 of the top 100 female film stars as asians even if they were proportionally represented (among Americans) and getting exactly the same opportunities as everyone else, and the question of whether someone ethnically Korean (for example) should get preference for playing a character of Japanese origin is a rather different one in the first place, especially with the implications that the lack of roles which originate from asian cultures would have for asian actors and actresses if geographical conformity of casting became the norm.

It is also complicated by international film stars working in Hollywood and the demographics of the audiences that are being sold to.

African Americans seem to fare rather worse, mind you.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#46  Postby Ironclad » Aug 04, 2018 11:00 pm

Target audience and demographics would figure highly, one could suggest? That, and risk v profit.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#47  Postby Macdoc » Aug 05, 2018 3:22 am

Not true imo. How are stars made in the first place? For the most part, by someone taking a punt on them in a lead role and them doing well.


I disagree....they get a shot often by upstaging a lead and earning buzz from the industry and popular press.

Reese Witherspoon as a teen did very well in a decidedly minor film against the established Kiefer Sutherland and again in Man in the Moon and others - winning awards in the process.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reese_Witherspoon

It's a highly competive industry and talent will out ....Ben Kingsley is hardly whitebread and the top pantheon of black actors are truly formidable talents ....Morgan Freeman and Denzel amongst others.

Are there stupid barriers and bigotry in Hollywood? ....you betcha but there are still opportunities unless you get short changed by the likes of Weinstein as he did with not a few like Ashley Judd.

Writers are often to blame for lack of diversity and so fewer roles for aspiring ethnic actors.

Hollywood is not the only game in town either....China has it's own pantheon of superb actors as does Bollywood and a few are crossing over as their talent deserves. Europe has superb actors many never seen in North America ...others like Julia Binoche almost in a class of her own.

No one handed them their fame.

Indigenous actors in North America are slowly making some progress against lots of bigotry but Hollywood tends to type cast. Lou Diamond Phillips I thought might break that mold.

One thing I really like is the power Netflix has to produce amazing films and distribute them without the confining inbreeding of Hollywood playing it safe.

This offers aspiring talent far more slots.

Weinstein and Lucas are not Hollywood......there are positive forces like Steven Spielberg, Cameron, Jane Campion, Ron Howard, Jodie foster and others working against the monolith.

The incredible explosion of media ...GoT notably and long tail that streaming represents is knocking down barriers.....getting things made that would have been rejected out of hand ( mind you lots of schlock too )

Weeding out the assholes is a good thing ....condemning the whole industry in Hollywood is not constructive.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#48  Postby I'm With Stupid » Aug 05, 2018 6:51 pm

Thommo wrote:African Americans seem to fare rather worse, mind you.

Do they? I think that African Americans do about as well as you would expect given their population, although that hides a disparity between male and female actors. See how many famous black actors you can name and then see how many men and women you have.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#49  Postby I'm With Stupid » Aug 05, 2018 7:12 pm

Macdoc wrote:I disagree....they get a shot often by upstaging a lead and earning buzz from the industry and popular press.

Reese Witherspoon as a teen did very well in a decidedly minor film against the established Kiefer Sutherland and again in Man in the Moon and others - winning awards in the process.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reese_Witherspoon


In 2009, the stars of the film Precious won Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. That was Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique respectively. It's now 9 years later, and I'll happily concede the point if you can (without Googling it) name a single Hollywood film that either of them has been given the lead role in. I'm going to suggest that the reason that neither of them are being offered roles in the latest Marvel movie or romantic comedy is because they look like this:

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And not because of a lack of talent or drive. Even though Sidibe won an Oscar as a leading actress in a dramatic film, she's spent pretty much her entire career since then in supporting roles in shitty comedy films. She might just have a crap agent, or it might actually be the case that no-one is willing to give a serious lead role to an overweight black woman when there's a thin white woman available.

Macdoc wrote:Writers are often to blame for lack of diversity and so fewer roles for aspiring ethnic actors.

This is exactly the problem though. The idea that ethnic minorities have to have roles specifically written for them and that if this doesn't happen, then we'll default to a white actor. A black woman is only ever cast as a black woman. A white woman is cast as a woman. Don't get me wrong, there should definitely be more ethnic minority writers to tell stories specific to those communities, but it's ridiculous to blame writers, who will almost always have absolutely no say over casting whatsoever. Star Wars has actually done a pretty good job on this. There is absolutely no reason why any of the characters need to be a particular race (except the wookies), so they've made a specific effort to audition ethnic minorities.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#50  Postby Thommo » Aug 05, 2018 10:43 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote:
Thommo wrote:African Americans seem to fare rather worse, mind you.

Do they? I think that African Americans do about as well as you would expect given their population, although that hides a disparity between male and female actors. See how many famous black actors you can name and then see how many men and women you have.


