Reality Bites Native Actors
- Indian Comics Irregular #141
According to the Screen Actors Guild, the trend for dramatic actors
isn't good. It's particularly unsavory for minority actors. As the
Hollywood Reporter indicated (10/6/05):
Asian/Pacific Island Americans were the only ethnic group to make a
notable gain. The group added 78 new roles in 2004, increasing
their overall share from 2.5% to 2.9%. The inroads were made in
episodic TV (up 21%), while slight losses were seen in theatrical
and nonepisodic TV.
Black actors lost 1,147 roles last year, mainly in episodic TV.
Some gains were made in film and nonepisodic TV, but the overall
result was a decline from 15.3% in 2003 to 13.8% last year.
Latino actors saw their share of roles decline 0.1% to 5.5%. As
with other groups, the losses were concentrated in episodic TV,
while a gain of 95 theatrical roles helped offset those losses.
American Indian actors lost 48 roles, mostly in film, leaving them
with a 0.2% share of the 2004 roles.
Television offers one bright spot. From the Associated Press
ABC earned the highest overall marks from the Hispanic and Asian
advocacy groups. It's a significant shift for the network, which
"was beyond an F- six years ago," said Karen Narasaki, chairman
of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition.
ABC shows "Lost" and "Grey's Anatomy" were celebrated for featuring
Asian-American actors, writers, producers and directors. Two
Asian-American actors earned Emmy nominations this year for their
roles on ABC shows, Narasaki noted.
But not for Native people:
Mark Reed, chairman of American Indians in Film and Television,
gave the networks F grades across the board.
"The American Indian is invisible in prime-time television," he
Rob at the Movies
With my new blog on Native America and pop culture, I've been
commenting up a storm on recent movies. Among my subjects:
Cannibals of the Caribbean: As people feared, the new "Pirates" movie
depicts Caribbean Indians as flesh-eating devils who speak gibberish and wear toe necklaces. Read all about it at
"End of the Spear" earned an unprecedented 0 of 10 rating from one
reviewer. It made it into the Stereotype of the Month contest for
having whites enlighten "rampaging dark-skinned savages." For more on the story, go to http://www.bluecorncomics.com/endspear.htm .
Two-spirits in "Transamerica": At its core, this 2005 movie recognizes the Native concept of two-spirited people: those who have both male and female qualities. Oneida actor Graham Greene appears in a key supporting role. Rob's rating: 8.5 of 10.
Tommy Lee Jones: Native at heart? In "The Three Burials of
Melquiades Estrada," Pete (Jones) forces the man who killed his friend
to return the body to Mexico. This 2005 film highlights such Native customs as making amends for wrongdoing and honoring the dead. Rob's
rating: 8.5 of 10.
Hopkins the horse hero? Back in "'Hidalgo' the Horse Hoax" (ICI
#110), I wrote that the 2004 Disney flick had no basis in fact. Now
evidence suggests that that claim was wrong. Head to
http://www.bluecorncomics.com/hidalgo.htm#hero to see how the
controversy played out.
For these and other views, visit Newspaper Rock and its archive at http://www.bluecorncomics.com/newsrock.htm or the movies page at http://www.bluecorncomics.com/namovies.htm .
Blue Corn Comics