I finally processed the information on the leads for the top 250 grossing films (I’m going to do 500 in all), and I have some really, really great facts:
- Of the films, 209 starred a straight white man, or had a straight white male voice actor. This translates to 83.6% of all these films having a straight white male protagonist.
- This left only 41 films with a protagonist who was a person of colour and/or woman (no films had a queer protagonist). This translated to 16.4% of all the films.
- "So what? Straight white men are the majority group in America." a) no, the largest demographic group in America is actually technically straight white women, and b) not by 83.6% they fucking aren’t.
- If we look at American demographics (America is where these films are being made and mostly marketed for, after all) we find that only 31.3% of people in the USA are straight white men, while 68.7% are not.
- This means that 31.3% of the US population is recieving 83.6% of the representation, and the remaining 68.7% majority are squabbling over the remaining 16.4%. That’s unbelievably, amazingly shit.
BUT: The world isn’t split into straight white men and everyone else, so let’s break this down further. Of the 41 films left over for the rest of us:
- 10 starred a straight black man. (8 of these leads were played by Will Smith.), making up 2.5% of all the films.
- 26 starred a straight white woman, making up 10.4% of all the films.
- 2 films starred straight South Asian men, making up 0.8% of the films.
- 1 film starred an East Asian man and 1 starred a Middle Eastern man - 0.4% of the films each.
- A grand total of ONE of the 250 highest grossing films of all time stars a woman of colour. Scraping in at number 242, and made in 1995, it’s Pocahontas; which is racist as fuck and demeans the memory of a real Native American woman. Fantastic. It’ll also probably have fallen out of the top 250 by the next year, while no other films with WoC leads seem likely to replace it.
- This means that huge demographic groups are missing. 16.3% of people in the US identify as Latin@, and not a single film on this list has a Latin@ protagonist.
- Roughly 10% of the US identifies as LGBT+. None of these films has a queer protagonist.
- The reason that these films are so high grossing is because of the marketing they recieve. Studios are putting all of their money into films with straight white men, preventing casting of women and people of colour and just generally fucking people over; but this isn’t any necessary indication of what people are willing to see at all. It’s worth noting that the single most successful actor on that list is Will Smith. People are clearly willing to pay out money to watch Will Smith doing stuff, and studios are backing this and enabling more and more films of Will Smith (and his son) doing more and more stuff. His popularity shows fairly clearly that cinemagoers are definitely willing to watch (and probably actively demanding of, seeing as people of colour and white women are more likely to go to the cinema) men of colour in film, and the success of franchises such as Twilight and The Hunger Games shows audiences backing white women (women of colour have yet to be given a real chance). As such, we can definitively say that this is especially a problem with Hollywood, and withe the people making these films - a problem which obviously needs to change.
Tl; dr: Representation in Hollywood is really, really shit.
- Straight white men are 31.3% of the population, 83.6% of the leads. Lucky bastards.
- People of colour are 28.6% of the population, 6.4% of the leads (2.8% if you remove Will Smith, thanks Will.)
- Women are 51% of the population, 10.8% of the leads.
- There’s no intersection here. If you’re a woman of colour, a queer woman and/or queer person of colour, then you’re getting fuck all.
Just in case you had any doubt of just how little representation most of the population are getting.
Isn’t it weird
How when I say I want queer characters who’s story/characterization doesn’t revolve around them being queer I mean that I don’t want gross tropes, I don’t want tragic bullshit, I don’t want othering and nonsense. I was people, I want representation, I want full, fleshed out, valid characters. I want their queerness to be valid and there and not hidden but I don’t want them to be tropes.
But when I hear straight cis folks say they want queer characters who’s story/characterization doesn’t revolve around them being queer mostly what I find out they mean is that they don’t want queerness mentioned, they don’t want it on the page, they want it hidden, they want to pretend straight/cisness. They just don’t want the queer visible.
We can say the exact same thing and mean nearly the opposite.
Yeah, this. And it’s so they can say “it’s just your headcanon, not REAL canon!” when we make characters explicitly queer. They want us to remain invisible just so they can kick us again for making representation in fanworks because we can’t get it in the canon media.
writers always fall back on “we will definitely add a queer romance if/when it’s right for the story” like they’re protecting the integrity of the narrative’s structure by avoiding unnecessary romance, as if their first priority is good writing.
while conveniently ignoring that many, many stories
many of the very same stories written by the very same people who say they’ll add queer characters “when it’s right”
are written around the love lives of straight characters.
plots that could’ve feasibly arisen without romance are propelled by romance. characters are derailed by sloppy romantic subplots all the time. people express interest in other people, fall in love with other people, and the plot works itself around it. sometimes it makes for good storytelling and sometimes it doesn’t— but it’s never a question of whether or not it’s “right for the plot” because it’s not even consciously done. you write straight love stories on autopilot.
which is why when writers say “if the opportunity arises to introduce it organically” all i hear is “that requires thinking of queer romances as something inherently organic, which i don’t really know how to do.”
