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Race & Ethnicity on TV

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5 minutes ago, DearEvette said:

In essence she basically acted like a fangirl given the power to put her own persona fanfic on tv.  Ugh.

So, she acted like exactly what she was. This is what happens when Hollywood mines the internet for "talent". They get the talent with absolutely no clue how to actually do the job. 

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3 hours ago, phoenics said:

So the showrunner for Roswell, NM was just fired. 

🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾

3 hours ago, phoenics said:

the awful racist treatment of the Maria character

Welp, not surprised. Racist writer kept being racist. News at 11.

I also love the way she tried to spin it on Twitter as being persecuted for writing a gay couple. She is literally the stereotypical white fan girl that fixates on (always white) m/m slash fic while erasing/demonizing the canonical black female love interest. It’s time to start reading all these racists for filth. Let’s hope the door hits her on the way out. 

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3 hours ago, phoenics said:

Is that tweet fully accurate given the existence of Charmed?  One of the leads is Latinx and the 3 lead characters are Latinx.

 

You may have a point; I'm not really familiar with Charmed.

I think the author's point was that all the leads on BatB - characters and actors - were Latinx, and it centered on a positive portrayal of a (American) Latinx family.

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4 hours ago, phoenics said:

Is that tweet fully accurate given the existence of Charmed?  One of the leads is Latinx and the 3 lead characters are Latinx.

 

In the article they specify that they are talking about shows with an all Latinx cast. 
 

It’s sad to realize just how many shows with BIPOC leads have ended or are about to end on network television.  Just of the top of my head I can think of Fresh of the Boat, Good Place, Jane the Virgin, Agents of Shield, God Friended Me and Almost Family. I’m sure there are others I’m missing. 

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So, she acted like exactly what she was. This is what happens when Hollywood mines the internet for "talent". They get the talent with absolutely no clue how to actually do the job. 

I don't think it's necessarily bad to hire a "fangirl." People have to start somewhere. Especially for these nonsense CW shows that aren't really that high quality, someone who represented teenage fandom would probably speak to the target audience. Also, there are barriers to entry in terms of education and experience that shut out a lot of women and BIPOC. 

I think the problem here is the Vampire Diaries showrunner choosing to elevate someone that (I'm just guessing) reminded her of herself. And then this girl getting quickly promoted regardless of her capabilities. The problem isn't that was an amateur. The problem is that she had biases and prejudices that affected her ability to do her job well and respect the people she worked with. The problem is that there's a system where these always seem to be the kinds of people who get the opportunities and are elevated until they're in a position of power that they always abuse. People in power choose other people that will perpetuate the same biases and systems that keep them in power. 

For example, you want a fresh perspective so you open your search to applicants who didn't complete a fashion degree. You interview three self-taught seamstresses. They all have similar levels of experience sewing. One is an Asian woman who is polite and straightforward. You think she is competent but lacks imagination. The second candidate is a white woman who speaks in a weirdly precise and formal way. She is also self-taught but she loves vintage and historical fashion. You think she seems authoritative and, even though she's just recreating old styles of garments, she registers as brilliant and creative. The third candidate is a black woman who makes practical clothing for herself and her family. She's excited to get this opportunity and presents you with sketches of her ideas. Her work is interesting but it doesn't exactly match the vision you want. You hire candidate #2. In and of itself, this doesn't seem like a big deal. But then you look at the entire production team... and they're all candidate #2. This kind of implicit bias is very insidious. People know when they're hiring someone because of nepotism or because they want to keep the culture of their workplaces the way that it is. But lots of not intentionally awful people do not interrogate why they make the decisions that they do and there's no one else around to ask the questions until much further down the line when there are problems and people look back on those earlier decisions.

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11 minutes ago, aradia22 said:

People in power choose other people that will perpetuate the same biases and systems that keep them in power. 

That is the hardest part of it all. We are, as humans, naturally biased towards people who are like us. Once a certain type have power, it becomes incredibly difficult for anyone different to move up. 

Your example was very interesting because I would have picked candidate #2 because I love vintage but IDK that I'd like her formality. I'd be interested to see if #3 could adapt to my style because I like her enthusiasm and maybe she could bring something new to my designs. No interest in "competent but lacks imagination" if I am looking for a designer. If I am looking for a seamstress though, #1 would be top pick.

