Whenever diversity comes up in film, there are two sides of extremes, both of which see the others point of view as not just wrong, but also either harmful or pointless.
One side refuses to discuss the problems of diversity in Hollywood, claiming that as long as it’s a good film, why should that matter? Think of the people who defend Marvel for casting Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange.
The other side thinks that diversity is so important, that the quality of the film itself is secondary, and therefore anyone who criticizes it is sexist, racist, homophobic etc. Think of the people who accuse anyone who criticizes the new Ghostbusers movie for having really bad trailers as sexist pigs.
And speaking as movie fan, I am sick to death of both. When the discussion of the quality of the film overshadows diversity in said film, it’s also overshadowing the problems of diversity in real life. Likewise, when diversity in film becomes more important than the film itself, people start to care more about what they want from a film, instead of what the film actually offers. These are both valid and important discussions we need to have. But not if having one has a huge impact on the other. Because when that happens, both discussions begin to lose focus and just turn into rambling. And it’s really tiresome, guys.
It is now impossible to talk about the Doctor Strange movie without the conversation diverting into ‘how could Marvel cast her as an Asian character?‘ And it’s complicated because: yeah, the white washing sucks. But good god, that teaser gets me so freaking hyped. The teaser alone is such an experience, the movie will probably blow my mind, even if it does turn out to be bad.
On the flip side, people are more excited for Aquaman being played by a Hawaiian actor (I’ve heard he might be part Native American as well) than they are the Aquaman movie itself. Granted, that may be because all we have to go on is a short clip from BvS, but still. And, yes, discussions of diversity are very important, but not when it gets in the way of discussing film in general.
Because here’s the thing: it is possible to a movie to be good, and have bad diversity by today’s standards (Star Wars OT, Lord of the Rings, Jaws etc.) Likewise, it is possible for a movie to be bad and have good diversity. I have yet to see one, admittedly, but they might be out there. Somewhere.
To the people who refuse to discuss diversity in film: either grow up or fuck off.
To the people who care so much about diversity, they accuse critics of being sexist, racist or homophobic: there is a difference between criticism and blind hatred. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what that is, but there is always a difference.
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