Hollywood, People of Diverse Abilities, Casting, and CGI - The New Millennium Equivalent of Blackface
By Ariel Len of Zoey’s Projects
Please note: The following article is in 14 pt to make it more Barrier Free for Everyone to read. I am circulating this article, as well as posting it on my website’s home page.
The other day I was watching a TV show interview with Jake Gyllenhaal. He was talking about a new film in which he is the lead Actor, as well as one of the Producers. It is called Stronger.
Then I saw a clip from it.
There was Jake playing the role of a Real Person (which made it even worse!) who has now had his legs replaced with metal legs, on the lower half of his body. There was Jake with CGI metal legs, as he portrayed what it is like to learn to walk with new metal leg parts!
I could not believe my eyes!
It was like being simultaneously kicked in the stomach and punched in the face!
It is the closest that I have ever come to knowing exactly what it must have felt like, for African Worldwide Communities, to see their beloved Caucasian Actors wearing Blackface, in earlier films from Hollywood. This includes their favourite stars like, most sadly of all to me, Fred Astaire. I cannot watch the film in which he does this. It is too Devastating!
The only major difference here is that it is 2017!
I felt HORROR and IMMENSE SADNESS for every Person on the face of this earth who, like me, is a Person of Diverse Abilities. This is my created term to replace the Unconscionable word DISabled. I am using this term until we get to a place in the world, where labels are never again used to dissect anyone - and that is what I am working towards.
As a Creator, Director, Executive Producer, etc. etc. of my own Independent films, and other arts projects, I also felt IMMENSE SHAME on behalf of our Entire film, TV, and other entertainment/arts communities.
I felt this SHAME, even though my own works have to be made from personal debt, due to this exact same level, and type, of Horrific and Relentless Discrimination.
This is an exact parallel to the time when Film Executives, etc. used to hire Caucasian Actors and put Blackface on them, or make other Racist changes to their bodies, to have them play any Diversity which was not their own.
But once again, it is now 2017, and Hollywood-USA and other countries are still sending out the message to my Worldwide Diverse Abilities Communities, that “we are Not Good Enough” to play, not only Dominant Culture roles, but also even any roles which are telling stories about Members of Our Own Communities!
In other words, we are “LESS THAN!!!”
These are words which all Girls, many Youths, all Womyn, and all People of all Diversities, both Invisible and Visible, are still made to fully feel the meaning of, every single day!
This is especially true in these political times, which are a literal and direct parallel to the 1950’s!
Investors, and Executive and other Producers, continue to tell Writers, Creators, and Directors, etc. that in order to get our films and other projects made, and in order for the public to pay to come and see our projects, we must cast a person who is famous, in as many roles as possible. It is both an overt and subversive rule and expectation.
We are also told overtly and subversively, that we must not cast an Actor or a new discovery with Diverse Abilities, not even one who represents the same specific Diversity, of the Real Person that a true story is based upon. So naturally, the Writer and/or Real Person who this story is often about, selects someone who fills this Dominant Culture rule and expectation.
The Actors who are most famous, are mainly people from the Dominant Culture. The Investors, Executive and other Producers, and even most Directors, are mainly people from the Dominant Culture.
I have no doubt that Jeff Bauman’s Book, True story, and Real life are immensely Inspirational! They definitely deserve to be told using multi-medium formats such as film and TV, because these are probably the most Powerful of all mediums!
However, this story also deserved to be told, by either casting Jeff himself as the lead if he wished it, or by casting another Actor, or a “new discovery,” who also represented Jeff’s specific Diversity. It would have made the story and film Complete, Honest, Accurate and much more Powerful.
Thus, this film could have been done much more Effectively!
This would also have resulted in a film which could have been more Truly Inclusive and Respectful of Actors - and Everyone else who works in the film, entertainment and arts Industries - who also Represents and Celebrates People of Diverse Abilities.
Most importantly of all, It would have resulted in a film which could have been Truly Inclusive and Respectful of Worldwide Audiences of all Diversities who wanted to see it, especially the vast numbers of the public (about 50% of us, not to mention our allies/believers/supporters) who Represent and Celebrate People of Diverse Abilities.
In addition to all of the above, the people from this Dominant Culture only answer the contact requests, of other people from this same Dominant Culture. This too determines whose projects are Excluded, and whose projects are completed, and shown to you, the Ticket Buying Public of all Diversities.
Thus, there is also a relentless message here that we are Not Good Enough to receive Investment to create our own amazing projects, or in fact, to do any jobs in the film, TV, and entertainment/arts industries, not even the roles and projects about Our Own Communities!
Therefore, this creates and maintains an Economic Ghetto for all Actors of Diverse Abilities, and also vicariously for all Creators, Executive, and other Producers, Directors, Writers, and for all Lead and other Crew and Staff of Diverse Abilities, who also all have projects they want to make, and/or jobs they want to attain.
Where have we seen this level of Oppression Represented before?
Oh yeah, in Blackface!
We also saw it at this year’s Emmy night, when Diversity was frequently stated to be a priority. But as Dave Chappelle stated, he could count about 11 people who were African American in the room. He is fantastic at stating the obvious truth, and cutting right through crap!
How many People do you think there were in this very same room, with Visible Diverse Abilities, let alone Invisible ones?
Where were all the People of all of the other Diversities in America, and in the World?
How many of the head people on these projects, both in front of and behind the cameras, are Womyn, (my spelling to replace women)? Only 4% of North American Directors, who are hired and paid, are Womyn.
Are these really the types of messages about Equity, Diversity, Economic and other types of Inclusion, and the overt Hierarchy of Personal Value, Voice, and Story Telling Rights, which you are comfortable having your children and youths witness on the screens which they are constantly watching, and everywhere else around them?
Do you really want another generation to grow up being called, and even worse than this, learning to call themselves, DISabled?
If you live anywhere in the world, and you are a Person of Diverse Abilities, and/or a Person who believes in Our Communities, and you want to see many more of our stories told, told everywhere, and told with actual Actors and/or People of Diverse Abilities hired to fill these roles, you are welcome to e-mail me at my website www.zoeysprojects.com to say so.
Would you also like to see an Equitable number of us hired as Lead Actors for all roles, regardless of whether or not it is a story about People of Diverse Abilities? Let me know.
Would you also like to see an Equitable number of us hired as Creative Leaders such as Directors, Executive and other Producers, Writers, Directors of Photography, as well as for other Crew and Staff, including Trainee programs, for film, TV, online, and all other entertainment/arts projects? Let me know.
Do you also want to see more of Our Stories Told about Womyn (my spelling to replace women) who are also People of Diverse Abilities, since so far we are hearing almost solely about our men’s stories? Let me know.
Do you also want to see more of Our Stories Told about People of Diverse Ethnicities/Cultures, and LGBTTIQQ2S People, who are also People of Diverse Abilities? Let me know.
Would you buy a ticket to see these projects? Let me know.
Would you bring your friends and family in order to Celebrate these projects along with them? Let me know.
You are Always Welcome 24/7, from Everywhere in the World, to e-mail me at my website www.zoeysprojects.com under “Contact us” to say so. More than 46 countries have already visited my site.
Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedules to read this!
Have a Wonderful day!
Ariel Len of Zoey’s Projects