[Discussion] On Television, Cinema and Race

Thread for race issues in media.

Birth Of a Nation
This movie isn't do so good. I think this is because black people are tired of slave type movies, white people don't want the white guilt, and everybody else is turned off by the rape case. I mean this in general. This is just a perfect storm for the downfall of the movie.

Surviving Compton
Straight out of compton left out the ladies. This lifetime show means to correct that. I believe all of the production was done by women.

Mulan live.
All Chinese cast. Maybe the dumb choices of Gods of Egypt are over.

SallyNasty wrote:
Prederick wrote:

I hate that I'm right, but that one was as easy as predicting that it'll be hot in Doha tomorrow.

Yeah, but it will be a dry heat.

Piers Morgan has always seemed like the biggest sort of asshole, one who has always failed upward. Not shocking that he can't handle criticism.

Speaking of Morgan being the biggest sort of asshole, he posted a quote from Winston Churchill about free speech. Ironically, the quote disparages Morgan and babies like him:

IMAGE(https://64.media.tumblr.com/1e8dd960bf99ad440406af7af5e8d837/tumblr_pbtm3yCXKo1tuqccjo1_1280.jpg)

He's perfect for Fox.

Oh, to tell 2005 me that Joss Whedon has been outed as a dick and persona-non-grata, while Zack Snyder is doing this.

Every time I think I have a handle on reality, someone hits the flusher again and I go spinning.

EDIT: Christ, do I have to watch this movie out of solidarity or something now? Because I really don't want to.

...maybe I can just hit "play" and leave it on mute while I work one day?

I know that a lot of people who have seen the movie say that Cyborg is given a lot more room to be a central part of the story, much more so than in Justice League.

Is/has anyone watched Warrior on HBO? Its based on the writings of Bruce Lee about a Chinese immigrant who comes to San Francisco looking for someone and joins a Tong. Its set between the Civil war and WW1.

It has a LOT to unpack. There definitely seems some tropey/stereotypical stuff around women but the racism and working class issues are very interesting and current.

I finally caught up on Falcon and Winter Soldier, so I went back and read this piece about it, that I had avoided due to spoilers. It talks about race in the MCU and how much you have to suspend disbelief to go along with:

Spoiler:

old white dudes listening to a black man lecture them.

Good piece, but not very long or in-depth.

Re: Falcon and Winter Soldier

Spoiler:

Maybe it's a good thing to show old white dudes listening to a black man lecture them. People were jumping off roofs because they saw it in Jackass despite warnings not to. Maybe they'll follow a trend and start listening to what minorities have to say because they saw it happen on TV. You never know.

Just to elucidate on this comment:

I've gotten into more anime recently, and I do wonder how much leeway I should give creators from Japan on the "Africa Is Not A Country" front.

Because before, I might've just been like "they're from such a homogenous, monolithic country, how could they know the detail?" but frankly, that's fairly infantilizing to Japanese people, as if they are incapable of learning about the world around them.

I actually have no interest in seeing a One Piece movie, but it is frustrating to see the creator, who I feel like was probably trying, in a clunky, well-intentioned way to show off his diverse cast, do the whole "Africa Is A Country" thing.

I think, in 2021, my patience has just run out on this stuff. If you can take the time to make your cast from Brazil, Japan, Sweden, France, Canada, Russia, the USA and Austria, I don't really have any patience for people who can't even open up an atlas, randomly point and go "Ghana."

If you can take the time to differentiate countries and cultures from every other continent on earth, but not Africa..... I mean....

"White Liberal Performative Art"

Fascinating stuff. Props to Paleo for putting one of F.D Signifire's vids which led me to this.

garion333 wrote:

"White Liberal Performative Art"

Fascinating stuff. Props to Paleo for putting one of F.D Signifire's vids which led me to this.

Great vid. Watched the whole thing.

Going to add in Video Games to this thread, since I finally got CoD: Modern Warfare (2019) working.

And I gotta say, for a game that is so much about tough, hard men Doing What Must Be Done To Keep Us All Safe, narratively, this game is absolutely terrified.

