One of the ancient ploys of the film industry is to make a film about non-white people and find a way, however convoluted, to tell it from the point of view of a white character.

Film critic Roger Ebert on Hollywood in his review of “Flowers of War”

“Can you think of any reason the character John Miller is needed to tell his story? Was any consideration given to the possibility of a Chinese priest? Would that be asking for too much?”

beaniebum  asked:

Can we PLEASE talk about Hours, the new Paul Walker movie? I love Paul Walker (R.I.P.) but really...a movie about Hurricane Katrina and the main character is a white man? It could have so easily starred a black actor which would have been MUCH more realistic. And I know there are white people in New Orleans, but COME ON. The city is almost 70 percent Black. I just saw the trailer and got really angry and thought I'd share.

This is one of those situations where the whole “If the main character could be a white dude then it probably will be, but if the main character could be a person of color, then it probably won’t be” Hollywood trope comes in.    Especially in tragedy movies.

Sure, a movie about the genocide in Tibet could feature a Tibetan main character, but let’s make the character a white guy.   Want to make a movie about the Indian Ocean tsunami set in Thailand?   Sure, the family the story follows could be a Thai family, but why do that when you can feature European tourists (and anglicize them, to boot)?  Want to tell a story about the Rape of Nanking?   We could focus on the women, white and Chinese, in Nanking at the time of the mayhem, or we could make up a completely made up white man and make the movie about him!  

Because white folks were there, too!   Sure, they weren’t the ones who bore the brunt of these tragedies–not the ones facing genocide, not their cultures or homes or countries being systemically destroyed.   But a non-zero amount of them were there, so that’s accurate.  

And  you can always find opportunities to plug them in–even if you have to make up a white male character–because they could have been there.   That’s why when Hollywood wanted to adapt the story of Chong Kim–an Asian American trafficking survivor–they wanted to create a heroic white male rescuer to save the woman who, in real life, saved herself.  

So if you want to make a movie about this huge natural disaster and how the mismanagement of it was one of the most egregious examples of institutionalized racism in modern American history, sure, you could make it about some of the real people who were affected by the double whammy of natural disaster and systemic racism.

Or you could create a completely fabricated story starring a completely fabricated white dude character.  After all, many of the people impacted by Hurricane Katrina were white.   And you can bet that if a movie is made about it, it will be a story about someone who looks like them.  Even if Hollywood has to make one up.