Race in Hollywood/ Tumblr Talk V

Once again, the discussions on Tumblr break it down, regarding the rules and regulations of intersectional femininity, and race.
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My thoughts on being a person of color in Hollywood: nicolebyer:

The New York Times asked me to write about being a person of color in Hollywood. I wrote it but they didn’t like what they read I guess??? I say that because they decided not to run it. But I think I actually wrote something good. Thank you to my dear friend Madeline Walter for proofreading and editing it. Have a read will ya?

Hmmmmm… oh boy. Imagine my surprise when I opened an email and saw that the New York Times wanted to know my opinion on being a person of color working in Hollywood. To me, that sentence is a crazy sentence. Like my life is crazy and the fact that I am working in Hollywood is crazy. Also my friends barely want my opinion on anything, and the New York Times is, like, a news source that intellectuals in coffee shops read.

But, down to the actual question that has been posed to me… what is it like being a person of color working in Hollywood? Well I’ll tell you, it’s a real roller coaster, because not only am I a person of color, but I am a woman and an overweight one at that. I’m like the least traditionally fuckable of all the women you could gather and put on TV/film. Now you’re probably thinking, “OH NICOLE! DON’T SAY THAT ABOUT YOURSELF! EVERY BODY IS A BEAUTIFUL BODY!” That’s a very nice thing for you to shout at me, but I already know that. I love who I am right now, and I’m not the one who’s telling myself I’m unfuckable. It gets beaten into my brain from audition notices that say, “looks like a linebacker”…“woman who is fat and disgusting but still somehow has sex”… “fat black waitress”… “hooker”… “black bus driver.” A lot of under-five characters I would audition for don’t even have names. Instead, they’re named by their race, body type and/or profession. They’re not given real names, which to me, means they’re not viewed as real people. Which is super helpful, ‘cause, you know, in case I forget what I look like, some cool writer or casting director will remind me.

Also, I’ve done a handful of voiceover and on-camera jobs where I’ve been asked to “be blacker.” Which is code for be sassier, more ghetto, more neck rolls and snaps. I even wrote and shot a video about it with some dear friends (please take a break from this and YouTube it). A lot of the time I wouldn’t know where my next paycheck was coming from, so I would just sass it the fuck up when someone asked me to. That’s not to say that being sassy isn’t fun. It is… just not when it’s asked of you everywhere you go. Because you start to feel that nobody cares what else you have to offer. Now before you think, “Nicole, nobody escapes typecasting,” I say, “Oh fuck you, take a nap, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Typecasting is a thing, but when it involves race, it narrows the roles available down to an almost comically small amount.

On the flip side (told you it was a roller coaster), now I do get to audition for things that are not defined by race. I’m very lucky that in most of my jobs now, I’m able to just be a “funny person” as opposed to a “funny black person.” I perform at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, where my race and gender are rarely pointed out. I just worked on a new sketch show for Fox called “Party Over Here,” where sketches were written for me because of my funny and not my race. MTV’s “Girl Code” was one hundred percent me… that show allowed me to really fine tune my comedic voice. Now, I’m currently writing and about to star in my own scripted show for MTV, where race and gender play a role but are not the star. Maybe you’ll see me take off a wig or get my brown makeup on the cheek of a white person and then discreetly try to rub it off without them noticing… I mean, you guys, there are so many funny (and some not funny) stories that people of color can tell without race having to be mentioned overtly.

You know, I think Viola Davis really hit a home run with “And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
I constantly see shows that seemingly have diversity but fail to realize that you don’t have to hide people of color in the background and in under-five roles. You can give them fully three-dimensional characters who return in multiple (dare I say all?) the episodes in a season.

