So by now everyone's heard about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy & Jada Pinkett Smith's involvement there. I'm not going to post links to the story because there would be way too many and you'd entirely miss my point. For those living under a rock, the basic "controversy" is that there are no black actor or actress nominees for Oscars this year nor were there any last year. Apparently, Will Smith was in a movie this year & didn't get a nomination so Jada Pinkett Smith (his wife) decides to throw a hissy fit to the media and call for a boycott b/c of it, claiming that there's no "diversity" in Hollywood.
Here are my thoughts:
1. Yes, there's a big, massive problem with diversity in mainstream Hollywood that is ridiculous in 2016. However, that's not just a black problem. That's a woman problem, a gay problem, a natural redhead problem, an Asian problem, a Latino problem, a Native American problem & just about any other minority group you can name.
Yet I don't hear Ms. Pinkett Smith saying a word about them, not even women & the sexism they have to endure (which is still true today as verified by someone I met recently who works in that side of the industry & has for a long time). Surely she's lived sexism alongside racism.
I sort of live for discussion on racism since I grew up in NC, am more minority than almost everyone else (unless they also have naturally red hair & don't have pale skin; they should get more latitude than nearly all of us since they've surely dealt with far more harassment and conflict than anyone else) & have directly cited things going on today that black people aren't dealing with and that haven't gotten the massive outcry that would have resulted if directed toward black people.
For instance, natural redheads get branded as "ugly." One actress told me that years back The Millionaire Matchmaker said this of natural redheads & how we should be lucky to get any guy to go out with us. I also heard something recently about some media story calling us "ugly." There was also "Kick a Ginger Day" in this century. Nary a peep of outrage on either issue. If that happened to black people today, how loud do you think the backlash would be? I made these points to some more "we're being oppressed" types in general comment boards on various topics.
Most of my friends growing up were black or part of some other minority group since they were the people who were nice to me & made me feel welcome as a quiet, shy kid while many of the white kids bullied me & sure didn't view me as one of them. I think it's an understanding of knowing what it's like to be different & getting commentary of some sort about it. I had some great debates with people in college on the subject, which became a huge issue since my school had far more racism than I expected when I accepted admission there. I'm most certainly not a "there's no racism anymore" type but I also know a thing or two about demanding equality vs. demanding special privileges.
Why is there no word about all these other groups? Is it just black people who deserve special treatment? I think millions would disagree & be appalled at that notion. Nobody likes to get stepped on for someone else to get special treatment but any decent person thinks everyone deserves a fair, equal chance at opportunity. I think equality can be achieved without stomping on people to get there just like you can be gorgeous & get a hot guy without murdering all the hot girls in your city or messing with their lives.
2. Independent film has had "diversity" since its existence. In fact, the reason independent film exists in the first place is because talented filmmakers, actors, and so forth felt they didn't have a voice or a place and said "Fuck you, Hollywood & your studio system! We'll do our own projects." If you bother to see independent films, you will find lots of stories presenting new ideas, environments, relationship structures, even (gasp!) diverse casting.
Furthermore, you'll find projects where race isn't an issue at all. It's never discussed. I can cite one of my own company's films as an example: Cookies & Cream. Go check out the website. Go see the movie. I have. You'll notice this movie does not talk about people's racial backgrounds or make that the focal point of the film. In that world, people simply exist. The main character's parents are a mixed race couple; all you see in those interactions are two people who are married & love their daughter as well as one another. No one is making a thing of "I'm this race."
THAT is diversity, darlings. That is an example of the diversity Hollywood and mainstream society should be striving for. Where a minority of any type is present and not being a stereotype or a militant. They are just present; no big deal. NYC is like this in many corners in real life. Why aren't we seeing that in film?
You'll see that in indie film. They aren't even the only example of this "diversity" but you'll have to see the movie yourself.
It seems Spike Lee is also boycotting. The difference b/t Spike Lee & Jada Pinkett Smith is Spike Lee has been discussing race and racism for decades. He's been doing diverse projects of his own for a long time. Our company likes him; he even gave us a Twitter shoutout once. Spike Lee also strikes me a man with principles who'd not just throw a hissy fit b/c his significant other didn't get nominated for an award. He's been looking at indie film & putting his money where his mouth is. He's tried being the change he'd like to see.
Where's Jada Pinkett Smith's contribution? Whose films has she funded? Why they hell isn't she investing in MY company's projects or in some other filmmaker or indie film company that's not nationally known in order to get the projects she'd like to see? Maybe if she'd open her pocketbook instead of pitching little hissy fits, the film she financed might end up being eligible for Oscar nominations. Perhaps she could even star in some indie film project & ensure that it gets eligible for consideration for the Oscars so she could herself get nominated.
Halle Berry personally financed Introducing Dorothy Dandridge b/c she said she felt that story should be told & believed in it that much. Jada Pinkett Smith is not in the poor house from what I know. She's not living with parents or roommates in a small apartment or dealing with roaches or menial jobs like a lot of unknowns do & still manage to create despite those struggles.
Sorry, but you don't get to bitch about lack of diversity when you aren't doing anything yourself to change or solve that problem when you damn well could. If she were doing what Spike Lee has been doing over decades, I could give her credit. If she were out scouting for unknown black filmmakers or producers or companies with a major black ownership/voice, that would be different. People would take her far more seriously. I think sane people do take Spike Lee seriously on this subject since as I said, he strikes me as a man of principle.
