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Surprise, Surprise, Movie Fans are Racially Biased (Context for the "Hunger Games" Fiasco)

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by Jasmin
March 27, 2012 6:50 PM
64 Comments
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Hunger Games

Yes, there was a giant racial dust-up over the release of The Hunger Games yesterday. Yes, we saw the Jezebel article, capturing the outcry of "racist" moviegoers who were upset that the character Rue, who some Hunger Games fans apparently envisioned as white, was cast in the film as black (played by the very adorable Amandla Stenberg). And yes, we received all the notes from readers prompting a reply.

Perhaps we were slow to respond on this, simply because it's not a shock. It's been shown, in various surveys and studies, that by and large, white audiences prefer to see themselves on screen. The sentiment is so strong that it caused many moviegoers to overlook the fact that Rue was described as "dark-skinned" in the original Hunger Games novel.

Maybe this situation was more disturbing than others due to the implications about the value of black life. After all, [spoiler] Rue is killed off in the course of the movie, and some of the remarks from moviegoers flat out stated that her blackness made them less sensitive to her death. Said one fan, "when I found out Rue was black her death wasn't as sad."

In light of the recent Trayvon Martin case, it seems that society has sent an overwhelming message that there's a far higher premium placed on white life and white experiences. So should we be at all surprised that films, and film fans, reflect the same attitudes? To provide some context, I turned to Entmann & Rojecki's The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America: 

The media almost always pay far more attention to a murder victim on Park Avenue than to one on 125th Street. Sadly, a Black murder victim in a Harlem tenement conforms to expectations, so is less newsworthy than a White corpse in a midtown penthouse. The resulting emphases profoundly imply that White life is more valuable than Black.

The authors go on to describe biased behavior (such as griping about the blackness of movie characters?) as "racial animosity":

Racial animosity occupies an important step short of racism. Although those exhibiting animosity often get labeled as racists, they do not see their stereotyped anti-Black generalizations as adding up to a natural racial order that places Whites on top and legitimizes discrimination. Rather, animosity consists of less intense and all-encompassing stands on the four dimensions [negative homogeneity, structural impediments, conflicting group interests, and emotional responses].

So, while a group of people may not actively hate another group, they might just bear some really harmful attitudes about race, based on all the media messages that they've been consuming over the years.

After all, if all the films, TV shows, entertainment and news coverage that we see throughout our lives ever so slightly imply that black people, black stories or black life is inferior, or maybe just less important...

Well, you get situations like what happened yesterday.

Suddenly, it seems more important that there are more black writers, and showrunners, and producers, and executives, and support for black characters and black stories. Maybe it does make a difference that there's more than one black person cast in your favorite film, and more than one "token" appearing in your favorite sitcom. Because maybe "entertainment" is more impactful that most of us would like to admit.

Again, for me, it's not a surprise. The question is, what do you plan to do about it?

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64 Comments

  • Colossus | February 20, 2014 3:07 PMReply

    "It's been shown, in various surveys and studies, that by and large, white audiences prefer to see themselves on screen." As do blacks, Asians and Latinos. It's called cultural bias, sweetheart, and everyone harbors it.

  • DaNubian | April 2, 2012 7:59 PMReply

    Ever since the president was elected racism has been at an all time high. Well, I have an idea. It really isn't new because we've done it before. We cannot make people accept us. Me personally, I could care less. But I do love all people and I really love my own people. We are all over the world and I've been to many of those places. The racist nonsense that is on twitter is nothing for us to even waste our time on. Let the racist continue to make racist remarks while we continue to make strides as a people together.
    We have struggled for hundreds of years and due to our struggles everyone has benefited. Affirmative Action benefited everyone and it benefited White Women more than any other race. Many people cannot believe or refuse to accept that fact, but it is true. We were able to get the first African American president elected. Now check it. We had to come together and we did the impossible and by doing so the whole country has benefited. Could you all imagine what it would be like if another neoconservative won that election? We need not be concerned with the negativity of racism. Racism has been here and it isn't going to go away. We need and should speak up and act on racism when one of us is killed because of our race. But racist see that they don't really need to do that because we are doing it all for them.
    What we need to do is clean up our communities and I'm not just talking about trash. We need to rid ourselves of the devils in our communities who prey on defenseless people. Those who have no consideration for others or their property. We need to begin to open up businesses in our own communities and support them. We need to do for and take care of OURSELVES. Where I live, the area is mixed. Black, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and a few Cubans . Many of the Latinos are Afro Latino and they open businesses and stores that we all use and their prices are reasonable. But, every now and then some devil will come in and rob and kill the store owners. So what happens?
    Black and Latino store owners become afraid to open businesses in their own neighborhoods. Many of those murders go unsolved because the cops, many of them white and racist, could care less because they're robbing those stores as well. And what is even more disturbing is that many Black and Latino cops have begin to feel the same way. They deal with those within our race who commit crimes and are strung out on drugs on a daily basis. So it is up to us to take a stand do what we need to do and we do not need anyone's help. We need to do some house cleaning by any means necessary. Other races come to America and they flourish because they have what we've lost. Their culture. What did we choose to do just to be able to be accepted by racist whites? We assimilated. What a mistake. We've lost our soul and our culture because of assimilating. We need to get into us as a people. We are not perfect and neither is anyone or any other race. And until the world realizes that we all need each other and that there is only one race and that is the Human Race we will have racism.

