Tag Archives: role model

In The Force Awakens White Women get Representation, but Black Women get CGI

I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I loved it so much that the first thing I thought about doing when I walked out of the theatre was hash out everything that this Star Wars reboot had done right.

Like including legitimately humorous dialogue rather than slapstick CGI sidekicks.

Unfortunately, everyone on the blogosphere had already come to the same conclusion long before I was back from my Christmas break. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about the film, or reading articles about it. So I’ve decided to write about one of the few things that bothered me about the film, rather than many aspects of the film that I loved.

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you probably already know that we at CWR were excited to hear about the diversity of casting in The Force Awakens.

I was especially excited when I heard that Lupita Nyong’o had been cast. Ever since she won best supporting actress for 12 Years a Slave and was declared the most beautiful person of 2014 by People magazine, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for Nyong’o. After witnessing her sudden rise to fame, I was curious to see if she would continue to find roles in major films, or if she would slowly be pushed out of Hollywood because of her dark skin. As Gregg Kilday explains in his article about Nyong’o, few black actresses have ever managed to secure a spot as a permanent Hollywood heavyweight:

While the stage would appear to be set for [Nyong’o] to ascend to the A-list — just as Jennifer Lawrence did after her best actress win for Silver Linings Playbook last year — it’s not that simple. For while there have been a handful of African-American actors, from Sidney Poitier to Eddie MurphyDenzel Washington and Will Smith, who have reached that status, there’s never been a black actress who has become the equivalent of a Julia Roberts or Angelina Jolie. Whoopi Goldberg came closest, following her best actress Oscar nomination for 1985’s The Color Purple and supporting actress win for 1990’s Ghost, but despite an occasional hit like 1992’s Sister Act, she didn’t maintain that momentum. Hollywood also flirted with Angela Bassett, Thandie Newton, Halle Berry and, most recently, Mandela‘s Naomie Harris, without ushering any of them into its very top tier.

It seems like a habit for major blockbuster films to tick off their diversity checklist by casting a white woman and/or a black man. Meanwhile, actors from other minority groups, especially women of colour, get overlooked because all the non-white, male roles have already been taken. As Evan pointed out in his post about the Martian and racebending, this seems to be the impulse, even when it means casting a white women to play a Korean- American character and a black man to play an Asian- Indian character. Continue reading

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Kids Those Days

Twilight Spoilers, if that’s something you care about.
                                                                                                                                                                      

This topic was dated when I wrote about it for my other blog a year ago, August 16th. That being said, you’re going to have to think about popular trends that occurred quite a while ago, no easy task when popularity ebbs and flows as it does nowadays.

A little before my original writing on this subject, Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, and the Twilight novels were all the rage. I’m going to say right now that it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, with the hopes that what I’m about to say will back it up.

Every trend has its own share of supporters and critics. In this case, everyone everywhere (on the internet) was aghast at this cultural phenomenon that had befallen us. We (a collective we) were disgusted with this slurry that had become every teenage girl’s obsession, and we took every chance we could to denounce and deride Meyer’s novels, the Jonas’ music, and so on.

It struck me one day, however, what exactly we were doing. A lot of the issues that people were nitpicking (and deriding) were tenets that I not only agreed with, but that I lived by as well.

In Twilight Edward refuses to have premarital sex with Bella, and is adamant that if they are to go any further1  they must get married first. The Jonas Brothers wear purity rings to symbolize their commitment to, well, being pure.Lo and behold, these two items were brought under the most scrutiny and were mocked excessively.

So I questioned why, when girls finally had a half-decent role model, they were being ridiculed. Post-nowish Miley Cyrus didn’t wave the banner of blatant sexuality that former It girls Britney and Christina did,3 and that alone would have made me more comfortable letting my daughter obsess over her than many others.

From this point on in my original post I began to write about the Disney/Family Channel, but I’m not headed in that direction this time. What I want to focus on is the spirit of snarky judgementalism that seems to be permeating our culture. The constant search for what to demean and deride next, without any thought as to what good it may contain.

Yes, there are subjects which I will not defend [The Westboro Baptist Church, for example], but for the most part I’d like to call for moments of discernment whenever a target presents itself. Feel free to slam the Jonas Brothers for their musical ability, but leave their spiritual beliefs out of it.4 We should be able to consider that which we belittle and why it is we think so little of it.

To summarize what I’m trying to say, there was a point where people observed the fanatical, obsessive manner in which (pre)adolescents were throwing themselves at certain figures. In backlash against this behaviour they ridiculed their role models, yet targeted attributes which may not have been harmful for young people to mimic.

Be judgemental of those who garner the interest (and obsession) of many, but be smart (and civil) about it.

1. Than their creepy, unnatural kissing where she finds it difficult to find the air to breathe.

2.  Meaning, in this case, to save themselves sexually for their future wives. 

3. Not any more, though. You can’t release a single called “Can’t Be Tamed” and get away with it.

4. And their health issues. People made fun of Nick Jonas for being diabetic. I mean, why?