Then I thought about it in terms of a television show. If I were a show runner I would want as diverse a writers room as I could get, in race, gender, age, etc. if not for the sake of diversity then for the sake of having a bigger pool of experience to pull from. A 67 year old gay Black man will bring different stories, different ideas than a 23 year old bi Asian woman. I think each of them have stories to tell that my 48 year old straight White woman couldn't come up with. Diversity just makes for better storytelling IMO. 

I know my limitations in life experience and would want to surround myself with people who have had different experiences from me. But I also understand wanting a bunch of people who are going to just agree with you and think you're brilliant because they are all coming from the same place/life/mindset as you. I just get bored easily so having a wide variety of people around me is more interesting. I also watch a very eclectic variety of shows for the same reason. 

 

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Your example was very interesting because I would have picked candidate #2 because I love vintage but IDK that I'd like her formality. I'd be interested to see if #3 could adapt to my style because I like her enthusiasm and maybe she could bring something new to my designs. No interest in "competent but lacks imagination" if I am looking for a designer. If I am looking for a seamstress though, #1 would be top pick.

Note: I'm using "you" but I don't actually mean you. I'm just using second person to refer to whoever is doing the hiring.

I made #1 sound like that to mimic the recent-ish controversy about Asian Harvard applicants. East Asians are often accorded model minority status. They are seen as competent but if they're not performing broadly then it's very easy for implicit bias to assume that when they're being polite and professional that they have no personalities. How do you know candidate #1 isn't imaginative and fun and creative? It is assumed that the Asians will do the work but are not looked for to lead the projects or come up with the big ideas.

I wrote #2 to be steeped in whiteness. Everyone had the same credentials. But the formal language, the big words... that's just one of the ways that white people signal authority and an in-group status to each other. I also love historical fashion but I think there's a bit of fetishization around it that I find suspicious, especially when you are white and you love vintage or you only think white people can speak authoritatively about historical fashion. Of course this is compounded if you love a particularly problematic period of history (like having an obsession with antebellum dresses and plantation-style houses). 

With #3 I wanted to show how easy it is to write off someone and not try any harder. Even though all the candidates are self-taught and hobbyists more than professionals, #3 has less authority because she makes her clothes for practical reasons and isn't fancifully wasting her time like #2. #3 probably has a real job to support her family and doesn't have a family/husband to support her while she makes historical recreation garments that aren't useful for everyday wear. Her ideas didn't match what you wanted, so you rejected her. You didn't ask if she would be willing to compromise or adapt to your suggestions. Maybe there was also some casual racism making you assume that this black woman would be "difficult" to work with and combative/argumentative even though there was no evidence to suggest that. 

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Then I thought about it in terms of a television show. If I were a show runner I would want as diverse a writers room as I could get, in race, gender, age, etc. if not for the sake of diversity then for the sake of having a bigger pool of experience to pull from. A 67 year old gay Black man will bring different stories, different ideas than a 23 year old bi Asian woman. I think each of them have stories to tell that my 48 year old straight White woman couldn't come up with. Diversity just makes for better storytelling IMO. 

I know my limitations in life experience and would want to surround myself with people who have had different experiences from me. But I also understand wanting a bunch of people who are going to just agree with you and think you're brilliant because they are all coming from the same place/life/mindset as you. I just get bored easily so having a wide variety of people around me is more interesting. I also watch a very eclectic variety of shows for the same reason. 

I think this is also a problem with the kinds of stories being told. If I'm a white showrunner and I'm telling a story about whiteness, I might not think that it's important to have a diverse writers room. It's a twist on the idea that BIPOC writers are only hired to tell the stories of those characters. I mean... who knows how accurate google is but my google of "Marvelous Mrs. Maisel writers" turned up a pretty homogenous group. Who knows how much better the representation of the black characters and the gay character might have been if it was a more diverse group (and they listened to those writers and respected their opinions, obvi, because just having bodies in the room doesn't mean anything). 

