Posts Tagged diversity

Oscars 2014: A turning point for diversity in the industry?

Like Hostess Ellen said, either “12 Years a slave” wins or we’re all racists. 

Good thing it won. But I don’t know if we’ve really turned a corner on diversity.  Under-representation and stereotypes still exist in Hollywood.  Asians are few and far between, and Native Americans?  In these times, Johnny Depp can still play Tonto.

But my goodness, the list of winners in the top categories this year is still  impressive:

Asian American of Filipino descent: Robert Lopez, composer, Best Original Song, “Let it Go,” from “Frozen.”

Mexican American: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity.”

African American: John Ridley, Best Screenplay adaption, “12 Years a Slave.”

Mexican Kenyan: Lupita Nyong’o, Best Supporting Actress, “12 Years a Slave.”

Brit director Steve McQueen’s brutally honest telling of the Solomon Northup story is so disturbing, it’s hard to take.

But it needed to be told finally. Doesn’t put closure on the race issue by a long-shot. Don’t talk about post-racial America after a “Best Picture” Oscar.

But I think the industry is beginning to change as far as recognizing diverse audiences.

You can’t deny the winner’s list tonight.

I pretty much predicted how it would go.

“Gravity” was such a technical marvel, but didn’t quite get out of the planetarium for me.

I loved Amy Adams but knew she wouldn’t win. “American Hustle” was good but ABSCAM isn’t Watergate.  And for New Jersey folks, it’s not even Bridgegate.

So Cate Blanchett wins as she has most of the pre-shows.

Same with Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey in the  male actor categories.

Both of them gave great speeches.

I thought Leto’s mention of Ukraine and Venezuela, and AIDS victims brought things a little closer to reality. And McConaughey’s mention of God, was “all right, all right.”

But given the diversity wins of the night, Oscar folks still like things more  tactful than I would have wanted.

Never mind, Lupita Nyong’o’s acceptance speech struck the right chord. She recognized that her success was based on the pain of the past.(A show of humility there). And then after thanking colleagues, she chose to inspire:

“When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid. Thank you.”

This was not a night or the time to beat anyone over the head apparently. Not with Ellen playing silly, ordering pizzas and doing selfies.  It was a fun, guilt free Oscars.

And the winners were among the most I can ever remember.

Leave it to Lupita Nyong’o  to help validate the night.

 

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CBS’ Julie Chen’s the “Talk” about her eyes at the EYE; But candor on race has come pretty late for the TV star

Here’s my initial reaction to the Julie Chen reveal of how she dealt with racism in TV News that I posted on my “Emil Guillermo Media” Facebook site– https://www.facebook.com/emilguillermo.media  :

 

I think the bottom line is it’s still a self-serving reveal for Chen, especially since she appears to have only done it to fill out a show theme on “secrets” for her program, “The Talk.”
Wouldn’t it have been better–and more credible–if she had come out boldly after the “Big Brother” debacle this season? Yes, BB is also Chen’s show, but the presence of a specific contestant who spouted anti-Asian comments throughout the show, would have given Chen a real opportunity to come out more naturally about how she dealt with anti-Asian racism in the past.

So instead of seeing  Julie Chen as Rosa Parks, I’m wondering, what’s up Julie Chen?
Here’s someone who knows how hard it is as a minority to get ahead in TV news. She recalls the blatant racism she experienced in Ohio. And frankly, she must know that some version of that conversation can be heard in newsrooms even today.

And yet, prior to this, Julie Chen has not been known in broadcast circles as a pioneering diversity advocate.

This is after years of success as Chen represents the best example of hair and makeup, and now plastic surgery. She has quite a career as one who has married a network president and has an ubiquitous presence in daytime, primetime, and bedtime.

But maybe this is the start of a brand new Julie. Perhaps someone has told her about that old phrase of the jazz great Ramsey Lewis, “When you take the elevator up, don’t forget to send it back down.”

 

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Another Asian American bites the dust in the Obama Cabinet: Steven Chu out as Secretary of Energy

Secretary of State Steven Chu’s departure doesn’t come as a surprise. Chu had some tough political moments where his science and academic smarts may not have served him nor the president well. In politics, just because you’re right, doesn’t mean it’s right. Chu made comments about gas prices he had to recant. And there was the Solyndra episode that blew up in his face. Politics is not easy. Even if you’re a Nobel Laureate.

