Minorities at the Oscars
- Indian Comics Irregular #78
From the LA Times, 3/25/02, on the Oscars Denzel Washington and Halle
Hollywood is a difficult industry for nonwhites. From 1990
through 2000, only 21 nonwhites (including Asians, Native
Americans, African Americans and Latinos), or about 9% of the
Oscar nominees, were included in the top five categories: leading
actor, leading actress, supporting actor, supporting actress and
director. Only two--Whoopi Goldberg (supporting actress
in "Ghost") and Cuba Gooding Jr. (supporting actor in "Jerry
Only time will tell if these awards result in concrete changes for
the industry as a whole, said Todd Boyd, professor of critical
studies at the USC School of Cinema-Television. "We are way
premature in potentially celebrating these victories as some
watershed event in Hollywood," he said.
An article on "The Lord of the Rings" quotes Tolkien fan Jane Chance,
an associate professor of English at Rice University. From the LA
"I have taught it several ways, but lately I see it as a
multicultural work," she said. "As Frodo moves along, he
encounters different species and needs to embrace them, to create
an international world." In the book, she added, there are many
examples of age-old prejudices being set aside for the common
good--among the fellowship, an elf and a dwarf, traditional
enemies, form an unlikely friendship.
Elves and hobbits and dwarves, oh my! It seems there are
multicultural lessons everywhere you look for them. And note the
popularity of the movie version. Once again, multiculturalism sells.
Truth: The Cat's Meow
The movie "The Cat's Meow" fictionalizes how a suspicious death
occurred on the yacht of publisher William Randolph Hearst. From an
article on the movie in the LA Times, 4/12/02:
For historian David Nasaw, author of "The Chief: The Life of
William Randolph Hearst," this kind of playing fast and loose with
the facts is infuriating. Though Nasaw hasn't seen the film, it
doesn't hold any interest for him.
"It makes my skin crawl," he says. "It's not blending fact and
fiction; it's saying things they know to be untrue. You can't
libel the dead, but you can libel history. We work so damn hard
to teach students the difference between history and myth. And
Hollywood forgets it all. And we end up battling images; film
carries with it the presumption of reality. I think that's why a
lot of people got upset over 'A Beautiful Mind.' It carries with
it the notion that this is what happened."
Proving the Point
From Steve Harvey's column in the LA Times, c. 1995-96:
When a portrait of a crinkly eyed Smith was shown on "Biography,"
our daughter Sarah, age 7, said, "Oh, my God! He's got a beard!
He's almost bald!"
When a portrait of the Indian princess was shown, Sarah took one
look at the somewhat plump, round-faced child and declared: "That
is not Pocahontas."
During one commercial break, however, she exclaimed, "There they
are," pointing triumphantly to the screen, where the voluptuous
Indian maiden and surfer John were indeed frolicking. It was an
ad for the animated movie.
Native Cartoonist Online
Marty Two Bulls (Oglala Lakota) does a weekly editorial cartoon for
the Indian Country Today newspaper. Now you can see his work in my
daily weblog, "News from a Multicultural Perspective"
(http://www.bluecorncomics.com/news.htm). Good stuff!
Blue Corn Comics