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by Lavern Merriweather
Although I absolutely loved the film “Slumdog Millionaire”, and not just because I have a mad crush on cutie Dev Patel, I don’t like all the accolades that the movie or the stars received after it won an award. That may sound very strange considering how great I thought the film was, but it really gets on my last nerve when movies that are predominated with people of color get praise from the media. And I say that, because of the fallout afterwards.
Case in point, the 1990 blockbuster starring Kevin Costner “Dances with Wolves”. That movie came out 23 years ago, and with the exception of Graham Greene, most of the Native American actors have found little to no work since then. They haven’t even gotten the stupid obligatory ‘actor of color to suit all needs’ roles. They might as well have fallen off the face of the Earth.
Another example would be the moving and exceptional Ang Lee film “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”. That film has had countless rip-offs and parodies, including one very recent really funny and cool Nextel commercial. But, the actors themselves have been given extremely short shrift by Hollyweird. Granted, the smoking hot Chow Yun Fat has found life beyond that movie. However, damn near every Hollywood movie he has done since then has him playing second fiddle to a white person.
White people who aren’t even half as good looking, charismatic or talented as my man Chow still get top billing over him. Ridiculous, which could also describe how his co-star the beautiful and enigmatic Michelle Yeoh has been treated. I have been a fan of hers since “Heroic Trio”. Yet, for Hollywhite, her presence is only necessary when it’s complimenting a white person, usually a male.
For those of you who have seen her in the “Mummy”, feel free to dispute me because I damn sure won’t be watching that tripe. Not only have I had my fill of Brendan Fraser channeling Indiana Jones, I also don’t want to see yet another ‘white guy takes down insert villain of color’, especially when said villain has supernatural powers and the white male doesn’t. That’s like bringing a gun to a knife fight and losing. Forgive my ode to the Hip-Hop abs commercial but SAY WHAT?!
Right, the person of color is far more of a badass, but he is still easily defeatable and not worth getting any more leads, even after he does the Oscar caliber star turn. In the mid to late 70’s there were a number of films starring a largely black cast that the media fell in love with such films as “Sounder”. How much cash money you want to bet that if you spoke with any of those actors today – save the late Paul Winfield – they would tell you there was just no trouble getting an acting job again. They most likely wouldn’t, because Hollywhite seems to only like touting people of color and giving us work in spurts whenever the fuck they feel like it, which won’t be very much even while they are positively gushing about how great we are and how much they enjoyed the film. Strange that attitude magically disappears once the flavor of the moment gleam wears off.
I saw an interview with Rosie Perez who was lauded after Spike Lee’s masterpiece “Do the Right Thing”. She said that when she would walk into a casting office, they looked at her like she had four eyeballs. The same goes for Rae Dawn Chong who has said on numerous occasions that when she would go to auditions, the jaws would drop like she walked in carrying an Uzi. Of course I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea. They think we are just swell but on their terms.
Keshia Castle Hughes was nominated for an Oscar for her first starring role. However, I haven’t seen her in anything since then. And I have little doubt that once all the smiles have cleared, little Quvenzhane Wallis will also get a very cold shoulder from the same media that’s fawning over her now. It’s the same pattern repeated over and over. So, I don’t expect that anything will change now.
The Oscars are the biggest culprits. The rare times black people have won was when they were a subordinate, or in the case of Denzel and Halle a scumbag cop and a slutbag whore respectively. Of course, there is not much to respect when the only time you can win one of those shitty little statues is to be a cliché, or get some positive attention “Slumdog” won three years ago. And I’m still waiting to see the leads get as much work as their white counterparts, but I ain’t holding my breath.
Yes, acting is a tough gig most of the time. It’s a crapshoot, but people of color shouldn’t have to constantly hold the short end of the stick, especially when they could act circles around the talentless white people who are often chosen instead of them Nicholas Cage has done zero to prove he was worthy of winning his Oscar yet he still gets roles. Yet, when you are a person of color you have to fight that much harder to prove your worth. Perhaps then, we need our own casting system and studios then let Hollywhat eat our damn dust. And considering how dreadful most of the movies that come out are, it seems they will be doing that very soon.