[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.

A recent post on the Tumblr “This Is Not China” declares that “cultural appropriation is not merely the act of wearing or partaking in cultural symbols & practices that do not belong to you, it’s a system of exploitation & capitalisation on cultural symbols & practices that do not a) originate from b) benefit c) circle back to the culture in question.”

Wow if the author of that article had just taken a closer look at this statement in their own story. Better people have explained it but it isn't about people being upset that someone is wearing a kimono it is about people typically bashing a culture for a thing but then that thing becoming popular when white or famous people do/wear it, etc.

The best example I've read is cornrows. Cornrows are a long established thing in black culture but employee handpicks will specifically say it is not professional. Yet magazines and news heap praise on non-black entertainers, etc when they wear them.

Well, what is considered professional in a more traditional, regular 9-5 type of job is certainly not something that is the same anywhere in the entertainment/art world where things like that don't hold much merit, unless for certain events and even then it's mostly a dress-code, not a hairstyle-code.

Well, what is considered professional in a more traditional, regular 9-5 type of job

Why does "professional" prohibit hair styles that are more comfortable and traditional for certain people? They are put in a code because they are not traditional white hairstyles. Then those same hair styles are celebrated in media when others use them. This is an example of appropriation.

Again, maybe someone more knowledgeable can use a better example.

There was a black woman fired from a bank for having dreads. In my opinion they looked very professional and nice. However, the main issue was a white woman that also had dreads was not fired.

karmajay wrote:
Well, what is considered professional in a more traditional, regular 9-5 type of job

Why does "professional" prohibit hair styles that are more comfortable and traditional for certain people? They are put in a code because they are not traditional white hairstyles. Then those same hair styles are celebrated in media when others use them. This is an example of appropriation.
Again, maybe someone more knowledgeable can use a better example.

The same reason professional prohibits showing up in shorts and a t-shirt to work or a business meeting, I guess. It might be more comfortable but it might be deemed inappropriate for some workplaces. I personally don't care about hairstyles that much, maybe if I were a business owner I'd draw the line at mohawks and face tattoos/piercings but that all depends on what the business is and maybe the clients too.

Just make sure to let them know that your dreads are part of your religion

from the WAPO piece:

It makes sense to permit behaviors that encourage empathy and genuine interest while discouraging those that caricature or mock a sampled-from culture. But such litmus tests leave ample room for hair-splitting and arbitrary judgments.

When people call something 'appropriation', to understand that don't take them literally, but do take them seriously. They are telling you that what you are doing is hurtful.

This stuff used to be expressed in terms of getting the right standard of judgement nailed down. The place it is in now leaves that kind of rules-based question behind and focuses on the real experiences of actual people who are telling you that you are hurting them. Whether something hurts someone is now the standard. That experience is now what determines what makes the world a better place or a worse place.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with that shift is another question, but that's what is going on. Before criticizing things like the way people use tools like an accusation of invidious appropriation, it's best to get on the same page about what is meant by that accusation.

Or...not. Maybe the most effective way of making the world a better place is to retain the feeling of legitimacy that comes from thinking there's a standard of judgement behind such an accusation, but not asking too many questions about the exact contours of that standard to avoid getting bogged down in any individual case when the importance of any individual case is usually just the opportunity it presents to demonstrate a challenge the systemic issue.

tl;dr: don't overthink it, because it's not about thinking, it's about feeling and making the world a better place.

Cultural Appropriation is real. Outrage Culture is real. So in there is an intersection that unfortunately buries the real conversation about appropriation.

The issue I have is that it's difficult to stomach white people expressing fatigue about real issues facing POC in the world and the US.

Cuilture is not property. The whole point of culture is to remix everything that's come before.

The entire Constitutional system is based around the idea that you don't own ideas, that everyone does. You get a temporary monopoly on the idea for creating it, but you don't own it. It's NOT property, no matter what the toxic media corporations claim.

And that's in the stronger patent realm; copyright is supposed to be a fair bit weaker. It's a very specific set of rights that you hold about making copies of something you created. Even then you don't own it, you just control certain things that can be done with it, and only temporarily. (the fact that the term has been extended to such an unconscionable level, to protect Disney, does not change the underlying truth.)

Tribal allegiance is not supposed to be more important than the broader society, but we're breaking down precisely because we're forgetting that.

Malor wrote:

Cuilture is not property. The whole point of culture is to remix everything that's come before.

The entire Constitutional system is based around the idea that you don't own ideas, that everyone does. You get a temporary monopoly on the idea for creating it, but you don't own it. It's NOT property, no matter what the toxic media corporations claim.

