Oct/Nov 2017 Humor/Satire

How to get more people of color characters in big budget movies

by Chaya Bhuvaneswar

Image excerpted from A Nice Cup of Tea by Roe LiBretto

Image excerpted from Nothing Up My Sleeve by Roe LiBretto

Note: the below is from a hard-copy memo from the desk of a big studio executive who no longer uses e-mail after the hack that leaked emails from Sony Executives such as Amy Pascal's to Scott Rudin regarding Obama: "Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?"

Handwritten scrawl on the memo: "Yo, homey's (homies?) check out how I use the letters POC for 'people of color.' PC term within a PC term. I'm kickin' it. Hey, has anyone seen my Ice-Cube tape?? I'm DOWN."

• Create an Orson Welles-style hoax about how brown people have invaded Planet Earth (use social media instead of radio the way he did for War of the Worlds) and greenlight a set of movies in which the brown people ("immigrants") are fought and forced back to "wherever they came from."

• Create a parallel set of movies (at least seven, like the Harry Potter sequels) in which the same, or highly similar, brown people (try to use actors who, to white people, look sort of alike—like Michelle Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez) are rescued by a valiant, highly intelligent and well-read cast of diverse white people (some with a Southern accent, like in the movie Logan). In these movies, each climactic rescue ends with some nearly-unsolvable mystery of "what happened to the brown people after they were rescued?" Make sure this has sinister undertones that only the white characters seem able to pick up on.

• Have separate, geographically distinct marketing schemes for each of these series (series-es?) of movies. Series-es sell.

• Commission a set of very thick novels that represent Fifty Shades of Grey meets Twilight, in which vampires and humans have certain vanilla S&M kinds of private, happy times. In these novels (co-written by the authors of Fifty and Twi, those two white women who could be sisters for how much they look alike, really), the main thing that happens is both the vampires and humans involved in the fun and friendly times discover the blood of people of color tastes particularly wonderful. The appetite for the blood of people of color (POCs) necessitates the hiring of many thousands of POC cast members to fill the plum roles available in these movies. Make sure to have a lot of scenes of POCs shrieking in a way that makes them even more conspicuous in bars and restaurants frequented primarily by white supremacists, running into buildings from which there clearly is no escape, becoming zombies if they're only half-drained, and none in which any of them successfully, permanently become more powerful than any of the white humans or white vampires. Have scenes in which there is white voyeurism of POCs toying with each other sexually before they try to eat each others' brains. (Note: CHECK with lawyers about potential True Blood copyright nuisance thing. Just to make sure it's not a thing.)

• Forgot to spell out: translate the very thick vampire-human-naughty living novels to both big budget movies and a few low-budget movies. In the low budget movies, use subtitles for the languages the really-doomed people of color still insist on speaking to each other (as if they didn't notice the English only! and Make American Great Again! and Adios! You not-America! signs all over the place by now. Geez.). Make the subtitles reflect the point (movie message!) that unlike the white characters (you know, like the white characters in Lost in Translation), the POC characters ARE NOT capable of nuance, unspoken communication, longing, or loss. Let the subtitles show the POC characters as cartoonlike foils for the white characters, and fast-track their story, the story, for Oscar night, stressing the originality of the concept. (It's an indie!! Original by definition, Yo.) But keep the blood and gore for the low budget version. Make drinking games where everyone has to have drink when the POC characters start dying off. (Think of the merch. Movie-themed drinks, juices. Make the bottles dark, mysterious.)

• Get brass balls and just go out and COPY the POC director's movie, lock stock and barrel, from concept to title, even, and just don't even acknowledge that shit. Have the white director whose name and image you stick onto the movie get a bunch of tattoos and shiny combat boots for when you start all of the press. Playbook for this approach: Juno (2007) and the South Korean movie Jeni, Juno (2005), where that obviously original director was so "balls out" (Homey, do I love a woman with brass balls) she didn't even deny the "influence" of the POC film on her own, calling the two films "sweetest cousins," being so confident that no POC filmmaker (Kim ho-jun, feature director of four other films, all of which are mainly talked about on AsianWiki) would call her out on the theft "likes" that her film gave to the Korean film (sweetly similar plot except Juno's own parents, and not a set of adoptive parents, end up raising the boy baby). (Note: It is INDIE, so use the word "evocative" where questions about any POC-made, therefore low-distribution, films may come up. "Evocative" is not "derivative.")

• Take The Avengers concept (piling together the star characters of a massive bunch of big budget films, counting on the additive quality—like Reese's pieces—chocolate + peanut butter = something even more popular than either one!). Just like that, Thor + Ironman = net profits greater than either superhero's film could earn alone. Now apply that to POC stereotypes. For Thor + Ironman, for additive profits substitute "Model Minority" + "Crazy Sinister Shadowy Brown Guy" wearing sunglasses and a Kufiya (stand-in for "Arab" but don't use the word "Arab" because social media's nuts right now about any little Muslim thing, yeesh). The beauty is, add 20 different stereotypes, you've got at least 200 films.

As my dear departed friend Ed Victor said, it's all content, and people need content.


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