Author Topic: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality  (Read 7163 times)

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Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« on: March 04, 2018, 07:11:21 PM »

Offline Neurotic Guy

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Not a thread started for debate about opinions of this year's best movies or performances, but OK if it devolves into that.

I have come to be indifferent about the Oscars -- or any of the myriad awards that the entertainment industry bestows mostly upon its already famed and well-rewarded talent.   I enjoyed it as a kid and looked forward to it (60's and 70's), but I doubt I'll watch a minute of it tonight.  Hours of pomp, "who are you wearing", usually with some faux-feeling political / social statements that I usually agree with but am yet nauseated by.

I do have some thoughts about the latest issue having to do with the historic paucity of roles/films that feature people of color -- and thus, a corresponding lack of Oscar nominations for people of color.   Cautiously putting this out there.  I think, like any capitalist industry, the film industry is driven by money -- and is driven to fund movies that give the movie studio its best shot for a lucrative box office. 

Is it the studios' thoughtful calculation that "White movies" stand a better chance at the box office than "African-American movies"? 

Is this discrimination by the movie industry? Or is this a response to the true (perhaps subconscious) bias/discrimination that occurs in society that makes movies featuring white movie stars, or white-person-based stories, more interesting to white (majority) audiences...   I understand the advocates for increasing opportunities for people of color in the industry -- but it sure presents an interesting and important reflection for our country.   I won't call ANY of this "racism", but there is little doubt in my mind that there remains a bias about race that continues to permeate the subconscious and impacts our decision-making -- effecting equality and access.  This year's Oscars apparently feature two highly acclaimed movies that feature predominently African-American   casts.  Perhaps this is a trend?  But interesting how movies, despite token roles, still tend to have casts that are predominently one race or the other (I am aware that there are exceptions).  Could it be that art is immitating life -- if so, what is "art" saying about life in America. 

Just wondering whether others here have thoughts about this. 

Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2018, 07:35:41 PM »

Offline eja117

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The thing that kinda bothers me is when you have a great story and kinda put unnecessary stuff in it and take out other stuff.

Like for example....Wind Talkers. Great idea. Totally overdue. Why is Nicholas Cage in it? No reason whatsoever. There was never such a person as his character "protecting" them. Just bad history and disrespectful.

Glory.....I LOVE Glory and think it's totally underrated and think they did a good job reading Gould Shaw's letters.....but he's basically the only historical character in the film. People don't realize there was a Medal of Honor winner in there.

Also....we have great films about every Euro hero ever. TV series. Even when we don't know much about them. Like we don't really know that much about Marco Polo but the guy has had two TV series now I think.

Where is the movie about Shakka Zulu? Montezuma? Emmit Till? Etc?

I stiiilllll don't know much about various leaders of the civil rights movement.

I liked what they did with 12 Years a Slave. They tried to be accurate and complex.   That's why the next time they remake Roots I hope Kunta Kinte is a slave owner himself.

Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2018, 08:01:33 PM »

Offline Neurotic Guy

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I liked what they did with 12 Years a Slave. They tried to be accurate and complex.   That's why the next time they remake Roots I hope Kunta Kinte is a slave owner himself.

Storytellers get to tell the story they want to tell.  If Alex Haley set out to write the story of Kunta Kinte as an African warrior, perhaps accuracy with regard to his life prior to slavery would matter more.  Haley chose to tell the story of the inhumanity of capture and slavery without too much detail of life prior to capture.  Not sure why you are certain that Kunta Kinte (some say a fictionalized composite character; some say a real Haley ancestor) owned slaves; but if he did, I still think the storyteller gets to make the point he/she wants to make.   The movies are fantasy.  History in the movies always portrays life over time and magically condenses it into 120 minutes.  The storyteller owns how he/she writes the history and the viewer should be an aware participant in the snapshot fantasies and liberties that the storyteller provides.  Accuracy or entertainment -- hopefully you get some of both, but given the choice of one or the other I think I'd usually opt for entertainment (that is, if I am paying for a seat).

Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2018, 08:08:26 PM »

Online action781

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Good post. 

I hear your view that it is not the film industry itself that is racist, but more likely American society and that's who the film industry must cater to for profits.  Though I do think that part of what society feels is based on what we see... and film plays a big part in that.  So while I understand that what they produce is based on the way Americans are, I think they have the ability to change the way Americans are.

