WHY IS CINEMA: MOVIES AND RACISM! UH-OH!!
uh hello i’m cameron carpenter and i’m back with another video essay um that you’re here we go! Racism! It’s never a fun topic if you’re white, and always a fun topic if you aren’t! Racism is felt all over the world by different races of people, but it is mostly felt in America because that is where the most people in the world are. Racism has long been the subject of many movies because the way it makes us good white people feel uncomfortable means it is true art. However, a major critique of Hollywood as an industrial capitalist complex is that it, too, can be racist because it forgets that us, the whites, aren’t the only ones who have money. Today, we’ll be looking at some specific tropes and practices of the industry that crying liberals claim are “racist,” but are in fact just made up things that were made up because no Native Americans were in Crash. Since non-white ethnicities burst onto the movie scene in 2002, there has long been a criticism that while white people, men specifically, have been given dynamic, multi-layered characters to play at every occupational and social level, other ethnicities have been reduced to bit parts like the weird Asian who whispers scary things but has the heart of a beatboxing champion or the brooding Asian who wants to watch monsters fight or the sexy Asians who are actually white people. Despite the breadth of the human imagination, only white people have the mental fortitude and talents to supply characters in specific genres like fantasy, sci-fi, and Richard Linklater movies. Since Asians, Arabs, Africans, and Latinos did not exist until slavery in America, we should not expect them to take up roles in period pieces where the white people carved their names into history with the help of dragons, elves, and Oscar-winning actor Gary Busey. Racial stereotyping has long been critiqued due to the perception that if non-white individuals can never be seen as heroes or figures in fiction whose stories are worth telling, then there is a subconscious reaction of an audience mired by complex and racist historical predilections towards whiteness to always view these minority figures in the capacities in which they are seen in pop culture. In order to combat this, Hollywood has taken drastic measures to help minority representation be viewed in a more positive and influential light with Hollywood has long seen the importance of other cultures, both financially and because their own market is so strong they don’t feel threatened by movies Americans have to read with subtitles. Whitewashing is Hollywood’s solution to allowing America to get all the important cultural influence of non-whites without having to look at someone who isn’t Emma Stone or Scarlett Johansson. Due to a fear that the whites will not purchase a movie ticket for a film starring Tobey Taylor-Johnson as a Middle-Eastern man, Hollywood has instead opted to make commercial flops starring white men in minority-specific roles in order to spare the noted minorities the shame of having movies that fail at the box office. These roles are often seen as challenges for actors, who are able to dive into the lives and cultures of others for a limited amount of time and millions of dollars, so they can be adequately rewarded with a gold trophy that shows the world how good they are at not being white even when they are. Movie Magic! Luckily, Hollywood is smart enough to know when to play whitewashing as a joke. Screenwriters and directors have become masters of making whitewashing okay by outright stating the absurdity of white people in these minority roles in the films themselves. By pointing out the elephant in the room, white audiences can then relax knowing that someone was kind enough to tell all the minorities that they know there’s something weird about the entire scenario, and now it’s up to the minorities to just laugh it off and enjoy the movie the smart whites have made. Hollywood movies are often complex beasts, with a multitude of voices changing script or movie elements throughout the production process. In some cases, screenwriters may not be at fault for a decision later made by a producer, director, or studio head’s 4 year-old child. In others, white filmmakers may have specific intentions to alleviate one racial issue, and mistakenly replace said issue with another one that is equally as problematic. It is often difficult to pinpoint who is to blame for specific creative decisions, and that’s good for white people who want to continually avoid difficult and uncomfortable discussions about race. We white people are lucky that we define racism to be the same thing as prejudice, that way we can think non-white people in America can also be racist against us. We are also lucky that we live by a definition that we, the whites, made to keep ourselves accountable, instead of listening to any systemically-oriented definitions held by the minorities whose livelihoods were put in danger because they think Jesus wasn’t white. As true artists, it’s important that we strive to be empathetic to the causes and opinions of all people and ethnicities, except for the ones we know are lying because slavery is illegal and they should have gotten over it by now.