This week’s hero is a filmmaker whose works are affecting change in a big way. The zero is another filmmaker who refuses to see the importance of diversity in his movies.
Hero- Ava DuVernay
This woman is doing some amazing things in the world of Hollywood. Ava DuVernay is this week’s hero for her latest work tackling the corrupt justice system that exists in America.
Many people of color (POC) refer to it as the “Just US” system. Too many times the laws in place meant to protect and help everyone only seem to do so for a certain group of citizens. In her newest documentary 13th, DuVernay chronicles America’s justice system and how a form of racism has directed its actions since the days of slavery. Named for the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery (with the exception of crime), 40 percent of the 2 million people jailed in 2014 were black people. That is significant.
This woman lives her truth, and with the influence she has, she is encouraging and showing others how to do the same thing. With people like Oprah and other powerful black celebrities behind her, she has less to worry about than other filmmakers when it comes to support. Therefore, she can create more material that speaks to the issues and triumphs of black people in America. This is so very important.
She is upfront about her intentions. DuVernay told CNN,
“It’s deeply embedded in the fabric of America. The first step to combating it is to know that it exists… That’s my hope with the ‘13th.’ Not that it produces some legislation or instigates some kind of protest, but that it allows people to have a revolution within about what we think about this issue and be forward thinking about how we approach it from now on.”
Direct, deliberate and purposeful action is what we need in order to see change in America. We all don’t have to do the same things, but what we can do within our communities, work and talents, we must do.
For exposing the ugly truths about the justice system and unapologetically using her position as a voice for the black community, Ava DuVernay is a hero.
Zero- Tim Burton
When you are as famous and important in Hollywood as Tim Burton, I know that you think your contributions to the cinema make you immune to some things. But even with his extensive catalogue, there is no excuse for Burton’s blatant and dismissive stance on race and diversity in his films or the industry at all for that matter.
He is this week’s zero because apparently, he sees nothing wrong with the fact that most of him movies, with interestingly different characters that can be played by equally interestingly different people, do not feature people of color. In fact, the statement he made about his reasoning is a perfect example of what many non-people of color think about the whole diversity conversation. When questioned about the lack of diversity in his latest movie, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Burton said,
“Things either call for things or they don’t. I remember back when I was a child watching ‘The Brady Bunch’ and they started to get all politically correct, like, Okay, let’s have an Asian child and a black – I used to get more offended by that than just – I grew up watching blaxploitation movies, right? And I said, ‘That’s great.’ I didn’t go like, ‘Okay, there should be more white people in these movies.’”
This is the quintessential response given by people who just don’t get it. Furthermore, it is the kind of answer that one spews when they don’t care to understand the issues at hand. His reasoning encompasses privilege, ignorance, a bit of arrogance and a dab of entitlement.
People making movies have to understand the importance of those who support their works seeing representation. That is what all of this comes down to- representation. Let’s consider the characters that exist his Burton’s movies. Unless they specifically call for “young white and blonde,” which is extremely problematic, casting an actor that can do the part well, regardless of color, should be the goal.
There are so many good black, Latino, Asian and other actors of color who deserve a chance. I mean, are you telling me that only white children are special or “peculiar” in a good way? We know that’s not the case, but when that’s what we see on the big screen, that is what’s communicated. And it is a tired, damaging, and unrealistic narrative.
For not caring about diversity and brushing is off as necessitation’s fault, Tim Burton is a zero.