“I wanna begin saying a story about my son. I have a four-year old son who loves superheroes from Spider-Man to Iron Man to Batman. He’s got all the costumes. One day he looks at me and says ‘Dad, I want to be light-skinned so I could be Spider-Man. Spider-Man has light skin.’ That was sort of a shock. This is why I am excited to be a part of the Marvel Universe, so I could be hopefully provide that diversity in the role of the superhero.”— Djimon Hounsou on his role in Guardians of the Galaxy (via stankface)
"Why does it matter that it’s another white guy?"
- Study shows watching TV boosts self esteem of White male children, decreases self esteem of Black male and all female children.
- "I just want to say that this is why minority representation in the media matters. Mae Jemison was inspired to become an astronaut after watching Nichelle Nichols as Uhura on Star Trek.”
- Lucy Liu on Importance of Representation
- John Cho on Importance of Representation
- Don Cheadle on Importance of Representation
- "She said, ‘Well when I was nine years old Star Trek came on,’ and she said, ‘I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, “Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!”’ And she said, ‘I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be, and I want to be on Star Trek.’ ” — WHOOPI GOLDBERG
Nichelle Nichols on meeting Martin Luther King jr. — "I said "I’m going to leave Star Trek because (I was going to say ‘because I have an offer to star in) …I never got that far” He (MARTIN LUTHER KING) said "You cannot - you cannot. For the first time on television we will be seen as we should be seen every day – as intelligent, quality, beautiful people who can sing, dance, but who can also go into space, who can be lawyers, who can be teachers, who can be professors - who ARE on this day, and yet you don’t see it on television – until now…" (—science-officer-spock)
- If you keep refusing to humanize us (media helps to do this) these things will keep happening
closet-racists like to claim that they’d be totally fine and dandy with traditionally white characters being portrayed by actors of color whilst they’re casually dismissing the prevalence of white-washing in hollywood. hate to break it to you, but that is NOT the typical response that actors of color receive, and if you can’t acknowledge that, then you’re only adding to the problem.
remember that time hunger games fans flipped their shit because rue, who IS actually black in the books, was rightfully cast as black in the film? apparently their rose-colored white-is-default glasses made their eyes gloss over that tidbit of info. (let’s not even get wholeheartedly into the fact that katniss was described as having olive skin and jet black hair but her casting call specifically asked for only white actresses…because non-whites could never be expected to have dark hair and tan skin amirite?!)
remember that time people actually boycotted thor because idris elba was in it? http://www.comicsalliance.com/2010/12/16/racists-thor-idris-ebla-racism/
remember that time donald glover got hoards of letters calling him the n-word because there were rumors about him possibly being the new spiderman? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgko-xReFSs
or that time the film adaptation of avatar: the last airbender (a show with OBVIOUS asian inspiration) was almost an entirely caucasian cast except for the “bad guy”, who, in the cartoon is actually light-skinned? http://io9.com/5111680/avatar-casting-makes-fans-see-white
or remember that time all those fans said it was wrong to have angel coulby play the role of gwen in merlin because it wasn’t era-appropriate. because, ya know, being era-appropriate in a made-up story about magic is srs bsns.
so that’s why i don’t give a shit if you think i’m “overreacting” about jj abrams having a white actor play khan noonien singh. i’m not that surprised by it, since actors of color are routinely dismissed, but i still reserve the right to be pissed.
Remember that time when executives said that they wouldn’t fund a movie because it didn’t have enough white people in it?
Remember the time when executives said that they wouldn’t allow a show with a majority POC cast because “Black people don’t see themselves in the future?” despite Geordi, Uhura, Sisko, Tuvok, Tyr, Zoe and so many other BLACK sci fi characters existing as past precedent?
Remember when it took 20 years to get a movie about Black people out because distributors BLATANTLY REFUSED TO PUT IN THE WORK TO PROPERLY ADVERTISE A BLACK MOVIE?
Remember when writers had Batman choose a French/African representative in a comic book and people FLIPPED THEIR SHIT because how dare he choose a Black Muslim to represent FRANCE!!!!
But we’re overreacting when we say we’re tired of the bullshit that is systemically entrenched in damn near every form of media…..