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6 minutes ago, aradia22 said:

I made #1 sound like that to mimic the recent-ish controversy about Asian Harvard applicants. East Asians are often accorded model minority status. They are seen as competent but if they're not performing broadly then it's very easy for implicit bias to assume that when they're being polite and professional that they have no personalities. How do you know candidate #1 isn't imaginative and fun and creative? It is assumed that the Asians will do the work but are not looked for to lead the projects or come up with the big ideas.

I wrote #2 to be steeped in whiteness. Everyone had the same credentials. But the formal language, the big words... that's just one of the ways that white people signal authority and an in-group status to each other. I also love historical fashion but I think there's a bit of fetishization around it that I find suspicious, especially when you are white and you love vintage or you only think white people can speak authoritatively about historical fashion. Of course this is compounded if you love a particularly problematic period of history (like having an obsession with antebellum dresses and plantation-style houses). 

With #3 I wanted to show how easy it is to write off someone and not try any harder. Even though all the candidates are self-taught and hobbyists more than professionals, #3 has less authority because she makes her clothes for practical reasons and isn't fancifully wasting her time like #2. #3 probably has a real job to support her family and doesn't have a family/husband to support her while she makes historical recreation garments that aren't useful for everyday wear. Her ideas didn't match what you wanted, so you rejected her. You didn't ask if she would be willing to compromise or adapt to your suggestions. Maybe there was also some casual racism making you assume that this black woman would be "difficult" to work with and combative/argumentative even though there was no evidence to suggest that. 

Oh, that makes it even more interesting. I was kind of sad that the Asian woman was the "competent, unimaginative" one because that seemed very stereotypical. I kind of felt sorry for her that she was put in that role. (I'm oddly empathetic to imaginary people). 

5 minutes ago, aradia22 said:

I think this is also a problem with the kinds of stories being told. If I'm a white showrunner and I'm telling a story about whiteness, I might not think that it's important to have a diverse writers room. I

I think that is the bigger problem. Most of the stories being told on TV are still pretty white-centric, sometimes with one or two POC in the mix so they can say they are diverse. 

Cast wise, one of the better shows for diversity was The Good Place because half the main cast were POC and none of them were stereotypes. Sadly, I realize I have no idea what the writing staff for the show was. It is something that, until recently, I admit I never really thought about. 

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Cast wise, one of the better shows for diversity was The Good Place because half the main cast were POC and none of them were stereotypes. Sadly, I realize I have no idea what the writing staff for the show was. It is something that, until recently, I admit I never really thought about. 

I think they did fairly well with Chidi. At the end, I did feel like Jason, and especially Tahani could have been given better storylines. But that show was obsessed with Eleanor. Also, unfortunately Megan Amram (one of the writers/producers) has a YIKES twitter history. I was very disappointed with the finale but I'm even more disinclined to listen to the podcast now. 

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20 minutes ago, Mabinogia said:

Cast wise, one of the better shows for diversity was The Good Place because half the main cast were POC and none of them were stereotypes. Sadly, I realize I have no idea what the writing staff for the show was. It is something that, until recently, I admit I never really thought about. 

The Good Place writers room seemed to be more diverse than most. They had Asian, Black and Latinx writers throughout the show’s run. 

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I think it's also a trap to think that a writer of color can't effectively write a white character's story. Or that all stories are inherently white, even when the character is white. Some are, not all. If it's, for example, a love story, that is something that people from all demos could speak to.

And even if it is a particularly white story in some way, a good writer can write something other than their own experience. No one thinks you have to be a murderer to write about a serial killer.

I suspect that implicit bias is what is causing writers to be considered "not good at their job" if they aren't white, and not any inherent lack of competence at addressing the stories they are supposed to tell.

But beyond that, why are white stories being told so much anyway? I think a lot of people running shows are not interested in anything but their own navels, and if they'd change that, they'd be excited to have both different stories than they're used to, and different takes on the same stories.

If Oprah wants The Baker and the Beauty to continue, she could buy the rights and put it in OWN. Not saying the observation isn't important in a general way, and for sure I think 1 show is not enough representation anyway, and OWN isn't "network" -- but of all the people who could solve a problem, she's one of them. Or she could bankroll some other Latinx show. I know she didn't write the article, but it's her magazine.

I've been thinking about how there are now TWO black lesbian superheroes on the CW. I'm not complaining, but it just struck me as a bit of a surprise.