So, when I think about being a mildly successful person of color in Hollywood, I think that change IS happening. If you look at me on paper, I shouldn’t have the things I have. I should thank Queen Latifah, Gabourey Sidibe, and Monique for being trailblazers by not adjusting their bodies to industry standards. Their careers have made it easier for me to exist in this world. Also changing what the standard is; is hard. Maybe now you’re thinking, “Nicole shouldn’t the best person get the job, regardless of race or gender?” Yeah, they should, but in this business, “best” is subjective, and people tend to like what they know. And more times than not, it’s a bunch of old white men making the decisions. If you’re white, you know white… which isn’t on purpose, it’s just embedded in our heads. Systemic racism/preferential treatment is real, and it’s something I could go on forever about but, my friends, I have a word limit.
Listen, I don’t wish we existed in a colorblind society, because what a boring fucking world that would be. Also, saying you’re colorblind is essentially taking the color away from people, just lumping everyone together into one big beige ball. I don’t ever want to be just a basic bitch lumped together with a bunch of other basic bitches in one big basic bitch beige ball. I want to wave my color proudly. I want to bring my color and background to the table, because it makes life/entertainment more interesting. And, I want people to embrace differences and maybe step outside of their comfort zones. I know I think we just as people in entertainment and in life need to be inclusive… I don’t know. I hope that wasn’t too ramble-y.

Okay bye bye!

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(Editor’s Note:

I agree. Both the casting directors and writers need to be taken to task for their shameless inability to use their imaginations in creating roles for people outside the straight, white cis-gender male gaze.)

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An this is another excellent article about Sleepy Hollow and the importance of representation for WoC, From The Mary Sue:

Spoilers for all of Sleepy Hollow to follow.

“Ichabod, everything we’re striving for here, fighting with our dying breath to create for this country a free land of opportunity for all Miss Abigail Mills represents. She is the American dream.”—Benjamin Franklin 2×18: Tempus Fugit

If someone had told me that in 2016 Bonnie Bennett would be practically leading The Vampire Diaries and Abbie Mills would be dead on Sleepy Hollow, I would have called them a liar. Abbie was safeshe was the main character on a FOX show with a huge cult following!and despite the writing failures, there was no denying that Abbie was important to the show. Then she was killed off, and I was forced to realize that there was no safety.

Throughout science fiction and fantasy there have been female characters of color, but many have been either hated (Doctor Who’s Martha Jones), sidelined (BBC Merlin’s Gwen), or just never allowed to real their full potential (Teen Wolf’s Kira Yukimura). There are others that exist, but on smaller shows on cable television: Z Nation,Hunters, Dark Matter, and Killjoys, to name a few.Sleepy Hollow held the hopes of a huge population of black fans who were looking for a place on a major network in genre television.

The announcement of Nicole Beharie as the lead actress of Sleepy Hollow was exciting, but I remember that year was also the year Elementarycame out and there was a lot of joy about seeing more women of color leading a show that wasn’t written by Shonda Rhimes (she can’t do everything y’all). In season one, despite a few pitfalls, the show really balanced out its core cast and the intense chemistry between Ichabod and Abbie (Ichabbie) is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. Not only was there Abbie, but she had a sister, Jenny; and Frank Irving was a black male character in power who was kind, wise and had a family of his own. We had multiple layered POC and it was excellent.

Then in season two, they began to bring the foolishness.

abbiewalking

Abbie, Jenny, and Frank took a back seat to the Crane Family Viewing Hour and we were treated to the angst of Ichabod’s relationships with his wife Katrina and evil son-demon, Jeremy aka Henry aka Horseman of War. Slowly but surely Abbie’s narrative dwindled into a single episode that was totally centered around her, “Mama,” and while we were shown a tiny sliver of what the show could be, it returned to assuming that the only way it would prosper is by Crane leading the path. Even though people kept talking about how important Abbie was to the show.

People were screaming for more Abbie at the end of season two and not just screen time, we wanted Abbie to have a life. Despite living in Sleepy Hollow her whole life Abbie had not one friend to go to. With the exception of her sister, Jenny, Abbie was denied having real outside relationships with anybody throughout her run. That was despite the immense thirst coming from: Hawley aka Worst, Andy aka Cho-tastic, Random Angel Guy who never came back, Hot Camera Guy who never came back, and Ichabod Crane himself. Meanwhile not only did Ichabod have his relationships at the very forefront of the show, he was allowed to have friendships and his random knowledge almost always led to the resolution of the story’s main mystery.

