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Super Social Analysis: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, and LGBT in Movies

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Sorry to follow myself, but I just read this (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/marvel-studios-president-addresses-lack-722862) and had to vent some.

 

“I hope we do it sooner rather than later,” he said

Yeah, because it's not like you have any power over what's coming up next or what platform, Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios.

 

Yes, he has board members to answer to on things like money. Yet, there were dates announced last week  for films with no named properties admitted for those dates. I agree, that was probably just the studio being coy and/or precious. Don't care.

 

Then there are the four or five Netflix series, due next year.  Again, don't care.

 

I hear you ask about Agent Carter on the tv-side. Well, I am pleased that Peggy gets a chance to school the fools of her time this fall. But she can't do it all by her lonesome, that's not fair. I could name more female heroes, but that's not the point.

 

Women-led movies are seeming to be "downgraded" to tv or streaming media; that we aren't worth the time that the men are worth. Marvel has a Timetable and a Plan, dammit! Just wait your turn, noisy chicks! Gah!

 

Jan van Dyne could lead her own damn movie, but she was included, then removed, from a movie relevant to her. (It may actually be a blessing, but who knows.)

 

 Feige's question about putting off/juggling franchises seems disingenuous to me. If he has a handful of female-led movies he wants to get to, why not have some initial work done- character sketches of the lead, a first draft of a script, a work trip to where the movie could be set. (If they don't want every last hero to be NYC bound, why not LA or Chicago or Detroit or Portland or Austin or...., ya know.)  Just because it's somewhere else, doesn't mean you only have Squirrel Girl to work with.  Don't go the Edgar Wright-eight years  pre-production. (Granted, a lot of that time was working on visual effects, but he was able to make 3 full-length movies and a trailer for Grindhouse in that period.)

 

So the Plan not including women-led movies from the jump shows up the mindset that Women Can Wait, with the unspoken "until Phase 4 or later." That's just not cool.

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Then there are the four or five Netflix series, due next year.  Again, don't care.

 

I hear you ask about Agent Carter on the tv-side. Well, I am pleased that Peggy gets a chance to school the fools of her time this fall. But she can't do it all by her lonesome, that's not fair. I could name more female heroes, but that's not the point.

 

Women-led movies are seeming to be "downgraded" to tv or streaming media; that we aren't worth the time that the men are worth. Marvel has a Timetable and a Plan, dammit! Just wait your turn, noisy chicks! Gah!

 

Jan van Dyne could lead her own damn movie, but she was included, then removed, from a movie relevant to her. (It may actually be a blessing, but who knows.)

 

As in a lot of cases like this, I hesitate to pin the prejudice on the studios/production houses, because I think it's often a case of their decisions being informed by what they believe the prejudices of the average consumer to be.

 

I don't think Kevin Feige sees women as inferior to men, necessarily, but I do think he sees a movie that headlines a woman as less likely to be as successful as one headed by a man. Because there is this view that a female-led action movie will fail, which is why Lucy has been such a big deal. People have seen Tomb Raider fail, and Salt, and Columbiana, and others too. Now, I would say that the common thread between those movies is not the woman at the front of the poster, but that they were all terrible movies. 

 

But it's a hard mindset to get past, especially for a guy who's grounding is in comic books, where women have usually been secondary to the men. Female characters rarely headline books, and if they do, the books haven't tended to last very long. Does the average comic book fan dislike women? I'd like to say no to that too, but I do think the average comic book fan would rather read something with a protagonist they can more easily identify with. Hence, fucking Wolverine.

 

Joss Whedon himself has proved that women can head up major franchises, and even though Buffy was on the small screen, it was hugely successful. It wasn't successful because Sarah Michelle Gellar was a girl, or in spite of her being a girl. It was, in my view, because the writing was very good, the idea was great, the characters were engaging and fun, and it was a show that just spoke to a lot of people. I think a good action movie starring a woman can do the same.

 

I'm really looking forward to Agent Carter, and I'm actually glad it's a mini series and not a movie. Because that means I get more Agent Carter than I would from a two hour movie. But I'd also love a Black Widow movie, and a Ms. Marvel movie, and even a She-Hulk movie, as well. I think people would watch them in their thousands. If they were good.

