This post kind of touches on topics brought up in two previous posts – one on Hollywood and one on choice. And although you can clearly read the title and assume what this post is focusing on, this really applies to women, women of color and LGBTQ women of color, especially those with disabilities and anybody else caught in the intersections.
People will question a movie that has a cast filled with racially diverse actors. It’s easier for them to view that as being done on purpose. Picking that cast was a conscious decision, in their mind. Yet, they won’t apply this same thought when they look at a cast full of white actors, specifically white men. Unless you’re a white woman – then you’ll notice the white MALE aspect of all of that, yet you’ll still ignore the whiteness.
We are conditioned to think about these things differently, to the benefit of white, cishetero, able-bodied men. A movie full of white actors isn’t considered a deliberate choice. It’s almost just regarded like it’s happenstance or coincidental. Because people immediately recognize what you’re implying. They get that it looks like they’re being biased and choosing white people over everybody else, and so they deny that and claim that’s not what’s going on.
It’s thought of as just being “natural,” almost like the generic option, the default choice. They don’t question it.
But…if the cast features any other demographic, anything other than white male…all of the sudden there are problems. All of the sudden there are “agendas” and “reverse racism” and “focusing on race/sexuality/gender”….but when it’s all white men, that’s not an agenda? That’s not capable of being an agenda apparently, but everything else is. How convenient.
People (sexists and misogynists) will question why you would want to make a Ghostbusters remake with an all-female cast. “Why do that? Why not just cast whoever, regardless of gender/sex?”
They don’t say this for 99% of the other movies that come out every year. They only complain when you very away from what they unconsciously understand to be the default: straight, white, male.
This reminded me of an interview that I read on The Daily Beast. The Coen brothers were asked about the current debate about racial diversity/inclusion in Hollywood. Jen Yamato asked Joel and Ethan Coen about the overabundance of whiteness in their film Hail, Caesar!. She wanted to know why there were hardly any people of color.
“Why would there be?” countered Joel Coen. “I don’t understand the question. No—I understand that you’re asking the question, I don’t understand where the question comes from.
“Not why people want more diversity—why they would single out a particular movie and say, ‘Why aren’t there black or Chinese or Martians in this movie? What’s going on?’ That’s the question I don’t understand. The person who asks that question has to come in the room and explain it to me.”
They don’t think it’s important to factor in things like racial diversity when writing a script. Because, of course, they’re white and they don’t have to think about that. Their default is white. So all of their movies are always filled with white people. They don’t understand the problem. They don’t understand that they are making a deliberate choice to ignore these other intersections.
They used the typical and privileged straight, white male excuse of “ART!” It’s art and you don’t have to consider things like subtle racism or misogyny or ableism. You can do whatever you want and everybody else has to shut the fuck up because it’s art, it’s your art and that’s the only thing that matters.
This is just another way to silence any and all marginalized groups. So that nothing can really move forward. Things stay as they are. And how are things currently? White, cishetero, able-bodied men. So things continue to be great for them and shitty for everybody else. How convenient.
“I don’t think about race.” Yes, you do. All of your movies are filled with white actors and actresses. You think about race, you’re just not aware or conscious of it and how you do it. You’re making a choice.