 

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1 hour ago, possibilities said:

I've been thinking about how there are now TWO black lesbian superheroes on the CW. I'm not complaining, but it just struck me as a bit of a surprise.

On two different shows -- but only one of those shows has a Black showrunner and more than one Black writer....

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16 hours ago, Mabinogia said:

That is the hardest part of it all. We are, as humans, naturally biased towards people who are like us. Once a certain type have power, it becomes incredibly difficult for anyone different to move up. 

True.    But if you want people around you just like you, then just stare at the person in the mirror, or masturbate.  😜

Edited by Neurochick
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I think it's also a trap to think that a writer of color can't effectively write a white character's story. Or that all stories are inherently white, even when the character is white. Some are, not all. If it's, for example, a love story, that is something that people from all demos could speak to.

I mean, yes to your entire comment. But I find this part particularly interesting. I think white people are not used to owning their whiteness (except for certain groups but that gets into politics so I will avoid it... also, they're wrong in how they define Western culture anyway). They think they are doing the watching and don't realize that they're also being observed. Anyone in America is very familiar with whiteness because it is a huge part of the dominant culture. But I would argue that writers who are used to traversing white spaces, who are often the only BIPOC in the room, understand whiteness as well as or even better than their colleagues. Because they see it as whiteness and not just universal experience.

I should really watch Get Out. From what I've heard, it's probably very relevant. But I'm a wuss when it comes to anything like horror. Love the Addams Family and murder mysteries. Hate when there are jump scares or torture porn or someone's face peels off or I have to watch women being terrorized. 

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1 hour ago, andromeda331 said:

Right. They canceled God Friended Me but now totally plan to do this. 

LOL - I was debating about making a comment about God Friended Me. If they hadn't cancelled it, they would have had a headstart already!

 

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2 hours ago, aradia22 said:

I should really watch Get Out. From what I've heard, it's probably very relevant. But I'm a wuss when it comes to anything like horror. Love the Addams Family and murder mysteries. Hate when there are jump scares or torture porn or someone's face peels off or I have to watch women being terrorized. 

I loved Get Out. I don't think it's particularly gorey or torture-porny. It felt more like a psychological horror story to me than a slasher film. More Hitchcock than Friday the 13th. I could be misremembering, it's been a while since I've seen it, but I dispose torture porn, women in peril and realistic violence and I can't really recall anything about it bothering me in that way. 

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10 minutes ago, Mabinogia said:

I loved Get Out. I don't think it's particularly gorey or torture-porny. It felt more like a psychological horror story to me than a slasher film. More Hitchcock than Friday the 13th. I could be misremembering, it's been a while since I've seen it, but I dispose torture porn, women in peril and realistic violence and I can't really recall anything about it bothering me in that way. 

I agree with this description. I'd definitely recommend it-even if one isn't into horror in general, there's a lot of other aspects of the film to appreciate. Plus, the acting is superb. 

 

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2 hours ago, aradia22 said:

I should really watch Get Out. From what I've heard, it's probably very relevant. But I'm a wuss when it comes to anything like horror. Love the Addams Family and murder mysteries. Hate when there are jump scares or torture porn or someone's face peels off or I have to watch women being terrorized. 

Please watch Get Out. Nothing I would consider torture porn. And Jordan Peele continues his master class in the psychological horrors of just existing, especially as a Black American. 

1 minute ago, Annber03 said:

I agree with this description. I'd definitely recommend it-even if one isn't into horror in general, there's a lot of other aspects of the film to appreciate. Plus, the acting is superb. 

 

This. Forget JLo, Lupita Nyong'o is the one who was robbed of acting noms.

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I agree with this description. I'd definitely recommend it-even if one isn't into horror in general, there's a lot of other aspects of the film to appreciate. Plus, the acting is superb. 

It's not genre bias. I genuinely cannot handle real horror movies. The Stepford Wives is an acceptable level of horror to me. Even Rod Sterling Twilight Zone episodes freak me out too much sometimes... I usually skip the intro/credits. I hate people being creepy for the sake of being creepy. Like, yes, I find the gross thing gross. Congrats. 

