Links for y’all to check out – and I’ve gotta say, damn, there are a lot of really good links here.
As always, the thread is open to anything folks want to post – feel free to self-promote, too.
The Gender Wage Gap Explained To You When Sexism and Anti-Disabled Bigotry Combine And if I yell at him? Aw geez, he was just trying to help! Why are disabled people so ANGRY all the time? Don’t they know that they should be GRATEFUL that we Normals put up with them and try to help them out whenever we want?? I just flirted with a girl in a wheelchair, you know her life is now changed forever! The whole post is that great. Curtsy: Ariel on Shrub.com. A panel discussion featuring Chris Ware, Seth, moderated byIvan Brunetti How the Sci-Fi Channel Turned Earthsea White, And Why It Matters One Of The Greatest Movie Dancers Of All Time Has Died, But We Never Heard Of Him Because He’s Black Deaf People In Legal History Transphobia: A Weapon of Sexism Andreas Debate Sex Positive Feminism The Myth of the Liberating Vacuum Cleaner Yes, Pro-Life Policies Don’t Actually Reduce Abortion Much. But So What? Feminism 101: Abortion Standpoint Theory, Discussed Why Is LSD Considered “Harder” Than Alcohol? How to be happy if you’re a single, childless woman (or anyone else) The Future Of Judaism: Pastrami or Falafel?
Echidne – who, when not busy blogging, teaches Economics – has posted an utterly excellent three-part series on the gender wage gap. Seriously, I can’t recommend them highly enough. (And if you’re still hungry for more after reading Echidne’s stuff, I’ve written one or two posts on the topic, as well).
Cartoonist Gordon McAlpin adapts the discussion to comic book form. Simply awesome. Curtsy:And We Shall March.
Sharp, beautiful essay about race, inclusion and science fiction. Even if you’ve never read “Earthsea,” you should read this. And the follow-up on the author’s blog, as well.
A fascinating post on how various courts in the 1700s dealt with Deaf people taking the stand.
Andrea at Vociferate comes out against; Andrea at Shrub.com responds; and Andrea at Vociferate responds in turn.
Bradford Plumer, responding to a recent post of mine, persuasively argues that I’m on the wrong track when I point out that the lowest abortion rates in the world are in pro-choice countries.
And speaking of abortion rights, JeSurgisLac has put together a well-done overview of pro-choice responses to common pro-life arguments.
LuckyWhiteGirl expands a comment she wrote here on “Alas.”
I’m hoping Pastrami, which I don’t even eat. This gets at an interesting conflict within American Judaism: Is the ancestral homeland Israel, or is it Brooklyn?
The Gender Wage Gap Explained To You
When Sexism and Anti-Disabled Bigotry Combine
And if I yell at him? Aw geez, he was just trying to help! Why are disabled people so ANGRY all the time? Don’t they know that they should be GRATEFUL that we Normals put up with them and try to help them out whenever we want?? I just flirted with a girl in a wheelchair, you know her life is now changed forever!
The whole post is that great. Curtsy: Ariel on Shrub.com.
A panel discussion featuring Chris Ware, Seth, moderated byIvan Brunetti
How the Sci-Fi Channel Turned Earthsea White, And Why It Matters
One Of The Greatest Movie Dancers Of All Time Has Died, But We Never Heard Of Him Because He’s Black
Deaf People In Legal History
Transphobia: A Weapon of Sexism
Andreas Debate Sex Positive Feminism
The Myth of the Liberating Vacuum Cleaner
Yes, Pro-Life Policies Don’t Actually Reduce Abortion Much. But So What?
Feminism 101: Abortion
Standpoint Theory, Discussed
Why Is LSD Considered “Harder” Than Alcohol?
How to be happy if you’re a single, childless woman (or anyone else)
The Future Of Judaism: Pastrami or Falafel?
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Following links from Noles’ post above lead me to the following essay which I think would interest some of this blog’s readers:
Transracial Witing for the Sincere
The topic is how authors can realistically depict characters of (primarily racial) minority groups to which they don’t belong. I don’t feel qualified to evaluate the advice, but it sounds sensible.