  • CareyCarey | April 2, 2012 8:42 PM

    Danubian, where have you been? Let me shake your hand. When you opened with the following, I knew you were sincere and on point. You said, "We cannot make people accept us. Me personally, I could care less. But I do love all people and I really love my own people. We are all over the world and I've been to many of those places. The racist nonsense that is on twitter is nothing for us to even waste our time on". Yep, we cannot make people accept us. My exact sentiments---> "I am suggesting that there's a person inside all of us who may show favoritism to his own race, and he or she may hold selective contempt or disdain for those of a different race. So in essence, the proof is in the pudding, NOT THE WORD. And, who cares? But I know there are those in our race who love "assimilation". I am not one of them (another discussion for another day)"

  • CareyCarey | April 2, 2012 9:49 AMReply

    Nadine, when it's all said and done ---> http://youtu.be/cHg-Zkwndqg

  • Yaa | April 1, 2012 6:51 AMReply

    I read through all the comments and was a bit confused by some claiming that some black people (writers and readers of this blog) actively look for black representation on screen so shouldn't be outraged that white people claim they cannot relate to a black character on screen. Both attitudes cannot be compared. I'm African but watch films from all over the world: American, Asian, Korean, Chinese, French, you name it. And I've never had any issue relating to any non-black characters, because some experiences are just universal. We all breathe, live, love, suffer, die. But I also actively research and watch films from the black diaspora not because I feel like I would relate more but because we are also part of that universal experience, something that the media at large choose to overlook.

  • BONDGIRL | April 2, 2012 10:01 AM

    Both of you make really excellent points, but just to clarify my comment stated below, I'd really be impressed if an equal amount of discussion on this site was centered on other topics besides race. It wasn't intended to invalidate anyone's concerns. That is all.

  • CareyCarey | April 2, 2012 9:09 AM

    @ Nadine, you said, "[Carey] but I am truly disappointed in your stance". Ditto *lol*. You also said "I'm going to say let's agree to disagree". I agree. But first, an emotion is an internal state of feeling and/or a conscious mental reaction (as anger or joy) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body. Consequently Nadine, you CANNOT pass a law that restricts a person's feeling or one that demands they feel a certain way. Which leads back to my original statement. You're not ever going to change some white folks. Now re: Talking in front of your "adversaries", whomever they may be. I am simply suggesting that much of the finger pointing that many black folks engage in is counter-productive. First, it allows your adversaries to analyze your differences and then determine a strategy to impede your efforts. Or, they can devise a plan to divide and conquer (tried and true). Or, in many case, after analyzing the situation by listening to all the bitching and crying, they frequently come to the conclusion that they've heard that "same ol'song & dance" before. And thus, they know in most cases (history tells them) the angry negro will "talk" and cry, and then walk away. So again, I am suggesting that those who vent their anger and frustrations of white folks (Hollywood and whites in general) in an open forum might as well be barking at the moon. It accomplishes nothing and it's counter-productive. And believe me when I say I "got" Shame. OH YEAH! I am here to tell you that the other side didn't get "it". But we don't even want to go there today *LMAO*. Side bar: I saw the movie The Descendant last night. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Clooney earned his Oscar nomination.