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WORD. When will studios get the picture that women-led action, fantasy, sci-fi etc. can work The past couple of years have seen many female-led films hit and hit big: Lucy, The Hunger Games, Frozen, even freaking Twilight all make the case that if they build it we will come, and hey we migth actually bring some dudes with us. Hilariously/Awfully, the year after Frozen made a gazillion dollars, not a single theatrically release animated movie scheduled for 2014 will have a female lead. If, Post-Lucy, Marvel is not scrambling to get a Black Widow film off the ground for Phase 3, they are idiots. 

Edited by SilverShadow
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People have seen Tomb Raider fail, and Salt, and Columbiana, and others too.

 

 

I don't disagree with the points you made in the rest of your post, but Tomb Raider and Salt were hits. I'm not saying they were good movies, as I never watched either of them, but they did do well, and they always seem to be used to make the case for Angelina Jolie as an action star along with Wanted and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

 

After Lucy's success I'm hoping a Black Widow movie happens. I unfortunately have not been able to see Lucy yet because it doesn't come out here for another few weeks.

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I don't disagree with the points you made in the rest of your post, but Tomb Raider and Salt were hits.

They were successful. I didn't like Tomb Raider but Salt was moderately entertaining.

 

Traditionally female lead action films have not been given the same budget, marketing and talent as male lead action films. That's starting to change but there are still double standards in the movie industry. Hercules domestic failure isn't seen as a gender thing but it would be if a woman starred in a movie like it. 

Edited by Oreo2234
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The past couple of years have seen many female-led films hit and hit big: Lucy, The Hunger Games, Frozen, even freaking Twilight all make the case that if they build it we will come, and hey we migth actually bring some dudes with us.

 

And prior to that there was the Alien franchise and the Terminator franchise (although T2 was more focused on John and the good Terminator, T1 was all Sarah Connor). There's also the Resident Evil franchise, which I don't know much about but it's a video-game-based female led action series that's successful enough to have scads of sequels. I've become convinced that it's not enough for female-led films to hit big... women are going to have to start penalizing films for not having female leads or for having crappy characters. Right now, the big studios have the choice of not giving us a choice, so they're not. I don't know if that cycle will be broken or not... I loved the Avengers, and I love Scarlet Witch, and I don't want to rob myself of seeing Avengers 2 on the big screen because I'm pissed off that Marvel doesn't value me as a potential customer. But I have started skipping some movies that in past years I might have gone to because movie tickets are expensive; I've got Netflix, and there are some good TV series and webseries telling more interesting, inclusive stories.

 

I agree that Feige and the other honchos at Marvel didn't ignore Wasp as part of the Avengers or fail to plan for Black Widow series or greenlight Guardians of the Galaxy/Ant-Man/Dr. Strange before a female-led or PoC-led film because they hate women. Within certain parameters, Marvel has actually been doing very well by white women and African-American men--which seem to be the first tier for diversity--and may be remembering that diversity should include women of color and men of color of other races. But I think this part gets to the heart of it

I do think the average comic book fan would rather read something with a protagonist they can more easily identify with
.... the people in charge in the studios are still largely white men and when they're greenlighting treatments, the stories that resonate with them are the stories of white men. They still think of a cis white man's story as a neutral and the typical audience member as a cis white man. They're successful enough doing that, that they don't need to change.
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What I liked about that fight was that it wasn't framed as a catfight, but Zoe's character trying to accomplish a task and Karen's not wanting her to do so (Drama 101) and showing how strong each was. IMO, it was a draw; I want Karen Gillan to show up in the next Guardians film or the next one. I want to see that relationship explored more--it's a dysfunctional one, but not too far-fetched.

 

 

eta: I found this listicle (http://wegotthiscovered.com/movies/mythbusting-female-led-film-franchises/#!bui21r) and can't believe that Hollywood money-makers want to leave that kind of money not in their pockets.