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1 hour ago, Mabinogia said:

I loved Get Out. I don't think it's particularly gorey or torture-porny. It felt more like a psychological horror story to me than a slasher film. More Hitchcock than Friday the 13th.

This is a great categorization.  Definitely psychological and topical.  Not gory.

43 minutes ago, aradia22 said:

t's not genre bias. I genuinely cannot handle real horror movies. The Stepford Wives is an acceptable level of horror to me. Even Rod Sterling Twilight Zone episodes freak me out too much sometimes... I usually skip the intro/credits. I hate people being creepy for the sake of being creepy. Like, yes, I find the gross thing gross. Congrats. 

I'd put Get Out in the same category as Stepford Wives.  I too hate watching horror.  I legit FF to the end to see how they get out of it.  LOL.  I just can't sit through it.  But Get Out was so conceptually interesting.  The one you really want to stay away from, is Us.  My husband and I started watching that one and I legit had to walk out of the room.  I couldn't take it.

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1 hour ago, talktoomuch said:

And Jordan Peele continues his master class in the psychological horrors of just existing, especially as a Black American. 

Well said! The true horror of the movie comes from the social commentary it makes. 

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On 7/12/2020 at 6:59 PM, aradia22 said:

I don't think it's necessarily bad to hire a "fangirl." People have to start somewhere.

Right. I don't actually hate it either.    The irony is there are probably a lot of fans who are very aware of social justice issues and would work to be diverse and inclusive. 

And yet the person given this opportunity wasn't. 

On 7/12/2020 at 7:45 PM, Mabinogia said:

I know my limitations in life experience and would want to surround myself with people who have had different experiences from me. But I also understand wanting a bunch of people who are going to just agree with you and think you're brilliant because they are all coming from the same place/life/mindset as you. I just get bored easily so having a wide variety of people around me is more interesting. I also watch a very eclectic variety of shows for the same reason.

The thing that is tricky about this is that this is what a lot of people claim to want--in theory.  Not just in Hollywood but everywhere.  When hiring, the main criteria is usually the ability to do the job.  That can quickly turn into a barrier for more diversity because people have a vision about what "ability to do the job" looks like that's shaped by our personal experiences. 

If a head writer is hiring for a comedy show, they'll want to hire people who write the scripts that make them laugh the most.  But the scripts that are more likely to make the HW laugh are probably going to be from people who share the same sense of humor as the HW which may mean a similar cultural frame of reference or background.  And that's the hidden bias people aren't always going to see for themselves and it's tough to shake. 

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11 hours ago, peachmangosteen said:

Man, there are so many layers of messed up in this interview.  This part just kills me:

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The first audition I ever had was for the lead in a major movie, and the casting director said to me, "You’re so great, but I don’t think I can call you back because your last name is Rodriguez. But I can call you back for this four-line role of a gang member,” which I ended up reading for. But they said I wasn’t right for that either because I didn’t look "Latino enough."

I mean.... he is phenotypically white passing and apparently good enough talent wise for the role and yet it his friggin' name is the impediment.  How do you even parse that level of fuckery?

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David Boreanaz comes from Italian descent. His father Dave used a more "American" sounding surname of Thomas and then finally Roberts for his career as a newscaster. And then there's Chloe Bennett who passes as white so she uses Bennett instead of her real last name of Wang. She ran into the exact same problem James did- Wang put people off, because she couldn't go for white roles but also didn't look Asian enough for Asian roles.

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Rodriguez seems to feel really guilty about having gone by Roday for a while, but I regard it like being in the closet-- it's something people do to protect themselves, when circumstances are unfair or dangerous.

My grandfather changed his name to not sound Jewish during the 1940s, as another example.

It's very painful to have to live like that, but just like his dad understood and "forgave" him, I hope James can let go of the guilt aspect of what he's feeling.

 

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And yet nobody seems confused  by Cameron Diaz.

And yeah, I don't blame him for changing his name to make with sound more anglo.  I liked how he explains the catalyst that made him want to use his own name.  We see how the current events with black lives and diversity awareness creating ripple effects.  While some stuff seems performative, it is stories like this that let us know not everything is.

I just feel bad that this is they type of mind-fuck a person is subjected to get a job they are perfectly qualified for.  The way the goalposts keep moving is just wrong.

