I wanted my first-year film students to understand what happens to a story when actual human beings inhabit your characters, and the way they can inspire storytelling. And I wanted to teach them how to look at headshots and what you might be able to tell from a headshot. So for the past few years I’ve done a small experiment with them.Some troubling shit always occurs.
It works like this: I bring in my giant file of head shots, which include actors of all races, sizes, shapes, ages, and experience levels. Each student picks a head shot from the stack and gets a few minutes to sit with the person’s face and then make up a little story about them.
Namely, for white men, they have no trouble coming up with an entire history, job, role, genre, time, place, and costume. They will often identify him without prompting as “the main character.” The only exception? “He would play the gay guy.” For white women, they mostly do not come up with a job (even though it was specifically asked for), and they will identify her by her relationships. “She would play the mom/wife/love interest/best friend.” I’ve heard “She would play the slut” or “She would play the hot girl.” A lot more than once.
For nonwhite men, it can be equally depressing. “He’s in a buddy cop movie, but he’s not the main guy, he’s the partner.” “He’d play a terrorist.” “He’d play a drug dealer.” “A thug.” “A hustler.” “Homeless guy.” One Asian actor was promoted to “villain.”
For nonwhite women (grab onto something sturdy, like a big glass of strong liquor), sometimes they are “lucky” enough to be classified as the girlfriend/love interest/mom, but I have also heard things like “Well, she’d be in a romantic comedy, but as the friend, you know?” “Maid.” “Prostitute.” “Drug addict.”
I should point out that the responses are similar whether the group is all or mostly-white or extremely racially mixed, and all the groups I’ve tried this with have been about equally balanced between men and women, though individual responses vary. Women do a little better with women, and people of color do a little better with people of color, but female students sometimes forget to come up with a job for female actors and black male students sometimes tell the class that their black male actor wouldn’t be the main guy.
Once the students have made their pitches, we interrogate their opinions. “You seem really sure that he’s not the main character – why? What made you automatically say that?” “You said she was a mom. Was she born a mom, or did she maybe do something else with her life before her magic womb opened up and gave her an identity? Who is she as a person?” In the case of the “thug“, it turns out that the student was just reading off his film resume. This brilliant African American actor who regularly brings houses down doing Shakespeare on the stage and more than once made me weep at the beauty and subtlety of his performances, had a list of film credits that just said “Thug #4.” “Gang member.” “Muscle.” Because that’s the film work he can get. Because it puts food on his table.
So, the first time I did this exercise, I didn’t know that it would turn into a lesson on racism, sexism, and every other kind of -ism. I thought it was just about casting. But now I know that casting is never just about casting, and this day is a real teachable opportunity. Because if we do this right, we get to the really awkward silence, where the (now mortified) students try to sink into their chairs. Because, hey, most of them are proud Obama voters! They have been raised by feminist moms! They don’t want to be or see themselves as being racist or sexist. But their own racism and sexism is running amok in the room, and it’s awkward.
This for every time someone criticizes how characters of color and female characters of color especially are treated in text and by subsequent fandoms. It’s never “just a television/movie/book”. It’s never been ”just”.
“…and by subsequent fandoms." <— bless this addition.
This one is always worth reblogging.
When I say, “Representation matters,” it’s not just the presence of PoC, women, PwD, LGBTQIA, in narrative, it’s the roles are those characters are occupying.
The hall of mirrors that is the interplay between fiction and real life becomes a negative feedback loop with real consequences, because we internalize things and then we act them out.
Storytelling is a powerful thing. What stories are we telling, and why?
"Fuck You, Old People" — Group Piece at CUPSI 2014
"By the way, you can’t actually pick yourself up by your own bootstraps. That’s now how physics works."
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Black Girls Rock: Twin Dancers Are Accepted to American Ballet Theatre’s Prestigious Summer Program
Twin sisters Nia and Imani Lindsay have been accepted into the prestigious American Ballet Theatre’s (ABT) Summer Program on scholarship. The young girls have been walking since 8 months and have been dancing ever since. At 10-years old the two are trained in jazz, ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, and tap dance. They are also fluent in English, Spanish and French.
