REEL World Film Festival

Standard

I recently had the opportunity to attend the REEL World Film Festival opening night in April 2012.  The movie, LUV, was shown to a packed audience.  The relationship between a boy and his uncle was portrayed through amazing performances by Michael Rainey Jr and Common.

Of importance, I want to highlight the long standing work of REEL World in Toronto.  This festival has consistently demonstrated that others share the vision put forward on this blog, that there remains a need for diverse cast and crew in the media industry.

I want to highlight this brief history of REEL World:

“Tonya Lee Williams, best known for her 15-year starring role on The Young and The Restless, founded ReelWorld in 2001 in direct response to a lack of positive diverse stories on screen and sustainable opportunities for emerging talent of colour trying to break into the Canadian entertainment industry” (http://www.reelworld.ca/).

I would encourage all to check out the many films that were screened!

Russell Simmons Article

Standard

Check this article out (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/oscars-2012-billy-crystal-blackface-race-russell-simmons-296507 ): Russell Simmons is talking about “Liberal” Hollywood needing to move into the post-racial society like the rest of us.

I beg you to be drawn into the discussion by also reading the comments section towards the bottom.  Some people appear quite unable to understand the critical analysis and racial critique provided by Simmons.  Even considering that, I guess I am encouraged that the debate is even occurring. It must. Change is necessary on this issue.

I really want to highlight that I believe people, through their comments, oversimplify this issue as they don’t understand that which ‘Black Film Writer’ tries to explain in a comment about the article:

The fact is black writers/directors are not even given an opportunity to interview for most writing jobs and director jobs. The few that seep in don’t have the connections, mentorship, or budgets that white writers/directors are given. It is not Russell Simmon’s job to bring black writers/directors to the table. The industry as a whole needs to stop being so damn racist and give EVERYONE at least the opportunity to show great stories. They shouldn’t be denied because “diversity doesn’t travel”. A great story is a great story no matter the color of the person [telling it]. The majority of Oscar voters are white male and they don’t even bother to see a lot of the films made that aren’t about white people”.

I still don’t understand others’ aversion to the ideas in this article.  Why is full inclusion and equitable access threatening to people?  YUCK.

Study of Race and Gender Representation

Standard

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/academy-awards-lack-of-di_n_1299894.html?ir=Entertainment

This is yet another great article and I want to praise the author for highlighting the deficiencies in the film industry.  With no explanation given, I wonder why. Why is this?

How can we explain the simply unacceptable numbers regarding representation in film directors and actors? The concept of a glass ceiling comes to mind.  The issue of racism also comes to mind.  Gender inequality comes to mind. Tokenism comes to mind. Nepotism comes to mind.  The complex issue of who has power, who has privilege and who does not comes to mind.  In historical times, we may have termed it the deserving and undeservingYUCK.  Has much changed?

Oscar Voters – Representative?

Standard

So I read this really progressive and brief piece on MSN:

http://now.msn.com/entertainment/0220-oscar-voters-revealed.aspx

Then I read the comments that readers were making.  I see a lot of ignorance in the comments, YUCK.  Why do people feel threatened by such a study? Is it because they are trying to hold on to some unearned and undeserved power based on their priviledge?

If you don’t see this as a problem, it is probably because it is not your lived experience AND/OR you actually have an inability to critically analyze how power and priviledge plays out in our society.

My larger question to the researchers and the MSN author… why are we surprised that the Oscar voters are not representative of our society.  The roles which are portrayed in the nominated films are not representative.  The cycle continues. YUCK.

 

‘Reality’ in the media

Standard

I live in Toronto. A city that prides itself on its level of diversity. Everywhere I look I see faces different from my own.  And I think it is beautiful.  However, I worry that this diversity is not the ‘reality’ in the media.  I do not see my reality in news, TV shows, commercials or movies.  This seems ironic because so much media content is based on true events and/or so-called reality based TV.

What I view (on news, TV shows, commercials and movies), and presumably that from which children learn, are stereotypical roles based on race, gender, religion, ability and sexual preference.  I worry for us that in our busy lives, we unknowingly further discrimination by endorsing certain shows and movies.

I am from a generation which I previously believed were endearingly called the ‘conspiracy theorists’. A generation who questioned content and utilized a critical lens to deconstruct images. However, I am not sure how many people critically analyze ‘entertainment’ quality.

I do understand that TV shows and movies are produced for entertainment purposes. A strong and resounding period.  BUT,  I also fully recognize that these mediums do much more than provide in-the-moment entertainment.  I would suggest that the images seen in the media have a much larger and long lasting impact than merely entertainment.  I believe media plays a role in perpetuating discrimination and stereotypes.

I worry that I am implicated in upholding or reinforcing discrimination.  I worry that a lot of us are implicated.  I worry that no one is questioning the studios who produce our viewing content.  I wonder what they think of us? The masses of us that do not inform them of desired content.  The masses of us who continue to allow studios to produce ridiculous content that monkeys would not like.  What do they think when they are making millions of dollars from our sales?  Are we stupid? I sincerely hope not.

Am I alone in these thoughts? I hope those of you out there will respond.

 

REVIEW: The Big Bang Theory

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898266/

I recently began watching this show. It is absolutely hilarious. The writing and actor portrayals are top notch. I have missed this type of sitcom and only realized this once I began watching.  Where did these kind of sitcoms go?  Oh, right… the spots were filled because someone needed to find a spouse with a rose, or win some money by eating bugs, or decorate their new home.

Anyway although I find this show immensely amusing, something was nagging me.  From a critical analysis point of view (POV), I wondered… where are the women? This show centers around four men.  Uh-hem, I should say four very intellectual and smarty-pants men.  Why couldn’t there be four smarty-pants women? Is it because there is gender discrimination and people are less likely to watch four women who are smart?

I should clarify. There is a woman, a neighbour. She’s blond, beautiful, but not smart.  Moving on. Three of four main characters are Caucasian.  The fourth man is South Asian.  He has an accent.  The character is from India.  Hmm, he couldn’t be a American-born individual? He had to be from another country?  Why? Wouldn’t it have been interesting if someone else was from another country and had an accent? Like Russia maybe? Why is the assumption that the only racialized person be NOT born in America and have an accent.  Too simplistic compilation of characters. Yuck.

Disclaimer:

I doubt I will ever attempt an analysis of reality based TV. Snore, snort, Yuck. I will always watch a TV sitcom over reality TV.  This is NOT a suggestion to do away with the show or others like it, but instead recommendations for writers and casting agents moving forward.