  • Nadine | April 2, 2012 5:21 AM

    You legislate human emotion by enforcing experience. Carey your arguments are passionate, per usual, but peel only the first one or two (I'm being generous) layers of an onion. As you legislate interaction and experience, myths as truths lessen (which is why the moving images is so important)...and so on... I do not only speak to you from a historical context (which did not apply to my first statement in this thread at all), but in the present and looking forward (the youth). "Put the white man out of your meetings, and then sit down and talk shop with each other. If everyone knows what you're doing and saying, you're not doing 'it' right.' ". Dude, your comments have kept this dialogue going, and I am quite aware of doing and saying which is why I still don't understand how you didn't get "Shame", but then your arguments here could somewhat explain the disconnect (no characters with whom you could identify). Most of the arguments on the board stated that as non-Whites (I'm assuming), they had no problems identifying with characters on-screen who did not look like them so this "talking in front of white people" thing you reference, is not making sense to me, maybe you're not specifically addressing my posts. CC - I'm going to say let's agree to disagree because this stuff always slows me down from my personal work which is why I'm trying to ween myself of the boards entirely, but I am truly disappointed in your stance.

  • Nadine | April 2, 2012 4:46 AM

    You're not getting it. That's fine.

  • CareyCarey | April 1, 2012 11:10 PM

    Nadine, I don't know if you're purposely pandering to those who enjoy nothing more than to cry and bemoan and chit-chat about the ways of white folks, but you have this issue all wrong. You're preachings on hate and black folks past sufferings seem to be leaning in that direction. Look, I am not and never have defended the ways of those in question. I have always said that I "understand" their emotional outbursts, yet I've never condoned them. Now, in reference to legislation and the habits and emotion of white folks, you have again clouded the issue with misleading information. Case in point, Plessy vs Ferguson nor Loving vs. Virginia and most certainly the 14th Amendment DID NOT and CANNOT usher in a law that speaks to/regulates human emotion. Lastly, you asked about my goal. Well, if you're referring to my goal in this thread, I have to quote another visitor... BONDGIRL | April 1, 2012 6:37 PM "So true, Carey. Priorities, people. Re-think them". Nadine, I know I can't change anyone's mind. However, hopefully I can inspire "them"/someone to play the song to the end. This post was about some white people who said something "negative" about a movie character, okay. I simply do not believe those comments warrant all the time and attention, moaning and groaning and finger pointing it has received. Hence, "play the song to the end". Tell me, looking back, what has been accomplished? Yeah, think about that! Now Nadine, I am going to end by using a small portion of a speech by Malcolm X "Message to the Grass Roots". Here it goes--> "We want to have just an off-the-cuff chat between you and me, us. We want to talk right down to earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand.....we have to realize we have a common enemy, whether he's in Georgia or Michigan. So we have to do what they did. They agreed to stop quarreling among themselves -- don't let the enemy know that you've got a disagreement Instead of airing our differences in public, we have to realize we're all the same family. And when you have a family squabble, you don't get out on the sidewalk. Put the white man out of your meetings, and then sit down and talk shop with each other. If everyone knows what you're doing and saying, you're not doing "it" right." ~ Malcolm X

  • Nadine | April 1, 2012 6:47 PM

    The last line sounds sassy... wasn't meant to be... I'm off.

  • Nadine | April 1, 2012 6:46 PM

    Low self-esteem leads to envy which leads to hate. When power is in the hands of those who envy, they shut down those who make them feel inadequate. My goal is never to sit down and let sh!t happen, Carey... if we, historically, did this, we'd be ass out tight now. It is human nature, as you referenced, to not submit. You're defending the actions of a group people who don't choose to acknowledge others because they don't feel like they have to lest the jig "be up", because they now their existence is based on fallacies. It is not as if there are a dearth of images for these White people whom you say, understandably, would rather watch White people. I'm really not believing you or you insistence on the matter. YOU TELL ME, as I've asked before, what your plan of action is...and please answer. "But you're not going to change some white folks, and you cannot legislate human emotion." Ummm.... Plessy vs. Ferguson did. Loving vs. Virginia did. The 14th Amendment did... and minds and people can change. My goal is equity and responsibility always. What's your goal because its not looking too constructive from over here CareyCarey. It seems you're trying to change some Black folks' minds which, based on your argument, should be just as futile.

  • CareyCarey | April 1, 2012 2:06 PM

    Nadine... "that "one"' is likely to have major issues with their own existence". Tell me about it! And man has been fighting a continuing battle against sin, corruption, deciet, arrogance, power and control, since the existence of man. However Nadine, you're obfuscating the problem with extraneous information. It appears you're wrongfully defining "hate" as "unable to relate" and "does not cherish" and "can't see outside themselves". Besides, "HATE" is not the issue I'm addressing! If that's the premise of your argument, you can have at. I am simply saying YOU (or anyone) cannot dictate what a person likes or dislikes, or what they should or should not relate to. So vent and moan and protest as you please, you're not going to change human nature. On the other hand, I will continue to pick my fights very wisely. So scream until your blood pressure hits a new high. That's one of your civil rights. But you're not going to change some white folks, and you cannot legislate human emotion. So what is your goal?

