“Cameron Crowe’s ‘Aloha’ Criticized for Depicting “Whitewashed” Hawaii”

“You would have thought that it would be difficult for a Cameron Crowe film to offend anyone. The man makes crowd-pleasing films. However, Asian-Pacific Islanders from Hawaii are incensed with the rom-com master, accusing Crowe of whitewashing their ethnic community while casting for Aloha, which is set in Hawaii.

The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) have released a press release, which comes courtesy of the New York Post, that lambasts Aloha for its perceived lack of diversity when it comes to casting key roles. Guy Aoki, who used to reside in Hawaii and is still a member of the MANAA, explained:

Caucasians only make up 30 percent of the population [of Hawaii], but from watching this film, you’d think they made up 99 percent.”

Guy Aoki went even further by comparing Aloha to a number of Hawaii-based films that also have predominantly Caucasian ensembles. These included Adam Sandler’s 50 First Dates, the surfer flick Blue Crush, and what’s roundly acknowledged to be the worst Michael Bay film (and we all know that includes a vast list), Pearl Harbor.

But don’t just think that it’s only woeful films that have disproportionate ethnic casts, because the Oscar-winning The Descendants was also cited by MANAA as a prime example of a film that used Hawaii simply for its exotic backdrop and then excluded the native population when it came time to cast supporting roles. Aoki insists that this type of casting is “an insult to the diverse culture and fabric of Hawaii,” and is bringing up the issue tied to Aloha to help prove his point…”



“The Guardian view on video games design: more diversity needed”

There’s a scene in the dark video game The Last of Us when a girl of 13 is stalking a deer in a snowy forest. Ellie is one of a few survivors in a post-apocalyptic, disease-ridden America, and is hunting to feed herself and an older man called Joel, who is injured. So the roles of hunter and carer are reversed – Ellie is strong and playful, challenging the more typical roles of women as bystanders, or collateral, or victims. She is as capable of saving Joel as he is of saving her.

Thousands of Christmas days will have been spent trying to keep the pair alive. Video games are one of the most vibrant cultural forms of the 21st century – but they have an image problem. The industry is seen as a boys’ club, a production line of games written by young men, predominantly aimed at young men. Even though independent studios are making more diverse content than ever, gaming culture is dominated by male voices. In the UK only 14% of the UK’s video game workforce is female, compared with 47% in film production.

In many ways, the video game industry is facing the same challenges in representation and diversity as Hollywood, yet games are far more dynamic and more intimate. Too often the assumption is that playing the role of a woman would be a disadvantage – you’d be weaker, already a victim – and that it raises the odds. Perhaps where film represents an aspiration, games reflect an uncomfortable truth about real life – that it might be a disadvantage to be a woman.

Yet as games themselves diversify, so do their players. Take account of games such as Candy Crush Saga, and more than half of gamers are women. The sniffy response within the games industry is that games played on phones and tablets aren’t really games – they’re mere interactive diversions, based on highly compulsive luck mechanisms. But this says more about the inherent and problematic assumptions and beliefs of the industry than it does about the games themselves.

Part of the problem is that there are not enough female graduates in maths, physics and programming, although there are outstanding exceptions, such asRhianna Pratchett, who has led the writing on games such as Tomb Raider andMirror’s Edge, and Sophia George, who spent 2014 as the Victoria and Albert museum’s first ever resident game designer.

The industry makes about $60bn a year, so it’s a financial success. But in the mainstream console and PC gaming sectors, the prevalent mono-culture relies on an ever-diminishing pool of staple concepts – war and sports games dominate the charts, and sequels, tie-ins and spin-offs are the norm; in creative terms, the industry is imploding. A more diverse workforce, in terms of not just gender, but also sexuality and ethnicity, would lead to a wider array of ideas and inputs, not because women and minorities have better ideas but because they sometimes have different ones…”


“WookieeLeaks: Notes on the Increasingly Diverse ‘Star Wars’ Universe”

“At Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy made it very clear that, under her watch, the new movies would go out of their way to be diverse. In the context of her statement, she was directly referring to upping the ante on female heroes, which makes sense. How frustrating must it be to be a female Star Wars fan and find yourself limited to that slave Leia get-up when you want to cosplay?