But, like a thirsty man in the desert, fans hoped beyond hope that season three would be different. With Katrina dead and Hawley gone it was time for Abbie (and Jenny) to get their screen time back. Then everything changed when Betsy Ross appeared.

Betsy Ross will go down, in my humble opinion, as one of the stupidest things this show did. For a show that was celebrated in season one for its diversity, it continued to peel back its characters of color and add the most irrelevant white characters they could dust up. Betsy Ross was the cream of the crop, second only to Hawley, in being a huge waste of time. Plus, guess who got a relationship story again? Oh that’s right: Ichabod. One in the past with Betsy, and one in present day with a colonial history-buff Zoe.

What was Abbie’s storyline? Well, she got sucked into a tree once. After being brought back into reality with help from Ichabod, Abbie did have a fairly good storyline dealing with her PTSD from being in a world devoid of time, but even that in the larger picture was too little too late. Even her eventual relationship with Daniel, her boss and former flame, got very little development and the timeline itself is wonky at best.

Then after all that, she died since she “served her purpose” by helping Ichabod. Excuse me while I go scream into my pillow.

angryabbie

Abbie’s death isn’t upsetting just because she died, but because the show really thinks it can survive without her. The actress wanted to leave, and rightly so, considering the material she was getting, but that is the problem—the story made her want to leave. Sleepy Hollow, whether it wants to admit it or not, got its fanbase because of diversity and because of viewers who enjoyed seeing Abbie Mills as the lead characters. There are people who, despite the poor second season, still stuck with the show because they wanted to see Nicole as Abbie Mills.

Let us not forget that during the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. asked actress Nichelle Nichols to stay on Star Trek because of what her image meant to black female viewers. The sad reality is that hunger, that need to see ourselves, still exists in media and with every step forward, there are several steps back that only reinforce the need to see the few that do it well survive.

As a black woman I don’t just want Empire andBlack-ish. We don’t want television that people assume is just “for us,” we want to be a part of stories that people have assumed we have no place in.

Abbie Mills was supposed to be our Buffy, our Scully. Not because black women or other women of color don’t enjoy those characters, but it means something to see a woman who is brown and beautiful and smart be on screen, being called “The American Dream” in a world that constantly questions your humanity. Abbie Mills held in her the hopes and possibilities of what a dark skinned black woman could be on a network sci-fi show. And it failed.

abbiesavior

Sleepy Hollow reinforced the expendability that black bodies are in genre television, and proved that protagonist protection does not extend to us. As I watch shows like Elementary, Wynonna Earp,Killjoys, and Z Nation that have non-white characters as “leads,” I fear for their safety constantly.

We are not safe. Not in this world or others. I mourn Abbie Mills and as I look at my old television flame, The Vampire Diaries, I just keep hoping that Bonnie Bennett will make it out alive because I need someone to.

Princess Weekes is a full-time writer, part-time Barista originally from Brooklyn, but camping out in Queens, NY. When she isn’t catching up on Netflix or stressing about student loans, she reads about dead white royality. She runs a small YouTube Channel under the username Melina Pendulum and hopes to someday finish that novel. Find her on Twitter orYoutube.

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

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As a black woman I don’t just want Empire and Black-ish. We don’t want television that people assume is just “for us,” we want to be a part of stories that people have assumed we have no place in.

Abbie Mills was supposed to be our Buffy, our Scully. Not because black women or other women of color don’t enjoy those characters, but it means something to see a woman who is brown and beautiful and smart be on screen, being called “The American Dream” in a world that constantly questions your humanity. Abbie Mills held in her the hopes and possibilities of what a dark skinned black woman could be on a network sci-fi show. And it failed.