All these other people wanting to join this boycott who aren't putting their millions into indie film projects or creating the works they want to see, same goes for you. Where's YOUR contribution to increasing diversity for anyone? Until you've made one (and not giving money to someone like Tyler Perry but an unknown who creates truly diverse material, not necessarily my company), you need to keep your mouth shut.
It's the same thing as complaining about where you are in life while doing zero to improve yourself. Not getting an education, not making friends, not networking with people who have been down the path you're trying to go, not researching where you want to live, etc. My ex-husband was just like that in complaining about his job; he never appreciated the fact that he was pretty much layoff proof & most people didn't have that job security. Nor did he bother to network with people doing the job he wanted to do or even have a clue what it was that he wanted to do (except maybe leech off me).
Plus with me, talk is cheap. Action counts with me. In fact, action counts a lot for me.
I actually thought of an episode of A Different World & a scene with Jada Pinkett Smith's character, Lena James. For those of you who never saw A Different World, it was genius at times. Their episode on a confrontation with white students from a rival sports team was brilliant & it didn't end with the black characters being 100% right. Lena was a very pro-black, somewhat militant character who was very much a "damn the man" type.
In the episode I thought of, all the students are coming back and Freddie now looks more professional vs. her hippy child look that she'd had for the bulk of the show. Lena calls her a sellout. Freddie tells her that she's adopting a professional look b/c she's in law school & trying to infiltrate the system so it can be fixed from within. That way, when Lena "finally decides to start walking some of this talk" it will be Freddie keeping Lena out of jail. Basically, Freddie called Lena out on her comment.
It felt like art was imitating real life with this whole controversy.
3. Please refrain from using slavery as a justification for reform. Use police brutality, the neglect causing the lead water in Flint, voting laws, segregation if you're old enough to have lived it, redlining, things you personally have lived and suffered discrimination from.
Address your gripe at the 1% if you want to complain about slavery since those people's ancestors were most likely slaveowners. I can assure you my family didn't since they've been poor forever. My mom said our ancestors were probably working those same fields alongside the slaves. I do know we had ancestors who dodged the draft for the Civil War so I don't think they were exactly pro-slavery or states rights or holding up the Confederacy. If there were any KKK members in my family, we never talked to them or associated with them. Plenty of people will join you if you want to stick it to the 1%; if you want to stick it to abusive cops and law enforcement & address police brutality as an issue for all poor people (my own father was falsely arrested & went though a nasty ordeal with the police shortly after my sister's first husband died that I felt was exploitation of a grieving family), you will get allies there as well. If you want to address poverty & class issues as a global issue (as in all races, not just one), again you'll get a lot of allies.
I know I don't listen to people who whine about things they never lived & find it disrespectful to do that. Slavery has also been illegal for quite sometime. You're not finding opportunity; hey, other poor people in general have the same problems. I know black people who are professionals in their fields so very much possible to advance in life if you really have motivation to do it. That's something you have to have for yourself, not expect others to give you.
So in the midst of all this, I think about the dating world. Most people don't give you attitude or call you a racist, fat shamer, xenophobe, etc. if you say "I don't date XYZ group." At least I've found this true in conversations with people individually. You're not expected to manufacture attraction for a group you're not interested in.
But in this PC obsessed world, I wonder how far we are from people saying "I don't want to date fat people" and getting crucified as fat shamers or women saying "I don't want to date a Muslim" and getting branded as bigoted or saying "I don't want to date black people" and getting called a racist.
Though I'd think some people who want to date their own race or religion would thank you for not trying to go after their dating pool. I saw Waiting to Exhale (a great film that I think all women can relate to, not just black women) & one character who is going through a divorce finds her husband is cheating and is more indignant that it's with his white secretary. She's extremely focused on his leaving her for this white woman & views his cheating with a white woman as even worse. Personally, I will never be that white woman since I like + respect my black female friends & my romantic interests lie elsewhere. While most of the white boys were calling me "ugly" and being mean to me, some of the black boys (along with black girls) in my classes showed me friendship and basic human respect.
If you're a guy, you're better off being my friend if you want to be in my life for an appreciable period of time. My relationships usually end with "you are dead to me" (though I've never actually said that to an ex; it's more figurative).
If you're not a redhead, you can date all the redhaired guys you want & will never upset me. I'm not attracted to them either since I don't want to date someone everybody thinks is my brother. Plus, I know I'd have to check and make sure that guy wasn't related to me since my family isn't all that close & we have relatives all over the place we don't talk to and have never met.
I feel like if you're a woman and you say stuff like "I won't date a XYZ guy," you'll get some guy who brands you a racist or a xenophobe despite realities about the person's cultural background or your own personal preferences. I, like hopefully the rest of the civilized world, think there's a difference between who you do business with or who you'll be friends with or who you'll be polite to on the subway vs. who you'll commingle sex organs with. One must wonder if the PC police is trying to dictate who people commingle their sex organs with (or kiss/have foreplay/coitus with, if you prefer). When you think about it that way, they're just as bad as the God botherers don't you think? They also want to control your bedroom. Don't ever allow that if you're an adult & there's consent among the participants.
And now it's time for some (hopefully) yummy leftovers.