Category Archives: media

Yeah, We’re Doing This: The Lone Ranger and the Updated American Outlaw

lone

Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger via. Nerdist.com

After reconciling the with myself the fact that I was indeed going to see The Lone Ranger at some point this weekend, I started reading Isabel Allende’s Zorro to remind myself that my love of masked vigilantes in what would become the American West don’t always have to come with a racist Johnny Depp-shaped kiddie meal toy.

I’d apologize to Disney for cheating my way into seeing The Lone Ranger*, but the movie isn’t worth it. It’s a two and a half hour slog that shines only in the final twenty minutes where you finally catch a glimpse of what the film –written by the team behind Aladdin, The Mask of Zorro, Pirates of the Caribbean and others– could have been. Unfortunately the film’s failings manage to go beyond Tonto’s white-washing. If you’re going to make something so incredibly racist that garners this level of backlash months before the final cut, at least have the decency to make it good.

But as a fan of the “American Outlaw” trope, this Ranger is only the latest disappointment. I’ll watch anything about The Lone Ranger, Jesse James, John Dillinger, Billy the Kid, and other (supposed) justice-seeking Robin Hood vigilante types, fictional or not. The whitening and brightening of these stories (figuratively and literally) is nothing new; there’s a long history in the genre of shaving down the truth to make these stories more palatable for the general (read: white) American audience. In The Lone Ranger it didn’t even only just apply to Johnny Depp as Tonto. Everyone involved manages to hit on a unique combination of blatant racism, missed opportunities, and straight-up bad filmmaking that makes The Lone Ranger the worst movie I’ve seen so far this year.

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Late Update: Catch Kendra James On Al-Jazeera Today!

Just wanted to give everybody a heads-up: Our own Kendra James will be appearing on Al-Jazeera’s The Stream at 3:25 p.m. EST to discuss affirmative action policies in the U.S. in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to send Fisher v. University of Texas back to an appeals court. She’ll be joined in the panel discussion by Ari Berman from The Nation, Jerome Hudson from the National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives, Michigan Daily‘s Yash Bhutada and libertarian blogger Kristin Tate.

Added benefit for online viewers: Not only do you get 5 extra minutes at the start, but you can participate in an additional 10 minute post-show. Congrats, Kendra!

On That Serena Williams/Steubenville Comment

By Arturo R. García

Serena Williams. Image via imgace.com

Tuesday afternoon portions of a new Rolling Stone profile of tennis star Serena Williams went online, but one section in particular set off red flags and trigger warnings online.

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It’s Time to Recognize All Dads on Father’s Day

Image Credit: USAG Humphreys on Flickr

Image Credit: USAG Humphreys on Flickr

Image Credit: USAG Humphreys on FlickrBy Guest Contributor Dori Maynard; originally published at the Maynard Institute

Dear Sheryl Sandberg,

You advise women to lean in and speak up. I’m taking your advice.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I was in the Father’s Day feature on which your Lean In Foundation collaborated with Time magazine. Not one African-American father appears on the Time website. I know it shouldn’t have shocked me.

Content audits, such as one by The Opportunity Agenda, tell us that even in the age of President Obama, the media continue to pigeonhole black men, consigning them to coverage about crime, sports and entertainment, out of proportion with their actual involvement. Equally important, the media rarely show black men in all of their humanity as doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and yes, fathers.

Sadly, this feature is a stark example of the gap between coverage and reality, and not just because it ignores black fathers. There were also no Asian-American or Native American fathers in Time. I note that the magazine did a good job of presenting a cross section of white and Latino fathers.

Unfortunately, the other dads of color— one black and the other Asian-American — are relegated to your foundation’s website.

The problem with portraying such a narrow slice of fatherhood is threefold.

My first reaction on reading the list of fathers was, “Oh, no.” This is why I don’t read Time very often. It’s not that I don’t like Time; it’s just that it’s rarely relevant to my life. In today’s world, I don’t think any publication wants to so visually remind potential readers why they don’t read it.

I wasn’t alone. A quick look at the comments section finds others also clearly disappointed.

A commenter identifying herself as Claire Rodman wrote:

“TIME, it’s been said, but it’s worth saying again: There are plenty of black dads with daughters, and famous ones to boot: Mr. Poitier, Mr. Cosby, Denzel Washington, etc. Did you think we were all raised by single mothers? A lost opportunity, and likely some lost subscribers/online readers.”

