Underrepresentation of POC in the media
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Screening Difference: How Hollywood's Blockbuster Films Imagine Race, Ethnicity, and Culture

 

 

Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

Film Roots in Eurocentrism

Many story lines behind the big name blockbusters can be traced to ethnocentric themes that "can often be traced back to colonial or segregationist days." Film is yet another medium in which we can see our deeply ingrained historical ethnocentricity. Even some directional choices such as lighting, costumes, or the casting of voice actors reveals our internal (and internalized) prejudice. 

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Watch now: Pioneers of Television | Breaking Barriers | PBS Video

Trace the story of people of color on American television.
Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

The History of People of Color on TV

 

This PBS video traced some of the pioneering people of color on TV programs, namely Margaret Cho, Bill Cosby, George Takei, and a few others. From the 70s to the early 90s, there were a lot of TV shows that featured Asian families, black families, or a Latino lead. Oddly, there are fewer shows like that today. I'd like to find some statistics on this to confirm the accuracy of the statement. It's also interesting how the shows that did not focus on race, or the shows that had the most racial diversity were set in the future.

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Blindsided by the Avatar: White Saviors and Allies Out of Hollywood and in Education

Blindsided by the Avatar: White Saviors and Allies Out of Hollywood and in Education | Underrepresentation of POC in the media | Scoop.it
(2011). Blindsided by the Avatar: White Saviors and Allies Out of Hollywood and in Education. Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies: Vol. 33, No. 3, pp. 242-259. doi: 10.1080/10714413.2011.585287
Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

White Saviors Undermine Potential for Change

 

White Saviors depicted in movies like "The Blind Side" and "Avatar" give credit to the white leader. The movies solidify the saviors as people who make history, while regarding POC or natives as natural. Historic, not making history. When portrayed in a positive light, aka when the audience roots for the POC, the people of color are victimized. Films show that they are incapable of creating change for themselves, and thus suggest that change is only possible through white leadership. This can create a sense of apathy among communities of color because they are "constantly bombarded with images of inferiority..." This article suggests that addressing systematic inequalities requires the media to give some agency to POC. Otherwise, all people–white and non-white–will believe the idea that white leadership is the only path to change.

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Darren Aronofsky: We nearly abandoned "Noah" because of concerns about diversity

Darren Aronofsky: We nearly abandoned "Noah" because of concerns about diversity | Underrepresentation of POC in the media | Scoop.it

"We could not, no matter what, show racial differences between who lived and who died, or we'd be making a terrible, terrible statement," says cowriter Ari Handel.

Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

Race in Casting is Tricky

 

Darren Aronofsky, creator of "Noah," clarified his previous statements about his all-white cast. He did not mean that white people were representative of "the everyman". Rather, he cast an all-white cast to try to avoid making an unintentional statement by killing off POC stand-ins. He did take race into consideration, and nearly had to abandon his film because of controversy in race issues, but ultimately decided to keep an all-white cast due to the high moral stakes presented. Part of me wonders why Aronofsky didn't cast Noah as a person of color. Another part knows that Russell Crowe is an undeniably good fit for playing Noah. This dilemma shows me that straying from the status quo of white lead actors comes with huge sacrifices.

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Guess Who's Back | Columbia Daily Spectator

Guess Who's Back | Columbia Daily Spectator | Underrepresentation of POC in the media | Scoop.it
Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

When Race Comedy is Necessary

 

Dave Chapelle's hilarious, un-PC works are very rooted in race issues. He brings to light taboo subjects or race-related phenomena that are often "unsaid, though never unfelt." From this article I gather that comedy is a digestible way to address race-related issues; it just isn't always comfortable. People will be offended. Race-themed comedy can spark controversy. But it is necessary sometimes to have People of Color stand for POC issues while making any audience uncomfortable.

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Typecast (Lorde "Royals" Parody) - YouTube

Typecast (Lorde "Royals" Parody) Written and performed by Tess Paras (feat. Haneefah Wood and Ayana Hampton) Directed by Rebekka Johnson Music produced by Ja...
Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

POC Playing POC

 

White actors have most of the lead roles in movies and TV shows while people of color play the same kind of character–often a stereotype of their race. That is, if they get a role at all (as seen in the end when the white girl gets all the parts). There are some TV shows that do a great job of being race-neutral, like Community, but so many other movies with a large non-white cast tends to either be about race, or it doesn't get may views. 

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Does it matter that the Oscars are overwhelmingly white? - Chicago Sun-Times

Does it matter that the Oscars are overwhelmingly white? - Chicago Sun-Times | Underrepresentation of POC in the media | Scoop.it
BY SONALI KOLHATKAR: Does it matter that the Oscars are overwhelmingly white? Yes and no. It matters because the prestige that Academy Award nominations lend to filmmakers and actors can pressure major studios to insist on greater diversity in films. But it doesn’t matter as much because, well, the Oscars themselves matter less and less.
Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

Thanks, But No Thanks to the Academy:

While many of the Oscar winners of 2014 were people of color, they still may not adequately pave the way for POC to gain status in Hollywood. None of the winners or nominees were American; furthermore, none of them represented the current affairs of racial minorities in the US. "12 Years a Slave" won Best Picture as opposed to "Fruitvale Station", a film about the modern day. I wonder if 12 Years a Slave was actually a better movie.