And that's in the stronger patent realm; copyright is supposed to be a fair bit weaker. It's a very specific set of rights that you hold about making copies of something you created. Even then you don't own it, you just control certain things that can be done with it, and only temporarily. (the fact that the term has been extended to such an unconscionable level, to protect Disney, does not change the underlying truth.)

Tribal allegiance is not supposed to be more important than the broader society, but we're breaking down precisely because we're forgetting that.

That view only works from the lens of the power holder. It's easy for white people to claim that culture is not property.. they've been stealing it for hundreds of years. They robbed black American's of all their historical culture during the slave trade and then the enslavement of the entire race for hundreds of years after.

Again it can be warped when viewed through the Outrage Culture.. but specific examples where appropriation is used by White People and it's "ok" but when Black people who originated it's viewed quite differently.

I don't like Eminem but he is a white rapper who is highly regarded. For the most part he respects the culture of hip hop whereas someone like Iggy Azalea with her impersonated "black" voice is horrific.

My people came up with X. White people didn't come up with X, but loves X and learned X from me, because I'm one of my people. White people then took what they learned about X and monetized it, without acknowledging that they learned X from me, or offering me a share of the profit for monetizing X. I see white people getting rich off of X, something my people created, and neither I nor any other member of my people see a single cent of that money. If I think X is "mine," Of course I'll get mad. And maybe I forget that prior to monetizing X, white people took substantial risks in creating their business venture. Maybe I forget that I got a first bite at monetizing X, but chose not to do it for any combination of reason. Maybe I forget that I didn't really create X, and I'm scarcely related to the guy who did. Now that I'm jealous of white people for monetizing X, maybe I argue that my people are the rightful inheritors of X, and that we should get the exclusive right to monetize X.

This is personal to me. I have a friend who loves BBQ and the Chinese gua bao, and thought to start combining the two in his cookouts. He asked me to get a couple packages of gua bao the next time I stopped by the local Chinese mart. I was happy to oblige. He did his thing in the next cookout and it became a huge hit among friends. Next thing I knew, he struck a deal with a local brewery to do a weekend pop up grill that features the dishes.

I get it. I felt a tinge of that very primal, territorial jealousy when I was reading a short online article about the pop up. One of the comments reads, "i love baos! can't wait to try it out!" I saw that comment and thought, that could be me. But I didn't take the initiative. Had I thought to do so, maybe I could enjoy the same success as my UK counterparts.

As of this moment, my friend and his fiance are struggling to break even on this little business venture of theirs. If they're good enough, maybe eventually they quit their jobs and become gua bao BBQ gurus, and finally get a place of their own instead of sharing a house with 4 other couples. I daydream a little bit about how I would go on a podium and defend them if they become successful and get inevitably embroiled in some cultural appropriation controversy.

Incidentally, if you're around the DC area you actually should check them out. Those baos are the bomb.

Let's not forget that white people (as if that's a hive-mind of some sorts) are not the only one who have borrowed from other cultures. All cultures have borrowed and given to others - this is how cultures change, improve, develop over time.
One group of people doing something that traditionally others have done does not prevent the original group of people to continue do w/e it is they were doing. It's not stealing, it's not property. As for the slavery, they brought people as slaves. These slaves brought their culture with them which with time mixed in with the dominant one.
If we're going down that path of separation, eventually you will reach the "stop appropriating our language" point and hopefully realise how ridiculous this notion is. And what happens if a bunch of black people don't like Eminem but love Iggy Azalea? This is completely subjective.

If we're going to view culture as (intellectual) property, it is in the public domain, it is part of what forms American culture if we're going to be more specific, or Western culture put more broadly since, through internet and mass media, culture can transcend borders and the globe without large masses of people migrating.

These slaves brought their culture with them which with time mixed in with the dominant one

Yikes..you realize how wrong this is..how many slaves died practicing any cultural traditions or attempting to teach it down. White people did everything they could to strip all culture and history from Black Americans. And continue to do it today.

This is definitely something that's been on my mind lately. I've participated in things like sweat lodges (by invitation from local Aboriginal people) and spent time in ceremony with Curandero's in Peru. I study a lot of Eastern thought and I've received some Tibetan Buddhist transmissions. Again, by invitation and with a great deal of respect.