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I can’t work out how to post a comment on The Fat Lady Sings but Mr Nicholas did get an obituary in the Guardian.
That Earthsea piece made me want to hurl. I mean, hurl my last three meals, at least. Preferably from a helicopter flying over Beverly Hills, or wherever they film these things.
Not because Noles is wrong, or a bad writer. Far from it. Rather because it shows the beyond-the-pale (no pun intended) gall of the same Hollywood that balks at casting a classic like Macbeth with black actors (even though Orson Welles did so on stage some sixty years ago. If moguls were educated, they wouldn’t even be able to whine that It’s Never Been Done[tm]).
Why couldn’t they “darken” a Shakespearian cast ?
They constantly whinge that “people” (ie– the oft’mentioned White Peoria) just won’t accept people of color in a piece that has so much history.
However, the PEOPLE will accept witches who chant poetry, but only if they’re White witches. So now the same class of bigwigs flips that on its head, undermines the clear intentions of the books’ original author, and bleaches (what an awesome term) the story (which is Sci-Fi, you thumb-sucking, coke-addled, oh-so-sensitive Hollywood assholes !! Unlike Shakespeare, it doesn’t make the slightest nod to actual historical figures).
I can remember a far simpler time. It seems like a billion years ago. I was confused as to why my Black friends/aquaintances rolled their eyes when they uttered the phrase “White liberals.” But this story should make it easy for all the other confused White folks out there to skip my klutzy learning curve and cut right to the chase on that particular question.
I need a bourbon. No, make that two bourbons. Also, it’s just as well that I don’t have cable. I’ll just go read the books, Thanks.
On a completely unrelated note, Rosemarie Jackowski thinks that Oprah is being a clueless twit.
I hadn’t heard about the Macbeth thing.
Oh, and Noles’s blog links to this story:
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One of your entries certianly deserves to be on the WikiLog.
Piny, you can find James Baldwin talking about Welles’ production in one of his essay collections. I believe it was in The Devil Finds Work, but I need to double-check.
No, I heard about that. I mean about a recent no-go Hollywood version of Macbeth with an African-American cast.
No, that was poor phrasing on my part, Piny. I should have said that I was using Macbeth as an example;I’ve heard similar arguments brought up on movie boards and such before when film buffs want to defend the tendency of Hollywood to produce all-White, or 99% White versions of Shakespeare.
I apologize for the confusion.
No problem. It just would have made for an interesting individual story. You’re absolutely right as a general rule and a stupid rationale (Ethan Hawke more bankable as Hamlet than Denzel Washington or Samuel L. Jackson as Macbeth? Wev). There’ve been adaptations of Shakespeare that have either broken the all-white mold or made racial divisions part of the story. I’m having trouble coming up with anyone besides Harold Perrineau, John Leguizamo, and Denzel Washington out of God knows how many original/ish text versions. And even the former two were in an “updated” version.
There was a story on Prometheus 6 that I’ve tried to find (unsurprisingly, searching “plantation” hasn’t worked too well), about some black actors who played slaves on a historical recreation of an antebellum plantation–same idea as colonial Williamsburg–who started “breaking character” to ad lib speeches they felt were both more interesting and more historically accurate.
…Samuel L. Jackson as Macbeth…
Samuel L Jackson as a Shakespearean lead. That sounds immediately like a great idea to me. If only…
Wasn’t there a big deal made out of it when Othello was first played by a black actor in a major production? I seem to remember people saying “well, finally!”
First of all, I’m somewhat disappointed that this link I posted in Link Farm #8 didn’t make it into this link farm.
Secondly, regarding crosscasting Shakespeare, I will note that Kenneth Branagh’s currently filming As You Like It (one of my favorite comedies), and the male love interest (Orlando) and his brother will be played by black actors, while Rosalind is a white actress.
[I also remember my delight in seeing his Loves Labours Lost when I realized that of the four men and four women destined to fall in love, each gender consisting of 3 whites and 1 black, Branagh chose to pair them off to yield two interracial couples.]
