Racism is rife in the film and television industry, that is just a sad fact. You just have to look at the amount of films where the lead role is played by a non white actor, features interracial couples or if you count the awards given to actors of any ethnicity to see proof of this. Certain actors, like Hally Berry, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, and Will Smith have earned their stripes with large bodies of work and talent, but admittedly the parts that the average jobbing African American, Chinese, Hispanic, Indian, Middle Eastern actor is few and far between, tending to get lost in stereotyping and lesser roles than their Caucasian counterparts.
It’s a sad state of affairs that the films we watch are a poor reflection of the rich, and extremely multi cultural society that the world is; especially in America where the whole fabric of their population is made up from immigrants and descendants thereof.
Horror films are particularly bad at representing the world as is, rather than how casting directors and screen writers would rather it was. How many films can you name with a largely non white cast, a Black heroine, a Korean hero, or a refreshing change to the Arian looking love interest that seems to feature in pretty much every film these days? They are used as cannon fodder, to the point where it is an onscreen joke that the black guy always ‘gets it’, and I can’t say that is even funny, when it is such a harsh truth. Is our society so unbelievably jaded, that we can only use people of colour when there’s an excellent slaughter scene with their name on it? The collective neurosis of movie types to show love between two different races that is just normal and realistic, without featuring a storyline about racism or using it as a device to make a point, is completely backwards and inexcusable.
Why pander to the racists and worry about causing offence? By doing so you’re merely propagating the stereotype that their opinions are valid, and have a place in a civilised society.
Adapt or die off.
I can name only a few films that break the stereotype such as Night of the Living Dead (a black guy as a hero), the Killjoy series (predominantly African American cast), and films like Ganga and Hess, Fight for Your Life and the People Under the Stairs.
Although there are of course more, they fall into the category of predominantly low budget (Tales from the Hood, Holla, Nailed), blaxploitation (Blacula, Sugar Hill) , comedy horror( Hood of Horror, Dead Riot) ; or the ethnic character is a side kick, only to be offed before the first act ends. The other device used is the most abhorrent and indeed recognisable; the non white character is cast as the bad guy that we are all supposed to root against such as the Candyman franchise. I mean, the guy was murdered by racists and is just getting his own back. You can’t blame a guy for that!
Lakeview Terrace is the story of a loved up young interracial couple (Insidious’ Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington:Scandal, Ray), who move into a new neighbourhood, only to be tormented by the local cop played by a very scary Samuel L. Jackson, who really has an extreme issue with white on black.
Strictly speaking this is more of a thriller than a horror, but dammit Jim this film is pretty frightening and not so far from reality that you have to suspend your disbelief for a second. I believe the plot is based on a particular case in America involving an African American LAPD officer named Irsie Henry, whose campaign of intimidation against interracial couple John and Melanie Hamilton, led to him being charged with assault and being booted, hopefully face first, from the force.
Lakeview Terrace is a hell of a film. Samuel L. Jackson plays the part of the obsessive Abel Turner in what I think is one of his best shows of talent yet. He is mesmerising to watch and you find yourself holding your breath as the character manipulates the young couple to the brink. The plot is well paced, and Washington and Wilson are very believable in their fear and reaction to Turner’s menacing behaviour. This is not a horror, but it does have some correlations with the genre, and is a particularly scary example of how a person can abuse their power to carry out personal vendettas on innocent victims. I did feel the ending was a little predictable, if not disappointing, but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the whole product by a long shot.
Racism is unfortunately still rife in today’s world, not just in the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood Hills, and with far right organisations like the BNP and UKIP gaining more support here in the UK, a worrying trend of blaming ‘foreigners’ or immigrants (whatever definition they choose to use), for the economic crisis, lack of jobs and even terrorism to garner votes and members is creating a bubbling cauldron of racist and xenophobic tension that is only set to get worse. Politicians need to start making the real culprits accountable for their actions, and cracking down on the media incitement and bias, the government seems comfortable to give free reign to.
Read your anthropological history people. The human race originated from Africa, so in some creepy, and extremely incestuous way, we are all related somewhere down the line. All our skin colour and racial characteristics are just an example of our ancestors adaptation to the different climates and environments in which we eventually made our settlements, and a whole lot of inbreeding.
Even if you prefer the whole Genesis Bible thumping root, it clearly states that the world was all created from one man and woman and their children getting way too friendly, so, maybe those guys that wrote it weren’t as dumb as the rest of that book makes them sound.
Oh and Hollywood? I’m Caucasian, and I really would love to start seeing some colour in the film industry white wash.