Hollywood, Privilege and Opportunity

There’s been a lot of talk in Hollywood about diversity and opportunity this year, with the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag spreading like wildfire once again, like it did last year. All thanks to April Reign. And so much has happened since this year’s Academy Award ceremony. A lot of whitewashing – with Ghost in the Shell; Iron Fist and Doctor Strange. This all leads to the same argument and logic white people use: you need a major star in your film if you want it to be successful. A lot of them dance around the whitewashing controversy, dance around white privilege and just keep insisting that people are getting hired because of their talent – not because of skin color.

I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit. And for those of you who believe it, I’m here to tell you that you don’t actually believe that. And I’m going to prove why. First, when people talk about getting roles and opportunities because they’re white – they’re telling the truth. You can listen to writers and people in Hollywood talking about meetings they’ve had with producers/studios, telling them to change the race of a character, or multiple characters, and this only happens when there are non-white characters in the script. Asian actors/actresses not being able to get work because of their names, and as soon as they change their names to something more “American,” they all of the sudden start booking roles. These Hollywood producers/studios are not outwardly saying, “we prefer white,” but their actions tell us that they do.

Privilege exists

It’s called white privilege. Things are built and constructed and twisted to work in your favor. Let’s say that Hollywood has been hiring those who are talented, with race not being a factor…that would mean that, for all of these decades…you know what, here’s a chart to help illustrate my point:

FireShot Capture 155 - See the Entire History of the_ - http___labs.time.com_story_oscars-diversity_

That’s only looking at four Oscar categories, the others aren’t mentioned. This is how many white people are nominated for awards…so you’re saying that for all these decades, these white people received their Oscars purely based on talent, and nothing else? If that’s the case, if that is what you honestly believe, then you are inadvertently saying white people are inherently more talented than everybody else.

Right? That’s what that means. If it’s only based on talent, and nothing else, we have to assume that white people (specifically white men) are just naturally better filmmakers and actors, producers, writers, cinematographers, composers, set designers, costume designers, than any other race/ethnicity. Now there should be some part of you that wants to refute what I just wrote – because you know how absurd the notion is. To insist that white people are more talented than everyone else is asinine, right? Right. Okay. So why did all those white people get nominated? I’m still waiting for an answer.

If it’s not based on race, and white people aren’t naturally more talented, than what is it? You’re already out of options.

But, you may want to use the population argument. There are just more white people in the country, thus, more white people in Hollywood – and that’s why. Okay. Let’s go with that. Why are there more white people?

One, the reason white people are the majority in this country really has everything to do with the fact that white men coming in from Europe slaughtered and raped an entire race of people, and enslaved another race to build their country. See, the “there are just more white people” excuse doesn’t work, because that just proves that racism has ultimately helped white actors and actresses get more holes – privilege. It all starts with the “birth” of this country, folks, you can’t erase that. Two, this population argument still just demonstrates that for reasons that are outside of our control (meaning based on other things besides talent) more white people will be getting opportunities and nominations. But I still ain’t done, son. That picture above just lists those who were nominated. Let’s look at the Oscar winners – the circles that are outlined in black.

FireShot Capture 156 - See the Entire History of the_ - http___labs.time.com_story_oscars-diversity_

No matter how you try and twist this, you can’t escape white privilege. You just can’t.

Scarlett Johansson took the lead role in the American Ghost in the Shell remake. Rinko Kikuchi is a Japanese actress and the first Japanese actress to be nominated for an Academy Award in 50 years. She has talent. She’s been nominated. That’s what you’re always telling us, right? The talent is what does it. If we work hard and if we’re talented, we prosper. But she didn’t get the role of Kusanagi. She is an Academy Award nominee, and is Japanese, but she still wasn’t good enough to play a Japanese character. It fell into Scarlett’s lap – a woman who is already part of a mega-huge franchise and is going to have her own Black Widow solo film, and had Lucy a couple of years ago.

Do you have any idea how damning that is for young Japanese girls to see? Do you have any idea what this tells them? I sure as hell do, I’ve been hearing it all my life. “We have to be twice as good just to get half of what they get.”

All it takes is talent. Get the fuck out of my face with that bullshit. “Well, no, it’s not about that, it’s about star power.” Still doesn’t change the fact that she’s white and there are more white box office names than anyone else. Come on, man. Stop it. Just stop it. Stop being so afraid to admit that racism still exists. Stop being so afraid to admit that there is a lot of bias when comes to white people in Hollywood. Stop trying to deny it. Because you’re essentially trying to deny people’s struggles. When you say “No, actors don’t have more opportunities simply because they’re white,” you’re telling everyone who has struggled that their experiences never happened. This is also something white people do. In one breath, you’ll admit, “yeah, people of color are getting the shit end of this stick, there should be more diversity.” Then in the next, you will say “no, white people aren’t afforded more opportunities because of their whiteness.”

Then how the hell do you explain… (go back up and read from the beginning).

Unconscious bias towards white people. That’s what it is. Privilege. Sometimes it isn’t subtle, sometimes it’s overt. Sometimes a screenwriter will be questioned on the ethnicity of one of their characters and be asked, “does he/she have to be (Black, Asian, Latino, Indian, etc.)”

And you’re really trying to act like there aren’t white actors/writers/directors who are mediocre as fuck but still get success? Come on. This industry does not value talent as much as you claim it does.

Tell me something!