User Tag List

Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Film/Media Controversies

  1. #1
    Legend Mik's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Posts
    72,278
    Mentioned
    54 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Rep Power
    330281

    Film/Media Controversies

    So I was thinking that I'd start off a media/film related debate/controversy. We can discuss it and then when we've gone around the houses with that one, I'll start off a new one. Please don't just throw in your own controversies as I want us to be able to stay on one topic for a while and really get deep into it.

    To start us off, I was reading an article about 'Music' the new film by Sia. It has courted controversy due to it's tone-deaf portrayal of autism. Most of the controversy stems from the fact that the autistic character in the film is played be an able-bodied person. In addition to this, it seems that the research Sia did when writing the film was predominantly through consultation with Autism Speaks (which themselves are seen as controversial and have been condemned by many disability rights organisations) and features some scenes with promote responses to autistic behaviours that are deemed to be ignorant and dangerous (most pertinently the idea of holding down autistic people when they are having a meltdown).

    The film then went on to be nominated for two Golden Globes alongside the film 'The Prom', where the directors/producers/writers and James Corden have also come in for heavy criticism for what is deemed to be a tone-deaf portrayal of homosexuality by a straight actor.

    So, in terms of the debate here...and I think it's an interesting debate because a lot can get drawn in to this. Should certain roles be off-limits to actors who are not part of the particular 'otherness' they are representing? Or does that undermine the whole nature of 'acting'? I think that it's fair to say that for the most part black-face is off limits now. Should that also be the same for sexuality? For disability? Could the high profile nature of those performances add to greater exposure to the cause they are representing? Or would casting people with more authentic experience add more or better profile? Would the quality of performance be compromised by using actors with a more authentic experience? Is that even relevant to the discussion? Is there a sensible cut off point to this or should actors who have not experienced abuse play victims of abuse...or people with no medical experience not play doctors, or non-parents not play parents...or are those all just straw-man arguments?

    Lots to get our teeth into on this one I think.

  2. #2
    OBJECTION Psycho666Soldier's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Toke Park, IL
    Posts
    14,867
    Mentioned
    93 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Rep Power
    488759
    I think ultimately an actor should be allowed to play something they are not. From there, a discussion needs to take place about who is portraying what, in what context, and how it's being executed. So for your example of black face, there's a lot of pre-determined discussion of, "Yeah, we probably just shouldn't." Don't hate those who did it tastefully or from another time where they weren't meaning anything other than a laugh(like Tropic Thunder off the top of my head). Just avoid it going forward. If it's not something where you can't pass just based on natural complexion, don't even bother.

    I think playing as another gender or sexuality should be fine as long as it's done with proper respect and research. I guess this becomes kind of a grey area when it comes to comedy, but with more realistic portrayals, there is enough grounds in reality and the opportunity to get into the mental state of other identities and making others understand there perspective that I don't think it's inherently a bad thing.

    But I believe if there is an opportunity to give someone of any given identity/ethnicity/heritage/etc. a role that they represent, then you should always strive for that. It shouldn't be at the expense of quality, but there have been many examples of actors that are plucked from some level of obscurity and turn out to be wonderful. Look at Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, for example. It's not like other actors that are more proven will be deprived of opportunities.

    I do think one area where it feels less necessary to worry about this is voice acting. Again, as long as there's no disrespect in the portrayal, I think any actor should be able to play whatever character. You already have women playing males, black people playing white people, and everything everywhere, and I think there's nothing wrong with it being on the other foot. But I don't think there's as much of a problem here for voice actors. In fact, voice acting might have sadly been an easier business for people of other identities to thrive since appearance isn't vital to success.

  3. #3
    Donde esta la biblioteca Pablo Diablo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Canada, Eh?
    Posts
    26,227
    Mentioned
    204 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Rep Power
    839616
    canada
    I remember first reading about the controversy of Music and thinking about how stupid it was. At first it was just about how the autistic character was portrayed by Sia's "avatar" Maddie Ziegler. My initial thoughts were of course Sia is going to cast her as a lead in a movie she's making, much like she did for all her music videos. Also the idea that just because someone isn't autistic shouldn't play the role I also didn't agree with.