">Esoterica: hamburgerjack: DYSAETHESIA AETHIOPICA: atriptothemorg:…
IDK how casting Bagels Cucumbers as Khan isn’t disrespectful to Gene Roddenberry tbh.
That man fought networks tooth and nail to have people of different races on his show. He fought long and hard to have an interracial kiss on TV.
My grandmother does not like Sci-Fi, but you better believe her ass was watching Star Trek, you know why? Because it was one of the few places you could see a black woman on TV. And she had an important job! She was important! She wasn’t just in the background.
Shit, as fake and hokey as Chekov’s accent was, he made sure there was a russian on the show, why? BECAUSE HIS VERSION OF THE FUTURE WAS ONE OF DIVERSITY AND PEOPLE GETTING ALONG KINDA SORTA.
NOT LIKE THE OTHER TREKS TRIED TO PRESERVE THAT MESSAGE
(No I don’t know about the dude doing the Blue Steel back there, I barely remember Enterprise it’s boring)
“It’s about the actors performance.”
MAAAN, fuck that noise.
No, it’s not, there are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of actors out there of Indian descent. You’re telling me that Binglebangle Coochiebutt was better than all of them? Show me the tapes, I gotta see that. Show me them auditions that I’m pretty sure they didn’t even do because casting a white dude is easier than being not a bastard.
People of color already struggle when it comes to seeing ourselves in the media, and before you go “But he’s a baaaad guy.” No one is saying that PoC can’t be cast as bad guys. It’s that we’re cast as the same kind of bad guys each and every fucking time. Mindless, one note, stereotypical.
Khan was different, he was smart, he was strong, he was cunning, he was layered. He garnered the respect of his enemies he was that fucking great. AND HE WAS BROWN. AWESOME SAUCE YEEEEEAAAAAH.
But nope, let’s cast a white dude because who gives a shit about diversity. HAHAHAA WE HONOR U GENE RODDENBERRY BY WHITEWASHING.
P.S I’m just gonna link this cause shut up I do what i want.
Quoting myself because it’s relevant to an argument going on on my dash…
Where is it that your piece is set that there just aren’t any POC there? I mean, I’m sure there are places like that. Wherever it is that white people fly to when they take white flight comes to mind. Maybe you’re writing a story set in a gated community in the suburbs of Portland (Ranked Whitest city in the US based on census data!) Maybe you’re writing a story with a very limited cast, like a family saga of a white family, or a Protagonists-vs.-nature survivalist story where there just aren’t very many people.
But even if that’s the case?
It is relevant to ask yourself why you chose to set it there.
Because this brings back the argument of ‘It wouldn’t be realistic to have POC there!’
I mean, it’s not TRUE that there were no POC in medieval Europe… But it’s a well-accepted cultural myth. And given that myth, the question still begs: Why are so many people so eager to choose to set their stories there? Why are people deliberately choosing places where the audience will accept ‘POC just don’t exist here’?
Why are the fairies in Ferngully white, when the movie is set in Australia?
Why is it that the only black people in Middle Earth are orcs?
Why are there Chinese words but no Chinese people in Firefly?
Why did Pixar make a movie set in (whitewashed) Medieval Scotland?
What’s the explanation for the overpowering whiteness of LA in Buffy The Vampire Slayer?
Why are white Disney Princesses from ahistorical fantasy-worlds, but POC princesses have to be from quasi-historical locations? Pocahontas is from Virginia. Mulan is from China. Tiana is from New Orleans. Meanwhile Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Aurora are from unknown and untagged Kingdoms. Ariel lives in what appears to be a Caribbean reef, but all the humans and mermaids are white. Why do the POC princesses need scaffolding to explain why they’re there? Why are the POC Princesses -not actually Princesses- (unless they marry into it, in Tiana’s case)?
The answer to all of these is, of course, ‘creator choice’. Individual TOTALLY NOT RACIST (tm) people made individual choices.
But these choices aren’t made in a void.
So, yeah. If you don’t have POC characters in a piece with a sizable cast, it’s probably pretty racist. Even if you set it somewhere where GOSH, there just AREN’T any POC and that’s not your fault! They just aren’t there!
Because why are you setting it there?
Does the story REALLY demand that? I mean, some stories do; Downton Abbey is set in WWI Era England among a particular rich, landed family; the story is kind of about how awful that place and time was. The Secret of Roan Inish is set in a remote area of Ireland that hasn’t seen immigration since the vikings stopped showing up, which is relevant because some dude decides to fuck a sealfairy because she’s a slightly different shade of white and that’s kind of a crux of the story. Both of these are good and sense-making narratives where POC are thin on the ground.
