I worry for Lupita.
I’m glad that she’s receiving well deserved recognition. Brava on her fashion choices. But I hope that she will not wither on the entangled vines of race/class/performance/celebrity.
The problem isn’t her being the “it girl.” Ask Kirsten Dunst, Renee Zellweger, or Lela Rochon.
The solution isn’t awards. Ask Jamie Foxx, Louis Gossett, Jr., Haile Berry, or Tatum O’Neill.
The issue isn’t training.
The box office – actual or projected – isn’t the most important constraint she faces.
You know how the thinking goes. Now that
Sex and the City
have been successful, opportunities for female writers, directors, producers, directors of photography will open up.
Surely know that
The Color Purple
… Um, no. Definitely not. Belongs in the category of post-racial.
The problem are the roles. Where is the great, imaginative, bold writing? Can media makers create films/television/web series for Lupita that mirror the depth and range that challenged Meryl Streep over the course of a long and storied career? That made her long and storied career possible? Will producers dig up the money? Will distributors fight to find the right way(s) to connect to audiences? Will audiences show up?
Some things are a matter of taste. I deeply enjoyed Middle of Nowhere, but many of my mostly black and Latino(a) friends did not. They found it too slow. Not sexy enough. And I completely get that if you’re not into indie films, Middle of Nowhere doesn’t give you the same pleasures as The Best Man’s Holiday, Madea, The Game, et al. No disrespect intended. But the all inclusive we need it all: cliched to revolutionary.
There has to be commercial success. Media = entertainment business as so many are so quick to say.
But the violent struggle over images and representation is about much more than money. It is about meaning and identity. Power, too. And without great, world class, awe-inspiring projects, actors like Lupita cannot reach their full potential. And that’s as much of a loss for us as it is for them and for generations to come.
Releasing the chained, starved imaginations of creatives, nurturing and financing those visions is as important as increasing the raw diversity of the WGA, DGA, PGA and IA.
This will be messy. It will get nasty:
During a recent CBS interview, Jerry Seinfeld noted that the first 10 episodes of his Web show only featured white males and then trivialized the criticism of his show’s lack of diversity as “PC nonsense.”
“People think (comedy) is the census or something, it’s gotta represent the actual pie chart of America,” he said. “Who cares? … Funny is the world I live in.”
Which isn’t an inherently discriminatory thing to say but does come out of the mouth of a 59-year-old heterosexual white male who works in an industry — comedy — that is controlled by heterosexual white males …
But as megatalent Gates McFadden now of Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA notes, we must begin.