I think movies that normalize mixed race relations are much better for the advancement of racial perceptions in our country than movies with casts that are predominantly people of color.  Before Get Out and The Big Sick came out this year, I cannot recall a single movie that featured a mixed-race couple. (The Bodyguard now comes to mind.)  Hopefully this trend continues.
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Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2018, 08:10:36 PM »

Offline eja117

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I liked what they did with 12 Years a Slave. They tried to be accurate and complex.   That's why the next time they remake Roots I hope Kunta Kinte is a slave owner himself.

Storytellers get to tell the story they want to tell.  If Alex Haley set out to write the story of Kunta Kinte as an African warrior, perhaps accuracy with regard to his life prior to slavery would matter more.  Haley chose to tell the story of the inhumanity of capture and slavery without too much detail of life prior to capture.  Not sure why you are certain that Kunta Kinte (some say a fictionalized composite character; some say a real Haley ancestor) owned slaves; but if he did, I still think the storyteller gets to make the point he/she wants to make.   The movies are fantasy.  History in the movies always portrays life over time and magically condenses it into 120 minutes.  The storyteller owns how he/she writes the history and the viewer should be an aware participant in the snapshot fantasies and liberties that the storyteller provides.  Accuracy or entertainment -- hopefully you get some of both, but given the choice of one or the other I think I'd usually opt for entertainment (that is, if I am paying for a seat).
Some people say story teller. Some say lie teller.

Hollywood doesn't get to have it both ways. They don't get to tell us that they're responsible and respectful and then when they get called out suddenly say "But I'm a story teller!"  Pick one.

Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2018, 08:39:27 PM »

Offline Neurotic Guy

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I liked what they did with 12 Years a Slave. They tried to be accurate and complex.   That's why the next time they remake Roots I hope Kunta Kinte is a slave owner himself.

Storytellers get to tell the story they want to tell.  If Alex Haley set out to write the story of Kunta Kinte as an African warrior, perhaps accuracy with regard to his life prior to slavery would matter more.  Haley chose to tell the story of the inhumanity of capture and slavery without too much detail of life prior to capture.  Not sure why you are certain that Kunta Kinte (some say a fictionalized composite character; some say a real Haley ancestor) owned slaves; but if he did, I still think the storyteller gets to make the point he/she wants to make.   The movies are fantasy.  History in the movies always portrays life over time and magically condenses it into 120 minutes.  The storyteller owns how he/she writes the history and the viewer should be an aware participant in the snapshot fantasies and liberties that the storyteller provides.  Accuracy or entertainment -- hopefully you get some of both, but given the choice of one or the other I think I'd usually opt for entertainment (that is, if I am paying for a seat).
Some people say story teller. Some say lie teller.

Hollywood doesn't get to have it both ways. They don't get to tell us that they're responsible and respectful and then when they get called out suddenly say "But I'm a story teller!"  Pick one.

Well, I pick story-teller with the understanding that stories are just that.  I tend not to get my "news" from the movies. 

But those that give me what I think of as "news" may be telling stories too.  But that's for another thread.

Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2018, 08:49:14 PM »

Offline nickagneta

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Just want to say that Black Panther pretty much proved you can have an almost completely black cast, telling a story about empowerment of black people around the world and how they can lead this world into a better place and have it be wildly successful both at the box office and from critics worldwide.

I hope the Academy recognizes the greatness of this film next year.

Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2018, 10:15:33 PM »

Offline Kuberski33

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Is it the studios' thoughtful calculation that "White movies" stand a better chance at the box office than "African-American movies"? 
Up until recently I would say the answer to this question is Yes. Is it accurate thinking?  I don't think so.

As in politics, the majority of power brokers have been white and middle aged or older.  I think that they have been out of touch with the movie going audience (younger demo for the most part) in that they are far less jaded in their views on race than middle aged or older (talking in generalities of course).

I recall an interview hearing Michael B Jordan talking about how there just weren't that many roles available for black actors and it was really interesting to hear him talk on the subject.  And I think that is starting to change which is a good thing. 

Whether that trend continues or not, it will be interesting to see.  It can be as PC as it wants but the entertainment ultimately is a bottom line business so if that begins to suffer then hollywood will go right back to the formula it thinks will work and diversity will take a back seat to generating profits.

Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2018, 11:24:02 PM »

Offline Chief

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If it's a good movie and the story interests me, I'll watch it.