I think so, but I could be misremembering. Just as a straw poll I googled the first quantified list of big name actors of recent years I could and found this:

http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/featur ... t-century/

which gives from the top 70:
Women: 16, of which 1 is black and the other 15 are ostensibly white.
Men: 54, of which 6 are black, 1 is polynesian and 1 is mixed race of unclear background.

Taking demography figures from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demograph ... ted_States

Gives 79.3% white, hispanic or latino, 12.6% black, 5.2% asian.

Which would broadly speaking support your point and not mine.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#51  Postby Thommo » Aug 05, 2018 10:47 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote:Star Wars has actually done a pretty good job on this. There is absolutely no reason why any of the characters need to be a particular race (except the wookies), so they've made a specific effort to audition ethnic minorities.


Just as an aside, I think it's worked rather well. John Boyega is great value, he's immensely watchable.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#52  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Aug 05, 2018 11:07 pm

In reverse, the cast of Shamalan's Avatar has an all white cast for the heroes and an all-swarthy-Indian cast for the bad guys.
While in the original show, most times, Aang is the only 'white' character the others, both bad guys and good guys, mostly have light-skinned Asian features (think Chinese/Japanese).
Now it might not have been intentional, but it is rather eery when the skin colours are so rigidly different and seperated.

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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#53  Postby I'm With Stupid » Aug 05, 2018 11:19 pm

Thommo wrote:
I'm With Stupid wrote:
Thommo wrote:African Americans seem to fare rather worse, mind you.

Do they? I think that African Americans do about as well as you would expect given their population, although that hides a disparity between male and female actors. See how many famous black actors you can name and then see how many men and women you have.


I think so, but I could be misremembering. Just as a straw poll I googled the first quantified list of big name actors of recent years I could and found this:

http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/featur ... t-century/

which gives from the top 70:
Women: 16, of which 1 is black and the other 15 are ostensibly white.
Men: 54, of which 6 are black, 1 is polynesian and 1 is mixed race of unclear background.

Taking demography figures from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demograph ... ted_States

Gives 79.3% white, hispanic or latino, 12.6% black, 5.2% asian.

Which would broadly speaking support your point and not mine.

It's quite a difficult one to judge, because should you look at the demography of the USA, or California or even LA? The reality is probably a mixture of the two, because obviously people go to Hollywood from all over the world, but in theory, you'd expect a greater number of people that grew up in the local area. And if this is the case, Hispanic and Asian actors are massively underrepresented compared to what you'd expect.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#54  Postby Macdoc » Aug 06, 2018 4:00 am

I wonder how that shifts not looking at just the top end mix but rather the bit parts.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#55  Postby aban57 » Aug 06, 2018 9:50 am

Last week, a play about Canadian natives, directed by Robert Lepage, that was scheduled to be performed at an event in Paris in September, was cancelled because of a backslash in Canada. A few native actors complained that the play contained only white actors.

As a result, a play that was meant to sensitize about their situation is cancelled, which seems very counter-productive.


The Quebec stage director Robert Lepage canceled the production of his theater piece “Kanata” after some of the show’s producers withdrew from the project. Mr. Lepage, who made the announcement on Thursday, and his collaborators in the French theater group Théâtre du Soleil had been criticized for not casting any Indigenous Canadians in the production, which focuses, in part, on the struggles of Indigenous communities in Canada throughout the country’s history.

Without the financial support of these producers, Mr. Lepage said, “we are unable to finish creating ‘Kanata’ with Théâtre du Soleil. Therefore we are putting an end to the project.”
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#56  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » Aug 06, 2018 11:11 am

Employing white people in order to raise awareness about the challenges faced by aboriginal people throughout Canada seems counterproductive to me.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#57  Postby Cito di Pense » Aug 06, 2018 11:14 am

Rachel Bronwyn wrote:Employing white people in order to raise awareness about the challenges faced by aboriginal people throughout Canada seems counterproductive to me.


It's not counterproductive to the people who are trying to make money producing the film. That's because white people have the money to go watch stupid films promoting values of social justice. The day that the film industry supports particular political goals as a matter of law is not yet, although such an approach has been tried in the past.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#58  Postby aban57 » Aug 06, 2018 11:21 am

Rachel Bronwyn wrote:Employing white people in order to raise awareness about the challenges faced by aboriginal people throughout Canada seems counterproductive to me.


Aïssa Maïga, a French actress, wrote a book called "Being black is not my job" (roughly translated). In it she claims that actors shouldn't be selected on specific physical traits or skin color. Freedom of creation must be total. I tend to agree with that, unless those traits are inherent to the character, which is not the case here.
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Re: Whitewashing, Cultural Appropriation, and Diversity

#59  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » Aug 06, 2018 6:11 pm

If everyone were on a level playing field, I'd agree.
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