Discussion:
Tell Me It Ain't True!
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Ron Hubbard
2005-01-09 09:09:50 UTC
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While Looking for a movie review I stumbled upon this article, The
Unfair Racial Cliché Alert

http://www.feoamante.com/Movies/racial.html

That brought up a matter that bothered me: the black guy always buys the
farm in movies even sometimes when they appear to be out of danger. The
guy who wrote the article lists _55_ movies, many where Ar-nold is the
worst offender, where usually blacks die trying to help white people or
some other crap.

I wonder, as screenwriters, do you do that consciously or is it some
Hollywood process that insures that the "B team" who are always
minorities always die needlessly will die at the end? Why is almost
always white people who survive rather than black *and* white?

Ron



--

"You see me now, a veteran, of a thousand psychic wars
I've been living on the edge so long where the winds of limbo roar"
MC
2005-01-09 13:16:21 UTC
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Post by Ron Hubbard
While Looking for a movie review I stumbled upon this article, The
Unfair Racial Cliché Alert
http://www.feoamante.com/Movies/racial.html
That brought up a matter that bothered me: the black guy always buys the
farm in movies even sometimes when they appear to be out of danger. The
guy who wrote the article lists _55_ movies, many where Ar-nold is the
worst offender, where usually blacks die trying to help white people or
some other crap.
I wonder, as screenwriters, do you do that consciously or is it some
Hollywood process that insures that the "B team" who are always
minorities always die needlessly will die at the end? Why is almost
always white people who survive rather than black *and* white?
I had never thought about this till this post and there is much food for
thought here. It sure seems to be a pattern, doesn't it? And I don't
think it's accidental.

But is it racist? Well the result certainly is, but are there other
factors at work here? Some possibilities:

I'm not 100% sure that you can pin it on the writer. Often the writer
will specify that a certain character is black or some other minority,
but as often as not it's the producers who do it in the casting process
-- in the name of "diversity."

The survivors are almost always the highest *paid* cast members. If
you're paying the star millions of dollars you're not going to bump hi
off, and as you come down the pay scale the more you're going to want to
keep the talent you paid the most for on the screen. Which means the
most dispensible characters are the sidekicks and the ones with the
least screen time anyway. Which raises of course the question: How come
the black actors are paid the least and have the least screen time?
--
Hollywood is a place where a man can get stabbed
in the back while climbing a ladder.
--William Faulkner

CASTRATE TROLLS: http://www.schmuckwithanunderwood.com/trolls.htm
nmstevens
2005-01-09 17:42:29 UTC
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I think that it isn't a question of black actors being killed off per
se, as that "sidekicks" and supporting characters tend to get killed
off a lot -- and the tendency has been, with white supporting leads, as
you indicated, to tend to diversify by casting non-whites in those
roles -- thus leading to a literal blood bath amongst those characters.

But I don't think that the reverse hasn't tended to happen as much --
that is, when the star is black, they are less likely (although I guess
it happens on occasion -- as per the recent "Blade III") to cast white
actors as sidekicks -- but are more likely to stick to other black
actors -- thus littering the screen with more dead black sidekicks.
Maybe that could be the name of a movie -- "Dead Black Sidekicks".

NMS
Ron Hubbard
2005-01-11 08:52:57 UTC
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Post by MC
Post by Ron Hubbard
While Looking for a movie review I stumbled upon this article, The
Unfair Racial Cliché Alert
http://www.feoamante.com/Movies/racial.html
That brought up a matter that bothered me: the black guy always buys the
farm in movies even sometimes when they appear to be out of danger. The
guy who wrote the article lists _55_ movies, many where Ar-nold is the
worst offender, where usually blacks die trying to help white people or
some other crap.
I wonder, as screenwriters, do you do that consciously or is it some
Hollywood process that insures that the "B team" who are always
minorities always die needlessly will die at the end? Why is almost
always white people who survive rather than black *and* white?
I had never thought about this till this post and there is much food for
thought here. It sure seems to be a pattern, doesn't it? And I don't
think it's accidental.
But is it racist? Well the result certainly is, but are there other
I'm not 100% sure that you can pin it on the writer. Often the writer
will specify that a certain character is black or some other minority,
but as often as not it's the producers who do it in the casting process
-- in the name of "diversity."
The survivors are almost always the highest *paid* cast members. If
you're paying the star millions of dollars you're not going to bump hi
off, and as you come down the pay scale the more you're going to want to
keep the talent you paid the most for on the screen. Which means the
most dispensible characters are the sidekicks and the ones with the
least screen time anyway. Which raises of course the question: How come
the black actors are paid the least and have the least screen time?
Well, given such few responses by the screenwriters here (or would be
screenwriters), I suspect now more than ever that the "fault" starts in
the writing and nobody does anything
to stop it. But still it's nice to know that a few directors buck
this practice; though I am disappointed in all of my favorite directors
who don't.

