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John Byrne
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 1:52pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Okay, I'm an old White guy from Connecticut, and in the wake of the growing success of THE BLACK PANTHER I am confused by repeated articles about how Hollywood keeps failing to grasp that movies starring and helmed by Black people can be big hits.

My confusion rises from any evening of channel surfing, where I see literally dozens upon dozens of Black actors, many in roles originally created as White.

Am I really missing something? If I am, I really want to be enlightened!

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Petter Myhr Ness
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 3:32pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

It's something that MAY have been true one time, but if so it has to be before my time. I'm a middle-aged white guy, and I grew up watching Bill Cosby (before he got creepy), Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, among others. They were as huge as you could get over here. 





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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 3:34pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I have seen a better balance of actors recently... males and females, white and black (et. al.), and I think that what you're seeing is an unreasonable request by some to "make up" for past eras when some races and genders were under-represented.

The issue is that, if every TV show and movie for the next year were, for example, all Indian women, it wouldn't change one second of what has already been shown and broadcast.

What I would prefer to see is the best actor in the best role, regardless of race or gender (save as is necessary to the part and the story, of course.) There have been legitimate grievances in the past... but I think the way to get past them is to stop mentioning them and do better in the future. Not to rehash old inequities.
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Jabari Lamar
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 3:36pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Not touchin' this one. I know how it ends.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 3:54pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

There have been legitimate grievances in the past... but I think the way to get past them is to stop mentioning them and do better in the future. Not to rehash old inequities.

——

There are legitimate grievances in the present, and the way to get past them is to stop pretending they exist in the past and do better in the now. Not ignore current inequities. 
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John Byrne
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 4:32pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Which means?
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David Miller
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 4:34pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

A study was released two years ago, and I suspect the production of BLACK PANTHER wasn't enough to transform the overall numbers.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/02/22/467665890 /hollywood-has-a-major-diversity-problem-usc-study-finds

 QUOTE:
That's because of an "epidemic of invisibility" cited by researchers at the University of Southern California, who analyzed more than 21,000 characters and behind-the-scenes workers on more than 400 films and TV shows released from September 2014 through August 2015. They tabulated representations of gender, race, ethnicity and sexual status.

 QUOTE:
Of those speaking or named characters with enough cues to ascertain race/ethnicity (n=10,444), 71.7% were White, 12.2% Black, 5.8% Hispanic/Latino, 5.1% Asian, 2.3% Middle Eastern and 3.1% Other.  Thus, 28.3% of all speaking characters were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, which is below (-9.6%) the proportion in the U.S. population (37.9%).

 QUOTE:
Just 3.4 percent of film directors were female, and only 7 percent of films had a cast whose balance of race and ethnicity reflected the country's diversity. In broadcast TV, 17 percent of directors were female and 19 percent of programs were ethnically balanced.

 QUOTE:
Across TV and film, the underrepresentation of non-white characters falls mostly on Hispanics. Among more than 10,000 characters whose race could be identified, proportions of white, black and Asian characters came close to U.S. population figures. But Hispanics were just 5.8 percent of characters, despite being about 17 percent of the U.S. population, according to Census Bureau data.

 QUOTE:
The level of invisibility in storytelling was assessed via the number of shows and films that did not depict any speaking characters from two specific racial groups: Black/African American and Asian.

(18% of reviewed media featured no Black characters, and half featured no Asian characters.)

 QUOTE:
Out of the 407 directors evaluated (see Table 14), 87% were White and13% were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. Only two of the 53 underrepresented directors in film and television/digital series were Black women: Amma Asante (Belle) and Ava DuVernay (Selma).

Further details get a little math heavy, but there are charts in the report:


 QUOTE:
For film, six companies were evaluated across all five indicators. CBS was not included because it released only two movies in 2014 that met the sampling criteria (Pride,What If). Every film company earned a Failing score on inclusivity. No film distributor earned a final inclusion score above 25% across all tests. Of the 30 tests conduct-ed, 24 or 80% yielded a Not Inclusive ranking. Across all 30 tests, only two merited a Fully Inclusive designation.Sony and Viacom both achieved a Fully Inclusive score when it comes to underrepresented characters and leads.These companies took steps to match audience demographics for their movies.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 4:48pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Of those speaking or named characters with enough cues to ascertain race/ethnicity (n=10,444), 71.7% were White, 12.2% Black, 5.8% Hispanic/Latino, 5.1% Asian, 2.3% Middle Eastern and 3.1% Other. Thus, 28.3% of all speaking characters were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, which is below (-9.6%) the proportion in the U.S. population (37.9%).