Today’s announcement means there’s one less Asian American in the cabinet, two if you count Chris Lu, the cabinet secretary.Obama has said to wait until all is said and done before commenting about the diversity of his second term staff. 

But Chu is one of the best and the brightest Asian Americans on the planet. When a guy like Chu can’t cut it, that’s certainly sends a message to others who aspire to serve in politics.

Here’s a presidential statement below, a White House release that massages the exit of Steven Chu. It’s followed by a link to Chu’s farewell letter to those at the DOE:

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 1, 2013

 

Statement from the President on Secretary Steven Chu

 

I want to thank Secretary Chu for his dedicated service on behalf of the American people.   As a Nobel Prize winning scientist, Steve brought to the Energy Department a unique understanding of both the urgent challenge presented by climate change and the tremendous opportunity that clean energy represents for our economy.  And during his time as Secretary, Steve helped my Administration move America towards real energy independence. Over the past four years, we have doubled the use of renewable energy, dramatically reduced our dependence on foreign oil, and put our country on a path to win the global race for clean energy jobs.   Thanks to Steve, we also expanded support for our brightest engineers and entrepreneurs as they pursue groundbreaking innovations that could transform our energy future.  I am grateful that Steve agreed to join in my Cabinet and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

But in Steven Chu’s letter to the Energy Department, there’s alot that was done to mark the last four years. Read his letter here.

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One guy’s response to HBO’s “Girls” finale

A friend of mine said she was let down by the series “finale” of HBO’s “Girls.”

I was too.

So many missed opportunities to insert a little color into the much criticized show. 

To date, I’ve stayed out of the “Where’s the diversity?” debate in “Girls” because I’m a late comer to the program.

Generally, I do find it smarter than most TV fare, so I’m more inclined to like than dislike the show.

But the ”Girls”  has a diversity quotient of zero. Can any version of New York, even on television,  be so insular in these modern times that there are no  black, Latino or Asian folks to support even a thin story thread?  Network TV’s “New Girl” or “Broke Girls” all  have a lot more  color. Is premium cable the place to say to hell with all that?

If  FB’s Zuckerberg marries an Asian American woman  in real life, you’d think  we couldn’t see an Asian somewhere in that surprise wedding party finale. But no, not even an extra.  How about as the wedding  photographer? A waiter? (I know they can’t let a forlorn but horny Marnie start kissing some person of color at wedding’s end.  But why sic her on the self-effacing schlimazal for a little mercy tongue.)

What’s distressing is if this is the reality of young 20-somethings’ lives, then their lives are merely a modern update of the plain old segregation we had in the past.  It’s so retro. And it’s all brought to you by trendy whites who apparently see diversity as a matter of taste, and not an urgent sense of social justice.

In a response to a question about people of color, Writer/director Lena Dunham admitted in the NY Times recently , “I have to write people who feel honest but also push our cultural ball forward.”

Too bad her segregated characters certainly are pushing the cultural ball backwards.

I guess the creators of “Girls”  have  bigger “real life” problems to tackle.  Like getting a job. Finding a boyfriend.  A white one. (Did they ever think they’d improve their chances in the mating game if they sought out non-whites?)

I hope that in this Judd Apatow production, the Ken Leong image in the Hangover movies didn’t hurt Asian guys.

Still,  this show has a problem with guys, all around.

On the finale, the once indifferent Adam shows his softside at the wedding and exposes the utter self-absorption of Hannah. She can’t accept that Adam is falling for her. How unromantic of her? But what’s his reward for showing vulnerability? Hannah connects with a one time partner now gay, with whom she shares an STD to be her roommate instead.  How sweet. Gays are well represented in “Girls.”  (He’s white, but don’t the writer’s know the gay friend in chick flicks is always the opportunity for the modern double minority, the gay-black or gay-Asian guy?)

Back to straight, vulnerable Adam. I get his rage totally. But the girls on “Girls” don’t get it.

Adam gets run over,and the girls would rather sit quietly alone on the beach eating wedding cake.

It’s a good thing I’m not 20-something anymore.

This show would have cured me of white girls.

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