Tag Archives: racism

It’s Not Always About Race…

Earlier this week, Stephen King sent out the following tweet:

Diversity in entertainment – be it sexual, religious, racial, gender identity, or other – is a hot topic, and potentially a minefield of political correctness and sensitivities. It’s not really a ring I want to throw my hat into, but here goes anyway…

This King tweet wasn’t just a random admission to get a reaction. For context, King is on the judging committee for the Academy Awards, and has a voice in several categories. This is in response to there being only one nominee of colour for acting at the 2020 ceremony, to be hosted next month.

I don’t think King has anything to apologise for, but he has since walked back his tweet due to the resultant backlash he received. I thought it was fairly obvious what he was saying.

If I watch one hundred movies and pick the best ten performances from them, there’s a chance all of those actors will be white. Similarly, there’s a chance they will all be black. There’s also the chance that they will all worship the same God, or that they are all homosexual. Does it matter?

I don’t want to put words into King’s mouth, but as soon as I read his comment I knew he was talking about ability and skill, and that there was no underlying subtext about trying to keep ethnic minorities down. Frankly, I’m disappointed that he got so much heat about it.

All right, sure, the number of black actors and actresses getting (or even being offered) these roles is lower, so a great white role is quite simply easier to find. That’s not racist or discriminatory – it’s just a fact. I’m not a studio head offering actors these roles and similarly, I’m not taking them away either. I don’t think it’s fair for people operating under the rules of the game to be blamed for the sins of those running it.

In most cases, the person who gives the best audition should get the role, and there’s nothing else to be considered. I say most cases because obviously a movie about – for example – the 1936 Olympics, should not have Adolf Hitler played by a black guy any more than a white guy should be playing Jesse Owens.

But where colour is unimportant to the plot or the characters – and that is most things – the best actor should get the part.

Maybe that’s an oversimplification, and I really should be more cynical, but it’s also just common sense, right?

Can’t Live With ‘Em, Can’t Kill ‘Em…

I spend too much time around old women – specifically, the ones in my family.

Every weekend I visit my grandma. On Saturday my aunt is there; on Sunday, my mum. The conversations always touch the same clutch of topics and rarely is anything new said about any of them, but I tend to just sit there and drink my coffee anyway. I don’t say much, and when I do speak it’s either cutting social commentary or to correct something one or other of them has said: typically, language and grammar; or indeed… casual racism.

My grandma will see her doctor and instead of simply telling me what he said, she feels it absolutely imperative to firstly make me aware that he is from India, you know, as if that geographical note assists the storytelling in some capacity, yet she has never once specifically pointed out to me that anyone was white. To be honest, all of the older women in my family are just like that.

When I ask her how she can be sure he is Indian, she says; because of his accent and the way he looks. Ah-ha. I see. I had, of course, forgotten that my grandma specialised in sub-continental dialects and skin tones. I guess I should just be thankful she doesn’t say; because he offers me a papadum when I get there.

So, having established where he may be from, she then gets to the important bit – what he said, right? Well, yes, except now that I am familiar with his place of extraction it seems she now has carte blanche to relay his diagnosis in broken English. Why, I’m not sure: she is not a good mimic, and it adds no value to the anecdote. Ironically, he probably speaks a higher level of English than she does.

They don’t mean to offend, I’m sure, but I rarely allow that little nugget to stop me from telling them. It’s an age thing… they say, as if too many birthdays is an excuse to be ignorant. I remember one conversation, before my granddad passed away: it was the only time I walked out on them. I stormed out of their house and went home. That was many years ago, and my grandma is still waiting for an apology. Family or not, it makes no difference to me.

I’d like to think the kind of attitudes and opinions I still see in them will die with their generation: that once they go, so too will all this stupidity and superficiality.

But I doubt it.