The line for me is pretty simple. There's appreciation and cultural sharing, and then there's taking on another culture as an identity. I have no intention of running sweat lodges or ever presenting myself as a Curandero or Tibetan Buddhist. I won't take on their symbols as a way to adorn myself and claim some heritage I wasn't born into. Cultural identity is important. We have a long, storied history of trying to eliminate languages, beliefs and traditions of the less powerful in order to secure our own culture in their place. It's a big line of discussion here in Canada right now and there's a lot of horrendous sh*t in our own history.

There's also the case of attribution. I wonder how many white people would like it if the achievements they feel have been credited to "white people" were erased and then attributed to, say, the Chinese? Chinese invented the internal combustion engine. They invented mass production and the assembly line. They invented rock and roll. How would that feel, I wonder?

Tanglebones wrote:

Or even Public Enemy's sample of Khalid Abdul Muhammad famous speech..

TheGameguru wrote:

Or even Public Enemy's sample of Khalid Abdul Muhammad famous speech..

I believe it was Chicago attorney and civil rights activist Thomas "TNT" Todd who was sampled, not Khalid Abdul Muhammad.

And in a little cultural Inception moment, Todd's turn of phrase was inspired by a late 60s ad campaign for Tareyton cigarettes.

Thirteenth wrote:

My people came up with X. White people didn't come up with X, but loves X and learned X from me, because I'm one of my people. White people then took what they learned about X and monetized it, without acknowledging that they learned X from me, or offering me a share of the profit for monetizing X. I see white people getting rich off of X, something my people created, and neither I nor any other member of my people see a single cent of that money. If I think X is "mine," Of course I'll get mad. And maybe I forget that prior to monetizing X, white people took substantial risks in creating their business venture. Maybe I forget that I got a first bite at monetizing X, but chose not to do it for any combination of reason. Maybe I forget that I didn't really create X, and I'm scarcely related to the guy who did. Now that I'm jealous of white people for monetizing X, maybe I argue that my people are the rightful inheritors of X, and that we should get the exclusive right to monetize X.

This is personal to me. I have a friend who loves BBQ and the Chinese gua bao, and thought to start combining the two in his cookouts. He asked me to get a couple packages of gua bao the next time I stopped by the local Chinese mart. I was happy to oblige. He did his thing in the next cookout and it became a huge hit among friends. Next thing I knew, he struck a deal with a local brewery to do a weekend pop up grill that features the dishes.

I get it. I felt a tinge of that very primal, territorial jealousy when I was reading a short online article about the pop up. One of the comments reads, "i love baos! can't wait to try it out!" I saw that comment and thought, that could be me. But I didn't take the initiative. Had I thought to do so, maybe I could enjoy the same success as my UK counterparts.

As of this moment, my friend and his fiance are struggling to break even on this little business venture of theirs. If they're good enough, maybe eventually they quit their jobs and become gua bao BBQ gurus, and finally get a place of their own instead of sharing a house with 4 other couples. I daydream a little bit about how I would go on a podium and defend them if they become successful and get inevitably embroiled in some cultural appropriation controversy.

This would be a fine argument if POC were awarded small business loans with the same frequency as white folks.

Along these lines: http://verysmartbrothas.com/welcome-...

Of course, White people seem intent on proving they’re able to create realities far more absurd and ridiculous than any fiction. Which is why East Liberty — which used to be a Black Pittsburgh cultural nexus but is rapidly morphing into Yinzer Williamsburg — will soon be home to “The Coop,” which promises to be an “urban, street style type of place” serving fast casual fried chicken, according to Adam Kucenic (the owner). It will sit next to Muddy Waters, an oyster bar created by the same owner. And on Muddy Waters’ other side will soon be another Kucenic creation: “The Big Kahuna” — a poke bowl restaurant with a distinctly Hawaiian feel.
LarryC wrote:

There's also the case of attribution. I wonder how many white people would like it if the achievements they feel have been credited to "white people" were erased and then attributed to, say, the Chinese? Chinese invented the internal combustion engine. They invented mass production and the assembly line. They invented rock and roll. How would that feel, I wonder?

Actually, Little Richard and other lesser known black musicians are frequently credited with inventing rock and roll.

OG_slinger wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

Or even Public Enemy's sample of Khalid Abdul Muhammad famous speech..

I believe it was Chicago attorney and civil rights activist Thomas "TNT" Todd who was sampled, not Khalid Abdul Muhammad.

And in a little cultural Inception moment, Todd's turn of phrase was inspired by a late 60s ad campaign for Tareyton cigarettes.

