I think I make my opinions about Hollywood and the film industry pretty clear here, but in case there was any confusion let me sum up: There are a lot of innovative and creative people currently employed as directors, writers, and actors, however it’s not the liberal/progressive sin den many people think it is. I’ve done the research on this, but you’re welcome to google it and fact check me, but the amount of white male protagonists Hollywood pumps out far out weighs what would be statistically accurate compared to the actual population of the country. On screen reality (not diversity because diverse populations are a reality not an agenda) does actually help create empathy/sympathy for others because it humanizes people you may not other wise get to meet/ only know of through stereotypes.
Many people whether they’re actors or otherwise can attest to the fact that they have been influenced by seeing people who look like them onscreen accomplishing their dreams, and yet the idea that film influences people this way is met with ridicule. Mostly from the people who have an abundance of representation, but also sadly from the people who don’t like film as a medium in part because they were excluded.
This post however is not just about the importance of being represented in film, additionally I wanted to point out that Hollywoods current obsession with remakes and reboots is both a good and bad thing*.
Whether or not you liked the new Ghostbusters you can’t deny that it was a good thing for little girls to not just see women in these iconic roles, but also women over thirty who weren’t sexualized and who were shown to be good at science. Before this movie the only Ghostbusters costume for girls was a ‘sexy’ one (like with so many other franchises). Adults can get butt hurt all they want, but the next generation needs these kinds of updates so that they can get empowered in a way the current grownups couldn’t.
I know my bitching and moaning about Disney can get annoying sometimes but the point still stands. Growing up I didn’t have a black princess and my favorite princesses were Ariel and Belle. Of course since I didn’t really look like them whether or not I realized it I didn’t associate the way I looked with beauty, which sucks but is true. Disney’s decision to make live action remakes and then focus on white princesses first without bothering to change their race (which can be done/should be done/would still be historically accurate) is as a result disappointing. I’m not necessarily Disney’s target audience anymore although they are greedily attempting to play into my age groups nostalgia, which is why my main argument against these wasteful remakes is that little girls like me will once again have no pretty princesses that look like them (they also just lack soul).
This represents the negative side of these remakes. We don’t live in the same time period as when a lot of these movies first came out so updates require more than just pretty special effects. For example if you aren’t aware by now of how America has screwed over black, latino, and native people** then this is your reminder to look that shit up. As a result (again) whether you enjoyed the movie or not the Magnificent 7 Remake staring Denzel Washington was important. Spoiler Alert the only remaining of the 7 were Denzel’s character, the Mexican bandit, and the Native American exile. That was a statement that needed to be made. In films Native people almost never exist and it’s pretty rare for people to properly differentiate between different latino/Spanish speaking populations.
I’m older now and know better, but that’s because I bothered to do research in the first place. Of course behind the scenes it’s also important to have variety and movies like Magnificent Seven that also have people of color directing (in this case Antoine Fuqua) make an even greater difference. The amount of respect for POC stories is almost always infinitely clearer when they are also writing and directing.
Last week I mentioned the power of the Arts and how they can be used to shape attitudes in our society. If you can see how peoples views of Russians were tainted by them playing villains during the Cold War then you can see how black and latino people playing drug dealers can/ and has negatively affected peoples views of them today. It’s also pretty easy to see how people can forget that Asian people and Native people exist at all. Therefore I’m not going to say no to every remake and revival that Hollywood pushes out, because if it means making them relevant to the 21st century then by all means. If not then we are moving backwards and I won’t let that slide.
As usual stay informed and on Wednesday I’ll recommend things.
*All of these are cash grabs at the end of the day, but if they can do some good by diversifying then I honestly don’t care. No company makes something for free.
**There is a Korean character in Magnificent Seven and historically Asians have been treated negatively and monolithically too, his character dies though so I didn’t mention Asians in that part for that reason. See also the model minority myth (as in google this) and just watch the movie it’ll make sense in context.
***Featured Image- just a meme which accurately depicts how I feel about things.