This blog post was originally posted over at Opine Season, from my series over here called "7 Ways Not to be an Asshole" Look 'em up in my past posts, you can even utilize the search bar on this page.
Seven Ways to See Popular Film
I went to the movies last night. Guess what I saw? White people.
How do you go out to the movies, watch a series of movie trailers and not say to yourself, “Wow, all these films are about white people”? Sure, I saw white people doing some terribly interesting things, but what did I see more than anything else? Seriously, what do these images say loudest? Especially to people of color? Because really, if you’re not a person of color, you don’t even notice. You don’t have to. If it’s a story about white people, it’s normal. And what’s the implication of that? Well, for starters, if you’re not white, you’re not normal.
Look, I love movies. I love going to the movies. Not to mention Netflix, VUDU, Redbox… you name it, I’m down. You know what else? I love movies starring white people. I love white actors. I swear, some of my best friends are white. But there is a glaring disparity here in what producers tend to put in front of audiences. In what the norm is. Check out any tv/film award show and take a drink every time you see a person of color…you will not get buzzed. Take a drink every time a person of color actually WINS? Welcome aboard the weak party EXPRESS. Unless of course you don’t drink, then welcome to a very fine evening full of talented white celebrities that may or may not leave you with a tangy feeling at the end of the night.
Here’s a few examples of the “wide variety” of films you’ll be exposed to at the movies, in your cue, or by the media, in general. This is a list of fantastic, thoughtful and even forward thinking films renamed to express their most basic message. I’m even adding a couple of google image searches for you to do on your own, so you can take a look at what you find for yourself.
‘White People Are Funny’
Google “film comedy” images.
This one is interesting because you actually see a *few* people of color on the first page! But why is that? Are people of color inherently more funny? How could that be?
‘White People Fall in Love’
Google “romantic comedy” images.
The title for this one could just as easily be ‘Love is almost exclusively for white people’.
‘White People Save the World’
Google “action movies” images.
Again, something interesting happens here: Asians! I wonder, does this happen to fall into any stereotypes we may have of Asian culture in American media? Or is that just a coincidence?
‘Only White People Survive in the Future/in Space’
Google “sci fi future movies” images.
First of all, if it doesn’t actually star a person of color, they’re dying. If the person of color isn’t the lead, and doesn’t die, it’s cutting edge film.
‘White Savior for People of Color’
Ok, maybe just google “white savior movies” or “white messiah movies” for this one and see what you find. Start with images, but then go read up on it, too.
I’ll start here: Dances with Wolves, Avatar, The Last Samurai, The Blind Side, The Help, Lincoln, and every movie about a white teacher in the hood ever…and probably most other movies, too.
‘Look at How Bad People of Color Have it’
Now this one gets a little nutty.
Google has no idea what The fuck I’m even talking about, apparently. Look at the pics that come up when you Google ‘movies starring people of color’ images. Why the hell is there so many pictures of white people in this google image search?! It says quite a bit. Also check out the roles that people of color have actually won academy awards for. Trust, there’s a trend there. See: ‘Precious’, ‘The Color Purple’, ‘Monster’s Ball’, etc.
‘Smart, Artsy, and White’
Google “indie movies” images.
What does it say about a person of color that watches this many artsy films starring almost exclusively white people? That I’m creative, intellectual and searching for something different. What do these films say about the film industry? They are not marketed to people of color, because they do not consider people of color to be creative, intellectual and searching for something different.