by Lavern Merriweather
I know very little about Alaskan Inuit people, but that’s because of my own laziness. Still, if I were to judge them based solely on TV ads, I would think that they were funny looking little folks who smiled all the time and screamed or hooted loudly when excited while living in igloos. They must also be all men, because I don’t see Alaskan women represented anywhere. And they must also only be five feet tall, because they are always tiny.
This could be a valid ideal of what Alaskans are like, but I doubt it. Even on one of my favorite shows “Northern Exposure”, the majority of the people in that town were white. Come to think of it, most people on shows set in Alaska tend to be of a Caucasian persuasion. There were only two Native people on Exposure and one of them was actually a white actor whose character supposedly was mixed to justify their lack of diversity in hiring practices. The most troubling part about all of this is that this is not new.
TV and Hollyweed, for numerous years, have showcased to the viewing audience an image of people of color that is woefully inaccurate; the most recent target being Arabs. I guess it’s because they are a safe group to attack. I mean after Sept. 11, many of us watching the tube in the United States should expect Middle Easterners to be portrayed as they really are, which according to most filmmakers and producers are a bunch of sneaky, scary, dangerous lowlifes out to slaughter Americans in the name of their Jihad. They apparently have no concept of morals or decency and obviously can’t wait to spill the blood of American infidels. At least, that’s what you would think if you have seen enough movies or shows with Arab actors in them.
Not to say that they are all bad. In fact, the sequel to “Harold and Kumar” was very critical of white people’s fears. There have even been some big screen flicks that show Arab people questioning the disgraceful level of hatred towards them. The one I love the most is the guy in that dreadful Jodie Foster vehicle “Flight Plan”. The movie itself was a steaming pile of dog doo. However, I liked that when Jodie initially accuses him after her daughter goes missing, he gets to tell her off. Then, in a later scene, he gets to body slam Jodie to the ground when she tries to storm the cockpit. I liked the Arab man not only standing up for himself, but also getting to vent his grievances.
Still, most of the work Arab performers get will be the same shit like that Ah-nuld junk “True Lies”. Ironic that although he is of Austrian descent, Arnie never has to worry about typecasting. Hell, most of the roles he gets make no mention of his ancestry, and he gets to be different European ethnicities.
Many folks of color, especially Arabs, can only dream of the day where their nationality will have nothing to do with why they were hired. Problem is that a lot of the Hollywhore mindset is still stuck in a whites only water fountains time warp. They don’t create change, because they don’t want change. They want to protect the status quo so that they stay on top of it. Any threat to that won’t be tolerated, which is why you can have countless shitty movies starring white actors green lit while Spike Lee had to beg for money from rich black folks so he could finish his groundbreaking “Malcolm X” picture.
It’s why after many decades of supposed progress, we still have stories of black folks in major motion pictures focusing on them as only servants, why a number of ridiculously talented folk can’t get a job, unless they play a subordinate or someone who doesn’t make it past ten minutes in a horror film, and if they do last any longer, then they’ll bump them off eventually before the credits role.
My guess is that horror films often times require empathy for you to enjoy them. Think about it. If you don’t give a shit about what happens to the people on screen, then what the hell is the point? Naturally black folks aren’t worth feeling sorry for. So, their asses got to go right off the bat. It’s something that I, Brotha and many other black folks have written posts bitching about. Yet, it still keeps happening. Why? Because any version of a person of color must be filtered through the lens of white eyes.
You can’t have a good-looking, engaging, charismatic hottest of hotties like Chow-Yun Fat be relatable to white moviegoers, unless he plays a cliché at some point. Same thing goes for “28 Days Later” star Naomie Harris. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t have films like “Indian Runner” or “Once Were Warriors” on multiple screens around America. But have somebody like Mike Myers or Jack Black playing a man of color in an extremely offensive way and that movie will open across the globe everywhere.
“The movies that humanize non-white folks won’t sell as many tickets as the ones that mock or make fun of us,” according to Hollywhite logic.
What’s worse is POC actors act subservient on screen while seeming to love every minute of being a caricature. Any black person who believes that the days of Stepin Fetchit are over is completely deluding themselves. It’s gotten so bad that now even black men are playing mammies, unless you have another word for what it is that Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy are doing when they dressed in drag as old, fat black women.
And if it’s not stereotyping, then it’s ignoring altogether. I have noticed that once Disney makes a princess flick with a female of color then you never see them represented again. No more Native Americans, Asians, Arabs and certainly darkies from A-fri-ca need apply. Your services are no longer valued once they get what they want from you.
I recall long ago when I first saw “A Soldier’s Story”. In one incredibly powerful scene, the late and very great Adolph Ceasar recounts an incident that happened when he first got in the army. He was explaining to another character why he hated one particular soldier in their barracks. While he and fellow black cadets were at a bar In France, some white males were there also. The white privates told some French women that black people were monkeys and to emphasize their attitude convinced a black male to parade around with a tale and a sign declaring him king of the monkeys which he happily joined in on, oblivious to the outrage of his fellow blacks. He was killed later that night.
Now, I don’t want to kill any black performer or entertainer that enjoys being a high paid coon to the delight of white audiences. I do however believe that a few of them need a serious beatdown.