Why It’s Not Really About Superheroes

images

After being asked by TMZ whether or not she’d be playing the part of Green Lantern, Michelle Rodriguez thought that was “the dumbest thing [she’d] ever heard. Because of this whole ‘minorities in Hollywood’ thing. It’s so stupid….stop stealing all the white people’s superheroes. Make up your own.

Fans took to social media in response to Rodriquez’s comments. Of course, she posted a video on Facebook clarifying her statement she made Friday night.

Here is a quote from her video:

What I really meant was, ultimately, at the end of the day, there’s a language. And the language that you speak in Hollywood is successful franchise. And I think that there are many cultures in Hollywood that are not white that can come up with their own mythology…instead of trying to turn a girl character into a guy or instead of trying to turn a white character into a black character or Latin character, I think that people should stop being lazy, and that people should actually make an effort in Hollywood to develop their own mythology.

Let me be the first to say that I admire Rodriguez for taking roles that many women probably either wouldn’t take or wouldn’t be cast in. But what Rodriquez fails to realize is that there really aren’t “many cultures in Hollywood that are not white.” I have yet to see accurate depictions of Asians, Middle Easterners, Africans, Hawaiians, Native Americans, Aboriginals and other POC in major, big-budget films. The sad fact is that we don’t see many people of color being cast as major characters. In a Time Magazine interview, Fresh Off The Boat star Constance Wu talks about how important it is “to see Asians in those leading roles because it changes…the anglo-heteronormative status of TV.” Having a few people of color in a movie is not diversity, it’s tokenism.

tumblr_mxrfy879BF1t4j2vfo1_1280

ZAHARA in Spider Stories

Throughout the centuries, people of color have created long and rich histories of storytelling. However, these story lines have not been adequately embraced by Hollywood. The underrepresentation of people of color in comics doesn’t stem from “laziness” on the artists’ part. There are plenty of comics that do an awesome job at illustrating diversity, including the
cartoon Spider Stories by Nigerian-American brothers John and Charles Agbaje.

In regards to comic-based films, recreating traditional superheroes into figures that people of color can relate to is not “stealing,” it’s a cultural cohesion vital to sustaining diversity. While superheroes are fictitious, thriving in a world of crime and chaos, they often create racial discourse in pop culture. So until the billion-dollar movie franchises in Hollywood can get it together, America can’t claim to be a melting pot.

Advertisements

Hold the Applause for Patricia Arquette’s Oscars Speech

rs_634x1024-150222210103-634-patricia-arquette-oscar-winnerLast night, the Oscars took a turn into the political realm. From Neil Patrick Harris’ jab at the lack of diversity to John Legend & Common’s acceptance speech, celebs were making bold statements. However, there was one actor whose speech stood out among the rest.

When Patricia Arquette highlighted the unequal pay and rights among women, supporters such as Meryl Streep & Jennifer Lopez visibly showed their solidarity. Women nationwide could have applauded her efforts of bringing income inequality to the forefront of public conversation. The only problem?

Arquette marginalized gay, trans and women of color. 

During a press room interview, she made it clear that “it’s time for… all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

Whether she intended to or not, her thoughts opened up a can of worms that depicts two larger issues within mainstream feminist theory: the notion that all women share the same experiences AND the undertones of “I Am Savior.” Not only are these lines of thought dangerous to the validity of feminism, but they invalidate the varying experiences of women who are not  white, middle-class women.

Gay, trans and women of color earn far less than their white counterparts. For every dollar that a white man makes, white women make 78 cents to the dollar,  followed by black women with 64 cents, Native American women with 59 cents and Latinx women at 54 cents. While income equality is a very real problem in the US, Arquette’s net worth sits somewhere between 24 and 25 million dollars, far more than $49,398, the average yearly earnings of American women. Mentioning the need for a living wage would also been a step in the right direction.

As well-intended as Arquette’s answers aimed to be, the “I Am Savior” sentiment reared its ugly head. Throughout history, women of color, gay and trans women didn’t have the luxury of focusing strictly on women’s issues. To say that mainstream feminists have fought for the rights of marginalized women is woefully inaccurate. If that were the case, there would only be ONE feminist theory, not multiple highlighting the need for inclusivity. The “we helped you through your issues, so you should return the favor” undertone only serves to pin marginalized groups against mainstream feminism. Nothing about the way Arquette worded that line shows solidarity within the community of women.

Until we can include the voices of all women, I will respectfully hold my applause.