    I still think that isn't something that should bar someone from playing a role. I think the bigger potential issues are the responses to autistic behaviours. But until seeing the movie myself I can't say in what light those responses are. Are they pretending to be models of the ideal way or are they just showing the way that many parents with autistic children do react (good intentions or not).

    I also don't have any issues with a straight character playing a homosexual character. Whether it's a tone-deaf portrayal or not has more to do with the writing than who acts it. Just because you put an actor that is gay or black or whatever playing the role doesn't necessarily mean that the same issues won't present themselves. For example, and I'll preface this by saying it's only second hand knowledge, but I've heard that Queen & Slim has some major issues with black portrayal. And that's a movie that's screenplay was written and directed by black people and stars black people.

    In short I guess my concern is less with casting decisions and more with how its written. I can see the comparison to black-face though and understand that argument. Much like how many of the issues with black face stem from the history of black-face and how it was used to mock, homosexual characters were also used to mock and that's where I think the difference lies between comparing black, homosexual, autistic characters and doctor, parents, abused characters.

  4. #4
    Legend Mik's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Posts
    72,278
    Mentioned
    54 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Rep Power
    330281
    I'd say that I mostly agree.

    I think that there is a certain credibility to saying that people who have experiences of certain things can definitely bring something more authentic to the role, but in this I'm thinking comparatively lower level things like being a parent, having a musical background if you're playing a musician etc, I guess those don't really probe anyone's sensitivities though.

    I do think that for the more, quite rightly, sensitive areas (sexuality, race, disability, gender etc), there should be more of a process that they go through, ie first of all...is there realistically anyone from that background who could be cast (I think the issue of whether that film will get greenlit or not based on who is cast is a bigger problem with the industry that would need tackling separately) and not seriously compromise the quality of the film...for example, I'm not sure how many trained black, gay autistic actors there are to choose from if that was what the film was portraying. If there isn't then can you get people who are more representative of what you are presenting who can be involved in creative roles in the film? And just thoroughly doing your research and engaging with the communities you're representing just seems like an obvious no-brainer and one that gets badly overlooked a lot more than you would expect and is often what leads to tone-deaf portrayals.

    For example, a couple of years ago I went to see a small British independent film called Jellyfish, which was about a teenage girl, on the breadline, looking after the mentally ill mother and younger siblings, trying to hold down school and a job while her drama teacher is trying to convince her to channel her frustrations into stand up comedy at a local performance. It was a critically successful film and was very 'awards baity' and over the course of the film there were things that happened that rang to me as being tropes and lacked authenticity (for example there was an inevitable rape scene) that took me out of the film. I stayed to watch the credits because there was a Q&A with the director and I was frustrated to find from the credits that it was a male directed film with a male script-writer and as far as I could tell there were no women involved in the creative aspects of the production. Men, writing and directing stories about the suffering of young women. I've read some interviews with the director since I just don't feel convinced that they had properly researched and got the views of people with those experience to be able to tell that story authentically, which is why it didn't ring right for me.
    =
    This same lack of research is why we end up getting a gurning, wide eyed, tone-deaf inauthentic portrayal of autism in Sia's film, rather than a more realistic one. I don't see any reason why Maddie Ziegler couldn't have given a different performance if it wasn't written, researched and directed differently. The James Corden thing is much less explicable though. In 'The Prom' you've got an openly gay writer-director-producer who has a history of hiring diverse actors and hiring, writing for and directing gay actors in authentically gay performances...so who the hell did he end up with James Corden doing a dated over-the-top camp impression of a gay man. I can only assume that there must've been a political interference from the producers, but I can't think of why. Corden isn't exactly a box office guarantee.

    I'm not sure whether I agree on voice acting, I don't see any reason why you can't get a black actor to voice a black character. As you say, it seems like something that they could do easier and the only reason they don't is just the ingrained inequalities within the industry where all roles are easier for white actors to get.

  5. #5
    He / Him
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    53,373
    Blog Entries
    2
    Mentioned
    50 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Rep Power
    1095525
    usa
    This feels like an issue that mostly only straight white liberals care about.