Maybe I’m lucky living in the Boston area (can I briefly shill for Bard in Boston?) but I’ve gotten so used to crosscasting in Shakespeare — both of gender and race, that I was shocked when I saw Richard II in London and found myself facing a sea of white male faces…
P6 is a rockin’ blog. If you find that story, let us know.
As for casting individual actors/actresses of color, well yeah. One per film is… one per film. Even this Earthsea travesty has a token Black guy, according to Noles. But why should one guy be enough ? Everyone who reads here often enough now knows the “measure” Alison Bechtdel uses for movies. If it’s not enough to have one woman in a movie, it’s sure as blazes not enough to have one person of color in a movie.
Bean once mentioned to me that the Harry Belafonte/John Travolta film White Man’s Burden is set in a fictional American society dominated by Blacks. There’s a scene in there (IIRC) where a White guy’s kids are watching a sitcom in which everyone’s Black except for a wacky White neighbor whose sort of superfluous. That scene was certainly there to provoke anxiety, don’t you think ? How often IRL are most White folks the only White face in a sea of Blacks ? This B.S. about Earthsea is so clearly about the anxieties of a bunch of assholes whose egos simply won’t allow them to picture themselves as being superfluous/not the fucking center of attention for even the length of one damn mini-series on a cable channel.
Now I’m getting pissed again. Bah. >:
Re Yglesias’ link: are we hoping for a future of Judaism free of falafel? Why? Is the assumption that Jews have all descended from Eastern European countries, and have no ancestral connection to Israel – or any other Middle Eastern nations, for that matter – and hence should abandon that aspect of Jewish history? Or is this a directive for those Jews who do have Middle Eastern blood to up and assimilate already, never mind the past? Or is there some inoffensive third interpretation that I’m missing here?
I’m a Jew, and I’ll tell you why I claim a connection to Israel and to Middle Eastern culture: because I am part Middle Eastern. Part Israeli, as a matter of fact – by ancestry, mind you, not by citizenship. I grew up eating hummus and falafel, like my relatives. I look more like my Persian-born friends than like those of my friends who are of European descent. I get interrogated and searched by customs agents at airports more than nearly anyone else I know, and I suspect that that is because I look Middle Eastern. Which I do because I am. If I’m going to get groped by guards at airports because I look kinda like the female teenager who blew up some Israelis along with herself a few years ago, can’t I at least maintain ties to the culture that gave me my dark hair and severe features?
You know, it’s funny, for all the anti-racist awareness I see on progressive/leftist blogs, it’s at these types of sites exclusively that I see this staggering insensitivity to the reality that 1) Israel has maintained a continuous Jewish presence for thousands of years, 2) most of the first Jewish settlers were Sephardic, and 3) some of us are still around. You and Yglesias feel more connected to Eastern Europe? Fine; I’m not begrudging anyone their cultural identity. And as for this – This gets at an interesting conflict within American Judaism: Is the ancestral homeland Israel, or is it Brooklyn? – hey, why don’t we ask some self-identified African-Americans who can’t trace their family trees back to Africa whether the ancestral continent is Africa or North America? I mean, it’s an interesting conflict, and I’m sure no one would take offense.
Moebius Stripper, you read my brief (and admittedly somewhat tongue-in-cheek) comment with all the benefit of the doubt of Jerry Fawell writing a review of a drag show.
If you’d like to brush the chip off your shoulder and have a real discussion, let me know. But right now your tone indicates you want to have a fight, not a debate or a discussion. That’s fine, but I don’t want to fight.
Honestly, I’m not looking for a fight, as I’ve had variations of this one several times before; but I confess, I’m not terribly interested in a discussion on the topic, either, because…I’ve had variations of this one several times before. And that’s why I responded in such anger to a throwaway comment – because I’ve seen tongue-in-cheek, throwaway comments that whitewashed biological Jewish connections to Israel dozens of times before, and they stop feeling so tongue-in-cheek after awhile. Particularly since, as I said, they are so often made in forums where sensitivity to the cultural experiences and lives of non-white people – including non-Jews of Middle-Eastern descent – is (rightfully) accepted as a given.
That said, and in the light of day, I realize that I was being unfair by compressing what I feel to be justifiable anger into a response to this one throwaway comment.