It's so clearly scared of doing anything "political" that it instead creates this hilarious cartoon world where we're dipping into the "Rogue Russian General" well for the billionth time and the game literally opens with "these are clearly Islamic terrorists, but we don't want to get in trouble for saying that or actually do any of the heavy lifting of writing that, so instead we'll literally have them say they're not doing this for religion, despite the fact that they're, again, clearly Islamic terrorists and every group like them in history has invoked not only their national autonomy but religion," and like several other types of narrative cowardice in the opening hour.

It does speak to how amazingly good a job has been done defining what is and is not "political." It is objectively hilarious that all of the sh*t you've done over the course of the CoD games is not political, but if Karim had expressed the slightest bit of criticism about the U.S. (and especially the CIA) coming in to "help" again, the game would've gotten slammed for "getting political." So instead, she hears CIA, goes "Yup" and you go straight on to fighting the occupying Russian force that is essentially the Nazis.

I would also argue that the backlash you get if you do something "political" is conservative cancel culture, but that's another discussion.

Seriously though. The "Rogue Russian General" trope needs to be retired. Or at least, games using it need to have a special "LFW" warning written on the box for "Lazy F*cking Writing."

Prederick wrote:

Going to add in Video Games to this thread, since I finally got CoD: Modern Warfare (2019) working.

And I gotta say, for a game that is so much about tough, hard men Doing What Must Be Done To Keep Us All Safe, narratively, this game is absolutely terrified.

It's so clearly scared of doing anything "political" that it instead creates this hilarious cartoon world where we're dipping into the "Rogue Russian General" well for the billionth time and the game literally opens with "these are clearly Islamic terrorists, but we don't want to get in trouble for saying that or actually do any of the heavy lifting of writing that, so instead we'll literally have them say they're not doing this for religion, despite the fact that they're, again, clearly Islamic terrorists and every group like them in history has invoked not only their national autonomy but religion," and like several other types of narrative cowardice in the opening hour.

It does speak to how amazingly good a job has been done defining what is and is not "political." It is objectively hilarious that all of the sh*t you've done over the course of the CoD games is not political, but if Karim had expressed the slightest bit of criticism about the U.S. (and especially the CIA) coming in to "help" again, the game would've gotten slammed for "getting political." So instead, she hears CIA, goes "Yup" and you go straight on to fighting the occupying Russian force that is essentially the Nazis.

I would also argue that the backlash you get if you do something "political" is conservative cancel culture, but that's another discussion.

Seriously though. The "Rogue Russian General" trope needs to be retired. Or at least, games using it need to have a special "LFW" warning written on the box for "Lazy F*cking Writing."

This is one of the reasons why I have not cared about the CoD/BF single player campaigns for a while. BF1 WW1 was different and interesting, but any remotely modern or future one is meh to me.

This is a more general entertainment wonder, not specifically related to race or anything, but I do wonder if the new Matrix film will engage in any way with how some of its central terminology ("take the red pill," "follow the white rabbit") has been co-opted over since it's release.

It's not something they have to do, they couldn't possibly have expected, when that film was released, that all of this sh*t would happen, but I am curious.

Prederick wrote:

This is a more general entertainment wonder, not specifically related to race or anything, but I do wonder if the new Matrix film will engage in any way with how some of its central terminology ("take the red pill," "follow the white rabbit") has been co-opted over since it's release.

It's not something they have to do, they couldn't possibly have expected, when that film was released, that all of this sh*t would happen, but I am curious.

Based on the fact that the trailer thingamy that just released opens with the viewer choosing a red or blue pill with the subsequent narrative clearly delineating the same resulting reality/unreality divide, I doubt it very much.

‘Big Brother’ finally has its first Black winner. Getting there required a secret alliance that outsmarted the show’s troubled history.

Washington Post wrote:

If you’re not a regular “Big Brother” viewer, it might have been hard to appreciate the emotional scene at the end of the Sept. 9 episode: After starting out the season with 16 contestants, the reality competition series was finally down to just six people — and all six were members of “the Cookout,” the secret all-Black alliance that was formed in the first week.

That meant, for the first time ever, a Black contestant was guaranteed to win “Big Brother,” the long-running CBS show (known as a “social experiment”) in which 16 people are locked in a house and compete in physical and mental challenges, all while voting one another out, one by one. For a show that has consistently made headlines for majority-White casts with some contestants who behaved in racist ways and continually sidelined people of color, this was a very significant moment in the show’s two-decade history.