    No one ever says anything about Eric Stonestreet or Harvey Milk or Dallas Buyers Club. When hollywood elite decide its tasteful it seems all of the nobility disappears.

  6. #6
    He / Him
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    53,373
    Blog Entries
    2
    Mentioned
    50 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Rep Power
    1095525
    usa
    Drilling down roles related to anything other than race is a likely nonstarter. Makes for interesting discussion for film buffs but unless you get a Mickey Rooney type of situation in film again I wouldnt expect anything discussed to shift much or at all.

    I am not disputing inequalities in Hollywood but you arent going to ever get any kind of consensus on this.

  7. #7
    Legend Mik's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Posts
    72,278
    Mentioned
    54 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Rep Power
    330281
    Those are fair points. I'm not sure that it's true that there are no shift though, the British Film Institute have started implementing diversity standards criteria which, although not a 100% relation to this, essentially mean that if you want to get BFI funding (which is like a 30% tax relief and the reason why so many big Hollywood films have been filming in the UK over the past decade), then you need to adhere to some of these standards. Now predictably, they don't go anywhere near far enough to actually make significant change, but they are a step in that direction.

    As for the consensus, I don't think that it's needed, it's just a debate/discussion on here. I do agree with your point about certain performances. I didn't see many complaints from the gay community about Heath Ledger or Jake Gyllenhaal not being gay for Brokeback Mountain, or Sean Penn for Milk, or Hilary Swank not being transgendered in Boys Don't Cry. I do wonder whether they would've gotten backlash if they were released now, or whether there is something about the credibility/respectability of the performance that means they are less likely to be criticised.

    Or whether by virtue of them being 'good' performances it means that they were more likely to have been researched properly and handled sensitively and that's what those communities care about more anyway. I guess sexuality is a difficult one to properly cast because the reality is that there have been a comparatively minuscule amount of openly gay actors in the history of Hollywood compared to closeted ones.

    We definitely would've lost out on some great performances over the years, but maybe we would've had some better ones because of it?

  8. #8
    What the fucks up Dennys! Nash Diesel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Dead Moines, IA
    Posts
    38,557
    Mentioned
    78 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Rep Power
    1092825
    I'm on the fence about representation in terms of someone playing a gay character but in real life they are straight, things of that nature. I mean, it's literally called acting.

    You can have a great movie like Peanut Butter Falcon, and you can have a great movie like Forrest Gump.

  9. #9
    Intercontinental Champion
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Nutmeg State
    Posts
    3,794
    Mentioned
    91 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Rep Power
    653351
    Are you asking that since Tom Hanks is not a simpleton but played one in Forest Gump, why isn't the simpleton community up in arms about representation?

    Why aren't the Cerebral Palsy community up in arms because able-bodied DDL got cast in My Left Foot. (okay "up in arms" is probably not the best choice of words for this example).

    I guess, like you say, it's because it's literally called acting.

  10. #10
    What the fucks up Dennys! Nash Diesel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Dead Moines, IA
    Posts
    38,557
    Mentioned
    78 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Rep Power
    1092825
    Quote Originally Posted by 3puppies View Post
    Are you asking that since Tom Hanks is not a simpleton but played one in Forest Gump, why isn't the simpleton community up in arms about representation?

    Why aren't the Cerebral Palsy community up in arms because able-bodied DDL got cast in My Left Foot. (okay "up in arms" is probably not the best choice of words for this example).

    I guess, like you say, it's because it's literally called acting.
    Exactly my brother. I 100% understand the lack of representation argument. I support aspects of it that make sense. But when you start hearing people take issue that certain types of people weren't given certain roles, it can be awkward.

    I think this issue ultimately comes down to race. Times have changed and are still changing. We're not exactly casting vanilla white people as Martin Luther King but you can bet it would be pretty fucking hilarious like when they made JFK a black dude in Bubba Ho-Tep. You want to be represented, you want to see people that look like you sometimes when watching tv/movies. It took forever to get more than Blade and Storm in the comic book world. I mean even the cartoon tried to make Blade look very, very light-skinned but hey, I'll take it lol.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •