Thursday, May 12, 2011

White audiences meet black movie actors

AlterNet has a story up today about a study suggesting that the more black people there are in a movie, the less white people think the movie is for them.

Sound familiar?

The good news is the researcher says, "The perception that 'this movie is not for me' could be changed 'if more mainstream movies cast minorities,' he writes. If multiracial casts became the norm and movies were marketed to all demographics, the stigma could fade away."

Again, sound familiar? The issue has a chicken-egg feel. Did audiences start feeling this way because that's how Hollywood marketed to them? Or does Hollywood market that way because that's how audiences feel?

I'd like to state that, as with books, there are stories that are definitely intended more for one audience over another. But it feels like there's a huge lack of empathetic imagination on the part of some white people who don't seem to see that stories that feature nonwhite characters are still about humans, and are, therefore, still relevant to them.

Read the whole article here.


Tere Kirkland said...

This is the one thing I'm not loving about Game of Thrones. I really hoped that they would add some diversity to it, but it feels like the only people of color are slaves or barbarians. Niiice.

Spike Hara \(´▽`)ノ said...

If a film is led by 75%+ black actors/actresses then I naturally (unthinkingly) assume it's an impenetrable black movie filled with difficult (for me) lingo and themes geared toward a black audience. I don't know why it's off-putting as I without hesitation will watch films with all Chinese, all white American, all French, etc. casts which have the same issues with cultural lingo and themes.
I do, however, assume that nearly all 'all black' movies are romances due to their posters having the romance vibe no matter what the film is truly about.

Carleen Brice said...

Thank you for your honest response. I'd love to hear more from people about why and how they make such assumptions. Like you, I watch foreign films without thinking that because the people and customs are different I won't be able to relate. But I am sometimes probably wrongly surprised at how similar the people feel. I think of Monsoon Wedding and how I was so surprised that it seemed so familiar.

DuEwa Frazier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DuEwa Frazier said...

Hi Carleen,

I think the way in which the movie is marketed in terms of the print/online media outlets where the movie ad appears also plays a part in that assumption. Interesting to note, I've seen ads/promo for the new movie "Jumping the Broom" in non-black media. It's a shame to have that kind of thinking - people of color do not automatically assume that because a movie has only one or no persons of color that the movie *is not* for them. FYI, I'm reading all over the place that non-black people do attend Tyler Perry movies contradicting the perception that only black people support him (just because the film may have a majority black cast). Great post thanks for sharing!