Friday, January 16, 2015

Old, White Men Love the Oscars

I'd like to continue the discussion of TV Tokenism, as I had talked about in my last post, and apply the topic to a more current and trending issue. This year's Oscar nominations have been highly disappointing, many people agreeing that the film Selma was seriously "snubbed". After talking about this in American Studies, I continued to wonder why no women directors were nominated, or no people of color to receive an acting nomination?

In the article "The Whitest Oscars Since 1998; Why the Selma 'Snubs' Matter," Kevin Fallon presents an interesting statistic: "94 percent white, 76 percent male, and average of 63-years-old— the nominations for the most prestigious and important awards in entertainment reflects the movie tastes not of a complicated, modern, and diverse culture, but a bunch of old white guys." Those numbers alone are incredibly alarming. How can this be ok? Last year, it finally felt like progress had been made, having several actors of minority nominated, (and who won oscars), while not a single person of color was nominated this year. Not one. Its hard to believe we're pretty much back to where we started, the year I was born actually.

The Oscars reigned in about 43 million views last year. I don't think all of those people watching were, like Fallon said, 63 year old men. A lot of the people that tuned in were probably excited to see some underdogs pull through, and finally gain some leverage in the entertainment world. I'm interested to see how many people will be watching the Oscars this year, and how many of those people will be rooting for Selma to win best picture just to throw the corrupt system of the Academy Awards a curveball. (Thats a whole other story though.) I wish there would be come consistency with racial diversity in the Entertainment business, and that instead, everyone has a fair shot at success with everything, but that would be too simple, right?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Get out of the Woods

After recently discussing TV tokenism, (which is when cable and network channels have a "token" minority character in their shows so they have the ability to claim their shows are diverse), in my American Studies class. I started to pay more attention to the shows, and movies I was watching, looking for the types of thing we talked about in class. Such as how long the minority character is on the screen for, how well are they dressed, what type of role are they playing. I noticed that the new movie/musical to hit theaters, Into the Woods, had zero African American actors, (or other minority groups), in the entire movie. Correction; there was one black couple that was on screen for approximately 2 seconds. As you can see below, here is a picture of all the white cast members.

For the past several hundred years, we've been told fairy tales, as children, about princes and princesses, mystical creatures, and fables that usually have an important moral of the story. Most of these stories were created from 17th to 19th century, when black people were initially brought to America from Africa, mainly used for slave labor as America was forming as a nation. Since then, it's always been inferred that white people will usually play the princes and princesses, and end up happily ever after. As our society continues to modernize its beliefs, I feel like we've come far enough to ditch the old fashioned values that Hansel and Gretel have to be white. So why can't Repunzel's prince be black? Why shouldn't an African American actor play the Baker in Into the Woods?

Finally, for the first time (6 years ago), Disney created a movie with a black princess called The Princess and the Frog. It was a huge game changer that children would be introduced to a beautiful black princess, who was also a great role model. For once a Disney princess wasn't looking for a prince to save her, he just happened to be an outcome for her following her dreams during a whimsical adventure to reverse a spell cast on her, Tiana, and the prince. Another great example is the new rendition of Annie, where the main characters are all African American.

Should we start telling children new stories of characters in fables described as African Americans, or  would that be too much of a jump? Why does it have to be that way, when we've made so much  progress over the past 50 years, especially in entertainment. Its hard to try and re-write history, so why not create new stories to tell our future children?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Where did America go?

I'd like to start off this post by simply stating my disappointment in America. With recent nationwide rioting of people standing up for the deaths of innocent people by police brutality, nothing goes better hand in hand with violence than a national distrust in this country. Several weeks ago, the Senate Intelligence Committee released vital information/documentation which showed the CIA had been using brutal, "and far less effective" methods of interrogation for terrorism suspects. The documents also show that the CIA's unethical tactics of interrogation have been going on pretty much since 9/11. For the past 14 years, there has been a major lack of communication between the Senate and the CIA, lying to public, and most importantly, embarrassed America by deserting our treasured values that we've firmly believed in for so many years. Now can you see my disappointment?

We (Americans) have been under the impression that our intelligence agency's do not use methods of torture to interrogate people, yet this has not been this case. Part of the American "way" is to stand up for your rights and what you believe is moral and just. What astounds me is the fact that the Senate Intelligence Committee had doubts and suspicions about how the CIA was handling business, yet they decided to investigate only recently. Published on their website, the CIA defends themselves by pushing back at the Committee. "Astonishingly, the SSCI Majority staff interviewed no CIA officers responsible for establishing, implementing, or evaluating the program's effectiveness. Let us repeat, no one at the CIA was interviewed."

With both sides attacking each other, its hard to know who is really telling the truth. Is that what this country has come to? We've lost America the Beautiful many years ago, and it's time to bring her back, along with all her values that started this country.