I invite everyone to watch this awe-inducing clip of a round table director’s forum. Before you proceed to indulging in my half-witted, barely legible, kinda obscurant treatise on race and Hollywood, you should first heed my warning. I will preface this blog with a, ‘Sweet Jeeves, this clip is awkward’. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so. But once one gets over that feeling of wanting to move to Mogadishu and quit the internet; one can get a glimpse into glorious world of white male privilege in its most sincere and raw form. British film director Steve McQueen (not that guy) famed for his poignant tale of IRA soldier Bobby Sands is in the headlines (well actually in about two blogs, and three twitter accounts) for his critique of Hollywood’s exclusion of, whom Donald Trump refers to as, ‘The Blacks’. Steve Mcqueen challenges his peers by stating he is “astonished by American filmmakers, particularly living in certain areas, when they never cast one black person, or have never put them in a lead in the movie. I’m astonished. It’s shameful. How do you live in New York and not cast a black actor or a Latino actor? It’s shameful. It’s unbelievable.”
The other illustrious panelists which include Jason Reitman of ‘Juno’ fame, Benny Miller, Alexandra Payne, and who the $%^# are the other guys Mike Mills all are silenced into shame, as Mr. McQueen challenges their racially exclusive all boys club. And here’s where I just want to bang my head against a wall, and change species. It’s one thing to be silenced by the awkwardness of an impromptu racial discourse; but these men had the platform and notoriety to address the issue of diversity and Hollywood, and not one response was uttered. While some words were uttered along the lines of, ‘I don’t know’. Look, I understand an industry of old guards cannot be dissected within a 5 minute panel discussion, but if addressed, it can give legitimacy to the grievances of many Black, Latino, Asian actors, and directors who are tired of this artistic exclusion. It can also serve as catalyst for a long overdue discourse on the absence of diversity in Cinema, and perhaps, dare to ask, ‘why does every film made in America resemble a
Frank Miller dream ethnically homogenous utopia. I hate to say it folks, but nearly one day after tearing the Brits a new one (check out previous post), I must admit, they are far more advanced when it comes diversity and Film. The Brits actually acknowledge the existence of non-Anglo-Saxon persons. The Americans prefer the ‘person non grata’ approach. Perhaps the logical trajectory here is, if the arts don’t acknowledge America’s historic demographic shift, then one doesn’t have to address the political, cultural, and social implications of this ethnic shift in population. Just keep funding films about an all white New York City, and an Aryan Atlanta, and perhaps the Mexicans will just disappear. I guess that makes sense, If you’re working within a Heinrich Himmler-ism paradigm.
I’m not American, and forgive me in advance if I speak with a tone nuanced with Anti-American disdain, but I think there is a huge problem here. It’s a huge problem everywhere. But when France (yeah the country that bans articles of clothing) does a better job of representing its minorities on film than you(hollywood,America), then I think a discussion is in order(that doesn’t involve Jason Reitman). Perhaps with a different group of directors next time. Invite Tarantino. Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed how the two female directors they named as a evidence of their commitment to affirmative action were actually a Brit and a Scot. For once, the UK is slowly making strides towards social inclusion (yeah yeah, I saw the riots too). In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some amazing films by a talented, diverse, and innovative group of Directors and films hailing from the UK.