 

What I took away from a Wikipedia article on Marvel movies was that no matter the actual studio, the movies either mostly cover the budget in North America and the profit is international distribution or that the movie just blows everyone away and even the janitors get a bonus. Very few outright flops. So why not women? I understand your points, Danny Franks, but with the recent past, and in various genres, women-led movies and franchises seem to be working. (I can't explain Sex And The City, but folks like what they like, just like all the guys only able to see dudes when it comes to projects). I understand, but if I can add my voice to the others already clamoring for what we'd like to see. If we don't speak up, no one thinks about it, 'it' being the lack of a panoply of women being in leading roles across every genre. Not to take anything away, just adding. 

Edited by Actionmage

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Hollywood likes to pretend that ancient Egypt was full of white people

 

 

Hollywood is a sucker for a story about ancient Egypt. Movies like The Ten Commandments, Cleopatra, and even The Mummy prove it. Upcoming movies like Exodus and Gods of Egypt all but confirm it. Unfortunately though, those films have something in common aside from being about ancient Egypt — they show that Hollywood, tends to envision ancient Egyptians and ancient Egyptian royalty as white men and women (sometimes with copious amounts of bronzer splashed on). . . . 

 

While these two films aren't the only movies that have white-washed ancient Egypt, they're maybe the most frustrating. We can chalk up things like Elizabeth Taylor playing a fair-skinned Cleopatra in the film of the same name to the year the movie was made in (1963). There's no rule that says we have to follow the template and tendencies of casting directors 50 years ago. We should know better, yet it still happened and is still happening.

 

 

 

Not just an overview of why ancient Egypt is so white and the cultural impact of such portrayals, but a nice layperson's survey of what race the people of that era possibly were.

 

Short answer, not Northern European white.

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Yes, but Greeks aren't Northern European white. People like Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau should not be up for roles as Egyptian characters, especially when you have things like the Katniss casting debacle where a racially ambiguous character was only open to Caucasian actresses. 

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Plus, Cleopatra and the Ptolemys come long after Ramses and the Exodus story in terms of timeline. The cast in question is very, very wrong for the place and time of this story. I think its safe to say that if Moses is to pass for a member of the Egyptian royal family, there's a clear look that everyone should have and it should be less Nordic and more a mix of Black and Middle Eastern. Egypt was always a meeting point between Africa, the East and Europe and that should be reflected in the casting, but Exodus's idea of mixing it up is to have white people play the Egyptian royalty and black people play thieves and servants. It's wrong. Its 2014, how does no one on the set look around and not say "this looks wrong and we should change it."

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Plus, Cleopatra and the Ptolemys come long after Ramses and the Exodus story in terms of timeline. The cast in question is very, very wrong for the place and time of this story. I think its safe to say that if Moses is to pass for a member of the Egyptian royal family, there's a clear look that everyone should have and it should be less Nordic and more a mix of Black and Middle Eastern. Egypt was always a meeting point between Africa, the East and Europe and that should be reflected in the casting, but Exodus's idea of mixing it up is to have white people play the Egyptian royalty and black people play thieves and servants. It's wrong. Its 2014, how does no one on the set look around and not say "this looks wrong and we should change it."

This...ALL. OF. THIS!

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A Patch of Blue is one of my all time favorite movies but the ending is different from the book. In the book Selina has a meld-down when she finds out Gordon is black, not the happy ending of the movie.

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I saw this topic was in the tv thread so I'm starting one here.

 

I don't know a lot about the subject so maybe I'm off base but it seems like not a lot has happened for LGBT movies since Brokeback Mountain and Milk. There have been some but they are smaller and not given a lot of marketing. Am I correct?

Edited by Oreo2234

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Yeah, it seems like the bigger films these days are television movies, e.g. The Normal Heart, Behind the Candelabra. Wasn’t Behind the Candelabra supposed to be a theatrical release? IIRC, it only aired on HBO when American distributors got cold feet about such a gay movie. 

 

One of my favorites is Saving Face. It’s so cute and delightful. There’s the requisite angst from the main character who’s closeted to her family, but there’s a lot of humor to balance it out.

 

Plus, you know, it has Joan Chen, so the movie is automatically elevated that way.

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Top 100 Greatest Gay Movies  I figure this list is a good jumping point for discussion.

 

I have a major soft spot for Shelter.  Some of my favorites are Torch Song Trilogy, Imagine Me and You, Beautiful Thing, and Coffee Date really goes in an interesting direction.   For documentaries, I always think of The Times of Harvey Milk, The Celluloid Closet, and Bridegroom.

