People are talking about Oscar buzz and the Golden Globes. “The New York Times'” Anthony Scott and “The Chicago Tribune’s” Michael Phillips have breezed through a list of 2009’s worst movies on “At The Movies.” But as usual this coverage ignores whole other communities and some big uncomfortable questions.
People probably still ask themselves why the separate Black Oscars event was cancelled as a part of the exaltation that came with Denzel Washington and Halle Berry each earning Oscars in 2002 – 8-years-ago. Troubling questions and concerns about minorities’ progress and power positions in the film history remain. But other, subtler, even harder questions are out there.
How often do you think about how multiethnic people of color or multi-“racial” people’s images in movies? It’s hard to think about the presence or overall representation of people of color in movies and then the proportion of constructive ones to those that are the absolute opposite?
There are relatively meager numbers of inter-“racial” families in the United States. According to the U.S. Census, 2004, less than 3% of all marriages in the U.S. are inter-“racial.” And so few people consciously call themselves multi ethnic, or multi-“racial,” or mixed, or something. Still most North Americans are mixed with at least two different ethnicities, even if it’s not obvious or alarming. Audiences rarely have to consider what it’s like to call at least two different ethnicities home.
The last or most indelible and implicitly mixed character may have been Benjamin Bratt on NBC’s “E-Ring” in 2005. He played Maj. Jim Tisnewski who was Polish, among other things. It was an interesting program, but not a film. Also during the heyday of that same network’s juggernaut, “ER,” Gloria Reuben starred in “Deep in My Heart.” The story’s core dealt with a mixed woman coming to terms with having had three different and vital women whom she could call “mom” as she came of age. But as special and compelling as that story was, it relied on the tragic mulatto theme.
None of these stories played at cinémas. So you might want to ask yourself how important it is to see perspectives on that experience at the movie theaters. How about some great stories where the mixed experience wasn’t the heart of the film, but simply and subtly provided the context?