Monday, October 19, 2009

Where are we?

Standing in front of the magazine section at my local market which I think has an impressive selection in terms of volume. Looking at it I would say there was maybe 150 titles. On two magazine covers there was a Latina (Vanity Fair with Penelope Cruz) and another magazine. There were three with African Americans on their covers. Distressingly one woman on (Oxygen) had blue contacts or very Anglo looking features so it was not really representing. She may naturally have that weird color blue as an eye shade but I think not. Also her other features didn't support the mutation. It is a mutation or genetic anomaly to have that color with that skin tone and that hair. A teen magazine had a child a young girl who was African American and then Oprah's mag. The rest were the same movie television people we have been seeing for the last five years and the rest...pretty bad representation. I didn't factor in the African American publications,in my area which is predominantly white New Hampshire,they don't order what probably would not sell. Why is everything separate? It doesn't challenge identity if one has a story about a person who happens to be Asian or Latino or African American in say Vanity Fair? Why Graydon Carter don't you feature more diverse stars on your covers?

Oh wait,there are not that many ethinic stars to grace your covers.


Why can't media be diverse?

I just auditioned for a small role in a small series for Canadian television and did not get the role.I was thrilled to audition. Whoo hoo... There were many factors as to why I didn't book the job, money (none) age (not old looking enough too glam) but what got me, what really bugged me, is why can't I have a show of my own? Here was an unknown woman with mediocre looks starring in a series about a spy. Nothing new and nothing spectacular but a network was giving her a shot? I am known and have chops and can carry my own against the best of them...Why am auditioning for 3rd lead role? I don't get it? The roles I have seen lately for my "Age" it's the typical BBW who is "The boss". I never get those parts. Honestly that's what is out there and it's so sad. Where are the series about being a congress woman , professors, senators, corporate owners and CEO's just to name a few roles that we woman of color and age do? Where are those stories? Hot sisters who are over forty who are so beautiful interesting and not in a rush to settle down? Where are those stories? The homemaker who is dealing with trying to further herself while juggling her family and it's pressures who is African American? Where is her story?
Personally I have two really good idea's for series, both are excellent. They are not too wild ,not too far fetched. Why aren't they being considered? I have had two series which did good numbers. I am famous. I look good for almost 50! So where is my pilot? It was a simple role the "administrator" what kills me after years of being in this business is that the face of smart strong and intelligent woman of color in lead roles is pretty much non existent. We take the lack of presence as normal because after 1995 it is. So for the last 12 years we have been systematically pushed back in terms of racial diversity in media to pre-1960's if not 1950's. No one is there fighting the good fight. These paid groups that are supposed to represent us and the issues are just that paid to keep quiet they are flaccid. I am on the front lines of this issue and it is a stinging almost soul killing battle or so it seems. I have met (Nina Tassler for one) smart intelligent and maybe socially segregated people meaning they don't know "us" in a relaxed or intimate way "Us" being African Americans who are educated and normal. These heads of networks refuse to budge and they warn producers off. Instead retreading the same 5 faces or their clones and the same retread stories. More Cop shows starring a lawyer who will moonlight as a nurse as she does double time as a CSI,or similar
shows and their clones. This is television today and the movies are no better. I have written about this ad nausea and I am sick of it. I am sad that I get excited at nearly fifty when a role that has some potential goes my way. I get sad when I realize that it wasn't always like this and there were more opportunities for woman of substance. I don't know about you but I like seeing woman of a certain vintage do stuff on screen I feel comfort and safety and I dig into my chair knowing that I am going to experience something interesting not some vacuous face that has no life in it where all I can think of is how pretty she is and how too old he is to be her love interest. It's gutting to think that only non ethnic people are interesting in media. I watched the Emmies this year and if you looked at the audience it was the opposite of diversity,it was a sea of white faces. Is this South Africa during Apartheid? It sure looks like it. I am sad about this, it isn't financial,it is a culture white wash and it is an ageist wash as well. We who don't have those hangups deserve better representation in all media and I for one think we need to be better organized as a group not just racially but age wise, we are boomers. We need to call for a ban on all media until the pre 1995 diversity laws are reinstated.
That is a start. Rupert Murdock be damned. It is time to force media to grow up and get smarter. They deserve the giant exodus main stream is doing as far as television goes...the paradigm has shifted and I for one want better programming that is reflective of life now in America. I know Madmen is a popular show but that was a dark period in an African Americans life and I for one am sad that it is on the air and although it is fair to have programming for the majority. I being the minority want equal time too. Especially as a performer. It isn't for lack of good or great
material its there. There are lots of well written stories out there dying to be bought and produced. No,this is pure segregation, racism and ageism. It is LACK of consciousness. Hollywood like the USDA with the entrenched buddy system is
shutting out people who are a success and smart and ethnic, performers like me.
I am not alone...there are a lot of us out there. Dying to play and share and communicate.
Instead if you are slightly inarticulate and crazy or wildly inappropriate or down right embarrassing and ethnic you can get a show...Wendy Williams, I love NY or even the housewives of Atlanta and Tyler Perry. Realistically they do not represent the entire spectrum of African American life!In fact it's a narrow spectrum almost singular. There is so much more to us as group. Imagine if rednecks where the only type being represented in media. Please!

I need support and solidarity here. Yes,it's time we do something that works and has effect. In the age of enlightenment which this time could be called if we work hard enough.
We need to crack open and demand a share of the opportunity for those of us of ethnicity and age in starring and substantive material. Why not?

It heals the world.


frenchwoman said...