The Big Sick and Get Out interested me and I watched them.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. isn't something I care about and I like Denzel.. .so I will skip it.
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Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2018, 03:46:28 AM »

Offline JSD

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Op raises a good point about Hollywood being largely market driven in it's decisions, and that’s why many movies feature white actors. But that’s just one of many variables to consider. AnOther variable could be, population size - African Americans make up only 13% of the US population. Much smaller pool to draw talent from, so good old fashion competition comes into play. Should actors who read lines better be passed over because they are not a POC? Seems to be where we are headed.


Inequality of outcome does not always mean inequality of opportunity.

Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2018, 04:00:49 AM »

Offline JSD

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IQ/intelligence is a factor too. Jewish people, specifically Ashkenazi Jews, dominate Hollywood and media outlets. There’s good reason for this, their verbal acuity is through the roof.

Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2018, 04:54:09 AM »

Offline Neurotic Guy

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Op raises a good point about Hollywood being largely market driven in it's decisions, and that’s why many movies feature white actors. But that’s just one of many variables to consider. AnOther variable could be, population size - African Americans make up only 13% of the US population. Much smaller pool to draw talent from, so good old fashion competition comes into play. Should actors who read lines better be passed over because they are not a POC? Seems to be where we are headed.


Inequality of outcome does not always mean inequality of opportunity.

Fair point, but since African Americans make up 13% of the population and about 65% whites it may be anticipated that the roles/nominees would be generally in that ballpark.  See nominees from the 2016 awards (couldn't link pic, but I'll try later).

Yes, much to my chagrin I have to counter your statement a bit.  If one of the variables is actually discrimination and resulting lack of access,  even if driven by profit rather than racism, there should be a conscious correction. Meaning that films and roles featuring POC should be thoughtfully increased.  A society that values diversity and values fair access does at times have to face down the "market".  If it is true that the market always tells the story, this story is telling something about society's lingering bias toward white actors and white films which has self-perpetuated and will continue without conscious change.

Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2018, 05:11:54 AM »

Offline Neurotic Guy

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IQ/intelligence is a factor too. Jewish people, specifically Ashkenazi Jews, dominate Hollywood and media outlets. There’s good reason for this, their verbal acuity is through the roof.

You can explain disproportionality in a number of ways.
Cultural focus on football, along with genetic propensity to size and strength have afforded a disproportionate number of American Samoans the opportunity to play in the NFL.  However, not all disproportionality is explained by talent or a particular cultural or genetic emphasis.  Sometimes, it's about discrimination and racial bias.   When bias, or nepotism, cronyism,... become the most likely explanation for disproportionaliy, something  needs to be done that the market will not take care of on its own.

Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2018, 06:18:46 AM »

Online Erik

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  When bias, or nepotism, cronyism,... become the most likely explanation for disproportionaliy, something  needs to be done that the market will not take care of on its own.

Sure, if you’re a leftist that relies solely on the government to fix all of your problems. Instead of running to the government, run to fair markets. In a fair market, if there is discrimination, that entity will not survive in the long run because a competitor will snatch up the disenfranchised individuals.

As far as society’s bias towards white actors, if it’s true, it means that black actors have to work harder or make movies that aren’t just about “black life” (any Tyler perry movie). I like Denzel and DiCaprio fairly equally (a lot). But there are far fewer Denzel’s in Hollywood and far more Anthony Anderson’s. Also subject matter for the targeted audience matters. If you’re making a movie where blacks make jokes about “white boys”, you’re expected to put off a fairly large segment of American population (your audience). Instead of focusing on changing why whites (or any customers) aren’t watching the movies, focus on making racially neutral movies targeting as many people as possible. I mean this isn’t rocket science. A movie is a product, and you have to position your product to attract as many customers as you can. Movies like inception, Shawshank redemption are racially neutral so they will target 100% of the market. Movies like Tyler perry will target 13% of the market, because they’re solely about black culture which seems to be very uninteresting to someone who has little experience with it (a white person). An all black cast means nothing to me because I’m not a racist. If they’re good and the story is good I’ll watch it. If the dialogue is 80% Ebonics that I’ll barely understand, I’ll pass. You don’t change customers you change the product.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2018, 06:29:52 AM by Erik »

Re: Oscars -- Thoughts About Racial Inequality
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2018, 06:25:31 AM »

Online Roy H.

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End the “Jews in Hollywood” conversation now, please.


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