•••

Now, I most certainly agree races other than Black and White are underrepresented. There it seems as if Hollywood is casting Black actors (good) and saying "job done!" (Not good)

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 5:25pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Would BLACK PANTHER even have been MADE in any country other than America? That in itself is a statement.

Personally, I find myself baffled by the response. Can't it just be viewed and judged as a film[/I[], rather than some kind of long-awaited example of Black Excellence in Cinema? All of the reviews making the movie some kind of rallying point about race seem to be missing the point that race shouldn't matter.

Black-led superhero films are nothing new, either. BLADE was very successful, spawned two sequels, and took a C-list character and made him famous. To say nothing (please!) of STEEL, THE METEOR MAN, BLANKMAN, SPAWN, etc. Unfortunately, the narrative being pushed now is that BLACK PANTHER is breaking all sorts of barriers which were already broken--with less fanfare--literally decades ago. I don't remember anyone batting an eye over Blade's race. He was just a cool character in a cool movie.

Look at how far things have come...?
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 6:32pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply


"Can't it just be viewed and judged as a film, rather than some kind of long-awaited example of Black Excellence in Cinema? All of the reviews making the movie some kind of rallying point about race seem to be missing the point that race shouldn't matter."

Good grief, why can't it be both??  And why can't it have a message about race?

It's a positive, inspirational film that's bringing an immense amount of joy to the world, not just the black community.  But a hugely popular entertainment by a predominantly black cast, director and writer is, yes, extremely important in this day & age for a lot of people.  Surely you can see why it's being embraced on a number of different levels?

We need more films like BLACK PANTHER, superhero or otherwise.



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John Byrne
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 6:38pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Let's not turn this into a thread about the Panther.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 7:38pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

It's a positive, inspirational film that's bringing an immense amount of joy to the world, not just the black community. But a hugely popular entertainment by a predominantly black cast, director and writer is, yes, extremely important in this day & age for a lot of people. Surely you can see why it's being embraced on a number of different levels?
+++++++++++

Not trying to downplay the positive aspects, mind you. I'm just saying that proclaiming it as "the greatest movie of all time" (as some have) is a bit much. Movies should still be judged as movies rather than by the color/gender of their cast and crew.

The same thing happened with WONDER WOMAN, last year. An entertaining and well-made film, but one perhaps dripping with far too much hyperbole and extolling of its virtues simply because it was a female-led superhero film made by a female director.

I'm all for positive messages and taking pride in diverse casting, crewing, and filmmaking, but those particular aspects shouldn't necessarily become what a film and its critical response boil down to.

What's more important, the notion that a film like BLACK PANTHER or WONDER WOMAN provides some shining examples of representation onscreen, or simply that they're engaging, well-made films? When should the singers be more important than the song?
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 9:18pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

I think blacks are underrepresented at certain awards shows, like the Oscars.

 


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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 9:36pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply


(This thread is already making my head hurt.  I'll try again tomorrow.)



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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 9:38pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Now, I most certainly agree races other than Black and White are underrepresented. There it seems as if Hollywood is casting Black actors (good) and saying "job done!" (Not good)
+++++++++++++++

Yep. My desire for fidelity to the source material aside, I was annoyed when the Ancient One was race- and gender-swapped for the DR. STRANGE film. Asian men are pretty badly under-represented in mainstream Hollywood. the Ancient One was cast with a Scottish woman so as to avoid "a bad stereotype".

...because NOT having an Asian actor onscreen is somehow better than having one in a prominent and heroic role?

Oh, but, wait, casting the Ancient One with a woman helps with the depiction of "strong women" in mainstream blockbusters.

Seems like all of these agendas may eventually start clashing with each other!

Personally, I just like seeing well-written stories about interesting characters, regardless of race/gender/sexual orientation. When "representation" starts getting in the way of good storytelling, that's when I get irked.

Casting should consider the where and when of the story being told, rather than the tail wagging the dog. It seems like storytelling and balanced film theory/criticism can fly out the window in favor of "righting" grievances and inequality.

