Tag Archives: media

Commentary on the Oscars: Diversity in Film 2014

23 Feb

Guest Post by Jonathan Scott Chee

Looking through the nominations for this year’s Oscars, you’d be forgiven for thinking Hollywood had outsourced the entire American film industry to some parallel universe, populated almost entirely by white men.

The Oscars have long been a biting reminder of just how ubiquitously white the film industry truly is, but is the Academy itself purposefully excluding non-white artists, or are they simply taking their pick from an already white-dominated industry?

Analysis of the top grossing films of 2014 paints a troubling picture of exclusion and underrepresentation. People of colour and women make up a woefully small percentage of the principal cast, and behind the cameras white men also make up the vast majority of directors and screenwriters.

As alarming as the statistics in the infographic may be, they fail to tackle an important, yet subtle, element of the structural inequality within the film industry: the kind of roles minority actors and women get. While people of colour may only make up 16% of the total cast of 2014’s biggest blockbusters, they end up playing similar characters time and again: the sassy black sidekick, the tough-yet-warm-hearted convict, the swag drug dealer, the goofy immigrant with a hilariously poor grasp of the English language, the math nerd virgin – these are the roles our minority ethnic actors are relegated to, rarely getting to tackle a role with real depth and therefore rarely getting the opportunity to showcase their talents.

For women, too, the story is much the same – a blockbuster film led by a female protagonist is still very much an anomaly in movie theatres. Worryingly, the industry seems to be becoming even more exclusionary over time, with fewer women than ever involved both in front of, and behind, the camera.

For women of colour, the outlook gets even bleaker as they made up just 3% of all the speaking roles in 2014’s biggest blockbusters. Once again, this statistic doesn’t quite paint the full picture, as that 3% is overwhelmingly made up of black, or mixed race black/white women. If you are an East Asian woman, roles outside of the sultry, accented “dragon lady” or “comedy immigrant” are practically non-existent. South Asian actresses hunting for work in Hollywood may as well be hunting unicorns.

The effects of Hollywood white-washing go far beyond out of work actors, however. As people of colour, our children grow up in an environment where they see no reflection of themselves in mainstream culture. Personally, I don’t want my children to grow up in a society where the only representation of themselves they see on screen are as nerds, sultry objects of white male fetishism or kung-fu geniuses, because as much as art may attempt to represent reality, conversely, it’s clear that it works to shape perceptions of it as well.

Patriarchy Makes The News

17 Jun

A quick roundup of all the sexist shit that’s been reported around the web recently. If you have things to add, leave them in the comments below.

Trigger warnings for statistics and/or descriptions of rape, violence against women, photos of the Nigella-Saatchi incident, and Action Bronson’s disgusting EP cover.

  • Underground rapper Action Bronson releases new EP with racist/sexist cover image [no one in the blogosphere seems to have critiqued this yet. not to worry. we plan to.]

Reality TV Exploits Women, People of Color, & Children

6 Nov

Sisters of Resistance have long opposed the misogynist, negative portrayals of women, working class people and people of color in reality TV shows. That circle has recently expanded to include children, exploited in such shows as “Toddlers and Tiaras” and its follow-up, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” We would like to call your attention to this clued-in article by Jennifer Pozner for the New York Times Opinion Pages in which she looks at this disturbing cultural phenomenon.

so much wrong with this picture.

Read the article in its original location at the New York Times here.


Lowkey turns down Westwood TV

25 Jan

Sisters of Resistance are huge fans of Lowkey. Soundtrack to the Struggle is, in our opinion, easily the best UK hiphop album of 2011 and we were honoured to host a night of his album tour. Whether you get the album via download or hardcopy, you will definitely not regret it. Lowkey’s big boy bars, well produced beats, moral integrity, political consciousness and dedication to fighting for equality and justice are inspiring and uplifting. He stays close to the original objective of hiphop employing it to “empower the powerless” and to provide a vehicle of expression for the voiceless.  Lowkey has taken an active stand against British imperialism and the war machine, criticising the so-called “war on terror” in Terrorist?, exposing and condemning the UK military industrial complex in Hand on Your Gun. He recently wrote a Guardian article speaking out about police racism and the criminalisation of hiphop.