It is awesome. Every time I go there, I get engrossed and start playing hop-link with all the stories and the archives. I’m working on it; I want to reread it myself. I think the end was, “And they all got fired by the plantation owners.”
Couldn’t agree more–especially since the only nonwhite lead I can come up with is, um, Othello. Mercutio and Tybalt are great characters, and very meaty roles, but they’re still not protagonists.
I remember reading about the film. There are a bunch of cues like that–for example, the black women in the movie all have natural hair, and some of the white women have treated and styled their hair in an attempt to make it look less “white.”
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This is a great idea. I think I’ll start a weekly Link Farm Post.
The woman in the wheelchair sounds like the kind of woman I’d like to buy a drink. Hell, I’d buy a guy like that a drink.
Shakespeare I can see casting all white if that pleases the producer; after all, Macbeth‘s characters are all Scot (IIRC), so it doesn’t make a lot of sense, if you want to stay close to the historical period it was written for, to cast black, oriental, hispanic, etc. actors. Or even white actors speaking in a southern drawl, etc. But to not cast black actors in Sci-Fi (presuming racism is not part of the story) makes little sense. And to deliberately “whiten” it sounds racist.
RonF, Welles version of Macbeth was set in Haiti. Which takes care of your primary objection, but I stand by my earlier point: Shakespeare already embellishes on actual history to the point where we’re required to accept that three witches helped gull the guy into killing his King. Why would our suspension of disbelief embrace that, but not an interracial cast ? Why is the former so much less outlandish than the latter ?
Bean, all right all right !! :o
I’ll rent the damn film already !! As long as I can watch WB cartoons afterwards to de-pressurize.
:o :o x 10.
Amp, that shoulda’ been “Why is the former so much LESS outlandish than the latter ?” Your assistance, please ?
Let me see if I have this right:
A disabled woman, tired of being “helped” in a way that doesn’t respect her boundaries, lashes out in anger at her would-be helpers–and that’s admirable.
A Jewish woman, tired of having her heritage whitewashed in a way that doesn’t respect her experiences, lashes out much more mildly at those who would rather not see her–and that’s only worthy of chastisement.
Well, thanks for just about proving her point.
Why are you people surprised? I mean, this is TV! This medium brought us “The Man Show” for Dog’s sake. And not to mention Lexxx.
I mean it. Don’t mention it. Like, ever.
I have been watching Oz recently (just finished season 1 night before last), and I found it profoundly depressing.
Very well done, pleasing to see a high quality drama with a relatively black cast (and a significantly non-white cast, I haven’t counted, but I’d bet it is majority non-white, which probably means 30-40% non-white given standard white person goggles on my part), but so fucking depressing as a story about how unremittingly horribly the US prison system is, so depressing for maybe not really being a story about that, so depressing for presenting absolutely no viable solution.
Also, (and on topic) so depressing that the only HBO series (at least a few of which – Oz, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, maybe Deadwood – are some of the best television series ever) that has more than token black characters is about the fucking prison system.
The only show on HBO where you ever see one important character talking to another important character and both of them are black, so of course it is about the fucking prison system.
Also, I think it fails the Dykes to Watch Out For Test (can we still call it the Mo Movie Measure?). There are three good female characters, all capable of talking to each other, but I don’t remember them ever doing so.
We used to watch Oz. Uplifting show. But there is a better way!
I don’t think it’s fair to criticize Six Feet Under for not having enough major black characters. The writers decided to have a major race and class subplot, and it involved Anglos and Hispanics. Which, it being LA, is a pretty reasonable choice of group to play off of the white family that the show was centered around. When Keith came onto the show, it seemed like they made a pretty strong effort to make him an important character; it wasn’t “here is the token black guy”, and over time the relationships between him and the other characters grew deeper and richer very naturally. The kids were kind of squeezed in, but at that point the show was almost over and they were wrapping stuff up, or trying to, anyway.
I don’t remember enough about Oz to know about the female characters, but again 6FU would seem to have passed the DTWOF test. Lots of XX types talking about careers and feelings and family and life (and yes, men.)