In an ideal world, things race and gender shouldn't matter. Movies should be made BY all types of people FOR all types of people. Stuff like the infamous "women's only" WONDER WOMAN screening tends to worry me. Same with (possibly exaggerated) reports of White people being accosted at BLACK PANTHER screenings by people saying the movie "isn't for you".

Movies--and art in general--should be for everyone! For people who want to make it AND view it.
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Paul Greer
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 9:51pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Underrepresented behind the scenes in
Hollywood? Absolutely.

Underrepresented on film? I think the answer
lies in how black folks are still
misrepresented on film.

When you see a film with a predominantly
black cast it is at best a comedy. But it is
mostly a slave movie or something involving a
criminal enterprise. To have a film that is
high profile and with a blockbuster budget
featuring an all black cast and crew is rare.
Making them not slaves or drug dealers and
pimps is even more rare.

I don't think anyone is downplaying that
Blade was a hit (20 years ago) or that
Handcock (10 years ago) was a big blockbuster
that had black folks in the lead roll. But
look at how long ago those movies were made
to the point where Hollywood decided to do
another superhero movie with a black cast.
That is also a big indicator that black
people may not be getting the representation
they deserve on screen.
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 10:05pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

The Ancient One's race was changed for the same reason they changed the enemies in the remake of RED DAWN to North Koreans: Because they didn't want to offend the Chinese and hurt movie sales. I've no clue why they decided to change the character's gender, as well.


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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 10:23pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Just to make it clear -- there are relatively few big-budget films with a predominantly Black cast, and when they are, they're often pigeonholed as films specifically for Black audiences and nobody else. 

Example: Tyler Perry's MEDEA films are "for Black people," while most films with predominantly White casts are "for everybody." 

I'm inclined to see this as a problem.
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 22 February 2018 at 11:52pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

"Same with (possibly exaggerated) reports of White people being accosted at BLACK PANTHER screenings by people saying the movie "isn't for you".

--

So far, those reports appear to be all false - LINK
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Joseph Greathouse
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Posted: 23 February 2018 at 12:47am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

"A study was released two years ago, and I suspect the production of BLACK PANTHER wasn't enough to transform the overall numbers. 

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/02/22/467665890 /hollywood-has-a-major-diversity-problem-usc-study-finds&nbs p;"

Such studies are always of interest to me (job related), though I find it additionally interesting when compared to the moviegoer population.


If we were to tie in wage disparity in Hollywood, I'm honestly surprised we don't see more movies by Latinos staring Latinos aimed at Latinos. 

"My confusion rises from any evening of channel surfing, where I see literally dozens upon dozens of Black actors, many in roles originally created as White."

And this shouldn't be surprising, as there is basically a "Let them eat cake" attitude.  The majority of media are written and directed by white men.  But, because of racial inequity, someone comes back and drives home the need for minority characters. So, someone white is now black and a black actor is hired for a fraction of what it would have cost. If racial fidelity was kept, we would see different results in "Inclusion or Invisibility?"

But, until we see more diversity behind the scenes, I don't expect the trend to change.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 23 February 2018 at 1:02am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

So far, those reports appear to be all false - LINK
++++++++

Good to hear. I hadn’t looked into the reports in detail. Movies should bring people together, y’know? 
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Adam Hutchinson
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Posted: 23 February 2018 at 7:22am | IP Logged | 22 post reply


 QUOTE:
I hadn’t looked into the reports in detail.


Then, perhaps, you shouldn’t have brought them up?
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Doug Jones
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Posted: 23 February 2018 at 8:32am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Or led off with "possibly exaggerated"?
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Joe Zhang
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Posted: 23 February 2018 at 8:41am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I'm Asian, and I'm all for diversity. But even if Hollywood were 100% diverse behind and in front of the camera, things wouldn't be any better. 90% of the stuff they produce will still be crap. They will continue to abuse and exploit each other, if only because there are legions of unemployed wannabees willing to risk abuse and be exploited. 

In other words, journalists and other social crusaders are trying to fix something that is perfectly broken. 


Edited by Joe Zhang on 23 February 2018 at 8:53am
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Joe Zhang
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Posted: 23 February 2018 at 8:48am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Regarding under representation of Hispanics in Hollywood, perhaps that has to do with the competing Mexican entertainment industry, which of course would draw Hispanic attention away from Hollywood. 
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