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And yet nobody seems confused  by Cameron Diaz.

I guess this is what I find confusing. Like, I don't think we're at a place where actors of mixed heritage who can "pass" for white should be taking roles from the BIPOC who those roles were written for. Especially when the story is based on a real person's life or a book with a very clear description and you know that TPTB are trying to get away with casting the person with the lightest complexion or most European features they can find because TPTB are always competing to be the worst. 

BUT, why shouldn't those actors who pass as solely Caucasian play white parts? Are Martin Sheen's movies/TV shows different if his name in the credits is Ramon Estevez? How many people even pay attention to the credits? Did anyone question Emilio's presence in the whitest teen movies of the 80's?

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Cameron came up through modeling which tends to not care about people going by their given names but throughout her career tons of people have expressed surprise that she is half Cuban regardless of her name.

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Yeah, it must've been weighing on him for a while.. Tho he's never hid the fact he's half Mexican as he said he never really led with it either.. And from hia statements and the pictures I've seen it looks like he can pass but his sister can't.. While his pops is definitely lighter he doesn't look Euro... So James being able to and then passing  while the rest of his blood relatives would immediately be regarded as bipoc so it must've been a trip to feel his privilege and not see it extended at times to the rest

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2 hours ago, UNOSEZ said:

Yeah, it must've been weighing on him for a while.. Tho he's never hid the fact he's half Mexican as he said he never really led with it either.. And from hia statements and the pictures I've seen it looks like he can pass but his sister can't.. While his pops is definitely lighter he doesn't look Euro... So James being able to and then passing  while the rest of his blood relatives would immediately be regarded as bipoc so it must've been a trip to feel his privilege and not see it extended at times to the rest

Judy Reyes talks about this very thing in her family.  I know that a lot of families here in the west whose African heritage is the result of the triangular trade have family members whose skin shades vary widely.  My own family is one of them.

She talks about it in a short video of Afro-Latinx actors talking about their unique experience in Hollywood.  They maintain their names, but tend to be funneled more toward black roles.  I think it is Gina Torres who says 'Hollywood wants their Latinas to look Italian." 

 

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I'll put it this way... if white actors (almost always incorrectly) think that they can pass as anything other than white with some fun "race-changing makeup" then it feels odd to tell BIPOC who do happen to pass as white without any makeup that there's a disconnect between their last names and the character that they would be playing. Does anyone question Cameron Diaz as the perfect WASP-y other woman in My Best Friend's Wedding? Did anyone say that Freddie Prinze Jr. wasn't believable as an all-American jock in She's All That?

I think casting directors definitely need to be a part of the conversation on what needs to change in TV/movies. We talk a lot about producers/executives, actors (Scarlett Johanssen), and directors (Ridley Scott). But that's the big leagues. Casting directors are often the ones giving young, unknown actors their first chance to break in. 

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Then we go into the Lou Diamond Phillips question- is it okay for a POC who can't pass for white but can pass as a variety of ethnicities to play POC roles that don't align with their background? He's Filipino with some Scottish and Native American blood and famously played the Latino Ritchie Valens. I have a niece who looks kind of ambiguous and she was told that her look is "hot" because she can pass as different ethnicities. 

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Then we go into the Lou Diamond Phillips question- is it okay for a POC who can't pass for white but can pass as a variety of ethnicities to play POC roles that don't align with their background? He's Filipino with some Scottish and Native American blood and famously played the Latino Ritchie Valens. I have a niece who looks kind of ambiguous and she was told that her look is "hot" because she can pass as different ethnicities. 

I think it's complicated and there aren't easy answers. Different people are going to feel so many different ways on the spectrum from Yes to No.

I'm still more inclined to place the blame on TPTB. But if you are a relatively prominent actor, then yes, don't do a shitty thing. Example: Zoe Saldana, you know you shouldn't be playing Nina Simone. You definitely had the choice of saying no and still having a career. 

Personally, it bothers me that Henry Golding was apparently cast as a Chinese character. But did I think that Zhang Ziyi was so notably un-Japanese that she couldn't star in Memoirs of a Geisha? No. I do think this is something you notice more when you're part of a group. To simplify, to some degree, yes, I think white people think we "all look alike" because they aren't as used to looking at non-white faces.

