Thursday, March 26, 2015

LOL Deadline Tried It

Submitted without comment.

Actually I have to comment for my blog participation grade. it goes.

There are a couple of *interesting* layers with this article and the thinking behind it.

There was a noticeable shift toward minority castings last season, with more parts opening up to ethnic actors, a casting term used for non-Caucasian thesps. It was a concerted effort, with more than one instance where a family member role was rewritten as adopted to make them ethnic. Then, following the success of freshman series How To Get Away With Murder, Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, Jane the Virgin and especially Empire, which launched to huge ratings at the kickoff of pilot casting season, ethnic castings exploded this season.

1. Casting? Why is the issue casting for the many of the aforementioned shows? Who else is going to be cast as Taiwanese immigrant parents and their kids? Are we going to go for a "The Last Airbender" situation? Oh I wish you would Hollywood, I DARE YOU. Who would be cast in a show about a rapper-turned-mogul which seems to have an express mission to expose the homophobia in the Black community? Where could you even go with that? Blackface. Yes let's do more blackface, it's so timeless! Who would be cast in a show set in Miami that is a loose adaptation and slight parody of a Venezuelan telenovela? Latinos can be White BUT HOLLYWOOD STOP FALLING BACK ON THAT LIKE Y'ALL KNOW THE NUANCES OF RACIAL AND ETHNIC GROUPS (it should be noted that one of the male love interests, a Latino character, is played by an actor who is Italian and Ashkenazi Jewish). Are we going to get some more Ben Affleck beefcake as part-Mexican Tony Mendez? It's so arbitrary to me that casting was the point of entry to write about this supposed problem. Well it's not arbitrary. It mirrors the immigrants-taking-jobs-in-our-country myth and affirmative action phobia in this melting pot of a country.

In one instance, after a number of actors of different ethnicities tested for two roles in a pilot this year, two Caucasian actors ended up being the top choices for the two remaining regular parts. However, because of a mandate from the studio and network, one of the roles had to diverse, so the pilot could only cast one of the top choices and pass on the other to fulfill the ethnic quota. “They need to say the best man or woman wins,” one rep suggested.

2. "Merit aka the best person gets the part." The supposed meritocracy that governs the United States of Amerikkka is used to justify racism in every industry and in general, everything ever. Whiteness is considered the best just by it's very existence, not because of actual talent or merit. The fact that this woman is crying over a White actor not being cast in a show is so laughable all I can say is read a book. And give me my reparations.

While they are among the most voracious and loyal TV viewers, African-Americans still represent only 13% of the U.S. population. They were grossly underserved, but now, with shows as Empire, Black-ish, Scandal and HTGAWM on broadcast, Tyler Perry’s fare on OWN and Mara Brock Akil’s series on BET, they have scripted choices, so the growth in that fraction of the TV audience might have reached its peak.

3. Proportionality. SINCE WHEN IS ANYTHING PROPORTIONATE WHEN IT COMES TO PEOPLE OF COLOR? Certainly not in our injustice system. Certainly not anywhere. This is so laughable I’ve ascended to heaven, then descended to hell, then been around the world in 80 days solely on the power of my convulsions of laughter.  

I could go on but I’ll reserve my Black girl superpowers for something more worthwhile.  


  1. I'm sorry, but I don't feel bad that white people aren't getting all of the roles anymore. Also, the idea of a quota as some creator of injustice against white actors is absurd. Without it being forced upon them, content creators will be able to say "the best actor got the role," and the "best actor" will almost always be white. We can't sit around and hope for change. Sometimes you need to push the issue.

    Check out some online responses to this article here, including Shonda Rhime's response:

    Lastly, KPCC interviewed some casting directors about Deadline's article. You can listen to their responses here:

    The trend seems to be exactly as Sarah Banet-Weiser stated, " in the current media economy it no longer makes commercial sense to ignore girls or people of color as important characters." (203) As long as the audience keeps shows like Empire at the top of the ratings, we'll continue to see more people of color on TV. TV is a business after all.

  2. Always glad to see this nonsense article get blasted some more. That third point of hers you address is especially crazy to me. You could put every episode of every black-centric television show ever made back to back and it still wouldn't equal even a tenth of the television content that has minimal or no black characterization. Also: the notion that, because the African-American population in America is proportionately small, they should be happy (on a strictly mathematical level, of course!) with all SIX scripted television options available to them. (Does HTGAWM even fit under this umbrella just because it has a black character? I don't watch the show, but this claim seems dubious.) Possibly most insulting is this article's implicit supposition that white audiences are incapable of enjoying minority-led programming, both because it divides assumptions of what a viewer might be interested in along strictly racial lines and because anyone who pays even marginal attention knows that Empire proves this wrong every week. Fie on your house, Andreeva!