It was uncomfortable to read that people of color have to "make their own institutions" to be heard, and it was uncomfortable to learn that the Oscars may not matter much in the future. I'm skeptical as to whether that is true. 

I want to continue to research the kind of separate institutions people of color create, and I want to learn more about the currency of most Oscar-winning films. Are they all easier to digest because they're about the past?

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Parents or pop culture?: Children's heroes and role models

Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

Role Models and Race

We've heard some of these statistics before, the ones about the ethnic characters in movies and TV being portrayed stereotypically, or appearing very white. Anderson and Cavallaro surveyed a racially diverse group of kids, asking about who their role models were. The results were surprising. 70% of black kids and 64% of white kids chose people they knew as role models, whereas 35% of Asian kids and 49% of Latino kids chose people they knew personally. Anderson and Cavallaro suspect that this is because Asian Americans and Latinos are more underrepresented than people of other minority races, so it is possible they feel like they cannot look up to fictional characters in movies. While black people remain underrepresented, there is still a higher black population in the media than that of other races.

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Casting Call for Minorities Long denied traditional roles, people of color want access to mainstream stages. THEATER: [All Edition]

Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

Non-Traditional Casting is SO not Mainstream

 

An Asian actress who fought for so long to earn a role in a mainstream theater company finally is cast in "Miss Saigon", where she plays an exotic prostitute with an interesting ethnic background. Her role is "one-dimensional" and has been played many times. It is so difficult for people of color to land leading roles in productions, and when they are, it is often in separate, ethnic theaters. Why is it that consciously multicultural theaters will cast people of color in fleshed out roles? And why is it that those theaters are not mainstream?

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Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

Race and Gender in the Media: 2007-2012

 

The Women's Media Center collected data of the demographics of people in the media. Their sources range from TV shows, news, sports broadcasting programs, and films. They take data of the race and gender of the represented, and then take their data a step further. There is a section where the study looks into not only the percentage of women in top-grossing films, but how many of those women were scantily clad (and then HOW scantily clad they were!) I noticed that as of 2012, 76.3% of characters in top-grossing films were white. 71.2% were white men, and only 28.8% were white women. The most roles for women actually belong to Asian women, at 34.8%. Given the hyper-sexualization of women in the media, this study confirms that Asian women are also fetishized and sexualized, and further reveals the prevalence of typecasting.

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‘Noah’ screenwriter defends white casting, says race doesn’t matter in a ‘mythical story’

‘Noah’ screenwriter defends white casting, says race doesn’t matter in a ‘mythical story’ | Underrepresentation of POC in the media | Scoop.it
Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” has received a wave of backlash over its lack of diversity, and now the film’s screenwriter says it’s because the all-white cast serves as “stand-ins for all people.”
Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

"Noah": Race is "Not a Factor"

 

Darren Aronofsky defended Noah's all-white cast, claiming that diversifying the stand-ins would only "call attention" to an issue that is "not a factor" in a mythical story. While I agree that Aronofsky's excuse for his casting choice is poor, this article contains only this point of view. I don't know what other reactions there were to his comments, but the lack of the opposing viewpoint leaves me with less information than I need. 

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Why The Best Man Holiday Isn't 'Race-Themed'

Why The Best Man Holiday Isn't 'Race-Themed' | Underrepresentation of POC in the media | Scoop.it
Every day we are bombarded with movies and television shows in which white families are plugged as the "default" experience... and no one would say that these films are about race. What USAToday's tweet reveals is that white audiences are unable to see black people as beings separate from their blackness.
Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

It's Not About Race! If You "Don't See Color," Don't See Color!

The 2013 Holiday movie, "The Best Man Holiday" may feature an all black cast, but is not about being black. Many non-black audience members feel uncomfortable with the entirely black cast, further perpetuating the idea that movies with black people are only for black people. The majority of the comments of the article seem to agree with the author; people don't (usually) wake up every day thinking about how black they are, or how blackly they eat breakfast, etc. Just because a person is of a certain race, that doesn't mean his or her race comes first in everything that happens in life. A few other commenters say that it is a black movie; it targets a black audience and has a black cast. I don't know about the specific motives of the filmmaker. Perhaps it was to target a black audience, or at least represent black people in a movie that doesn't have to do with "intense blackness" like slavery or segregation (where the movie IS about race), but I don't think that it's to exclude non-black people. The fact that people believe the cast reflects the audience shows me that simply casting more people of color in non race-themed movies is not enough to make people more open-minded. Instead, fewer people will watch those movies.

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Oprah developing race riot miniseries starring Octavia Spencer - Entertainment Weekly

Oprah developing race riot miniseries starring Octavia Spencer - Entertainment Weekly | Underrepresentation of POC in the media | Scoop.it
Big Hollywood Oprah developing race riot miniseries starring Octavia Spencer Entertainment Weekly In Tulsa, Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer (The Help) plays a journalist who investigates the 1921 Oklahoma race riots, where an...
Mackenzie Kwok's insight:

Race Riots Revealed on Oprah's OWN Network

 

Here is an example of a person of color creating her own institution to give POC actors meaningful screen time. Oprah's own network (called OWN - the Oprah Winfrey Network) is airing a miniseries about 1920s race riots that have been forgotten today. I find it interesting how OWN is not an exclusively black network, so perhaps this show will get a diverse audience to attract appropriate attention. I want to know the viewer statistics of OWN's viewers - who watches it? What are the demographics of the audience?

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