Friday, March 28, 2008

Irrational Anger on IMDB...it can be fun

So, I love reading people's comments on movies on IMDB.com. It's way more fun then just reading about the movies. People get all huffy and stupid and belligerent about the dumbest things, but they can also be sincere, intelligent, rational, and informative. Rarely do they have discussions about the film techniques or acting choices, but often I think it gives a much more accurate view of the movie and where it stands in our culture.

For example: Jane Austen.

These talk pages are full of who loves what about what books/movies. Who has had what fantasy about what actor/character from what movie/book. Who liked/didn't like what ending. But rarely do you read "This was crap" or something like it. The discussions go from intelligent to giggly, but always with a sense of love for either the movie or the original material.

No Country For Old Men was filled with talk pages about the ending and what it meant and who liked it and who didn't and why.

Then there are the other boards. Horton Hears a Who has devolved into a discussion on abortion. Any Elizabeth I movie is ultimately going to be a historical discussion with someone idiotically yelling "It's just a movie, it doesn't have to have real history!"

Today I stopped by the boards for 21, a movie about MIT students who learn to count cards and make a fortune in Vegas. It's based on a true story. But in the true story the students were Asian, in the movie I think one of the lesser characters might be Asian. I saw a documentary recently about Asian actors (and I will say ACTORS because they didn't cover Asian women in Hollywood at all...but that's another argument for another board.) In the documentary an actual casting director said there are just no parts in Hollywood for Asian actors. This story seems perfectly primed for it, and yet 21 was made without the Asian characters.

And you'd better believe this came up. In fact, it seems to have come up a lot on the talk pages. So much that this post was added:

Stop the Racist Crap!!! by skachick7000

All I see on this freaking board is "racist this, and racist that"...but aren't you guys forgetting the preview only says it's inspired by a true story? I don't remember it saying "based off the book Bringing Down The House".

I am soooo tired of all of these "this movie is racist" remarks in all of these movies I look up!! Just shake your head and spend your $10 watching some other movie. Do you know how much racism, sexism, violence, etc goes on everyday in every neighborhood in America and you're whining over some White actors over Asian
actors??

Cue the violins!

I didn't respond. I think this is an awful thing to say, but I felt that the other people probably adeguetly added their anger in response. I settled in to listen to the resulting food fight. But this comment got me into the fray:



Re: Stop the Racist Crap!!! by mcelite
At the end of the day it does not matter. Asian American, Caucasian, Black, Yellow, Orange, Purple, whatever race, color, ethnicity, we are all people, the pigment of our skin, and the culture which we have. These are our own, not others, and to be upset, or angry at another HUMAN being for any reason that derives from their race, is racism.

Those of you complaining about white actors over "asian-american" actors are just as racist, as complaining over the opposite. The fact is, people auditioned for a role in the film, they were given it by the way they performed. If however, the subject of race was in the casting directors mind, then so be it. Accept it and move on.

The end all, be all, is we are all people. The sooner you get past your racial boundaries the quicker you will realize, we are all the same.


My response here:

I think you both miss the point and have no idea what racism is and how it is used.

I suggest you look it up:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism

Racism is not just about defining one race over another. It is the practice of using race to discriminate, create prejudicial laws, and create a false superiority of one race over another.

If someone complains, like in this instance, that the real person/character was originally Asian but that it appears it was changed in the movie to appeal to white America then yes, that person is complaining about a racist activity. Studios, casting directors, and directors will say out loud that there are no parts for Asian actors. Yet, here we see a place where the character(s) was originally Asian. So we have to ask ourselves, why did they change it? Is it possible that the Studio assumed America wouldn't pay money to see a minority (any minority) succeed? Be sexy? Get what he deserves? Play against racial (and racist) stereotypes to win? These are legitimate questions. Until we track down the casting agent or the people who made the decisions, we wont know the answer. But, in all honesty, racism can be factored in. Either the racism of the studio, or the studio playing into assumed racism in the American audience. But you'd be wrong to think that these actors were cast because they were the best to show up to the audition. That isn't the way Hollywood works. Anyone who as spent any time in front of or behind a camera knows that.

Now you, on the other hand, have obviously never experienced any type of real prejudice or racism. Why do I say that? Because only someone on that side of the fence would blame the people being put down and kept down for their skin color, their ethnicity, and their background who feel racism in their history books, in the movies they see and the TV they watch. Only someone who has never felt racism would blame the victim of it for creating racial boundaries. I'm glad you wish they didn't exist. But don't say something dumb like "get over it". You say if we do find out that the casting director is racist then accept it and move on. Nice. So, if we do find out that it was the studio bosses, the casting directors, and who ever we should just accept it and move on. If we find out it is the teachers, the police, the politicians and our neighbors we should just accept it and move on. Because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter.

My friend, at the end of the day is when it matters most. You tell Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that at the end of the day racism and his skin color don't matter. You tell that to Malcolm X that at the end of the day it didn't matter. They only died fifty years ago. You think we've come so far since then?

We are all just people and we are all equal. But don't kid yourself and think the color barriers and the economic barriers were created by anyone other than those people who were and are in power and would like to keep it that way.

The sooner you start caring about the equal treatment of all people, the sooner you will be right and we will all be just people. The more you say "accept it" the worse it will get.


Too much, maybe. But, righteous anger is such a high.

1 comment:

autumnmaple said...

Haven't seen you regularly in while, but since the beginning of the year I've been in this little world of Asian Culture Immersion. I find this very, very strange because I grew up in Connecticut. I HATED Saturday Chinese school with a passion. I would have to say that I've been a Twinkie until most recently...and a lot of it has to do with the lack of Asian representation in the Mass Media - America says - Asian's just aren't cool! (I am SO easily influenced). Now I am thinking of taking Mandarin lessons again. Hmmm.

I'll always remember my peace and conflict studies prof for making the point that one of the key lessons that white males take with them from berkeley (& other bay area schools) is true experience in what it is like to be a minority. This melting pot we have here really is an unique place.