@abbiemillsamericandream is this the one you were just talking about? *runs to read*

 

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*(Editor’s Note: Yes, I’m still grieving over the loss of Abbie Mills. I will never forgive Fox for this. And I should have known better after the cancelation of Now and Again, and Firefly. I’ve been burned by Fox too many times to ever trust them again.  Abbie was one of the primary reasons I started this blog, and one of my first posts was about her existence in the genre. My statement still stands, as important as ever:

WoC like to have adventures, too.

Its so sad that the PTB, can’t see beyond the white male narratives they like, to the idea that ALL the other people who exist in this world, want to see reflections of themselves that don’t tear them down and break them up .

This is why representation behind the scenes is so incredibly important. Its extremely obvious that the white, middle class, straight men, who run these systems, cannot/will not see beyond their own whiteness. If whiteness is universal, then how hard is it to apply the universality of their emotions to other people? To understand that PoC, LGBT, Latinx, and others fantasize about many of the same things they do, (being beautiful, being powerful, loved, and special,) and make us part of the narrative as something more than ” expendable help”. But what’s really sad is, not only are our lived experiences not safe, we aren’t even allowed to have fantasies where we are safe from harm.

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Not Your Asian Ninja: How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Keeps Failing Asian-Americans

Daredevil’s second season was great—except for the endless Asian stereotyping. When will the Marvel Cinematic Universe wake up?

I liked Daredevil Season 2 a lot. I didn’t like it quite as much as Season 1, but it was always going to be impossible to find someone to live up to Vincent D’Onofrio’s take on Wilson Fisk (who still effortlessly steals the few scenes he gets this season). But the writing and the acting for Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, is compelling as hell, enough to spark a lively debate about the appeal of vigilante justice and gun violence in American culture.

The tangled, messy web of corruption behind the death of the Punisher’s family, the complicity of the state and the media in creating him, his turnaround in becoming a criminal defendant in the Trial of the Century, and the moral ambiguity of Castle’s past as a soldier who exposes the American public’s hypocrisy by bringing the brutal logic of the overseas War on Terror stateside—that’s all great stuff.

The problem is all that great stuff is only half of Daredevil Season 2. There’s a whole other half that’s almost totally disconnected from the Frank Castle plot, the Nelson and Murdock law firm, and New York City politics. There’s a full 50 percent of DaredevilSeason 2 that’s total crap, and that half is the part with the ninjas. (x)

 

Why Doesn’t Hollywood Cast Asian Actors for Anime Adaptations?

It’s been recently announced that Adam Wingard’s American adaptation of the popular anime/manga Death Note will be coming out on Netflix.

The news ripped the Band-Aid over the still-sore wound that the movie, produced by Dan Lin, Roy Lee, and Heroes’s Masi Oka, will star Nat Wolff and Margaret Qualley. In case you couldn’t tell by the names, both actors are white. Like, very white.

Among the chorus of voices decrying the latest case of Hollywood whitewashing was Asian-American actor and Death Note fan, Edward Zo, who brought both a personal and insider perspective on the situation.

His video, Racist Hollywood?, has been seen almost 57,000 times and in it, he speaks in detail about how his excitement over news of the adaptation quickly turned to ash when he found out he wouldn’t be “the right fit.”

 

“Through the grapevine, I was told to my face that they were not looking to see Asian actors for the role of Light Yagami,” he said.

While I’m sure Wolff and Qualley are talented performers who love their families and pay their taxes, their casting further illustrates the gulf of opportunity that exists between white actors and those of other ethnicities that was called out so well by Viola Davis at last year’s Emmys. (x)

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http://www.vulture.com/2016/04/hollywood-black-actors.html_

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*(Editor’s Note : On Latinx Representation:

I feel about this issue, the same way I feel about Asian Representation in Hollywood. It is not Black People’s job to fight for other people’s representation. It is other culture’s  job to speak up and let Hollywood know they are dissatisfied with their treatment, and only they know how they would like to be depicted onscreen.

My mom has a saying, “A closed mouth does not get fed.” If Latinx people are upset about their treatment in media, they need to let the PTB know it, and why. Don’t yell at black people about it. We’re not the ones who make such decisions. Tell those who can do something about it.