 

I hate Heartbeats.  I think they are assholes who are in love with drama more than anything else. 

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Wow. I liked Latter Days, but I really wouldn't put it up in the same company as Brokeback Mountain, Beautiful Thing, and Angels in America. Those movies felt ground-breaking in addition to being extremely well made.

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I had low expectations but really liked Latter Days.  I think the characters have more depth than I anticipated, and there were some interesting interactions. 

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I saw Free Fall the other day. A new German one about a couple of cops who get it on. One is married with a baby on the way and deeply closeted. Very angsty, as these movies are, and it didn't really bring anything new to the conversation, but these movies are still relevant and as such I really liked it. Well acted, beautiful photography, good script. The hot leads didn't hurt either.

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Private Romeo was a gay military school boy take on Romeo and Juliet, and I thought it worked pretty well. It was such a fresh take, and the chemistry between the guys was hot.

 

Not to be confused with Romeos, which is a foreign movie about a college-aged female-to-male trans guy who falls for a cisgender guy and tries to figure out how to come out to him. The chemistry between the leads was great and I thought it was well-done.

Edited by methodwriter85

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The actor who plays the Juliet character in Private Romeo is Broadway actor and singer Matt Doyle, who originated the role of Peter in the original "Bare: The Pop  Opera" studio album.

 

If you haven't seen "Bare" in any incarnation, may I recommend looking for it on YouTube?  My favorite version of it is the Indianapolis Wheeler Arts Center production which can be found at

(act one) and
(act two).  April Armstrong, who plays the character of Nadia in this production, is my favorite performer in any role in any production of the play.

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Fails, looks racist. I'm white myself, but sometimes I look at my fellow whites and just sigh.

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It sucks because I'm into big Bible epics. There are so many interesting stories in the Old Testament. But I just can't get behind supporting such a whitewashed movie.

 

I can still watch and enjoy something like The Ten Commandments, but that's from the 1950s!

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The image with that article is a clear example of black people as set decoration, so that's not exactly helping his case.

 

Oh, I have no doubt that image was strategically, and brilliantly, chosen to accompany the article. 

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Random thought: Just finished watching "High School Musical"--again--with my family. It was a joy seeing kids of all colors, shapes, and...I was going to say "sexual orientations," but I don't think the Disney Channel meant for Troy to be gay. He was just into Broadway musicals and cutting edge fashion and scarves, right?

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We cast major actors from different ethnicities to reflect this diversity of culture, from Iranians to Spaniards to Arabs.

From the Ridley Scott article. Um... are they hiding? Unless this movie is going to pull a bait and switch and the unnamed characters are actually going to be the focus then this sounds like some BS. Guys, you can't just give people a spray tan and call it diversity.

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Pacific Rim had Rinko Kikuchi and Charlie Hunnam as kind of love interests. It's a giant robot fighting movie and not a love story so there wasn't a whole lot of time put into developing it, but I thought it was great. Idris Elba was in it as Rinko's adoptive father. That film did an admirable job of diversifying the cast without making a big deal of it in-story.

 

 

That's one of the reasons I love that movie and have seen it a good 10-12 times (I should just buy the damn thing already!)

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The one issue I had with diversity in Pacific Rim was the Chinese brothers. They felt more like a gratuitous "Hey let's add some Chinese dudes so the movie will sell better over there!" instead of real characters. 

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I hadn't even considered that the brothers were introduced yet underdeveloped for the sake of appealing to foreign markets. That sounds about right, though. The fandom for that movie seems quite enamored with them and the other pilots, at least. Hopefully the creators will improve on developing any secondary characters of color in the sequel.

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With a cast that has such great diversity, I'm going to give Pacific Rim the benefit of the doubt.  They probably filmed more scenes, but ended up cut out as the movie ended up at 132 minutes running time.  Not every secondary character can be fleshed out in a 2 hour movie. 

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I don't know. I feel like there were some things that they could have cut. Most of that nonsense with Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, and Ron Perlman could have been deleted and I would have been less annoyed. 