  • Nadine | April 1, 2012 11:38 AM

    No CAREY, it is a philosophical and spiritual problem if one cannot see outside of themselves. If one cannot truly see and honor another persons humanity. A notion indicative of an ego of ill-nature; a scarred, likely traumatized by environment, personality whose arrogance, in that only reflections of themselves deserve to be cherished as human beings, is simply a tool to hide their own self-loathing. This is the basis of hate from those who practice and those who submit and should not ever be acquiesced. When one can identify with, therefore value WHOLEHEARTEDLY, the existence of another but not the next... that "one"' is likely to have major issues with their own existence.

  • CareyCarey | April 1, 2012 9:40 AM

    You're basically saying because YOU never had an issue relating to any non-black characters, then ALL non-blacks should relate to every black character? Seriously, can you see how that reasoning is flawed? Granted, we all breathe, live, love and suffer, but it's a fact that our journey/existence is quite different. I mean, it goes without question that "comfort" comes with similar surroundings and like thinking individuals. That cannot be denied! Listen, the fact is, we are a species of "animal" called humans. If you've noticed, the overwhelming majority of animals (if not all) have a natural desire to associate/relate to those who look exactly like them. So why become "OUTRAGED" at whites who say they can't relate to some black characters on screen? They are simply saying THEY cannot relate so how wise is it to tell them that they should? That makes no sense at all.

  • Alex | March 31, 2012 7:41 PMReply

    With the Issa Rae ABG incident - and with the way she responded to that sore loser "bitches be triiiiiiiiipin" and "Racists haaaaaate me, I'm on my OJ. #ABGNation."
    Best response ever. Just keep striving - no one can take success from you if you don't deserve it.
    I'm so sick of being sad about this crap, I'm going to use this negativity to do better and shove it in their faces.

  • tony | March 30, 2012 2:57 AMReply

    What we're doing is hiring cinemas, church halls, art galleries and youth clubs then hosting film nights and screening all those films that dont get publicised or even released, We follow the film up with a Q an A with black industry officials and run workshops on the black history and the black image in media. We publish a fortnightly newsletter focusing on films which feature African diaspora stories from around the world and run media analysis classes in schools and for the general public. We encourage amateur film-makers by screening their work and get bedroom-editors to produce Hollywood blockbuster style trailers with positive black images. We also blog and write about racial disparities and stereotypes in films which do and dont get released as many people are seriously unaware of the extent of racism in media as evidenced by reaction to the Hunger Games young crackers

  • T'Challa | March 29, 2012 3:04 PMReply

    Why is this even news? White folks don't like Black folks in their movies, shocking!! Whatever, the Japanese "Hunger Games" flick was much better, and no racial "controversy" there..

  • sonofbaldwin | March 28, 2012 7:08 PMReply

    LOL @ all of you who actually think CareyCarey is a black person.

  • Traci R. | March 28, 2012 1:53 PMReply

    The cast wasn't ALL that diverse...ooh 3 blacks folks in the whole friggin' movie. And you just had to see another one of your pasty asses up on screen to be happy? Between this, Trayvon Martin and whatever fuckery happened with ABG and the Shorty Awards yesterday...White people are getting on my last damn nerve right about now.

  • J2The | March 29, 2012 3:40 PM

    TRACI!!!! You hit it on the NAIL! Haha! Oh my gosh, I'm sitting here burning up in my seat reading all of this. I just found out about this and ABG today, WHILE I was looking things up about the Trayvon's case.

    Smh... This just inspires me though....

  • Nikki Star | March 28, 2012 12:24 PMReply

    Thank you! I started in this game as an actress and then I relaized that there is more power in the pen. We have to tell our stories people, no one can tell it better than us! What are we waiting for?

  • Logic | March 29, 2012 1:59 AM

    Many of us aren't waiting. We're telling our stories. Seems to me the tough part is what comes after. There's always talk of creating a black studio/distribution system. Well how about black/PoC talent agencies to rep and promote our story tellers to go along with that? Sadly these big agencies have no pressing interest in promoting our talent as they do our white counterparts. We'll be playing second fiddle as long as we work within any aspect of their system.

  • CareyCarey | March 28, 2012 9:24 AMReply

    I AM a RACIST?! YOU ARE A RACIST! What is a racist and should we really care? I don't.

    We've been down this road before, haven't we? With a variety of celebrities, politicians and others who made inappropriate comments or jumped to conclusions about someone in a way that at least raised the possibility of racial bias... In each instance, our discourse on the event focuses on the question: is this person a racist? But does it really matter? Are the racist (or sexist or homophobic) slurs any less impactful when the person who utters them genuinely believes he doesn't have a bigoted bone in his body? Does the race-tinged perception of an individual as more suspicious (or any other stereotypical assessment) become less problematic if the person who looked through those biased lenses otherwise has the best of intentions?
    Is the threshold for avoiding a charge of prejudice really as low as having a few black friends? And, while we're at it, did you tell those black people when you befriended them that they'd be serving as your get-out-of-racism-free card? For that matter, how can we ever expect the "Is s/he a racist"? question to lead to any sort of consensus? A few years ago I and a colleague published a series of studies looking at how people define "racist" The answer? We set the bar just past where we ourselves are. So what makes someone a racist? You may not know, but you do know it's NOT YOU. Ouch... one more time... "but you know it's not YOU?" Well, this bit of insight was taken from an article by Sam Sommers, a writer at Huffington Post. I believe it just about covers every comment in this thread. Hate? Racism? Bigot? Prejudice? racial discrimination? These f*ckers? seasoned racist? Active hate versus passive hate? illiterate jackasses? little racists? New racists? Who is a racist? WHO CARES? I don't.

  • CareyCarey | March 30, 2012 8:37 AM

    @Nadine, "You pointed out quotes and offered no opposing definitive statements other than exclamations" -you. Yes, to some degree that is true. See, I've been doing this a long time and I KNOW some folks "here" get so entrenched in their own opinion that they will not be moved. Consequently, I try to refrain from continuing a line of thinking that I consider to be pointless. I can't convince you of anything, nor will I try. Therefore, I have to stand firm on MY original statements ---> "black folks have been having these same useless debates/discourse/conversations since Oscar Micheaux made his first film in 1919. AND... "these nondescript racism themed arguments are, for the most part, useless and counterproductive" AND... "I believe tv & film does not warrant all the blame and "power" that many black folks so freely give it". Now Nadine, I hope you understand why I believe it's a fool's errand to have a conversation based on and/or littered with these nefarious comments--> "Lee Daniels is a devil, Eddie Murphy is a pitiful human being". Nor am I inclined to engage in, or continue, a conversation which is obviously "bait" for like minded individuals... --->"Culturally, I wasn't raised to sit back and let a$$holes sh!t on my existence, my mother's existence or the pain, suffering and resilience of those who came before me or those who suffer with me". Nadine, we didn't start there and I am not following you there. I think I am done with this one.

  • Nadine | March 30, 2012 4:22 AM

    @CC - My statement was very basic. You pointed out quotes and offered no opposing definitive statements other than exclamations. You never found television to be close to equitable with relationship to today? There was never a Cosby Show, Fresh Prince, Living Single, In Living Color, BET with Donnie Simpson, Teen Summit...were there never Black men and women on Sesame street (cause they ain't got no chicks now)... anyone else can jump in because I just don't think this is a real argument. This "folk", right here, is getting in the way... you're damn skippy. Culturally, I wasn't raised to sit back and let a$$holes sh!t on my existence, my mother's existence or the pain, suffering and resilience of those who came before me or those who suffer with me. THAT is just not going to happen because some dude thinks, "Green is all that matters"... I didn't mention Spike, but Lee Daniels is a devil, Eddie Murphy is a pitiful human being, Tyler... well... again, I don't think this is a real argument. Are you baiting people, or do you really believe these things?

