Asian Culture Gets “Whitewashed” Again

With heightened attention on diversity and culture, you would think major Hollywood films would take notice. The newest film by Paramount Ghost in the Shell with lead actress Scarlett Johansson is the newest culprit in whitewashing films. The original character from the source material is Japanese and fans made their voices heard by using the films own marketing promotion. The film created a meme generator for fans to create their own creative content; many used it to promote Rinko kikuchi who fans thought should have been casted as the lead role.

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Hollywood from a Minority Perspective

The New York Times came out with an article today that featured interviews from 27 women and minority industry players in entertainment. The statistics are unequivocal: Women and minorities are vastly underrepresented in front of and behind the camera. Here are a few of their testimonials:
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Peak TV Does Not Mean Peak Equality

Today may be the golden age of television, but it’s actually far from it behind the camera. After over 25 years of stagnant development, the media is only just beginning to shed some light on the issue of gender and race discrimination after the EEOC began investigating the lack of female directors in Hollywood last month. Today, Variety launched its director-diversity story by releasing interview transcripts with dozens of industry professionals to gain a stronger insight on diversification within the ranks of television directors.
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Jennifer Lawrence Addresses Gender Pay Inequality in Hollywood

Last week, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it would begin taking measures to combat discrimination against female film and TV directors. Today, “Joy” actress and one of today’s highest-paid movie stars, Jennifer Lawrence, penned an essay for Lena Dunham’s online newsletter discussing the issues of feminism and equal wages in Hollywood. The war on gender inequality in the industry is happening and fast.
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Co-Screenwriter of ‘Noah’ Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film

O.K. let’s see if this makes sense.

No doubt, one of the most talked about films so far this year is Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. The film has gotten its share of rave reviews, though there are those who have major problems with it. However, one cannot deny that it is truly an ambitious, unique and original film – the kind of risk-taking movie you wish Hollywood would make more of, like they used to.

However, there is that one thing; That one thing that stuck out in my mind when I saw the film: “Hey, where are the black folks or people or color in the film?

If this film had been made back during the epic “Biblical film” era, in the 1950s, well then, yes, you would expect that.

But even Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments has black people in it. So, here we are well into the 21stcentury, and Noah is populated with nothing but white people, many who speak with British or Australian accents.

Well, in a new interview on the website The High Calling (HERE) the co-screenwriter of the film Ari Handel, who wrote Noah with Aronofsky, was asked about the lack of diversity and addressed by saying:

“From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise.”

He goes on to say:

“You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, or you just say, “Let’s make that not a factor, because we’re trying to deal with everyman.” Looking at this story through that kind of lens is the same as saying, “Would the ark float and is it big enough to get all the species in there?” That’s irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they’re operating on the mythical plane.”

Really? That’s the best he could do? Why not just say, we just didn’t want to be bothered? I would have bought that.

So let me see if I understand this. In other words, if we put black people or POC in the film, then people would notice it, and that would have been like really, really distracting, taking people out of the film. So instead, we got a whole bunch of white British, American and Australian actors to represent all mankind, because it‘s just a lot easier?

And, furthermore, putting people of color in the film would have somewhat diminished the biblical Noah, making it look, God forbid, like some kind of Star Trek movie?

Sorry I’m all confused here. I was thinking that, if you want to represent all mankind in a film, then wouldn’t it make sense to have a cast that did actually represent all of mankind, in every color and hue, instead of having an all white cast, and telling audiences to just squint their eyes, and pretend that he’s another race, because it’s all just a myth after all? So black people can’t be mythical too? Nope, I guess we’re too real, too urban.

Am I wrong here, or is Handel? You tell us.

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[Infographic] The Oscars Diversity Problem

Well this really doesn’t look good. It’s not news that the Academy Awards have lagged behind when it comes to recognizing actors, directors, producers, and other pros who aren’t white. The blame for that failure could fall in a few places: our culture at large, risk- and change-averse producers, the oddly regressive dynamics of the Academy voters. Either way, it’s not great.

An infographic published on The New York Times‘ Carpetbagger blog has spelled out the Academy Awards diversity gap in stark, visual terms. Created by children’s book publisher Lee & Low Books, the chart reveals just how stacked the deck is against anyone hoping to see a shift in the racial make-up of Oscar winners. One stat sticks out like a very sore thumb: Of the Academy’s 85 Best-Actress winners, only one — Halle Berry for 2001′s Monster’s Ball — has been anything other than white. That’s inflated to 1% for the purpose of being visible on a pie chart.

Over the past few years, the field of Oscar nominees has been inching into more-inclusive territory — which could give us a glimmer of hope for change. Then again, with 94% of all Academy voters being white, that change may still be a sad many years away. (New York Times)

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In 2013, Is A Movie About Slavery Still Necessary?

The year is 2013. The United States is 150 years past the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. We even have a Black president. Is another film about slavery still necessary? Absolutely, says journalist Lewis Beale.

Simply put, “A country that refuses to confront its past is a country in denial,” says Beale in his Op-Ed on why you should see the film “12 Years a Slave.”

Based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a free black man kidnapped in 1841 in Washington and sold into slavery in New Orleans, “12 Years a Slave” opens Friday (October 18) with an A-list cast–Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt. Directed by British director Steve McQueen, the film takes a brutally honest look at the racism and sheer brutality that defined the era.

“12 Years a Slave” is easily the most hard-hitting portrayal of slavery since the 1977 TV blockbuster “Roots.” It is the kind of film that many people will avoid, in part because of its depiction of everything from the surrealism of slave markets to whippings, rapes, hangings and the myriad ways in which slave owners terrorized and ruled over their property.

Watch the trailer for “12 Years a Slave”

Read the rest of Lewis Beale’s thoughts on “12 Years a Slave” at CNN

 

Why Doesn’t Keanu Reeves Play More Hapas?

Check out this trailer for a new Keanu Reeves vehicle, based (believe it or not) on an actual Japanese legend, and due out this coming December.
 

 
The movie may or, perhaps more likely, may not turn out to be good. What caught our attention about this trailer though, much more than the low-budget CGI or action film clichés, was that first line, when the man with the full-body tattoo asks for a “half-breed.” The half-breed is Keanu’s character, and given the feudal Japanese setting it’s an obvious assumption that he’s playing what might today be more politely referred to as a hapa.
 
Happily, this is not an instance of the common and uncomfortable practice of casting white actors as people of color, a modern phenomenon uncomfortably analogous to historic traditions like blackface and yellowface. Keanu Reeves really is a hapa – his father was of native Hawaiian and Chinese descent. There has been plenty of commentary decrying the tendency to give similar roles to white actors. For us, 47 Ronin raises a different question. Why is it so unusual for a hapa actor like Reeves to play a hapa character?
 
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