 

I have the sneaking suspicion that Del Toro actually wanted to set the film in Japan, but got overruled by executives who cared nothing for Japan (and did nothing to market the movie there) and wanted to get that Chinese money. So Del Toro reluctantly agreed and did slightly more than the absolute minimum to appeal to Chinese audiences. And that slightly more than the absolute minimum got the movie nearly $112 million from China, so I guess that it worked in that sense. I don't know if setting the movie in Japan would have led to more in-depth Asian characters who spoke more than four lines or incorporated the setting into the story, but I would like to think that his "love letter" to Japan actually meant that.

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The one issue I had with diversity in Pacific Rim was the Chinese brothers. They felt more like a gratuitous "Hey let's add some Chinese dudes so the movie will sell better over there!" instead of real characters. 

I am surprised there were brothers. I have been noticing in all the Chinese co productions from the Karate Kid through The Transformers a whole lot of single child families and no mentions of uncles and aunts signifying that single child's grandparents had no more than one child either. A cost of doing business?

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With a cast that has such great diversity, I'm going to give Pacific Rim the benefit of the doubt.  They probably filmed more scenes, but ended up cut out as the movie ended up at 132 minutes running time.  Not every secondary character can be fleshed out in a 2 hour movie. 

 

I noticed their lack of development when comparing them to the Russians. Neither crew got much time, but the Russians felt deeper. del Toro was able to play off Soviet iconography and stereotypes really effectively. I don't know how that could have played out for the brothers. Shatterdome was located in Hong Kong, so maybe they could have thrown in something about the nationalism of protecting one's homeland. 

 

In the end, I'm a big fan of the movie. And I don't think the portrayal of the brothers was an egregious oversight. It just felt like a missed opportunity.

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This is making my eye twitch.

 

This is sounding way too White Savior/Nice White Lady-ish for my taste

Unfortunately, that sounds exactly what the movie is going to be. And I like Reese Witherspoon, but come on. "When they first told me they wanted to hire real refugees for the parts, I was a little nervous," Witherspoon admitted. Refugees. They didn't say "Sudanese War Lords" or "Somali Pirates." One of the refugees in the movie is indeed a former child soldier, but the majority of Sudanese refugees are innocent victims of civil war and forced migration.

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Heh. I rolled my eyes at that line, too, but I don't think she meant she was scared of them, but more like: "Wow, we're coming from two different worlds, how am I going to relate to these kids?" 

 

Or maybe since she's so type A, she was thinking, "Amateur actors? In my movie?!" 

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Against what I facetiously refer to as my better judgment, I clicked the link, and Witherspoon's comments seem rather innocuous to me. In the end of the piece, she aslo says, "They were teaching me things I didn't understand or know." I can only presume that she's talking about the refugees they hired for the other roles, since she's been in the business for long enough that movie-making shouldn't be a mystery to her. That she calls it 'an educational opportunity' seems like an actual good thing, not a backhanded compliment.

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The Herculean Effort Taken By One Group To Show Hollywood Is Sexist

 

In dissecting the top 100 grossing films each year, Smith and her team have analyzed a total of 26,225 characters in 600 films for gender, body type, age, race and more. In their most recent annual review, released in July, they found that in 2013, only 29 percent of characters were female, and a mere 28 percent of the films had a female lead or co-lead.
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The article refers to a TV show, but I putting it here since the issue is more of a Hollywood thing: "Painting down."

 

AKA using makeup on a (most likely, white) stunt person to match the race of the (darker-skinned/ethnic) actor. The issue is that there are enough ethnically/racially diverse stunt performers available nowadays so that casting/stunt coordinators should hire them, instead of painting down a white stunt performer.

 

I'd never been aware of this issue before, but thinking about it, it makes sense that something like this would be going on in Hollywood. The article uses the term "blackface", but I wouldn't go so far. It's a completely different intent.

Edited by Trini
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This weekend at the movies I saw a trailer for "Jupiter Ascending." The movie is about Mila Kunis's character Jupiter, and Mila appeared in every scene I watched. Channing Tatum was her lover/muscle man/helper, and he was not in every scene I watched. But on IMDB, he has top billing over Mila Kunis. Is Channing that much more famous that Mila? Or maybe he's in more scenes than the trailer suggested, and he actually has more screen time than Mila?

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