The second problem is inaccuracy. As Rodman and other commenters noted, there are plenty of prominent African-American fathers. The same is true of Asian-American and Native American men with daughters. Yo-Yo Ma and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the Senate’s first Native American, come to mind. Not including the wide range of fathers in this country perpetuates false stereotypes and gives readers a misleading sense of how their neighbors live and interact with family.

That brings us to the third reason. We’re in the business of giving the public credible, reliable information. A feature suggesting that only some men participate in raising daughters fails to meet our ethical and moral standards.

For those who question the necessity of diversity, this should be a reminder that having people with different perspectives in the room can help us see what we are missing. In 2011, Richard Prince, a columnist for the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, noted that Time magazine was losing its only black correspondent.

That loss increased the chance that no one at Time would flag the omissions. All of us need someone to prod us because it is so easy for us to fall in with people who reinforce our world view. It’s called homophily, otherwise known as “birds of a feather” or “love of the same.” I work in diversity every day and still find that I must push myself not to make that same mistake. Nevertheless, I sometimes do.

I have also developed a diverse network of people willing to call me on mistakes so I can fix them. That’s really why I’m writing to you. The beauty of online features means that they can easily and quickly be fixed.

Sheryl, it’s not too late to remedy this by reminding African-American, Asian-American and Native American girls that they, too, have fathers who love them and are worth noting.

Sincerely,

 

Dori Maynard

Watch: Racialicious Contributor Tressie McMillan Cottom on Dan Rather Reports

By Arturo R. García

Always a joy to watch when our contributors get some shine in other media outlets. Latest case in point: Tressie McMillan Cottom, who has shared some great work with us covering, among other topics, Anne-Marie Slaughter and “trickle-down feminism” and young education activist Aamira Fetuga, featured on Dan Rather Reports for this story on for-profit colleges — and how far they go to make that profit.

“Can you serve public and can you serve the public good simultaneously? I don’t think we’ve answered that, as far as education is concerned,” she says.

The report also shows footage from a federal probe in which undercover agents posing as students were lied to and brushed off when they asked to speak to a financial aid expert before signing up for student loans needed to cover their tuition.

“They’ve even said to me, executives from for-profit colleges, ‘No, Tressie, we are motivating them, and a part of motivating them is to hit their pain points,’ and that’s a direct quote,” says Cottom, a former ITT counselor. “If part of motivating them is to hit their pain points, their objective says, ‘That’s fine, as long as it gets them to start school.’”

The segment is just under 15 minutes long and safe for work, but it does provide a disturbing look at what’s apparently going on behind all those smiley commercials many of us have probably seen. Congrats, Tressie!

Don Cheadle, Kerry Washington talk race, activism, gender and Hollywood

Above, actors Kerry Washington (Scandal) and Don Cheadle (House of Lies) speak with Variety magazine.  The conversation includes the following exchange:

When people reference your race when describing your career, is that a point of pride, or is it something that you think is overplayed in the media as part of your story?

DC: I think I’m somewhat defined by my race for sure, and I’m good with that and I actually want that to be a part. … I think that should be fodder for our work — we should use all aspects of ourselves. I’m always trying to find a place where that’s actually an impact on what I’m doing as opposed to going, “Well, we’re all just people and we’re the same.”

KW: I agree. I think it’s relevant. I think gender is relevant. I bring something to the table as a woman; I bring something to the table as a woman of color. So I feel like, if it’s the only thing you focus on, then it’s a danger, and if you never talk about it then it’s a danger.

More excerpts here.

The Racialcious Entertainment Roundup: June 3-9

By Kendra James

A few weeks back I suggested that you might want to catch up on BBC 1’s Luther, starring Idris Elba and Ruth Wilson, before the premiere of the show’s third series in July. This week brought us the first trailer for the summer season (above), so I repeat: Watch Luther. We’re a country with eighteen thousand different Law and Orders, a million CSIs, and nine seasons of Criminal Minds. This show should be way more mainstream than it is.

(Video heavy under the cut this week, folks, so hold onto your computers!)

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Chromatic Casting: Doctor Who

By Arturo R. García

The debate regarding Doctor Who and race and gender reopened in a major way on Saturday when Matt Smith announced he will leave the show after this year’s Christmas special, meaning the search is on for the Twelth Doctor — an especially crucial role, according to series canon, since this would be the Doctor’s final regeneration.

Naturally, it’s not just showrunner Steven Moffat looking for a new Doctor, but fans and bookmakers.
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