  • CareyCarey | March 28, 2012 9:45 PM

    You're correct Ali, this is not an argument because there has not been an established point of contention. However, Nadine when you make the following comments, they're are begging to be addressed ---> "When your images are skewed "negative" and those who are doing the "skewing" are shown at their best, almost ALL of the time, then there is an issue that needs to be addressed. I do think there is a gender disconnect (male individualism - female communlism) which would explain a lot of the storylines coming out of the Black filmmaking establishment". Nadine, I have to ask. Since we're referring to images on the big screen, is it correct to say the "skewed" are being "skewed" by those who are shown at the best "almost ALL of the time"? I doubt that's correct. Seriously, shown at their best ALL the time? And check this. After making that precarious statement, you switched gear and said "which would explain a lot of the storylines coming out of the Black filmmaking establishment"???. Let me continue with why I AM confused --->"When film and television was more equitable and weren't giving Blacks the middle finger, people were definitely more at ease". Nadine, I can't for the life of me think of a period when any of that was true. Consequently, my whole point in this overall conversation is, is it productive to cry, point fingers, bitch & moan about what some white folks alledgedly did in a movie theater or on-line, or in general? Seriously, black folks have been having these same useless debates/discourse/conversations since Oscar Micheaux made his first film in 1919. I bring up his name because after talking to people at The Oscar Micheaux Sociey at Duke University(white folks) and the director of the Oscar Micheaux Film Festival in Gregory, South Dakota (white man), I've come to understand that black folks (on many occasions) get in their own way and take their eyes off the real prize. You do know that many (most) of Micheaux's most vocal critics were cryin' black folks? Now here we are nearly 100 years later. A number of prominent African American filmmakers has emerged, such as Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, Robert Townsend, Eddie Murphy, Lee Daniels and Melvin Van Peebles. Films by these directors shared some of the same themes that were common in Micheaux’s... and the "beat down" continues... blacks folks crying about what they are not receiving.... "look at how Spike depicts women"... "Lee Daniel's is king of ghetto porn"... "look how Tyler makes us look"... "Eddie Murphy needs to do this and that".... "Melvin Van Peeble's "Sweetback" is the worst film ever". So, in short Nadine, these nondescript racism themed arguments are, for the most part, useless and counterproductive. Many black folks need to look in the mirror, sit down and listen.

  • Nadine | March 28, 2012 9:21 PM

    I understand. I, for some reason, am having a hard time understanding the summaries included in comments re: other posts... I'll read through the comments again.

  • Ali | March 28, 2012 8:36 PM

    There isn't an argument, Nadine. I was trying to come to an understanding of Carey was saying. I completely agree with you. :)

  • Nadine | March 28, 2012 8:20 PM

    "But, would we really spend so much time trying to see ourselves on screen, complaining about the images, counting the black faces we see on each new pilot if that wasn't somewhat true?"- Ali, I don't know... is this a real back and forth? When your images are skewed "negative" and those who are doing the "skewing" are shown at their best, almost ALL of the time, then there is an issue that needs to be addressed. I do think there is a gender disconnect (male individualism - female communlism) which would explain a lot of the storylines coming out of the Black filmmaking establishment. When film and television was more equitable and weren't giving Blacks the middle finger, people were definitely more at ease. This is like a non-argument .. what has been going on? I'm thoroughly confused by a lot of the arguments I've been seeing.

  • Jmac | March 28, 2012 2:42 PM

    No - it was implied because that's what this post is about. Now if you all want to have a different discussion on racial preferences that exclude animus and ignorance, you do that. What he/she was saying was don't bash these little non-black kids because they expected characters to all be white when that's not the whole situation, just the nice apple pie version.

  • CareyCarey | March 28, 2012 1:59 PM

    Nawl JMac, don't even try it. Cinetim did NOT say nor imply what you put in her mouth. In fact, her words----> "It is very sad and by no means a good thing, but it is true that people relate more to those of their own ethnic group. It isn't just white people: black people relate more to black characters, white people to white characters, latino people to latino characters, etc". Nowhere in her comment did she reference a specific type of "backlash". So your argument is completely different than any that hit the floor. Ali had it right.

  • CareyCarey | March 28, 2012 1:37 PM

    Ali you killed it! Thanks for saying what I didn't. I smiled when you said "If I had a nickle for all the times I heard black people say "I want to see myself on the screen... " man, I'd be rich. My man, I'd take a penny and we'd both be rich. And Ali, you caught the core of my post. I am taken aback by some of my black friends who point fingers at white folks and yell "LOOK AT THEM RACISTS. THAT's NOT ME". Hence, the line "but you know it's not YOU". So I was here to say, "REALLY???!!". Yep, again, in the end I don't care how a person defines themselves. There's an old school saying... "If it does not come out in the wash, it will surely come out in the rinse (spin cycle)"

  • jmac | March 28, 2012 1:36 PM

    @Ali - I think you're merging two different arguments/sentiments. Yes, being a minority in a majority country that reflects more of the majority in media, puts you in the position that you probably (have to) relate more to characters (and how they are written) than the race of the character. That doesn't mean you don't want to see people who look like you on screen. People like variety and to be included. Cinetim's argument is that the type of backlash that went on before and after HG re: black characters is normal and I still have to say that's BS. Most of us can enjoy a film and not walk out later saying ish like - too bad so and so was this race or I would have felt more x. We will walk out and think - it'd be cool to have this type of blockbuster with more blacks, asians, etc... It's the level of the "racial preference" these idiots displayed that is the issue - esp. with all the n-word usage. That ish was undeniably racist - if you look at the original tweets.