They still don’t exist in a void.
The creators chose these stories about white people as the important ones to tell.
That’s worth looking at critically.
just a friendly reminder
that when the vast majority of mass media narratives fail to represent marginalized people, they’re sending a clear message that this society is a place where, in our fantasies and dreams of better, more beautiful and interesting worlds, these people should not exist
they only exist in reality as a flaw that needs to be erased to make better, more beautiful, more interesting worlds
and misrepresentation sends the clear message that, in better, more beautiful more interesting worlds, these people are kept in their place (as our playthings, our jokes, the sacrifices that help us grow as people, the representations of our inner evil, etc)
“19% of prime time television characters are non-human while only 17% are women”—
A Profile of Americans’ Media Use and Political Socialization Effects: television and the Internet’s relationship to social connectedness in the USA ― Daniel German & Caitlin Lally
There are more “non-humans” on TV than women. Talk about unequal gender representation in the media.
and like 2 are women of colour. *sigh*
Remember how diverse DC Comic’s New 52 endeavor was supposed to be? A lot has changed in the two years it has been around, but as Jon Christianson points out, the more things change, the more they (sadly) remain the same.
H/T to handdrawnhero.
queer friendly is such a hilarious term to me
because animorphs in text actually denounced people for harassing kids for being gay
but within the fifty four books and hand full of spin off novels(except the ellimist chronicles because i haven’t read that) there are no gay characters at all that i can remember
so you can have the text say “queer equality is great!”
but when you get to the meat of it
if there are no queer characters
if they’re stereotypes
if they’re all one dimensional villains
if they’re the butt of jokes and die for no reason
if only one character in a hundred and sixty episodes is treated half decently
then the text saying one thing but clearly demonstrating another
is not ‘queer friendly’
Fuck these are some good stories (with queer characters in)
I’ve been meaning to do a science fiction/fantasy short fiction rec list for a while. I adore short stories and I don’t think they get the readership they deserve. So, reclist! Or, well, reclists. Themed reclists. Because self-control is for other people. This series will be called: fuck, these are some good stories (with a theme in).
And, to begin with.
Fuck, these are some good stories (with queer characters in). More heavily slanted towards lesbians than other orientations for selfish, selfish reasons. Here be warned: some stories have sex. Trigger warnings are noted where appropriate. Enjoy!
29 Union Leaders Can’t be Wrong by Genevieve Valentine. Really sad, really gorgeous story about a full-body transplant.
A Silly Love Story by Nicole Cipri. Title about sums it up. A silly love story co-starring a ghost, cupcakes, and a bi-gender romantic interest.
Fungal Gardens by Ekaterina Sedia. A mycologist and his cop boyfriend work together to stop plague! A story for the microbiologist in your life.
Lily Glass by Veronica Schanoes. When the thing in the mirror isn’t you. tw: incest, but no blood relations, no long-standing familial relationship, and no significant age difference
Ms. Liberty Gets a Haircut by Cat Rambo. All-female superhero group feat. lesbians! If that doesn’t make you want to read this I don’t know if we can be friends any more.
Portrait of Lisane de Patagnia by Rachel Swirsky. If magic were a tool like a paintbrush, to be used to create. tw: non-graphic sex with a minor
Sex with Ghosts by Sarah Kanning. Asexual receptionist gets a sex robot twin. She is less than pleased.
The Cage by Alyx Dellamonica. Every lesbian feel. All of them. Werewolves and found families.
The Flying Woman by Meghan McCarron. It’s hard being friends with a woman who can fly.
The Mermaids Singing Each to Each by Cat Rambo. Inhuman mermaids and gender neutrality. tw: past sexual abuse
The Peacock by Ted Infinity and Nabil Hijazi. Gay porn spambot gains intelligence and falls in love. Yep.
Followers, with all this Ladystuck excitement going around, here are some pro-published lesbian etc stories for you, collected by my truly wonderful lady. She has good taste! Really good taste.
Portrayals of lesbian sexuality and why they’re fucked up
I don’t really have a coherent thought about this just yet, but I need some help unpacking what’s really fucked up about the ways that lesbian sexuality* is framed, especially in media and public discourse. With rare exception, lesbian sexuality falls into three patterns:
For the pleasure and titillation of men.
Predatory and coercive.
Here are a few things I’ve been wondering:
- What are the dynamics at play here?
- How does this harm or hinder LGBTQ people?
* Note: When I say lesbian sexuality, I include everything from attraction to arousal to actual sex.