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Representation in the media has been a hot topic over the past couple of years. Viewers and celebrities alike are demanding entertainment that features non-mainstream stories. The Paul Newmans of yesteryear are being asked to step aside in favor of a new cast of characters.
At this years Oscars, the spotlight fell on the lack of racial diversity in the medium, as the industry failed to nominate people of color in just about every category across the boards. Many boycotted the event as a result.
The hashtag #oscarssowhite was used on Twitter for users to bemoan the disappointing lack of representation, and it resurfaced this last week, as Twitter users reminded the population that the Emmys, an award show based on television, had done a much better job at inclusion than its cinematic counterpart.
Along with a lack of racial diversity, Hollywood has also been guilty of inappropriate, and at times downright offensive casting. There has been public outrage as Hollywood has continually cast white actors to play roles that call for people of Asian descent.
This has been an ongoing practice, all the way back to Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of I. Y. Yunioshi in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” and dating up to the recent Marvel comic adaption of Doctor Strange, in which Tilda Swinton plays The Ancient One: A Tibetan man.
The continued reticence on the part of Tinseltown to grant roles to minority actors is both infuriating, and ostensibly easily remedied.
One of the many steps that must be taken to curb these exclusionary and offensive oversights is the mere act of writing and producing screenplays which feature the stories of characters who aren’t white men! And, furthermore, by having those very same stories be ones that aren’t ripe with harmful stereotypical tropes.
Recently, one of the trends arising which aims to flip the script has been the act of remaking movies with traditionally all male casts, and instead making them female-centric.
One example of this is the upcoming revival of the Ocean’s Eleven franchise. The original of which was made in 1960, and featured the likes of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. The second installment came along in 2001, and was led by the twinkly eyes of Brad Pitt and George Clooney.
Now, another round of adventures with a lovable troupe of thieves is slated to be called Ocean’s Eight. It is rumored to include Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Awkwafina, Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, and potentially Elizabeth Banks.
Now, because of the nature of this project, it raises eyebrows. And savvy media consumers are bracing themselves for the vitriol which may very well come the way of those involved in the making of the film.
Why? Because, as some might recall, a similar reboot earlier this year sparked controversy, and a whole lot of uncomfortable hate speech was spewed in the direction of the the women who would be gracing the silver screen.
This year’s Ghostbusters film rewrote a beloved narrative; this time featuring a group of ghost capturing badasses that were women rather the than men. As soon as the project was announced, an onslaught of disdain and doubt poured forth.
People were pissed. And they made it publicly known. They commented on Twitter, on Youtube, anywhere that had a forum that they anticipated the movie to be a flop; they maintained that the action couldn’t be held up by women. Many simply couldn’t wrap their mind around the concept.
During the Ghostbusters debacle, Leslie Jones in particular found herself on the tail-end of a whole lot of extremely racist and sexist comments. Conservative critic Milo Yiannopoulos penned a bunch of offensive remarks, including a blurb stating that the movie was, “full of female characters that are simply stand-ins for men plus a black character worthy of a minstrel show,”
The abuse was so intense that it ultimately caused her to shut down her twitter account altogether!
The fact that an all female cast is still news is part and parcel of our problem. Society doesn’t bat an eye when all male or all white movies made–because these are the norm. These types of films often figure in one or two ill-conceived minority characters. More often than not, the roles are token and one dimensional.
Now that demands for less conventional projects are being made, it’s up to those in charge to brush off ignorance and hate, and plow forward making entertainment that all types of people can relate to.