  • Ali | March 28, 2012 1:09 PM

    I completely get where you're coming from, Carey, because when it was brought up that all races relate to their own ethnic group more at times, people were quick to say they could watch movies with other races and cry. They said they can identify with everyone. Now, of course, you can....you're people. But, would we really spend so much time trying to see ourselves on screen, complaining about the images, counting the black faces we see on each new pilot if that wasn't somewhat true? Look, if every person on television was black, would blacks be complaining? Probably, but not because they can't identify with what they see. It would be solely on the quality. Don't people try to place some blame on reality shows for how society and black teens act? Well, if they didn't identify with the black people more, would this be a problem? If I had a nickle for all the times I heard black people say "I want to see myself on the screen...." man, I'd be rich. Even people saying we need to tell OUR stories are showing this. So, I feel you on the "but you know it's not YOU" part. It's easier for a black person to watch "white films" and identify because there are more out there.

  • CareyCarey | March 28, 2012 1:05 PM

    @HUH---Actually, I have no clue to what I'm saying.

  • CareyCarey | March 28, 2012 11:02 AM

    @ HUH?, here is what I am saying. Read it there and you will find it fair---> "a colleague published a series of studies looking at how people define "racist" The answer? We set the bar just past where we ourselves are. So what makes someone a racist? You may not know, but you do know it's NOT YOU". So HUH, I am basically saying the word "racist" does not tell the whole story. And yes, I am suggesting that there's a person inside all of us who may show favoritism to his own race, and he or she may hold selective contempt or disdain for those of a different color/race. So in essence, the proof is in the pudding, NOT THE WORD. And, who cares? Personally, I would not define myself as a "racist" but I get no pleasure out of being around white folks. As much as I can, I try to avoid them. But I know there are those in our race who love "assimilation". I am not one of them (another discussion for another day). In fact, it goes without question that I am not an advocant of interracial "unions" (another discussion for another day). Does that make me a racist? I don't know and I don't care. OKay? I hope that cures some of your confusion.

  • Huh? | March 28, 2012 10:39 AM

    What are you saying exactly? Everyone on this thread is racist for pointing out the blatant racism coming from some HG fans? Or are you saying it's pointless to point out racism? I'm truly confused.

  • Vanessa | March 28, 2012 7:53 AMReply

    I agree with Chrscoche below. Yes, I was appalled by those reactions, especially because these were young teens/adults, and I thought the new generation knew better (silly me!)..but really unless you live in a bubble, you know there's ingorant, racist idiots. Also, the film is HUGE, so many people have seen it and loved it; so in the end, it's great that black actors were cast in poignant roles. I don't recall the last blockbuster hit of this magnitude with a diverse cast like this, besides Fast Five. I'm not saying Hollywood is now color blind, or that this is proof of a post-racial society (FAR FROM IT!), but it is a positive thing. These f*ckers sure weren't expecting it. People OF ALL RACES are not used to seeing black people in mainstream film roles that you should care about period! It's really a shame that it's 2012, and it seems like it's a new trend to cast more than one actor of color in key roles in a highly anticipated big-budget film.

    Also, it is sad and scary of how more people feel the same way but they just don't tweet about it. Racism is way more subtle than what those tweets suggest. I'm glad it was addressed publicly, that those tweets were exposed, and that those a$$holes closed and/or locked their accounts. That sends a message that it's not going to be tolerated. By the way, the writer for the Jezebel article is Caucasian. We have to keep in mind, people of all races have been disgusted by the bigotry regarding the cast in this film. Anyways, if I'm going to support a Hollywood big-budget production this year, it's going to be this one.

  • Donella | March 28, 2012 2:41 PM

    Some of the more illiterate twits have been screen-captured prior to shut-down. http://jezebel.com/5896408/racist-hunger-games-fans-dont-care-how-much-money-the-vcmovie-made

  • Nadine | March 28, 2012 8:11 AM

    The Matrix was iconic and was probably the most diverse cast in a movie ever, which I think was instrumental in its success. That was 1999. Hollywood likes to play "liberal" but they play to what they think the mass White viewer audience would prefer. Wherever the politics are, so is Hollywood.

  • Chrscoche | March 28, 2012 6:54 AMReply

    A large Black cast plus misguided racial disappointment and somehow the pic still makes 200 mil in its first weekend. There's a real, overlooked message we're missing here, folks. And the lesson is a positive one.