But personally, I find it difficult to be that mad at actors who choose to take a role as Terrorist #2, Gang Banger #5, Sex Worker #3, etc. when that's one of the few roles that's being written for them that they actually have a shot of landing. I put much more blame on the writers/executives who are not writing more interesting roles and all the people who aren't letting these actors audition fairly for the parts that go to the white actors like Protagonist and Love Interest and Hero.

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40 minutes ago, methodwriter85 said:

Then we go into the Lou Diamond Phillips question- is it okay for a POC who can't pass for white but can pass as a variety of ethnicities to play POC roles that don't align with their background? He's Filipino with some Scottish and Native American blood and famously played the Latino Ritchie Valens. I have a niece who looks kind of ambiguous and she was told that her look is "hot" because she can pass as different ethnicities. 

Personally, I think if you are playing a real live person, it is just not cool. Partially because it plays into another form of erasure.  A sort of 'ethnicity as wall paper'. I always personally dislike the idea of bundling all non-white POC who look ambiguous and allowing them to interchange.  If it is a real person, then there are a bunch of delicate identity politics in play that lead to a lot of hurt feelings.  If it is a fictional person, then change the fictional persons ethnicity to match the actors.  I get as an actor to not want to be pigeon-holed because of ethnicity and some of that is not on the actor (i mean, some of it can be...), but mostly that is on the system that forces these sorts of decisions. 

This reminds me of two things:

1) In the current Netflix movie The Old Guard (fun watch btw, I recommend) it is based on a comic book where one of the characters is Japanese.  But the actress cast is Korean.  She approached the director and asked if they could change the character to Korean.  The director, a black woman, was all for it and conferred with the creators of the comic book to get their buy in. Everyone did and everyone was happy.

2) Leslie Ann-Brandt who plays Maze on Lucifer.  I never really paid much attention to her because I don't watch Lucifer. But recently saw a zoom video of her with a bunch of black actresses in DCTV world (Candace Patton, Anna Diop, Nafessa Williams, Azie Tesfai) etc.  They all talk about a black sisterhood and the racism they face as black women in the fandom.  So I just assumed she was black.  But I recently learned that might not be the case.  She is a bit controversial.  She is South African categorized as 'Cape Coloured'. It is an actual racial category in SA because she is mixed.  According to Wikipedia, though, (and a long rambling post by her on Facebook)  her racial make up is a mix of Indian and european. There is no version of black ethnicity in her make up.  And she has gone on record in the past not claiming blackness.  But physically she can pass as a mixed black person. And she is mistaken as such often. Now here is where the controversy is... apparently, she has made no secret of going out for black roles.  And now this video where she is proclaiming black sisterhood.  I find that so off-putting. So yeah, in her case someone who is not black but looks black but getting black roles is just feels all wrong.  Especially since dark-skinned black women probably have the hardest time getting roles period. So to have to compete with and potentially lose roles to an explicitly non-black woman who can 'pass' is pretty infuriating, imo.

Edited by DearEvette
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Lou Diamond Phillips plays a lot of Native American roles as well. The terrible show Longmire comes to mind. 

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I think a good rule of thumb is, "If you have to use makeup, prosthetics or wigs to alter yourself to fit the proper ethnicity of the character, you shouldn't do it."

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13 hours ago, DearEvette said:

I mean.... he is phenotypically white passing and apparently good enough talent wise for the role and yet it his friggin' name is the impediment.

Yep; seriously srewed up! 'You're great, too bad your face doesn't match the stereotype that goes with your name.' -- yikes

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NAACP, CBS Television Studios Set Multi-Year Content Partnership;

Quote

Under the deal, the two organizations will work together to develop and produce scripted, unscripted, and documentary projects for linear and streaming platforms. The partnership will be aimed toward elevating a diverse range of voices as well as increasing the visibility of Black artists. The deal includes a commitment to develop projects for CBS Television Network but also allows the selling of show to outside entities.

“In this moment of national awakening, the time has never been better to further tell stories of the African American experience,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP. “Programming and content have the power to shape perspectives and drive conversations around critical issues. This partnership with CBS allows us to bring compelling and important content to a broad audience.”

 

I'm still skeptical.