He was sampled in Fight the Power.. Muhammad was the one sampled in Night of the Living Bassheads

TheGameguru wrote:

That view only works from the lens of the power holder. It's easy for white people to claim that culture is not property.. they've been stealing it for hundreds of years. They robbed black American's of all their historical culture during the slave trade and then the enslavement of the entire race for hundreds of years after.

Didn't want to let this go by uncommented, because it struck me.

I started following a number of people of color (and trans folks, and lots of other folks) on Twitter to expand my point of view and hopefully learn something and I will tell you, like, 50% of twitter culture starts from Black Twitter and is appropriated by the general public within a month of going viral within their circles.

This isn't just a historical thing, it's happening right now, all the time. In my personal experience, basically any meme or slang that didn't come from chan culture on Twitter probably came from Black Twitter instead and it all gets eaten up by the Twitter masses and loses its identity.

TheGameguru wrote:

He was sampled in Fight the Power.. Muhammad was the one sampled in Night of the Living Bassheads

Whoops! You're right!

Interesting thing on Wonder Woman that I have only seen with black reviewers pointing out. There was a noticeable lack of women of color with any meaningful parts. A few black women in the background, no Asians or any other races that I noticed. I wish they spent more time on the island to get more women on camera with bigger parts. Or maybe they could have even given some of the fight scenes to non white women. I know they had a black woman fighter but I don't recall her having any fight scenes at least none on scale of triple arrow shot.

On to a different show, The Handmaid's Tale. Another interesting thing brought up by black reviewers. Racism is never addressed in this show. I believe the director said something along the lines of them not wanting to address it because there were enough problems. I believe the book has only white people in it. Anyway some of the scenes seem to ring false kind of like star trek episode where they go back in time to racist time period but no ones says anything about the black blind guy. If this is a world where racism never existed why are there no black commanders? Personally I wasn't to bother by it mostly because the show had black people in it with good meaningful parts. I do think addressing racism would have made for a better show.

Baron Of Hell wrote:

On to a different show, The Handmaid's Tale. Another interesting thing brought up by black reviewers. Racism is never addressed in this show. I believe the director said something along the lines of them not wanting to address it because there were enough problems. I believe the book has only white people in it. Anyway some of the scenes seem to ring false kind of like star trek episode where they go back in time to racist time period but no ones says anything about the black blind guy. If this is a world where racism never existed why are there no black commanders? Personally I wasn't to bother by it mostly because the show had black people in it with good meaningful parts. I do think addressing racism would have made for a better show.

In the book says that black people--or "children of Ham"--were being "relocated" to concentration camps in North Dakota.

The Handmaid's Tale took place in a MAGA version of America where the violent Christian conservatives who took over the country by shooting the president and then machine-gunning all of Congress decided to bypass racism by putting black people (and, I assume, anyone they were uncomfortable with) in reservations and then reshaping society so that everyone in the remaining (white) population knew their places.

It's not a woke 2017 answer. But it worked in early 80s when Atwood was justifiably freaking out about the Moral Majority and the Republican Party selling out to a bunch of religious frauds and nutters.

It's safe to assume that miscegenation isn't allowed in Mike Pence's ameriKKKa. It should be addressed in the show though. It wouldn't take much.

I actually kind of think that having any Black cast in the series is a failure of the shows' producers to fully commit to the horror of the setting. But I haven't seen the series so can't say too much.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

It's safe to assume that miscegenation isn't allowed in Mike Pence's ameriKKKa. It should be addressed in the show though. It wouldn't take much.

I actually kind of think that having any Black cast in the series is a failure of the shows' producers to fully commit to the horror of the setting. But I haven't seen the series so can't say too much.

I believe the creator, director, and original author are all on record saying it couldn't be addressed in the show without drastically reducing the amount of actors of color they could use. It was a strategic decision to help them avoid the pitfalls others shows have encountered; when the text explicitly mandates that every cast member be white in order to tell a tale about racism, they abandoned that thread in favor of diversifying that same cast.

That was their intent, anyway. They also expressed the similar "damned if you do, damned if you don't" lament that I've heard from creative minds on many projects, from Dr. Strange and Great Wall to Wonder Woman.

Having every cast member be white wouldn't distinguish it from most Hollywood fare, and it would therefore not be an effective statement about the horror of formal racism.

LarryC wrote:

Having every cast member be white wouldn't distinguish it from most Hollywood fare, and it would therefore not be an effective statement about the horror of formal racism.

Exactly. And then the follow up question is: "do we contribute to the problem of using white only actors, which is more faithful to the book, in an effort to make a statement to the racism of ethnically homogenous theocracies like Gilead, or do we avoid that and give jobs to a racially diverse cast, even if that means showing the Republic of Gilead as far more racially tolerant than the book?" They chose the latter, which is how Samira Wiley was cast as Moira.