After the Top 6 list was official, contestant Xavier Prather broke down crying. “We did it,” he said, as he hugged Kyland Young. “We did it.” The camera panned to show all of the Cookout — other members included Tiffany Mitchell, Hannah Chaddha, Azah Awasum and Derek Frazier — clapping and laughing and celebrating, with several on the verge of tears.

On Wednesday night’s finale, Xavier, a 27-year-old attorney from Milwaukee, was crowned the winner of “Big Brother” Season 23 and the recipient of the $750,000 grand prize by a unanimous vote from a nine-member jury of evicted players. Derek, a 29-year-old safety officer from Philadelphia and son of boxing legend “Smokin’ ” Joe Frazier, came in second place and won $75,000.

“You made history,” host Julie Chen Moonves told Xavier. “How are you feeling right now?”

“It’s surreal. I wouldn’t have been here without all the members of the Cookout,” he said, also giving a shout-out to the jury and non-jury contestants. “I can’t thank you enough. I’m so blessed to have met every one of you. We all made history.”

But even though Xavier’s victory was a historic first for the show with a rabidly loyal fan base, the story of the season was the Cookout, which became the only six-person alliance in “Big Brother” to make it all the way to the Top 6 without losing a member. The fact that the members were the only six Black contestants this season made it even more groundbreaking, given that contestants of color are frequently voted out early in the game.

...

Scenes like this also led to calls of “reverse racism” on social media, as some fans complained that targeting non-Black contestants were unfair — never mind the years when all-White alliances sent people of color home near the beginning of the game, or the level of masterminding it took for a six-person alliance to successfully fly under the radar.

TFW a good news milestone happens. Then that nice feeling turns sour in your stomach when you realize it took this long to happen and all the effort that had to go into making it happen. Then your upset stomach turns into a gnawing pit knowing that this feel good story is going to be turned in racism fuel by conservative media.

The biggest issue I’ve heard from conservative friends - including several PoC friends - is that a group of Whites outright stating they’re voting solely on race would get them cancelled in today’s climate. Of course, that ignores how past White contestants did the same thing but were just subtle about it.

Big Brother also has a reputation for attracting the biggest douches in reality TV, so hats off to a group that is willing to put their own well being second for a chance to make TV history.

jdzappa wrote:

The biggest issue I’ve heard from conservative friends - including several PoC friends - is that a group of Whites outright stating they’re voting solely on race would get them cancelled in today’s climate. Of course, that ignores how past White contestants did the same thing but were just subtle about it.

Those White contestants never had to discuss voting off Black contestants first--let alone saying that was their strategy--because they just saw voting off people who weren't like them as something completely natural to do.

Outside of a few of them I doubt their decision to vote against Black contestants even reached their conscious minds given how racial bias is so thoroughly ingrained into our society and most White people have been socially conditioned to view Black people as inherently more aggressive, violent, disruptive, you name it.

To jdzappa’s point, I agree that something feels wrong about about the fact that six black people engaged in a secret alliance explicitly to generate an outcome where all non black competitors were blocked from winning the contest.

And…absolutely! Something is truly wrong when the only way for a black person to overcome the repugnant unconscious bias against them is to band together and consciously fight against it. This is a lesson on why it’s not enough to be not-racist. We need to strive to be anti racist, like the Cookout. Honestly this is a story of how solidarity can beat inertial racism.

If I've mentioned this in this thread before, forgive me, but since I started this thread, I feel perfectly happy to broaden its view a bit.

In the TV series How I Met Your Mother, in Season 7, Episode 4, "The Stinson Missile Crisis," the loveable cad and the show's breakout character, Barney Stinson (play ultra-charismatically by Neal Patrick Harris) is given a phone call from Robin, who he is not-so-secretly in love with. The phone call is from "Mitch," from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Barney says: "Port Authority Mitch. You'd always call me whenever a wide-eyed farm girl would get off the bus with big dreams of Broadway, and no idea what a 'Casting Director' could legally ask her to do, hold or lick during an audition."

.......................................................huh.

Now, to be fair:

1 - The show obviously exists in a comically heightened reality, where real-life rules do not apply. All of the main characters basically fall ass-backwards into their dream jobs with a minimum of actual effort.
2 - The story is being retold by the protagonist, Ted, to his teenage children. Ted is shown multiple times through the show's run to be an unreliable narrator.
3 - The character saying that quote is, canonically, a compulsive liar.