J'ai été licenciée l'année dernière de mon dernier emploi
J'ai 47 ans bientôt, et A chaque fois que je me suis présentée à un emploi sur moi Comprendre faisait longtemps que j'étais trop vieille. Pourtant à mon âge j'ai toutes mes Capacités intellectuelles, plus d'enfant à elever Donc available Une confiance que je n'avais pas à 20 ans évidement. Pour l'emploi, de l'ONU sur ma dit que j'étais senior!! j'ai cru étouffer de rire et de tristesse
Conclusion de Doit Créer mon propre emploi cela me plait mais je le fais aussi car il N'y un pas de place pour moi, Il Faut être solide pour Résister au jeunisme du travail

frenchwoman said...

oups !! sorry

I am 47 years old soon, and A each time I came in a job on me to Understand has made for a long time that I was too old. However in my age I have all my intellectual Capacities, more child in elever Therefore available A trust that I did not have hollowing-out in 20 years.
For the job, from the UNO on my said that I was senior!! I believed feel stifled with laugh and of sadness Conclusion of Must Create my own job it me plait but I make it in coach it Not there a step of place for me, It Is necessary to be solid to Resist to the jeunisme of job

Tony Bunn said...

Frenchwoman, I love it when you speak French. It sounds so, uh... French! :o).

One of the things that I'm finally beginning to grasp is that there are those of us who will have no choice but to forge our own path. It's always been that way for us; always will it be that way for us. Although there might be those moments where the machine will adopt us for its purposes, sooner or later, we'll find ourselves right back there forging our own paths.

Don't hate the the machine for being itself. As much as it's ever-changing, its nature remains the same.

To all those who have no choice, delight in forging your own path. Upon doing so, become not the machine.

Peace & Strength,
Tony B.

Rae Dawn Chong said...

I can hate the machine especially when the rules change or get broken or tilted. We take so much abuse and honestly we take it silently. It is unfair there is antitrust dominance. There are forces a work to whitewash our experience. I never before realized what a sick sad state of affairs our the media is and it's corporate lack of diversity. Toney if you knew how much there wasn't a real playing field let alone anything fair. I think the 15000 African American farmers who were just awarded 1.2 billion dollars because the USDA was/were biased against them for the last 70 years, they woudl say to me "hate the players and the game" Otherwise go home.

Rae Dawn Chong said...

It's never easy to cry foul and no worries I know I can always sharpen my ,always...I get THAT message too. It's on!

Rae Dawn Chong said...

I wrote GAME...sharpen my Game!


glt said...

I don't watch much tv, but I usually check the schedules and have the picture on while I do my 'own path' thing. I've noticed that there are several cable channels(TNT, TBS, COM, and maybe a couple more)that program quite a bit of the black movies and sitcoms. But yeah, probably not the kind of shows you are talking about. Not much good stuff on the MACHINE! I always thought you had a cute, sexy "little girlish" voice and demeanor---in your acting and radio voice---you always seem very young. Could that be part of the problem? I'm am just a non-expert observer...

Rae Dawn Chong said...

It is George I do have that "problem" Oh well...

glt said...

It just seems wrong that something sweet and unique should be considered a "problem" ...what's wrong with those bums?! Har! I know...never mind...xxxooo!

Tony Bunn said...

Rae Dawn,

Firstly, I applaud your desire to stand up for your truth. My having been born in a Rooster year, Lawd knows I always gits to flappin' around happily when my Oxen friends goes on the rampage :o).

As for my knowledge of how unlevel the playing field is, that is precisely the point of my statements about the "machine". As I grew up in a neighborhood that was quite deeply activist, during the American Civil Rights era (in fact, there were many Black lawyers, doctors, and even a Federal Judge in our enclave; despite our quite modest circumstances), I am no stranger to the complexities of the arguments aimed, whether pro or con, toward the end of diversifying the "system".

Perhaps it's come to be my reasoning that try as though one may, it might not be possible to fix a broke-down system whilst operating on it from within --- and in fact, the travail of countless great figures who've gone before us might bear out that reality.

The American experiment is indeed a quite interesting one, if the "Melting Pot" theory and ideal are truly our aims. We'll know when we're getting close when one American looks at another and he or she only sees another American. We'll be getting even closer when one human being looks at another and he or she only sees another human being...

Peace & Strength,
Tony B.

Tony Bunn said...

Hmmmmmm, I just thought about something; I haven't heard the "Melting Pot" rhetoric for quite some time --- perhaps since I was in school, and reading the history books, whose covert aim it might have been to pacify and inculcate those of us who were obviously the dispossessed.

While we're now putting up walls to hinder the entry of most who would seek to join us, and we who are on the inside "just don't seem to get it", perhaps we've become more a pressure cooker.

glt said...

Pressure cooker does seem to be a more accurate description in this quickening insanity. Will we turn off the heat before we blow? Yikes!

Ryanaldo said...

I want you to make a movie with Christopher Lloyd. you will play his administrative assistant. His character and yours will live on Mackinac Island. He is a retired industrialist. His character is upright yet mildly eccentric about his quaint passions. your character will occasionally express understated chagrin or sketicism to his characters dialogue, instructions, and questions. But will carry out his work when interacting with others with complete loyalty, confidence, and enthusiasm.

Christopher Lloyd's character will discuss the idea of starting a magazine called "Bow Tie Aficionado". He wants to promote the lifestyle of wearing a bowtie, cardigan sweater, and tweed jacket. Does the jacket have enough pockets? do the cotton canvas pants or cordoroy pants have enough pockets?

later in the film, different and significant challenges arise.

it will be sort of like that old scottish movie, "the local hero" in tone and pace. the humor will be a bit stronger, and the plot will be different.

glt said...

nice insult R...Rd should be the lead in a meaty Sally Fields or Holly Hunter type role... damned racism.

Ryanaldo said...

i've been tooling around with the story in my imagination for months.

I only thought of Rae Dawn in it after reading this entry earlier this week.

If the story is that offensive, I will be happy to imagine some other Canadian in the role.