And in Daisy Ridley and Felicity Jones, Kennedy has already put her money where her mouth is. Two of the major characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: Rogue One are women and that’s fantastic. Do you really think that 51 percent of the galaxy would sit out the battle with the Empire? Not a chance.

But Lucasfilm’s commitment to diversity is going beyond that. Ridley’s The Force Awakens co-stars are the black John Boyega and the ethnically ambiguous (okay, Cuban/Guatemalan) Oscar Isaac. Jones’ Rogue One co-stars are the Arabic Riz Ahmed and the Mexican Diego Luna, who has reportedly joined the cast. As you can see, none of the heroes in the two new Star Warsmovies are typical white guys. Heck, those typical white guys (Adam Driver and Ben Mendelsohn) have been cast as the villains!

Since the cast of the original trilogy and the prequels are almost entirely lily-white, this is a bold and necessary change of pace. Sure, the other movies had their token black guys in Billy Dee Williams and Samuel L. Jackson, but let’s be honest here — those guys had shockingly little to do for characters who are so fondly remembered. With Ridley, Jones, Boyega, Isaac, Ahmed and Luna, the new Star Wars movies are actually representing people from all over the world.

Finally, the saga is going present its heroes as a diverse bunch from every corner of the galaxy…”


“Why Marvel Was Smart to Commit to New, DIverse Heroes”

“This week Marvel Comics revealed the lineup to their “All-New, All-Different Avengers” that will form after the events of this summer’s Secret Wars, and it certainly looks like they meant every word of that overly long title.

The team consists of classic members Iron Man and Vision, but also the African-American Sam Wilson continuing his role as Captain America and the female Thor who has the respect and blessing of the old Thor. Rounding out the team are three teenagers heroes — the plucky Sam Alexander as Nova, the Muslim Kamala Khan as the Spider-Man analogue for a new generation in Ms. Marvel, and an actual Spider-Man for a new generation, the half-black/half-hispanic Miles Morales.

What’s most surprising about this announcement isn’t how it’s packed full of diversity or that Miles will be surviving the assumed destruction of the Ultimate Universe in Secret Wars — although, hey, those are both great things — but that Marvel is showing earnest commitment to their newer heroes.

Marvel has been around for over 50 years, and despite the thousands of characters created in that time, generally the same core cast have been given the most spotlight: Spider-Man, Wolverine and the X-Men, and the Hulk. And due to the recent comic book and movie success, you can now add Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America to that list…

But what is so intriguing about Marvel’s All-New, All-Different Avengers is that the team lineup reads as a commitment to using those headline-grabbing characters instead of letting them fade into obscurity like so many others have in the past. It is, of course, too soon to say that Marvel has decided to embrace these characters for the long run, but currently, things are looking pretty good….”


“Marvel’s cinematic diversity problem”

“The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a diversity problem. There’s no way to really skirt around this issue politely: it’s a fact. Five out of the six Avengers that make up the largest movie franchise in the world are straight, white, conventionally-beautiful males. That’s over 83% of the Avengers franchise headlined by people born of systematic privilege.

What’s frustrating about these numbers is that in 2015, the argument can no longer be made that the kind of Avengers representation we’re getting is an accurate portrayal of America’s demographics, let alone the world’s. Since 2009, the majority of babies born in the United States have been racial minorities, and as of the 2013 United States census, only about 60% of the population identifies as White. With those kinds of numbers, an Avengers team that accurately represented United States demographics would only have two white males on the team.

But putting aside United States demographics, The Avengers is a global franchise, with the 2012 theatrical release raking in almost a billion dollars in foreign sales. Hollywood understands the importance of appealing to an international market, so when over two-thirds of the world’s population is decidedly not white, it seems counter-intuitive to produce such a bland, non-diverse approach to Marvel’s flagship superhero team…”


“Lee Daniels, Damon Lindelof, A-List Writers on Race, Ignoring Critics, an ‘Empire’ Axing”

Six hit show creators, from ‘House of Cards’ to ‘Good Wife,’ gather for a heated, candid talk that reveals the state of opinion on Hollywood’s touchiest subjects.