So I want to make clear, I'm not calling for HIMYM's cancellation. However, that line is... weird.

Barney is supposed to be a cad and a lothario, and certainly skirts the line between douchebag and sexual predator (although, to be fair, HIMYM's reality is one where sexual assault does not exist). And in the show's defense, from some quick googling I did, "Rape by deception" is only just being considered as being added to the criminal code in some states today.

That said, I feel fairly sure that, even in 1981, if you went to a DA and said "this dude's been pretending to be a casting director and using that position of assumed power to coerce women into sex," homeboy would get arrested.

It's just a very weird choice of line for a show that is so positive and tries to hard to underline how all of its characters may be flawed but are ultimately Good People™.

That line's been stuck in my head like a splinter ever since I saw it years ago because, as much of a lothario as the character is supposed to be, I feel like ven by 2011 standards (when that episode aired) that's definitely rape. And the only explanations for it I can imagine are:

1 - Ted is remembering a story Robin told him about Barney, and either Ted (or Robin) have exaggerated it to make Barney sound more like a rapist, which is certainly an interesting way to talk about your friends, no matter how much of a lothario they are.
2 - Barney (in the moment) is lying about his attempts at sexual conquest in front of the woman he loves by... presenting himself as a sex abuser, I guess?

#1 is the answer I imagine the showrunners giving. That Barney was always a lothario douche, and Ted, in relaying this story to his teenaged children, is basically exaggerating and joking for effect. And given how much has changed in terms of what'll fly and what won't from 2011 to 2021, that seems the most likely.

But it's still weird! HIMYM is an excruciatingly post-West Wing Obama-era liberal sitcom, which is to say that in one of its idealistic alternate futures, Dean wins in 2004, but the only female characters with functioning brain stems are Robin and Lily.

tl;dr: Post #MeToo, the Barney Stinson character would not exist as he was written.

Prederick wrote:

If I've mentioned this in this thread before, forgive me, but since I started this thread, I feel perfectly happy to broaden its view a bit.

In the TV series How I Met Your Mother, in Season 7, Episode 4, "The Stinson Missile Crisis," the loveable cad and the show's breakout character, Barney Stinson (play ultra-charismatically by Neal Patrick Harris) is given a phone call from Robin, who he is not-so-secretly in love with. The phone call is from "Mitch," from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Barney says: "Port Authority Mitch. You'd always call me whenever a wide-eyed farm girl would get off the bus with big dreams of Broadway, and no idea what a 'Casting Director' could legally ask her to do, hold or lick during an audition."

.......................................................huh.

Now, to be fair:

1 - The show obviously exists in a comically heightened reality, where real-life rules do not apply. All of the main characters basically fall ass-backwards into their dream jobs with a minimum of actual effort.
2 - The story is being retold by the protagonist, Ted, to his teenage children. Ted is shown multiple times through the show's run to be an unreliable narrator.
3 - The character saying that quote is, canonically, a compulsive liar.

So I want to make clear, I'm not calling for HIMYM's cancellation. However, that line is... weird.

Barney is supposed to be a cad and a lothario, and certainly skirts the line between douchebag and sexual predator (although, to be fair, HIMYM's reality is one where sexual assault does not exist). And in the show's defense, from some quick googling I did, "Rape by deception" is only just being considered as being added to the criminal code in some states today.

That said, I feel fairly sure that, even in 1981, if you went to a DA and said "this dude's been pretending to be a casting director and using that position of assumed power to coerce women into sex," homeboy would get arrested.

It's just a very weird choice of line for a show that is so positive and tries to hard to underline how all of its characters may be flawed but are ultimately Good People™.

That line's been stuck in my head like a splinter ever since I saw it years ago because, as much of a lothario as the character is supposed to be, I feel like ven by 2011 standards (when that episode aired) that's definitely rape. And the only explanations for it I can imagine are:

1 - Ted is remembering a story Robin told him about Barney, and either Ted (or Robin) have exaggerated it to make Barney sound more like a rapist, which is certainly an interesting way to talk about your friends, no matter how much of a lothario they are.
2 - Barney (in the moment) is lying about his attempts at sexual conquest in front of the woman he loves by... presenting himself as a sex abuser, I guess?