All my offhand comment really said is that there’s a conflict in the Jewish community between group A and group B, and I happen to identify with group B. That only means “I don’t respect group A’s experiences” if you assume that disagreeing with group A is the same as disrespecting group A or refusing to admit their experiences exist.
Intra-group conflicts – such as between different Jews about Judaism – are different in kind from an extra-group conflict – such as between a disabled woman and leering ablebodied “helpful” men. So for the most part, I don’t think your comprison is apt.
Moebius Stripper wrote:
Me too! :-) Frankly, I’m just plain tired of all the fights about Israel and Judaism. Sometimes I can’t resist, but it’s a topic that makes me feel tired just to think about arguing.
I can understand that, and I’m sorry I gave you that impression. I hope you’ll believe that I didn’t intend to whitewash your heritage and your experiences at all, although I can see why you’d read it that way.
My feeling is in the other direction – I feel as if I’ve been pressured all my life to feel an emotional connection to Israel-as-heritage, without any regard for my actual experiences and background. I know that others have a heritage connection to Israel, and of course that’s appropriate for them; but it doesn’t happen to be my experience.
Thanks for saying that.
I don’t think Charles really was criticizing Six Feet Under. As I understand it, the purpose of the “Mo Movie Measure” (and variations thereof) isn’t to criticize individual works of art, but to call attention to how white-centric the form as a whole is, and how little we notice it.
There’s nothing wrong with a TV series that focuses on white characters. There is something wrong with the collecive message sent when nearly all of a group (say, “high quality pay cable TV series”) are white-centric, though.
Interestingly enough, Oprah treats her own employee’s damn good – my cousin works as a security guard at Harpo studio’s and has lamented that he really wished he could be her employee rather than working for an outsourced security company. He states that he’s got nothing but kind things to say about her, and is incredibly impressed by her consistent generosity beyond the extremely good wages she is said to pay her employees. The bene’s are supposedly phenominal. That said, I think it sucks if she recognizes the need for livable wages, yet doesn’t speak up on the issue as the author of this quote seems to be saying. I agree – Oprah should speak up!
For some reason this makes me think of your awesome and hilarious camp stories, Amp.
Although, Robert is right about Six feet under. It doesn’t pass as being a show about black people (and having a really good token character with a family is better than a blatant token, but…), but it has a noticeable (if small) hispanic cast who do deal directly with each other extensively.
However, it still doesn’t come close to being half non-white, and for LA, that isn’t representative.
Oh, further Oz notes, I just started second season. After the first episode (which has the cute touch of a investigative commission with a token black member), teh Emerald City is reorganized. Now, it will be evenly divided into 10 groups of 4 prisoners from representing various factions within the prison. And those factions are: the Italians (4 white guys), the Irish (4 white guys), the Aryans (4 white guys), the Bikers (4 white guys), the Gays (3 white guys, 1 black guy), the Christians (3 unknown, 1 white guy), the Others (3 white guys, 1 black guy), the Hispanics (4 hispanic guys), the Gangsters (4 black guys), and the Muslims (4 black guys).
So now the show about prisons, the only HBO show with a near majority non-white cast has been reconstituted as 14 non-whites, and 23 whites and 3 unknowns (and the Christian faction in prison is white? Because we know black people in prison only find religion in Islam, not Christianity?). Oh, and the guards and administrators are overwhelmingly white, so we are probably at 2/3 white over all now. Yes, the prison show about the plight of white people in prison. How relevant, how capable of meaningful social commentary. Oh wait, looks like they are done dealing with race for now, and want to just do a generic drama show set in a prison, and we all know drama characters are white, otherwise, how would the audience be able to identify with them?
Oh well, at least it has some male full frontal nudity!
Ugh. Please excuse the typos and errors, I should be asleep, and I forgot to spell check (and failed to proof read).