“Just because the television business has made notable inroads in the realm of diversity this year doesn’t mean the subject is any more comfortable to discuss. So when Lee Daniels, co-creator of Fox’s Empire, recently questioned a table full of drama writer-producers about the racial makeup of their writers rooms, the group grew tense. But doing so ultimately led to an important discussion about the industry’s shortcomings — as well as the challenges of collaboration, their frustration with critics and the day that Beau Willimon, showrunner of Netflix’s House of Cards, danced shirtless on set with Russian punk-rock group Pussy Riot. Daniels, 55, and Willimon, 37, were joined April 28 in Hollywood for a frank conversation about the pressures and rewards of running TV’s hottest dramas by Damon Lindelof, 42 (HBO’s The Leftovers), Alex Gansa, 54 (Showtime’s Homeland), Michelle King, 53 (CBS’ The Good Wife), andSarah Treem, 34 (Showtime’s The Affair).

Lee just wrapped his first season as a TV producer, during which his Empire hit the zeitgeist in a major way. It’s an experience that many at this table have had. What advice would you give Lee about how to sustain it?

ALEX GANSA Oh, I did a terrible job. Stop now, you’re ahead! There’s no advice to give; you just have to submit to the process.

DAMON LINDELOF At the time that it happened to us [on Lost], the zeitgeist itself became immensely distracting, and we took our eye off the ball at times to pay attention to the zeitgeist. Any time that you’re not writing the show is probably not time particularly well spent. And I said yes to everything. I mean, everything. If your mom wanted me to come over, it would be, “Yes. When does she want me there?” I just should have said, “No,” more. The other thing I’d say is, you should enjoy it. When I was on the ride, I was terrified. You look like you’re having fun, though.

LEE DANIELS A party. (Laughter.) But I get nervous, especially as we approach season two. You have to live up to season one.

How are the rest of you coping with those expectations?

SARAH TREEM I love season two [of The Affair]. I feel like season one was the rough draft. I like coming back and knowing the characters really intimately, and our world is much more complex.

MICHELLE KING We’re starting season seven, so the pressure’s a bit different in that it’s just trying to remember what we have done and trying not to repeat. We’ve lost some favorite characters, so it’s about trying to make sure we honor them and pay deference to how much the audience liked them and keep the world rich enough that the loss isn’t felt…”


“Diverse Casts Deliver Higher Ratings, Bigger Box Office: Study”

“Hollywood’s racial and gender diversity is increasing. But it’s not increasing quickly enough, says Darnell Hunt, lead author of the second annual Hollywood Diversity Report by UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, set for release Feb. 25. “Hollywood is not progressing at the same rate as America is diversifying,” says Hunt, the center’s director and a sociology professor. The U.S. population is about 40 percent minority and slightly more than half female, but, in news to no one, women and minorities are represented onscreen and behind the camera in drastically lesser proportions, the study indicates.

The problem isn’t audiences: During the years the study surveys — 2012 and 2013 — viewers preferred films and television shows with moderately diverse casts, according to Nielsen ratings and box-office reports. “Audiences, regardless of their race, are clamoring for more diverse content,” says co-author Ana-Christina Ramon.

The study blames the lack of diversity on agencies, guilds, studios and networks — “an industry culture that routinely devalues the talent of minorities and women,” reads the report.

The authors recognize the report’s time window limits its relevance, especially as racial diversity has shown big gains on TV during the 2014-15 season, but they predict their findings will encourage more progress. The study surveyed the top 200 films by global box office in 2012 and 2013, excluding foreign movies, and every broadcast, cable and digital TV series of the 2012-13 season (1,105 total).


In movies, minorities were underrepresented more than 2-to-1 (less than half as much as their share of the U.S. population) in lead roles and 2-to-1 as directors, and women lagged 2-to-1 as leads and 8-to-1 as directors (female-helmed films included 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty and The Guilt Trip and 2013’s Frozen and Carrie).

Meanwhile, films with casts about 30 percent diverse did best at the worldwide box office.

The diversity gaps mostly were smaller than in 2011. “There are pockets of promise,” says Hunt, citing best picture winner 12 Years a Slave for upping the share of Oscar wins to 25 percent for films with a minority lead; Gravity, with seven Oscars, evened out the wins for male- and female-fronted releases.

But after a 2014 Oscars race with all white acting nominees and only one best picture nominee with a black lead, “this year was a step backward from what might otherwise have been optimism from 2013,” admits Hunt…”