#1 is the answer I imagine the showrunners giving. That Barney was always a lothario douche, and Ted, in relaying this story to his teenaged children, is basically exaggerating and joking for effect. And given how much has changed in terms of what'll fly and what won't from 2011 to 2021, that seems the most likely.

But it's still weird! HIMYM is an excruciatingly post-West Wing Obama-era liberal sitcom, which is to say that in one of its idealistic alternate futures, Dean wins in 2004, but the only female characters with functioning brain stems are Robin and Lily.

tl;dr: Post #MeToo, the Barney Stinson character would not exist as he was written.

You think that's bad....

Prederick wrote:

tl;dr: Post #MeToo, the Barney Stinson character would not exist as he was written.

I always felt that the writers relied on the fact that NPH is gay in real life, so the audience knew that none of what Barney was saying on the show was "real" since it didn't reflect the actor playing him. So they were able to exaggerate the character far beyond anything they could've done with a straight character in the part- and it was all "okay" because... you know... don't worry, NPH isn't reeeeally a womanizer.

It's the same joke of having NPH play "himself" in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, but over the course of many seasons.

Yeah I love HIMYM but it has some issues already.

It's easier to watch Cheers and excuse Sam Malone because it was the 80s than it is to watch Barney most times.

Yet the internet brought us the whole pick up culture, which Barney and his playbook are some kind of satire about I guess?

Stele wrote:

Yeah I love HIMYM but it has some issues already.

Namely that if not for Dexter, Game of Thrones, and Sherlock, it'd be known as having one of the crappiest endings in TV history. (FWIW, my objection is not to the content, but the handling and pacing are all-time awful.)

Yeah they foreshadowed the mother's death multiple times. But the Barney-Robin thing was just awful, after spending the entire season on their wedding.

Prederick wrote:
Stele wrote:

Yeah I love HIMYM but it has some issues already.

Namely that if not for Dexter, Game of Thrones, and Sherlock, it'd be known as having one of the crappiest endings in TV history. (FWIW, my objection is not to the content, but the handling and pacing are all-time awful.)

I remember reading that the writers got trapped by their big idea. They had to film all the children stuff up front, so the ending got set very early in the show’s life. They then let the characters grow emotionally taking their cues from actor chemistry and what felt narratively right. When it came to snap back to the ending they had planned before all those seasons happened they were screwed.

Eh, they also said they filmed a few options with the kids. They could have made it work with some editing. Hell they could have had the kids come back in and do voice-over with the camera on Ted, listening to them, and cut around the original shots. That's a weak excuse.

I still want my alt ending where the kids are actually his grandkids and he's crazy old grandpa telling them stories during a future apocalypse from a bunker.

Oh, I don't excuse their lack of flexibility, but I think Dove is 100% right. They had a specific ending planned, but refused to adjust to how eight seasons of work and character development changed what would and wouldn't work.

And again, spending that entire final season on the wedding, and then cramming everything into the finale was just craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap.

I agree. And I think for me the issue was less the ending scene, and more the whole final episode. They spent at multiple season building towards Barney and Robin as a couple, having both overcome their fear of commitment generally and Robin's fear that Barney couldn't commit, specifically -- then threw it all away and had the two divorce right as the flash-forwards began. Then Robin showed a jealousy toward Ted and his wife, and a pining for Ted, that basically never existed before. The whole thing was totally jarring.

I also think having the mother be dead was a cheap shot. Would have been fine as an ending after season 1 or season 2, and yes they did tease it, but to spend a whole season getting attached to Ted's wife (who was wonderful!) only to be sucker-punched at the last minute was downright awful. I think a better finale would have been their first date episode, which came a few weeks before the end.

The series was one of my favorites (though it was not without faults! and they lost the plot several years in). I religiously watched each episode for years. But I think it's telling that I haven't revisited it at all since that ending. The ending ruined that series like food poisoning can ruin a dish.

Stele wrote:

Yet the internet brought us the whole pick up culture, which Barney and his playbook are some kind of satire about I guess?

I mean, the show aired during the same era as The Pickup Artist and The Game, so I always saw Barney as a direct satire the PUA community.