On the face of it, that’s bizarre all right. But think of this: Oprah’s works are heavily dependent on the goodwill of advertisers whose companies are hostile to the Living Wage and who are doubtless eagerly jumping on the slash bennies/raid pensions/fatten the stockholders bandwagon. That would go a long way toward explaining her silence on the issue. It’s this sort of approach to closeting class issues so as not to upset Target or some other deep pocket that assures her show’s/magazine’s continued long life, yet makes her approach to the problems of her guests nothing but a joke. To pretend that it’s important to have a pop-shrink analyze an impoverished, depressed elderly bank robber without so much as hinting at the larger forces that make impoverishment and depression a given is crap. The cult of individualism and self-help is a fraud for precisely that reason, and there’s few better exemplars of it than Oprah.
Indeed, her very generosity toward her own workers reflects well on her good intentions, but it’s still she– the individual– that sees to their quality of life. Goodness stops at the doors of her television studio or office building because it is entirely dependent on her own intentions, not on a mass acknowledgement that a Living Wage would be healthier for us as a nation.
I wonder if she’s ever considered writing a “self-help” book for other multi-millionaires. In it, she could explain the detrimental effects on your self-esteem when you routinely underpay the people who keep your business running smoothly. She could talk about how hard it is to look in the mirror every day when you know in your heart that it’s ageist to snicker at the thought of hiring someone with wrinkles andd gray hair.
Yeah, that’ll happen. :p
alsis39, while much of the dialogue, etc., in Macbeth is doubtless the product of Shakespeare’s mind, Macbeth himself actually existed as a king of Scots. The original setting is in a specific historical period and place, one in which there were no persons of African heritage. If the production stays true to the original setting – if the idea is “let’s present this as a play about a King of Scots, his relatives, and his court”, then it would make sense to limit the casting to that which is in accord with that setting. If you’ve got a play about a specific race/ethnic group of people, I don’t see anything wrong about limiting the casting to actors who look like or are members of that race or ethnic group. In fact, Hollywood has often been critized for not doing that; e.g., for casting orientals as Native Americans, or Japanese as Chinese.
And back in the days that the play was written, witches were generally believed to be real as well; God knows enough people accused as witches were executed in those times. Actually, casting the witches as black might make sense, given the opinions of blacks prevalent at the time. But the presence of witches influencing people, or the presence of people representing themselves as witches influencing people to act, did not when written represent nearly as much suspension of belief as it does now.
Now, the themes in Shakespeare’s plays are human themes that are applicable in all kinds of settings. So if a producer wants to change the setting from medieval Scotland to modern Haiti, or anything else, then by all means cast it congruent to that setting, unless there’s a dramatic effect that you wish to create by a glaring anachronism. If the setting was changed to the 15th Century Chinese Imperial court, then it would make no sense to cast Caucasian actors, unless Marco Polo was to make an appearance. A producer should cast whoever they want, but political correctness shouldn’t take precedence over the message of the dramatic work.
Multicultural relationships are certainly a fit theme for a dramatic work. They can also be completely irrelevant to that work. But if it’s not part of the work to begin with and their presence would be out of place, then I can see where it would be a valid choice not to include them.
Thanks for the lecture, RonF, but I already knew that Macbeth is based upon fact. Perhaps some of Shakespeare’s audience believed in the supernatural back then, but few folks do these days. I reiterate that given all the other unrealistic things movie audiences swallow without much fuss, not to mention the twitting by liberals and conservatives alike that those cranky POCs really need to “transcend race,” the argument just doesn’t hold water. If White folks are so obsessed with “trandscending,” why can’t we manage it for the lousy 90 minutes it takes to watch a damn film ?
P.S.– Can any historian who might be kibbitzing this board vouch for the fact that women were still being tortured and killed as witches in Shakespeare’s day ?
I know there were witchcraft trials in England, but not sure how much torturing and killing went on. According to Wikipedia (which may or may not be a reliable source), “The last execution for witchcraft in England took place in 1716, when Mary Hicks and her daughter Elizabeth were hanged.”
King James was particularly interested-in/concerned-about witchcraft, particularly the kinds found in Scotland and wrote a book on Demonologie. Among the stories I’ve heard, witches tried to sink the ships of him and his new bride, Anne (during Elizabeth’s reign). Also, one of his political opponents during that time was known as the Wizard Earl.
Keeping in mind that Macbeth was written as a suckup to James, the biases in the play become more evident.
