Tag Archives: sexism

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.

Justice for Jennifer Laude

14 Nov


Although about a month late, we are sharing this post from another sister of resistance, who organizes with BAYAN USA via the New York Committee of Human Rights in the Philippines. Her piece is a reflection on last month’s stomach-turning murder of Jennifer Laude, a Filipina trans woman, by a US Marine, Joseph Pemberton. This is only one of many incidents of violence against Filipinas by US military personnel, who due to longstanding colonial and imperialist relationships are enabled to continue to impinge upon Filipino rights and sovereignty. But Jennifer’s murder, framed by racism, sexism, and the economic domination of the US over the Philippines, was also complicated by a violent transmisogyny which was perpetuated by news outlets in the coverage that followed. Trans people, and particularly trans women, are continuously at risk of violence in the Philippines and elsewhere – only days after Jennifer’s tragic death, according to this Time article, two other trans women were murdered.

A excerpt from the post by our much-loved and respected sister:

As a participant in joint-military exercises between the U.S. and the Philippines through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) Pemberton is shielded from the punishment of his crime through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).  The legal system, mired with racism and sexism (at minimum) views Jennifer as subordinate to her murderer’s status – Pemberton, a cis-male, white, a U.S. citizen, and a marine.  This is where the outrage lies in Jennifer Laude’s death.

Not many of us notice the ways these policies, discussed and signed behind closed doors in meeting rooms between politicians and ambassadors, threaten the lives of women and transgendered people on a daily basis. Jennifer’s murder is a prime example of how bilateral agreements that live on paper, like the EDCA and VFA, damage the lives of citizens in the Philippines.  One death is already too many. 

Read the whole thing here.

UltraViolet Campaign to Cancel CeeLo Green’s TV Show

2 Sep

In recent news, CeeLo Green has admitted to drugging a woman and defending his actions on Twitter, claiming it wasn’t rape if the victim wasn’t conscious. A coordinated public response that resulted in cancelling his upcoming TV show would be a profound statement against rape and rape culture. UltraViolet, a “new and rapidly growing community of women and men across the U.S. mobilized to fight sexism and expand women’s rights, from politics and government to media and pop culture” has put together a petition to do just that.

Click here to sign the petition

Re-posted from UltraViolet:

Grammy-winning artist CeeLO Green just let loose a series of tweets claiming that rape isn’t rape if the victim is unconscious.

What’s worse is that his tweets aren’t out of the blue—he recently pled no contest to drugging a woman who later woke up naked in his bed, with no memory of what happened. Yet despite this criminal act, and these incredibly dangerous tweets, major network TBS and its parent company Time Warner are still giving him a huge public platform in a reality TV show that recently premiered. They’ve got to drop him, now. 

Tell TBS and Time Warner:

Rapists and rape-apologists should have no place in your line-up. Cancel CeeLo Green’s reality show The Good Life immediately.


“Brand Malala”: Western exploitation of a schoolgirl

12 Oct

Originally posted on Carol Anne Grayson (Radical Sister) blog:

“Brand Malala”:  Western exploitation of a schoolgirl

Malala Yousufzai

As Malala Yousafzai has told the media, that second when she was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan changed her life, (it is also changing the lives of others too), Malala has become a very marketable western commodity. My issue is not with Malala, I support and respect her wish of education for all, however (and it shames me to say this being British) I doubt she fully realizes the extent to which she is being exploited by her new “mentors” in the UK.

There is an element of risk to all now living in Pakistan since the US led War on Terror brought internal conflict to the region but there is only special treatment for some of those affected. Why not fly out every child harmed by US drones to the west for the most up to date medical care, there are…

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Chescaleigh Breaks Down the Harriet Tubman “Sex Tape”

19 Aug

Sisters of Resistance have featured the awesome YouTube comedian Franchesca Ramsey, a.k.a. Chescaleigh before, when she took on the “Shit People Say” meme with her pointed and hilarious observations of “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls.”

She recently posted a video critiquing the deeply sexist, racist and all-around offensive “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape” released by media mogul Russell Simmons last week. (Coincidentally, his video hit the Net around the time that the hashtag #blackpowerisforblackmen, started by Jamilah Lemieux of Ebony Magazine and illustrating sexist intraracial dynamics between black men and women, was trending on Twitter. Funny how that works.)

In addition to breaking down the wrongness that is the video in a smart and funny way, Franchesca also addresses the issue of social responsibility in comedy. She describes how as a black comic, she once relied on racial stereotyping to get laughs, as many other comedians have done in the past. But she was powerfully challenged by a concerned audience member to see what was problematic about this. She listened, and as a result, learned to stop relying on stereotypes (which she calls “lazy” comedy) and instead, to be funny while making social critique.

Her reflexivity and message is powerful, and especially needs to reach the ears of people whose voices and impact are widespread – people like Uncle Russell “Hustle” Simmons, who has weakly apologized for the video and pulled it from the web. In order to shine up his image (we suspect), he has tweeted about having his apology accepted by Harriet Tubman’s descendants (who are not the only ones he needs to ask forgiveness from!) and producing a miniseries on Frederick Douglas. Let’s just hope he has learned the lesson that Franchesca makes so clear – that claiming “it’s only comedy” is no excuse for eschewing social responsibility, and that all of us have a responsibility to reflect on our actions and contribute positively to the world in which we live.

Franchesca’s recent vlog is below. Follow her on Twitter or check out her YouTube channel here.

Update 22 Aug 2013: An Open Letter to Russell Simmons from Harriet Tubman’s Great Great Grandniece (we knew his claim that they “accepted his apology” was dodgy!)

Related Posts:

Why White People Talk Shit about “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls”