Wow! Let me think here.
When I first got wind of the protests about “Oscar’s So White”, I was annoyed. It really irks me that we must or are expected to always bend our work to accommodate everyone’s ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation to tell a story. That’s bull crap!
We are in danger here. What are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of color or anything else? Quality of work? Because isn’t that what the Oscar’s look at?
I pulled up statistics for those of color who have been nominated and won and compared them to Hispanics. Guess what? If Latinos wanted to scream, they would have a right because the numbers are minuscule by comparison.
There has been only one Oscar Best actor win and that was in 1950! and only four nominations; Three supporting actor wins, and one was the same actor twice, Anthony Quinn!; None, Zip, zero for Best female, and two wins for supporting roles, Rita Moreno in West Side Story and Lupita N’yong o for her role as a black woman for Twelve Years a Slave. That’s EVER.
I also looked up the % of population stats. This is how it measures up. The number of whites make up 77+% of the population, blacks are 13+% and Hispanics 17+%. based on the current US census. Now the number of blacks nominated and who’ve won far surpass the Latino numbers even though there are fewer blacks to Latino. Do blacks attend theaters more?
I really don’t know. When I go to the movies, I seldom see blacks. Actually I see more blacks at the movies here in California than I ever did living in Alabama and there are fewer in number here. So, I’m inclined to wonder. The biggest turn out I ever saw was in Tennessee (I just happened to be there visiting) and it was for a Madea film. Everyday it was packed. So, it depends on where you live, what’s showing(obviously), and how many blacks there are in the area. Based on blacks being 13% of the population, it still doesn’t measure up to the claim I read that more blacks go to the movies. (I looked it up- but I wonder how that’s even measured- is there a button they push when you buy a ticket?)
Tickets Sold by Ethnicity, 2011
|Ethnicity||TICKETS SOLD||PERCENT OF POPULATION|
Tickets Sold by Ethnicity, 2010
|Ethnicity||TICKETS SOLD||PERCENT OF POPULATION|
As for the statistics for who makes up the CEO’s of Hollywood, I wonder how accurate those are. Is there one for Jews? or, are they under “white”?
In which case, those “white” numbers could be skewed in other ways as well, because there are many Latino’s and people of other races who do not look anything but white, or list themselves as anything but white, so how would you really know?
How many actors are mixed? Many. Halle Berry is half white but is listed as black.
I remember a young person, whose chart I worked up at the health clinic, who I asked for his/her ethnicity. I was not permitted to make that judgement, so I had to ask, but by appearances I thought black. They stated white.
Now take talent. If there were any Black or Latino actors similar to Meryl Streep, who is undeniably one of the most versatile actors out there and if this person was getting the parts she gets, and was still being snubbed, then everyone would have something to complain about. I’ve seen very few ethnic actors that even come close to her caliber, and/or if they’re out there, they aren’t getting the parts. Is there someone out there that could shine, if given the chance? Probably.
I’ve noticed too, that black or ethnic men have not, in general, had as hard a time as the women, but that’s typical for women period. Which is another Hollywood slight getting attention.
Then I got to thinking about some of the big named black writer/ director/producers who have jumped on the bandwagon of “OSW”, like Spike Lee and Tyler Perry (?). Why aren’t they looking for good quality material for the black population? Most of the films I’ve seen by these creatives are designed or so it seems to widen the gap of race rather than to bridge the gap. Their films seemed to validate anger, defiance, disrespect and hatred for anyone other than black.
That goes for all the other ethnic writer/producer/directors. What kind of material are you selecting that can optimize the profile of your ethnic group? What kind of stories are you telling?
WE can’t forget who’s funding these films? Ah! There’s the rub.
WHO ARE THE BACKERS? No one can make what can’t be funded. AND, it can’t be justifiably funded if it isn’t marketable. Is a big name white star going to get more funding to make a good quality feature? Pro-ba-bly. So many things to consider in this equation. So before everyone points fingers at what’s not black enough or what’s too white. Bottom line is what sells?
There was a woman I worked with who hated movies that raked up past social injustices and refused to watch them. For her, it fomented hatred for the white race and made it impossible for her to focus on progress and getting beyond the past. Everyday, she said, she’d pray that God help her be fair to whites and not resent them for their color (or lack of). She was an educated woman, trying to move on. But it was a day to day struggle. I wonder how many other blacks feel like she does and would love to be inspired to change the way people think of them or they of others?
I too, would like to see stories told that are significant and motivating. Will this change what I think to write? Well, it already has.
I have a feature I’ve been working on with a Latina lead, no blacks. I sent it to my nephew to read while he was in jail. His cell mate was black. They loved the script and the story, but his cell mate, remarked, “she ain’t got no brother in it! Tell her to make Nate black”. I got back his note and laughed. I hadn’t even thought about it, but I really didn’t have one black person in it. Not a good black or a bad black. I really didn’t think about it. To me they were just people. I never said black or white, but I did indicate Hispanic because some of it would be in Spanish. So, I considered changing my heroine to a black lead, partly because of the hoopla being made, but at the same time, I ask why? I’m sure there are many other writer’s doing the same thing. Will it move the story forward? Actually, it probably would be an even better choice than having her be Hispanic. But to do so, it would put her male counterpart into the position of your typical black stereotype, which I really wouldn’t want to do. Come to think of it, I was doing the Tyler Perry thing and making the white guy bad. Hmmm. How do you avoid stereotyping anyone? I also considered having representation of both and/or all three ethnic groups, perhaps one of each. Like Neapolitan. I can’t decide. Anyway, I’m still working on it.
Have I ever experienced prejudice, yes. I dated a young, from the up side of town in California and as soon as they met me, they made it clear, he was not to ever see me again. Have I ever had a man come on to me thinking that because of my ethnicity, I was probably “one hot little number”. Yes! So what! I do know what it feels like, but it doesn’t define who I am or who I will be. Change will be slow, but we’ll get there.
Have you ever noticed that when someone opens their mouth, you either like or dislike them, regardless of their color? If you like them, all is well and good, but if you don’t, it becomes a horse of a different color if you say anything. Let’s change that.
On a final note. Don’t prejudge. I happen to know there’s a lot of people suffering from “white guilt” out there. These are people who hate the history of the past and the injustices done to people of any race. Go easy on them. They are out there. They want change and I know for many, it seems change has been ever so slow. But think about it, the more we initiate change in ourselves, which is the only thing we have control of, then change will come.
If you learn nothing else. Take people one at a time and individually and love your neighbor as yourself. I think hippies had the right idea, way back when, when they said, “Make love, not war”.