You dont need to take my word for it:

Handmaid Tale's executive producer wrote:

Also, honestly, what’s the difference between making a TV show about racists and making a racist TV show? Why would we be covering [the story of handmaid Offred, played by Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss], rather than telling the story of the people of color who got sent off to Nebraska?”

Baron Of Hell wrote:

Interesting thing on Wonder Woman that I have only seen with black reviewers pointing out. There was a noticeable lack of women of color with any meaningful parts. A few black women in the background, no Asians or any other races that I noticed. I wish they spent more time on the island to get more women on camera with bigger parts. Or maybe they could have even given some of the fight scenes to non white women. I know they had a black woman fighter but I don't recall her having any fight scenes at least none on scale of triple arrow shot.

Especially since Diana's sister is a woman of color, so they could have easily had more black women in Themyscira with bigger roles based on canon so the haters wouldn't even have that to complain about.

Wikipedia wrote:

Later, Diana meets her "sister" Nubia, who is Hippolyta's daughter fashioned out of dark clay (hence Nubia's dark complexion).

So, my wife and I watch The Bachelor and Bachelorette. It's pretty much as terrible as anyone thinks (and also not as bad as anyone thinks, always a mixed bag), but for my wife, it's her big dumb, no stress show to drink wine and chill out to on a Monday nights. Mondays are always a stressful day at work for her, and this is just a ritual now.

Honestly, it also drives some interesting conversation about feminism and relationships between my wife and I, as we talk about how people treat each other the show, as well as how the producers edit the show.

But this season they decided to have a black Bachelorette, but they are proving to be completely in over their heads when it comes to race. Just watching season 2 of Unreal should have clued them in, but no, they are f*cking clueless.

The problem is, they included a deplorable, Lee, from Tennessee by way of Mississippi. Somehow, they missed all of his previous tweets about loving Trump, comparing NAACP to the KKK, and his hate of Islam and feminists. He's southern boy with all the charm of Jeff Sessions. This is not okay, and it's not just because he is a hoop for Rachel to jump through, but because he is a gaslighting prick.

It's been going on since the beginning, as he needles the other black men, and brags about getting into their heads. No, he doesn't say that he is picking on the black men, that's just who he is screwing with. And other white men on the show have been quick to point it out, and are just as disturbed by it. Two different men have had pretty loud arguments with him, as Lee sits and grins, realizing he is getting the reaction he wants.

Last night it was hard watching Kenny, who is one of our favorites, get taken down so many notches, because he has to sort out being gaslit on national television, not knowing how much he can trust the producers to not cast him as an angry black man.

But it get worse. First, they show a conversation between two of the black contestants, and they think that maybe, righty now, Rachel may just not be into dating a black dudes. But you know what she wants? Less drama. The problem is, white guy after white guy can talk to her about being there for her and avoiding the drama. You know, the guys that ABC did not cast someone to just troll them and get them worked up. So yeah, the show has also been an example of white privilege.

The problem is, they are f*cking with real people. Hell, even Lee has a beef, as they set him up to be hated by the entire country. And that is the only silver lining. There is no #standwithLee movement. He's sh*thead, through and through.

It's sickening. And no, not watching isn't an answer. ABC ought to be answering for its sins, not ignored. They were incapable of addressing race without exploiting it. More people should be aware of it, not less.

And if that wasn't enough, ABC compounded their issue with the Bachelor in Paradise spinoff where they send past contestants to get drunk and hook-up. Well, one of those is a black contest from this season who was bitted bt Rachel when is girlfriend came forward to let her know that he never broke up with her, and he proceeded to lie about it. That was standard Bachelor crap.

But once he was in Paradise, he hooked up with a villain from another season, Corrine. for some reason, this sexual encounter got this headline:

Bachelor in Paradise's DeMario Jackson Allegedly Filmed in Sexual Encounter with Woman Who May Not Have Been Able to Consent: Sources

To be clear, they provide free alcohol and encourage this behavior every season, which is problematic. But here we are, when one of the contestants is a black male, suddenly there is a problem. It wasn't a problem with so many dunk white people hooking up. And no, the woman he hooked up with is not uncomfortable with what happened. But that didn't stop Demario from having to answer headlines like that.

It's really clear that ABC has no one ons staff fore this show that has a clue how to address race and to monitor the production in a way to stops the crap, not only from airing, but from happening in the first place.