Kim (BV!) writes:
Security companies seem to be among the most commonly outsourced, but just the fact that this is an outsourced position speaks volumes in itself. Large companies frequently know that it’s cheaper to hire some outside contractor with low standards than to provide people decent salaries and benefits themselves.
MacBeth is very, very loose on the facts, and should not be taken as history in any way, shape or form. Most of us know that Richard III is a Tudor history designed to disparage the last Plantaganet king; MacBeth is Shakespeare’s interpretation of an after-the-fact political smear on MacBeth by the Canmore dynastic house. For a more thorough treatment, try Magnus Magnusson’s Scotland: The Story of a Nation at pp. 50-60.
In fact, Hollywood has often been critized for not doing that; e.g., for casting orientals as Native Americans, or Japanese as Chinese.
I think the criticism is of the double standard: it’d be “inaccurate” to have Antonio Banderas playing Banquo, but it’s perfectly fine to have Michelle Yeoh playing a Japanese woman–in a production of a work of fiction that styled itself as totally accurate and realist. It’s only white roles that can’t be fudged; minorities should be happy to be acknowledged at all.
This also ignores the fact that modern audiences will be acquainted with Macbeth and other Shakespeare plays from stage productions, which are generally both liberal in casting and accent and in fidelity to historical realism. The witches have been everything from creepy old women to naked contortionists climbing ropes suspended from center stage. This is why it made perfect sense to have a bunch of Los Angeles hipsters speaking Shakespearean dialogue.
Although, Robert is right about Six feet under. It doesn’t pass as being a show about black people (and having a really good token character with a family is better than a blatant token, but…), but it has a noticeable (if small) hispanic cast who do deal directly with each other extensively…However, it still doesn’t come close to being half non-white, and for LA, that isn’t representative.
Ah, but 6FU wasn’t a show about LA. It was a show about the Fisher family, and the people they interact with.
And Seinfeld and Friends weren’t about New York City. They were about wacky people doing wacky things. That doesn’t change the sore test of credibility which the 99% lily-White makeup of both shows creates for anyone whose ever so much as walked through Penn or Grand Central Station on a Sunday afternoon.
BTW, back to that link I posted earlier about Kansas ordering doctors/social-workers to tattle on underage sex, Slate has more
Y’know, Robert, I included a line pre-responding to that, and then edited it out.
That a particular show set in LA is primarily about white people is not objectionable. Most particular shows are going to be predominantly about some group or other, and often those groups are going to have relatively homogenous racial or ethnic characteristics.
The problem is when all of those specific individual groups happen to all be white across many shows.
Showtime seems to do better in regard to its series, but Showtime’s series from what I have seen of them, don’t tend to be as good (admittedly, HBO’s newer series seem to have declined greatly in quality as well).
The problem is when all of those specific individual groups happen to all be white across many shows.
It’s merely a series of astonishing coincidences.
[alsis lobs an empty Fresca can at Robert, because everyone hates a smart-ass.]
Historically realistic witches?
For what it’s worth, opera has been pretty liberal in race-mixing. Why?
1. Maybe opera directors obsess about singing to the exclusion of acting, danciong, sex appeal, or almost anything else. Consequently operas can feature unattractive, unlikely couples demonstrating no chemistry towards one another, singing gorgeous melodies professing their undying love. (Hurray for radio.)
2. As with Shakespearian productions, perhaps directors of old, familiar operas are looking for ways to add novelty. Newer productions are not so flexible with casting; I haven’t yet seen a black person in the title role of “Nixon in China.”
Sorry about the lecture. I really should edit before I hit “Post” sometimes. I was just trying to make the point that if a drama is set in a particular time and place, it’s not racism for it to reflect that. But if someone wants to stick a black man in 11th Century Scotland, that’s up to them.
I make no case for Friends and Seinfeld being all white. For one thing, I have maybe seen 12 episodes of both of them combined, so I know little about the shows. Given that they are set in major urban centers, you’d think there’d be a bunch of minority characters at least as side or non-recurring characters, if not leads. But in any case, nothing that comes out of L.A./Hollywood surprises me. How many writers on these shows would be black? How many producers/directors? How many advertisers? Not many, eh?
