|This cute print can be found here. Credit: Slovly.|
Now that wearing a hoodie is synonymous with being a gangster and a thug, and is a good excuse for shooting someone (it's the new miniskirt!), it seems that racism is back. Then again, did it ever really go away? I'd like to argue that from November 2008 to January 2009, Americans pretended that racism was a thing of the past, like three-pieced suits and drinking at work. And then someone had to go and shoot Trayvon Martin. Or perhaps it was before that when Pvt. Danny Chen was bullied by his fellow soldiers. Or perhaps it was the summer when people realized that The Help, while popular, was a really racist movie.
But here it is some more, with teenagers complaining that one of the main characters in The Hunger Games film is black. Not the violence, the trivialization of the death of children, the way the story is derivative of every other dystopian, science-fiction story about kids killing each other (Ender's Game, Battle Royale, Lord of the Flies). Instead, it's something as asinine as skin color. Then again, I don't expect teenagers to have the best reasoning skills. Adults don't have it either these days.
It did lead to this very interested Jezebel article about the proliferation of white-washing characters when race is not specified. It's something I addressed in my TCG Circle blog post. But Jezebel addresses more directly (and in more colorful language) than I do. A choice snippet here:
You can see whitewashing in a grillion places—from old chestnuts like black characters always dying first (get out of the way! White people have stuff to do!), to more recent developments like 2011's HawthoRNe being only the third primetime drama ever to feature a black female lead. Third one ever. In 2011. There's the fact that if you have more than two black characters in a television show it becomes a "black show." There was Avatar: The Last Airbender (which I reviewed here), in which M. Night Shyamalan cast white actors in explicitly Asian roles—but only the heroes. The villains were dark-skinned south Asians. Remember the sassy black friend in 2011 rom-com Friends with Benefits? Probably not, because she only exists for like two seconds at the very beginning of the movie to establish that our heroine has an ethnic friend, and then disappears forever. Because that's enough! Tip o' the hat to you, black people! You're welcome! Now quiet down—the white people are talking.
It reminds me of when George Lucas was on "The Daily Show" and he said he had trouble finding financers for Red Tails because: "It's because it's an all-black movie. There's no major white roles in it at all...I showed it to all of them and they said no. We don't know how to market a movie like this."
To quote someone very wise: "That's some racist bullshit!" And really depressing.