The Diversity Card

diversity

As per my last post, I have been very busy with other projects which is why I have not been writing much at all. Even though I still watch what’s happening everywhere, even if the intent to write is there, the energy isn’t. The thing with starting your own business, you’re always told how much insane amounts of hard work is involved but until you actually start getting your hands dirty, you don’t realize how EXHAUSTING it really is. You’re constantly researching, networking, constantly meeting new contacts, following up and starting the process, over and over again. The thing with networking, it’s like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it gets but at times, some aspects of it can eerily parallel with what is happening in the larger world.

Case in point: The diversity issue (or lack thereof) which this year’s Oscar race has sparked (not helped of course by actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s ill-informed, unfortunate use of words which practically caused a media melt-down).
Ben, don't worry about it. It's all good.

Ben, don’t worry about it. It’s all good.

Now, the superficial, flighty side of me only pays attention to things like the Oscars as a fluffy distraction. They are just films after all, here today and forgotten about by next year. However the blatant lack of diversity and opportunities for persons of color or other minorities in the entertainment business and film-making industry as a whole has always rankled my nerves. Do any of you remember the show “Romper Room”? I used to watch it as a kid and I remember with sadness when the host would call out names of the kids she saw through the Magic Mirror at the end of the show. I knew I had one of those names which would never be called out.
I don’t understand why we’re living in a world which accepts a 5th re-boot of the Spiderman or Batman franchises in as many years but doesn’t see anything wrong in the lack of mainstream films, actors, narratives or stories focusing on, empowered and strong women,
persons from the LGBT community,
Australian Aborigines,
Muslims,

I think the last Muslim to ever be nominated in an acting category was Omar Sharif for “Dr. Zhivago”, where he played a Russian

Asians,
Haign S. Ngor won an Oscar back in 1984 for "The Killing Fields"

Haign S. Ngor won an Oscar back in 1984 for “The Killing Fields”

or Native Americans
Personally, I’ll watch “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” or “Thelma and Louise” any day over “Die Hard”.
If anything, whenever Hollywood  does cast someone “ethnic”, it’s usually a form of tokenism, at best, and always some kind of secondary or tertiary role, never a main one. At worst, it’s just plain ignorance and racism. Hollywood also has a long and ugly history of using “brown face” and similar devices in films.
The actress Merle Oberon was half-Indian but she was always depicted as “exotic”.
Jean Simmons donned brown face to play an Indian girl in “Black Narcissus”.
So did Hugh Griffith in “Ben Hur” to play an Arab sheikh.
Sir Alec Guinness donned brown face to play an Arab king in “Lawrence of Arabia” and a Hindu Brahmin priest in “A Passage to India”.
And who can ever forget the most embarrassing example of all, Mickey Rooney playing a Japanese man in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”?
The leaked Sony emails also showed up how truly bigoted and racist many Hollywood execs and studio heads are. So is anyone surprised that when persons of color are cast, they are usually portrayed according to negative stereotypes which reflect their worldview (evil, scummy Arab Muslims  in “American Sniper” or dysfunctional African-American families like in “Precious”) instead of being portrayed in a more positive, empowering or sympathetic light?
You can't pay me enough money to go see this movie voluntarily.

You can’t pay me enough money to go see this movie voluntarily.

Instead practically every year, there always some “coming of age” film about another white, quirky, awkward teenager from some affluent suburb with divorced parents or has issues around sex (“Juno”, “Thumbsucker”, “The Kings of Summer”, “Youth in Revolt“).
Michael Cera in "Youth in Revolt"

Michael Cera in “Youth in Revolt”

Every 10 years or so, there’s always a film which belongs to, what I call the “Idiot-Savant” genre. Again, usually white, male, misunderstood geniuses with challenging personalities or life circumstances due to their mental condition and/or intelligence (“Charly”in the 1960s, “Rain Man” in the 1980s, “Shine” in the 1990s, “A Beautiful Mind” in the 2000s, “The Theory of Everything”and “The Imitation Game” this year alone).
Not to minimize the Holocaust but there has been many Hollywood films on that atrocity or related to it over the years (“Schindler’s List”,“The Reader”, “Life is Beautiful”, “The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas” right off the top of my head) When it comes to other genocides I can only think of two, “Hotel Rwanda” about what happened in Rwanda and maybe “Ararat” about the Armenian genocide in 1915. I have yet to see something about what happened in East Pakistan in 1971, Cambodia in 1975, Algeria in 1954, Hispaniola in 1492 and many, many others.
I would love to see a Hollywood and a viewing public that sees and can accept a manly hunk like Idris Elba go toe-to-toe for leading-man roles with other equally manly hunks like Clive Owen or Mylène Jampanoï  becoming a Bond girl as easily as Denise Richards.
I think it should go to Idries.

I think it should go to Idris or Clive.

It’s not just film.  Activism around diversity, for the moment, is happening in the margins but it is inching closer and closer to the mainstream. I see this in the corporate world now and particularly in my networking discussions. Corporate culture has always been very strict, regimented, formal, conservative and about keeping the status quo. If you’re 1) male 2) white and 3) tall, you’ve basically got it made and you’ll more easily be considered for leadership and managerial positions. However, if you’re female, ethnic and petite (like me for instance) you have to work doubly hard to even get a chance to get your foot in the door, let alone an interview. Industrial psychologists call it the mirroring effect. The gist of it being that you will probably hire and consider people who are most like you first because that’s your comfort zone and it takes a huge amount of work to really see your own inherent racial biases clearly and work against them, which most managers either don’t have the time nor interest to do.
It’s a shame really that so many people don’t get it or don’t want to get it. I’ve already written why even in nature and in ecosystems, diversity is usually key to ensuring long-term survival of certain species and the ecosystem itself. Homogeneity is a dangerous place to be in for extended periods of time. I’m of the persuasion that the closer human systems come closer to mimicking natural ecosystems, the better off we’ll all be. That goes for the corporate world and the film industry as well.
Don’t believe me?
Watch this and really pay attention to what Ted Carns is saying in between his lines about disposability and setting an example to others.
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Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, Conspirio, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, This is why the planet is screwed up | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “The Diversity Card

  1. For the Intolerants

    To add to your fantastic commentary I find it rich when some people wave off marginalization and say everything is hunky dory, banging on about equal opportunity because we live in “post-racial” societies. Say what? Since when? Discrimination is institutionalized in EVERY country to some degree and until the people who hold the reigns of power and wealth loosen their grip, and the people underneath them start acknowleding this truth, things are going to continue to change at a very slow pace.

    • Absolutely – the thing with white privilege and male privilege is that it is so entrenched over time, and so insidious that many people don’t “see” it anymore and it takes so much work to A) be aware of your own biases and B) work against them that people don’t bother because they’re too focused on profits for instance. Also, i think there is also an element of certain sectors not wanting to loosen their grip, it’s in their best interest to keep things as they are because they have to most to gain. In some ways, I can’t wait for the demographic shift and earthquake which is coming because it might finally slap some sense among the privileged few.

  2. Pingback: February 2016 Astrology- A Breather before the Charge | The Shift Has Hit The Fan

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