I took a look on Google, and found a reference to “the burning times”, the period during which killing suspected witches was most prevalent, to be 1550 to 1650; Macbeth is believed to have been written around 1607. I couldn’t find a breakdown on how many witches were killed in England by year or decade.
I couldn’t find a breakdown on how many witches were killed in England by year or decade.
What, the DOJ didn’t have anything? I call bullshit.
I remember hearing somewhere that King James actually presided at a trial or two. (“And what else floats?”) I’m gonna try to do some reading and see if I can’t find something to substantiate that.
Something that Matt and I have chuckled about with regards to Hollywood and ethnic diversity is that there seems to be this concensus among those in charge that throwing in a whacky accent constitutes diversity.
But…but…but…. we have a french guy!
Ah, the whiteness of sitcom New York. Never a Native American work colleague in a suit just pulling down a pay-packet without spouting spiritual guide stuff? Regulars date a white character from Europe at the drop of a hat, but a black character from around the corner? No way.
Mind you, Australia’s not much better with commercial TV. Has there ever been an indigenous character on Neighbours or Home and Away? I don’t watch them, but I fear not. Yet watch Australian Idol and it’s full of talented people with darker skins.
Don’t ask me why, because I barely watched the show when it ran: One night I was up with insomnia reading Voyager slash, and was very amused to stumble on a fan-epic in which the Captain and the First Officer had this huge fight about whether the Federation was racist or not. Yes, I do really stupid things when I can’t get to sleep, or as stupid as one can manage without the help of alcohol. :o
Amp, if you’ve mentioned this one before, I apologize, but it ought to win points just for the surrealism of the concept: BlogShares: The Fantasy Blog Stock Market
Random: I really liked Soul Food on Showtime. An all black series…but why don’t they have more of it out on DVD? There were 5 seasons, but only one out on DVD…
Oh, sorry to post so much, but I forgot to plug the Radical Women of Color blog carnival.
“Mind you, Australia’s not much better with commercial TV. Has there ever been an indigenous character on Neighbours or Home and Away? I don’t watch them, but I fear not. Yet watch Australian Idol and it’s full of talented people with darker skins.”
re: Neighbours – I don’t know where you are, tigtog, but I live in Melbourne, and the plain fact that is that the indigenous population here is very small, particularly in the eastern suburbs where the series is filmed. The real shocker is how on earth they manage a 100% (or nearly so) exclusion of Asian faces, in absolute contradiction to the city around them.
They probably took their cue from Suddenly Susan’s 99% Asian-free version of San Fransisco… [grumble grumble]
I have to say New Zealand TV tends to be representative, not particularly good, and often using cliched steotypes, but we do have Maori, Pacific Island, and Asians in most TV shows (particularly in Shortland Street, the nation’s Godawful soap). This is because almost all NZ made TV receives some government funding, because we’re too small to support our own TV industry (now when it comes to news presenters, I think they’re all Pakeha – and there has only ever been one Maori newspresenter, but I could be wrong).
reddecca, what is the correct way to pronounce “Maori”?
I watched Oz for about 5 minutes one night. One character was fellating another character in a jail cell. About a minute into it, the fellator bit the end of the fellatee’s penis off and spit it across the cell. The fellatee bled to death. I turned it off and never watched it again.
Historical accuracy in Shakespeare? I don’t believe Shakespeare gave it much thought; why should we?
Incidentally, I understand that the historical Macbeth had a stepson called Lulach the Fatuous. This is a fact that rarely comes up in casual conversation, so I’m putting it here.
I think I work with a few of Lulach’s descendants.
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There actually is a proposed Hollywood version of “Macbeth” set in the Caribbean with an all-black cast; proposed actors include Harry Lennix (Aaron the Moor from the film “Titus”), Terrence Howard, Danny Glover, Blair Underwood, and Sanaa Lathan:
For a survey of the many non-traditional adaptations of this play, including Welles’ 1936 Harlem production, see the forthcoming essay collection, “Weyward Macbeth.”