Lowkey takes a stand against injustice (photo credit Henna Malik http://www.hennam.com/ )

In sharp contrast, Westwood lacks even the most basic understand of the history of hiphop and he has actively promoted the military occupation of Afghanistan. His insensitive and unsuccessful attempts to imitate, steal or misappropriate a mainstream version of hiphop culture, despite his evidently rich, white and privileged background, are cringeworthy.

Below, we have cross posted an excerpt from Lowkey’s article in the brilliant Ceasefire magazine  (@ceasefire_mag) explaining why he refused to appear on Westwood’s show.

Lowkey rightly focuses on Westwood’s involvement in war propaganda but Sisters of Resistance would like to briefly share an anecdote which confirms that artists with moral integrity such as Lowkey have no place in the company of such morally bankrupt careerists as Westwood. Many years ago, I attended a Westwood event at a club in East London. Westwood spent the night screaming “b*tch” and “wh*re” down the microphone in a desperate and unsuccessful attempt to create an image of street credibility and gain acceptance from the predominately black crowd. The “joke” began when Westwood offered free champagne to the first woman to present herself to the stage. When no one responded to his request, Westwood repeatedly begged for a woman to come to the stage simply to pick up some giveaway champagne. When a young black woman did eventually approach the DJ booth, Westwood played the then popular (I said that this was a long time ago) Ludacris song “Ho.”For the rest of the evening Westwood spewed racist and sexist hatred on the mic creating a strong atmosphere of misogyny in the nightclub. 
Westwood is only interesting in promoting himself. Many have never forgiven him for his delayed response to grime music and homegrown UK talent, refusing to play or promote it for many years. And as Lowkey makes clear, Westwood’s promotion of the military occupation of Afghanistan is inexcusable and a further reason for true hiphop heads to completely ignore the increasingly irrelevant, politically offensive BBC DJ.


Lowkey: Why I had to say no to Westwood TV

Earlier this month, Lowkey, one of the UK’s leading hip hop artists turned down an invitation to appear on TimWestwoodTV, the influential YouTube channel hosted by Tim Westwood, arguably UK Hip Hop’s biggest name. In an exclusive piece [for Ceasefire] , he explains why.

by Lowkey (@lowkeymusic1)

Being not only a Hip Hop artist but a life-long fan of the genre, I have, like many others, been very familiar with Tim Westwood. As a young boy, I remember listening to his show on Capital FM and have since spent the majority of my almost decade-long musical career trying to get a spot on his BBC Radio1/BBC 1xtra show. For a long time, an appearance on the show was – and, to some extent, remains – the benchmark for any aspiring Hip Hop or Grime MCs. For many rising artists, you were only considered relevant if you had been acknowledged by Westwood. Moreover, whenever Westwood chose to champion a particular artist, throwing his weight behind their career, big success was almost guaranteed.

Yes, his clout as the self-described “gatekeeper” has declined over the past three years, due to the rise of independent media like SBTV and Grime Daily and, more recently, the progression of Radio 1’s Hip Hop DJ Charlie Sloth. Nonetheless, turning down an invitation to appear on Tim Westwood TV, as I have done this month, was not a decision I could take lightly.

As far as I am aware, Tim Westwood’s first visit to the occupying military base ‘Camp Bastion’, in Afghanistan, was in early February 2011. In contrast to his later trip in May 2011, this one seemed to be in a more personal capacity, he had remarked of the British troops stationed there that they were “really making a difference to the world” and that he felt he had a “moral duty to come out”. He also vowed to “come back with Radio 1”. And come back he did. […] Why should BBC Radio 1Xtra listeners be subjected to this propaganda?  […] The reality is that the MOD and the BBC need to sell an increasingly unpopular military adventure to the youth of this nation, so they use a character of dwindling relevance by getting him to broadcast his live show from the heart of the occupation itself.

FOR THE FULL ARTICLE PLEASE VISIT http://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/lowkey-no-to-westwood-tv/