Monday, February 28, 2005

Color Me Hollywood

So of course today around the office the topic of discussion was about the Academy Awards. The outfits. The hair. The winners. All good. We're all happy for Jamie, Hillary, Cate, and Morgan, and everyone else.

I work with a lot of young people, students, who had a lot of comments like, "Why can't our movies (meaning black or Latino movies) be nominated more?"

And it got me thinking about the state of films, what people see and like, and how do we get to a stage where films starring black and Latino actors get recognized more often. But more importantly, how do we get to a stage where OUR films (or films depicting us) reach a certain level of quality, that would actually garner the attention of the critics.

There's a lot of stereotypes and crap being put out, some by us, some by others, that supposedly depict the lives of black and Latino people. Often, it's filled with lots of cheap laughs and one-liners, violence, and people in stereotypical roles. Not much that depicts us as normal people, who live normal lives, who face the conflicts of life like everyone else. Whenever I see black and Latino films (U.S. made) that depict us as cussing every five minutes, toting guns, in gangs, illiterate, or poor, it really makes me wonder is this what Hollywood really thinks we're about. I don't cuss, have never seen a gun, been in a gang, and grew up middle class with lots of books at my disposal. I guess that's not very Hollywood material.

Why can't there be a primarily black or Latino or Asian "Vera Drake" or "Mystic River" or "Being Julia" or "Sideways"? Or, a black, Latino or Asian "Bridget Jones' Diary" or "Closer"? Would a studio dare venture into that territory? Because I'm sure there are many writers who are, or would like to go there. Spain seems to get it right, where Spanish-language films aren't limited by U.S. stereotypes, and where stories can focus on complex lives and conflicts.

I know there are many filmmakers who create films depicting black, Latino, and Asian lives in realistic and complex ways. I just wish they got the same accolades, support, and consideration by audiences and critics that some of the stereotype.

There's a lot more I could say, but won't.

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