What if we limited the number of white men in film and TV?


#1

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#2

Unfortunately these films are already lumped together as ethnic films.
For example Inglorious Bastards, Jews the kings of passing as white, in a revenge fantasy killing Nazis is about as mainstream penetration as it gets. Jews and Jewish stories are post WW-II a special case in the US penetrating the mainstream audience.
Look at all of the "black films’ or ‘chick flicks’, they all end up being nearly straight to tape/DVD/cable.
How do you cure the male(and white, cis, etc gaze) gaze when that is what apparently sells.

Much like how do you sell tolerance to racists?
MLK didn’t do it, Malcom X started it by driving America to MLK as an alternative to militant nation of Islam. Not sure there is parity here.
How do you good-cop bad-cop film consumers?


#3

While 31% of the general population may be white males, few films are made about the “general population”. If you’re making a gritty cop drama, you have to consider the fact that police officers are overwhelmingly white males. The same goes for film-friendly groups like lawyers, business moguls, affluent young people who can afford zany hijinks, and super heroes.

We can complain about the underlying racial inequality in America that causes these trends, but we can’t ask movie makers to ignore the fact that most of the interesting, film-worthy stuff happens primarily to white men.


#5

Unfortunately, I don’t consider anodyne fare such as Black-ish or Fresh Off The Boat to be fantastic. I’m all for increased diversity on TV, but I would also like to have nuance, humor, and intelligence. I want more The Wire or Treme and less Modern Family.

Why not start with True Detective? It’s got a rotating cast, and I don’t understand why Vince Vaughn would do a better job than, say, Idris Elba (dude’s already got experience playing an obsessive police detective).

Even ignoring the idea that a work of fiction can do whatever it wants, regardless of actual reality, this is patently untrue.


#6

Yeah, I mean, film makers are just documenting the lives of super heroes. They can’t help it if they’re all white men. Changing that would be unrealistic.


#7

The business of movie making is more about advertising than it is about selling tickets. Advertisers will pay for eyeballs with money, and in our culture, that means that producers will make movies to appeal to the privileged.

Movies then get made featuring the privileged, reinforcing the culture of privilege. and the vicious cycle turns.

If they thought it would pay, producers would switch their output in a heartbeat. They simply sell what people are buying. In this case, they’re selling the eyeballs of the privileged to the advertisers.


#8

Have we, now? Geez, I sure hope not… otherwise, how come we continue to tolerate exponentially increasing wealth disparity?

Fuck all this identity politics; that’s shit’s window dressing. Can we get back to the class politics of a tiny fraction of a percent thoroughly dominating the rest of us?

I have a feeling, that when we’re not all fighting for the scraps from the high-rollers’ table, we’ll all have much better manners.


#9

Given her popularity and, from early word, prominence in the new Avengers movie, I don’t know if chiding The Avengers for only having one female lead is really a good argument. And while the male leads are all white, well… yeah. Those characters at that time are, indeed, white. Future Iron Men and Captain Americas are black. Wouldn’t making caucasian characters a different race for the sake of diversity be sort of artificial? And yes, I know we’re speaking of comic books here, but…


#10

The thing is, “white” is a stereotype, just like anything else. One cannot assume to know a person’s race, ethnicity, sex, or gender merely by evaluating their appearance. Do not assume that you know what categories anybody belongs to. If you need to, just ask them.


#11

This article is really confused, because the author is trying to have her cake and eat it. Is she in fact proposing this white-male-quota idea, or is she trying to use the problems with such quotas as a way of saying why explicit or implicit limits on minority representation is a bad idea? She can’t have it both ways.

Also a white male limit wouldn’t work even for promoting diversity. It’d just lead to casts with a white male lead lording it over a group of minority or female supporting characters.


#12

I agree to some extent. Any categories people are put in are merely arbitrary classes. But I think this doesn’t really say much about how people treat each other. The interesting question I think is that of: how do people choose these particular classifications over all others? How are these distinctions people get hung up upon significant? I agree that it has little to do with “identity politics”, as they are commonly understood. But when I ask others: “How do you classify others?” it seems to all fall apart into poorly thought out consensus assumptions which aren’t supported by anything.


#13

This is quite true. If “we” wanted to enforce the limits proposed in the article, a consistent definitional framework for one’s racial and gender identity would need to be established. (I suspect that the SAG would insist upon it).

Perhaps we could dust off and reactivate the classification scheme used by the former government of South Africa??


#14

I have a vague recollection of hearing that Patric Stewart did a “colour-reversed” Othello in New York some years ago. Would’ve been interesting to see.

But back to this subject. It’s often hard to tell if the racial and gender selection is done because of the story or because of the company behind the production.
I have no issue with the former, I prefer to see a story as close to what the writer intended. But the latter is something I greatly dislike since it adds even more oeople to the queue of “this is what I think the writer intended”.


#15

But what about all of the population who don’t think cops, lawyers, business moguls, and affluent white young people make for the most interesting, film-worthy stuff? Or at least are sick of those being the ONLY groups that stories are centered around?


#16

Maybe film and tv execs could wake up and listen to their conscience. And stop basing every single fucking decision on money. Won’t they ever have enough? /rhetorical q, obvs


#17

The article makes a wrong turn here…

“While those numbers aren’t broken down by race, it’s safe to assume that the vast majority of those men were white.”

When is it ever safe to assume? why is it just safe to “ignore the lack of data when it comes to white males in leading roles” but not safe to do the same when you are say parsing FBI criminal data? using bad info is using bad info.

as far as anything beyond that? when it comes to racial and gender quotas in creating fiction, I find that approach appalling and nothing more than outright censorship and heavy-handed maneuver to try and control creators and their visions.

If you want to see more color, more gender and more spectrums of all kinds of identities, then those indentitties need to step forward and create. simple as that.


#18

I’ve tried that but, funny thing, none of the screens talk back to me.


#19

This is tangential, but I was thinking about the MCU’s female characters and I realized something interesting: they are never put in “competition” with each other. The easy, lazy storytelling trope is frequently to have two attractive women dislike each other on sight. Even when Black Widow shows up in Iron Man 2, and it looks like they’re setting them up to “fight” over Tony, Natasha ends up being Pepper’s right-hand woman instead.

There’s not a lot of women, so they don’t get a lot of screen time together, but when they do ego never gets in the way of getting the job done. I thought that was interesting.


#20

How 'bout if we (U.S.) did that with everybody every ten years?


#21

I don’t see it as an either/or situation. We need to fight against neo-liberal reformism dominating identity politics as much as we need to stop identity politics dominating class politics. We need to avoid creating new underclasses while we fight for our own.

It is a hard balancing act, but ultimatly worthwhile if we are to avoid being trapped in a cycle of class struggle.