Ron
Ron
2005-01-09 19:02:09 UTC
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Post by Ron Hubbard
The
guy who wrote the article lists _55_ movies, many where Ar-nold is the
worst offender, where usually blacks die trying to help white people or
some other crap.
ON the other hand, if it's an Arnold movie, then the hero's white, and
you know he's not going to die.

So if you want to have black actors involved, what are your choices? The
villain? (Gee, no risk of a charge of racism there). The love interest?
Until very recently, that was still pretty taboo. Or, I dunno, the buddy
who bites it at the end of the second act?

-Ron
--
Looking for screenwriting talk with reduced off-topic junk?
Try Misc.writing.screenplays.moderated! All non-crossposted messages welcome.
Ron Hubbard
2005-01-10 09:45:58 UTC
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Post by Ron
Post by Ron Hubbard
The
guy who wrote the article lists _55_ movies, many where Ar-nold is the
worst offender, where usually blacks die trying to help white people or
some other crap.
ON the other hand, if it's an Arnold movie, then the hero's white, and
you know he's not going to die.
So if you want to have black actors involved, what are your choices? The
villain? (Gee, no risk of a charge of racism there). The love
interest?
Post by Ron
Until very recently, that was still pretty taboo. Or, I dunno, the buddy
who bites it at the end of the second act?
-Ron
The writer of that article made a telling point in that there are other
types of characters than bad guys and love interests-- minority actors
who often get paid almost as much as Arnold and other "A-Team" actors--
who end up dying senselessly such as Paul Winfield and Joe Morton who
could have been disposable white actors.

I was watching Leviathan the other day where there were three survivors
of the train wreck that was the movie- Peter Weller, Amanda Pays, Ernie
Hudson. But of course, it's
Pay's cute ass that gets in the rescue chopper first, poor Ernie at the
very last moment gets eaten by the monster, and noble Peter Weller
avenges him. What a mensch, Peter. There was no logical reason for
Hudson to die in that film unless some director thought that it was nice
for the two cute white people to hug and walk away into the sunset.

Some things are understandable, but most of the time black character is
going to die for no good reason. I can't remember the name but it was
one of those zombie movies that really set my teeth on edge where the
black guy survives everything the zombies could throw at him but at the
end he gets shot down by a bunch of crazed white cops and vigilantes. If
there isn't some conspiracy it sure seems like one.

Ron
Mysti Berry
2005-01-11 17:10:19 UTC
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Post by Ron Hubbard
Some things are understandable, but most of the time black character is
going to die for no good reason. I can't remember the name but it was
one of those zombie movies that really set my teeth on edge where the
black guy survives everything the zombies could throw at him but at the
end he gets shot down by a bunch of crazed white cops and vigilantes. If
there isn't some conspiracy it sure seems like one.
Ron
You need to update your film history knowledge if you are referring to
the very famous Night of the Living Dead. Volumes have been written on
the significance of that character and his race, quite different from
the lazy writing that makes a sidekick of whatever race die at the end
of the second act, and created by Romero who was at that time very far
outside the Hollywood power structure.

The fact that talented black actors get stuck with sidekick roles is
obscene, but since there's been a little progress (it's no longer the
case, for example, that Hollywood can stand only one black lead male,
and people believe less and less that a black actor can open a film for
more than $40M, the old stereotypical belief that Eddie Murphy helped
discredit), one wonders why you bring this up now, esp. in light of the
troll attack. Any relationship?

Why don't you go rent Devil in a Blue Dress, go see Hotel Rwanda, or
one of Kasi Lemmon's films, or any of the films that go against that
trend, and get back to us on what you noticed about the story structure
or theme? Or, compare and contrast films with 2nd act sidekicks that are
white vs. ones that are black. Do you note any differences?

And remember, be specific. Some of us have read serious novels :)

Writers read, and screenwriters should educate themselves about history
of film.

Mysti
DRutsala
2005-01-11 21:57:15 UTC
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This issue has actually been dealt with in several movies. If I remember
correctly it's discussed in SCREAM 2, and LL Cool J mentions it in DEEP BLUE
SEA, a movie in which he's one of the few survivors.

Mysti Berry
2005-01-09 20:52:19 UTC
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Ron Hubbard wrote:

The cliche of the sidekick/girlfriend/little child dying or being
kidnapped at the end of the second act drives me insane, especially in
actioners. I almost threw my popcorn at the screen in Black Rain, it
telegraphed so far in advance.

Neal explanation of the race distribution sounds right to me, so right
that I am now rethinking my argument with Alan about Love Actually.

I think Kristoffersen did buy it in Blade II at the end of act ii, only
to be resurrected for blade iii, but there's a precedence for that.

In a dreadful Kathy Long (you can't really blame Kathy for how bad it
is, maybe it was even unfinished but distributed anyway?) movie he is
torn assunder but resurrected in the third act. Kinda creepy/cool. He
was a cyborg, as was Lance Hendrickson (sp?)...

Mysti
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