While they reside in Canada they made a trip to New York City to audition for ABT’s Summer Intensive program and found time to sit down with Cipriana of Urban Bush Babes to discuss their big news, bullying, their beautiful natural hair and why they love Misty Copeland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ply4Rjz_UZM
Such an inspiration! I am so insanely proud of these girls.
Serving up fiercenessssss
A super girly and peppy blonde girl who wears bright pink dresses and skirts everyday is best friends with a quiet goth girl who of course sports all black clothing and big lace up boots. Someone jokes and yells to them “Hey look, a fairy and a vampire!” The blonde turns around and flashes a fanged grin and says “She’s human actually.”
This has been done before, I’m sure.
heteronormativity for dummies or, “why homophobes aren’t the only problem”
You will not believe the shit I get for correcting people when they talk about my daughter like this. Just stop fucking assigning sexualities to babies jfc straight people
they outlawed this move just because she was the only woman who could do it.
Surya Bonaly was infamous for (among other things) doing aone blade backflip in the 1998 Olympics, and is the ONLY figure skater who’s ever pulled that off. Not just the only woman, the only figure skater PERIOD. There’s like all ofthree Olympic-class male skaters who did backflips in their routines, and NONE of them could do it one blade.
But wait, there’s more.
Backflips were banned from the 1976 Olympics onward on the official justification that skating jumps are supposed to be landed on one blade, whereas backflips are landed on both blades. The unofficial justification was it was too dangerous, both to the athlete and to the rink — if you didn’t land it perfectly, you could not only break your ankle, but also punch THROUGH the ice surface.
Surya Bonaly was openly contemptuous of the figure skating judges, because they were a bunch of openly racist white men who always screwed her over by giving her lower scores than she deserved. That one-blade backflip was her ultimate FUCK YOU! to the Olympics judges, because she took an “illegal” backflip and made it legal by landing it on one blade. Pretty much DARING them to mark her down for being epic awesome and pulling a move that their precious coddled white girls didn’t have the guts to even think about.
They did, of course. White racism knows no bounds. But she utterly owned them with that move.
not only did she do a fucking backflip and land, she landed then went right into a triple loop. like holy fuck
Damn son I ain’t seen shit like that.
The reason his RTD era stories were watchable.
001. Toxic | Melanie Martinez
I took a sip from a devil’s cup
It’s taking over me
I want to do so much witchcraft to this
i need more of natasha romanoff being brusque and unexpected when demonstrating physical affection to her loved ones (like a cat):
steve sits down on the couch with a beer and a bowl of pretzels and the next second natasha’s on his lap, drinking his beer and feeding him pretzels and steve can’t complain, he guesses, until she changes his nature documentary (steve loves nature documentaries ;____;) to one of those horrible Syfy Originals movies because why watch shark week when you can watch sharknado?? clearly.
bucky’s standing in the kitchen, sliding cucumbers, his arm a whirr of motion when natasha just sidles up and delicately runs her nose against the curve of his jaw and presses a tiny kiss to his chin and disappears before he even has the time to drop his knife and turn around
sam’s talking to someone, he’s always talking to someone when natasha sneaks up behind him and wraps her arms around his waist and starts petting his abs and chest. sam of course doesn’t mind, he flexes for her and laughs, “you make me feel like a piece of meat”. “steak.” natasha says, and playfully bites his neck.
she and clint pickpocket from eachother just super casually?? like, clint just keeps things in his pocket for her like those orange tictacs she loves but’ll never buy herself and silly caricatures he draws of their teammates (the one of tony was amazing and priceless and natasha still has it). and natasha’ll carry stray bandages for when clint does little stupid things and airplane bottles of liquor for when he does big stupid things and they just brush past each other and take what they need and sometimes there’s groping.
natasha being the biggest moocher on the planet. she’ll steal your fries and a sip of your beer and demand you try her pasta and feed you bites of gelato from her spoon
Natasha loving SyFy originals is the best headcanon I have ever heard and I will accept nothing less from now on forever.
Kacy Catanzaro: the first woman in history to qualify for Mt. Midoriyama.
I just need everyone to watch this video [x]. She’s a 5 foot, 100 lb gymnast and she beasts through this insanely difficult, heavily upper body focused course like it was her morning jog. The camera keeps cutting to these massive, musclebound men in the audience with their mouths hanging open.
i’d like to speak to you about the avengers initiative