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Many of you have covered a lot of what I think but @aradia22  and @DearEvette reminded me of one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to portrayal of race in TV and film of real black people, especially women. Having biracial women or fair-skinned black women portraying dark-skinned black women (or vice versa--though that never really happens) bugs me. I know that people portraying real people hardly ever look like the person they are portraying, but for dark-skinned women you can safely say that 98% of the time they never do. 

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12 hours ago, aradia22 said:

I don't think we're at a place where actors of mixed heritage who can "pass" for white should be taking roles from the BIPOC who those roles were written for.

No.  But what struck me with the James Roday Rodriguez situation is that was something that occurred to the casting people.  They were afraid that casting a light skinned person with a Mexican last name would be colorism when it came to diversity.

And yet it sounds like it never occurred to them that if they were thinking they were casting a white character, to change the ethnicity of the white character and add diversity in other roles.

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1 hour ago, Enigma X said:

Many of you have covered a lot of what I think but @aradia22  and @DearEvette reminded me of one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to portrayal of race in TV and film of real black people, especially women. Having biracial women or fair-skinned black women portraying dark-skinned black women (or vice versa--though that never really happens) bugs me. I know that people portraying real people hardly ever look like the person they are portraying, but for dark-skinned women you can safely say that 98% of the time they never do. 

I agree with this.  

But you can go down the rabbit hole with it.  I've heard the arguments that biracial women or light skinned black women shouldn't play black characters, which kind of makes sense, except for the fact that the Plessy v. Ferfuson decision has never been overturned, meaning if Jim Crow was the law of the land, biracial black people would be subject to it.

There are also people who feel that black, British actors should not be playing black Americans.  (Get Out/Selma/Queen and Slim/ Harriet).  There are good points on both sides. 

Initially the best person should get the part but do other things have to be taken into consideration.  

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I think @DearEvette's examples are on point. RE: The Old Guard -- just ask! Seriously. It's amazing that asking just never occurs to people. Kudos to the entire team.

RE: Lesley Ann-Brandt -- she should be ashamed. If you are not Black and not claiming Blackness, then you do not have the write to audition and take Black roles. Period, IMO. It's hard enough already out here for Black actors.

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1 minute ago, PepSinger said:

RE: Lesley Ann-Brandt -- she should be ashamed. If you are not Black and not claiming Blackness, then you do not have the write to audition and take Black roles. Period, IMO. It's hard enough already out here for Black actors.

Proof that "race" is something created by man.  Lesley Ann-Brandt looks more black than Jennifer Beals, yet Beals actually IS half black.  

I remember the upset when Lifetime announced that Zendaya was going to play Aaliyah.  People said she wasn't "black enough."  So Alexandra Shipp, another biracial actress played Aaliyah but there wasn't as much upset.   Zendaya is in Euphoria, and Storm Reid, who isn't biracial, plays her sister. 

 

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When it is a fictional person, I have no issue with it. Actually when it is a biracial person with coloring close to the person that is being portrayed, I don't have a problem with it. I have no problem with black people not from the USA playing African Americans. I just think to some degree that by having a person portray a real person shades lighter (or darker) is reinforcing that one is not good enough. 

Most African Americans (and other groups of African descent) have close (siblings/parents) family members who run the gamut of the color scale and even hair texture scale. So seeing that in TV and movies does not cause me to bat an eye.

I also realize that I fall into the "you can't please all of the people any of the time" category.

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3 hours ago, Irlandesa said:

And yet it sounds like it never occurred to them that if they were thinking they were casting a white character, to change the ethnicity of the white character and add diversity in other roles.

Yeah, if the character is not meant to be a real person, say Napoleon, whom we all know was a white French dude, then I see no reason to lock in on any specific ethnicity unless there is something in their storyline where the character has to be white, like they're in the KKK or something. It is just kind of a Hollywood default that characters are white unless specifically stated as otherwise (or, of course, they're gang members, because any BIPOC can get work as a gang member. UGH). Probably because most of Hollywood is still pretty white, at least on the decision makers level.

 

 

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Giant Misfit

Keep your comments to race and ethnicity as they relate to TELEVISION SHOWS.  If you would like to discuss social issues without TV context, please visit the Social Justice topic in Everything Else. 

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