Black people have enough to do fighting our own battles, we cant fight everyone else’s too. But what we can do is support Latinx/Hispanic actors and signal boost any messages Latinx want to send out into the world. If you put yourselves out there, we got your back. We can do that.)

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To that point:

anonymous asked:

I think y’all should be grateful that you get to see black actors in MCU because I’m latina and there’s literally no Latino/a characters in MCU. Like none.

 

I’m not in support of “Keep white people out of the black panther movie”  because I do not want Black Panther to be written off as just a black character IE since he’s for black people only I don’t have to empathize with him. He’s off to the side away from my favs.

No. I want black kids to feel proud and I also want white kids to grow up in an a film environment where their heroes don’t have to look like them to be heroes basically how all minorities have to watch films anyway.

I am in support of “Don’t let white people overrun the film” but a small cameo like Sam Wilson in Ant-man would be alright with me.

There are hundreds of all white movies without a single solitary character of colour. Hollywood is still erasing us from our own films; Asian people aren’t even allowed to play Asian characters. Hollywood is still portraying us as stereotypes.

We have no problems empathising with white people without seeing ourselves represented. If they’re going to write t’challa off as “just a black character” because there aren’t any prominent white people in the movie, they’re racist period point blank. There’s absolutely no reason we should keep having to accommodate whiteness when white people already have everything. Stop giving white people the impression that they absolutely need to be represented in marginalised spaces in order to empathise with people of colour. This is the type of thinking that leads to all white dystopian films where white people are the ones being oppressed.

I’m not adverse to relevant non black characters being in it (i.e. I wouldn’t mind seeing Steve or Bucky in a cameo, I’d have a blast if they showed up) but I don’t subscribe to the idea that we owe white people representation under the assumption that they won’t know how to relate to us without a white body on screen. They’re more than capable of relating to us without having to use a white body as a proxy, they just choose not to because that’s how racism works. They can deal with it just like we do in pretty much every other film.

Source:
The Bait and Switch Debate:
Remember that whole brouhaha over queer baiting, with shows constantly teasing Queer representation, without ever promising to follow through, just to keep certain shippers  watching a show (although now, they seem to have exchanged that bait and switch tactic with bait and kill). Well, this is the same thing only its called “race baiting”. It’s a common  tactic where shows claim, and sometimes even promise diversity, start those first couple of seasons with a very diverse cast, and over the years, slowly whittle out all the PoC , replacing them with white males. Heroes did it, (they were a lot more subtle about it), The Walking Dead still can’t keep any black men in its cast, and  Sleepy Hollow clumsily, stupidly, engaged in this practice.
http://www.forharriet.com/2015/02/television-networks-love-our-ratings.html#axzz48Ixk82v9
 
http://www.theblackgirltv.com/the-bait-and-switch-sleepy-hollow/
 
http://www.btchflcks.com/2015/08/the-veil-of-diversity-in-sleepy-hollow.html#.VzKCotT3arV
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2 thoughts on “Race in Hollywood/ Tumblr Talk V

  1. “People were screaming for more Abbie at the end of season two and not just screen time, we wanted Abbie to have a life. Despite living in Sleepy Hollow her whole life Abbie had not one friend to go to. With the exception of her sister, Jenny, Abbie was denied having real outside relationships with anybody throughout her run.”

    That’s something that’s always made me sooo angry about SH. Some people don’t realize it because she’s skinny and considered conventionally attractive in a mainstream kind of way, but she was written as a mammy (it’s not always the plump, asexual, jolly Black woman whose sole focus and happiness in life is baking pies for White people). Abbie was written as a mammy and she died a magical negro on top of being a fridged woman.

    It makes me so angry. I can’t even imagine how Nicole felt showing up for work and after seasons of her character being phased out, having to read a script about her Abby who had now repaired her relationship with her sister, father and had a blossoming romance with a tall, strapping FBI dude was happy to die because she’s done her job carrying Ichabod to greatest heights. She was denied individuality and dignity even in death. AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I hope the next season goes down in flames.

    Liked by 1 person

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