  • LeonRaymond | March 28, 2012 12:55 AMReply

    Oh please people, come on, we act like the Klan didn't have children, and their children didn't have children, and those children didn't have friends who had more friends, who spread out through out the land and went to school with these same beliefs and learned how to cement those beliefs. And then became cool to their friends because of those beliefs and seriously took to heart even the myths of those Beliefs. And henceforth you have what is called seasoned racist. Did some one in this post state we have a lot of work to do, wow' do we!

  • B | March 27, 2012 11:53 PMReply

    I'm sorry (haven't read the book) but if the character was described as "dark-skinned," how stupid are these surprised moviegoers? Did they think that meant she had an all access life time tanning pass or some shit? I'm also not buying the theorization made in the cited academic work: "So, while a group of people may not actively hate another group." NO. When you say, "when I found out Rue was black her death wasn't as sad," that means you HATE black people. Active hate versus passive hate? That is a useless distinction, and I'm fairly certain that it is a short walk from passive hate to active hate, whatever the hell active hate means. You hate someone (or a group of people) or you don't. Period. Thinking black folks dying is less sad than white folks dying is HATE, plain and simple. I'm tired of us black folks trying to make theories about anti-black behavior and attitudes. Many people simply HATE us. It's as simple as that. The more complicated part involve the reasons for which they hate us because then we have to get into history and most of all power and money.

  • Neziah | March 27, 2012 10:11 PMReply

    Shameful....just shameful. Then again, these same people are illiterate jackasses, so they shouldn't be taken seriously. :)

  • AccidentalVisitor | March 27, 2012 8:19 PMReply

    Reading this post you would come away with the notion that the only the race of Rue led to those racist tweets. But the truth is that the actors who were picked to play Thresh and Cinna also came under scrutiny/attack by these silly individuals (although perhaps even the little racists have an argument at best when it comes to the casting of Lenny Kravitz as Cinna). Please, stop making it all about one character because that would almost suggest that racism wasn't at play in their dislike for Rue because they were fine with Thresh and Cinna. Don't give them such cover. Those individuals seem to have a probelm in general with black people having ANY prominnet role in the movie. Period.

  • ALEX | March 31, 2012 7:33 PM

    This is valid, but the fact is more tweets were targeted to Amandla Stenberg as Rue because the character is such an important one and one that readers love. So the backlash against her was very severe. Thresh was also described as dark-skinned, Cinna was racially ambiguous but I always imagined him to be of colour. I get what you're saying, you're right and the article from Jezebel points that all out, but the fact of the matter is that the majority of tweets were targeted at Stenberg's presence.

  • saadiyah | March 27, 2012 8:14 PMReply

    So much for the "racism will die out with the older folks" argument. I guess the racism vaccine that they gave out in the 60's didn't take like people expected. New racists are being made everyday to replace the old ones!

  • B | March 27, 2012 11:56 PM

    True.

  • stars | March 27, 2012 10:16 PM

    I'm diggin what you said not to mention that it's true!

  • Miles Ellison | March 27, 2012 8:07 PMReply

    I actually think that those comments were knee-jerk racist responses to seeing any black people in a "white" movie. And if these people's comments were serious, they are racist illiterates. It's clear that they didn't actually read the book. Or couldn't understand it. That is a much greater hurdle to overcome.

  • Simone | March 27, 2012 7:30 PMReply

    I 'am agree, we don't need to wait after Hollywood or anything else, we need to create movie who give a positive image of us, we need to support our own movies, when you're black, people doesn't allow you any mistakes, in France, black people who have movies role are still bad boys, they aren't good person, they plays ghetto role, thief role, they don't have classical role. Like in USA Producer explain that a film with black actor on the lead role don't make money. Thing gonna change by ourself, people like Ava Duvernay does many things to promote our cinema, in reading shadow and act i buy many DVD, i hear many good thing a bout the movies i don't know. Thank every people who try everyday to promote our cinema, i just create a web Tv call melting black siné about Afro descent film.

  • Truly Caribbean Woman | March 27, 2012 7:20 PMReply

    A. Writing my own stories.

  • stars | March 27, 2012 10:17 PM

    Go girl. Writing my own stories too!!!

  • Nicole | March 27, 2012 7:17 PMReply

    This is great Jasmin!!!

    I think the thing that shocked me the most about the HG comments was the age of the commenters. This is our "future"? We have a lot of work to do. And I understand the desire to "see yourself" in movies/tv but these commenters acted as if they OWNED the HG story. They took their disappointment to a whole new shameful(and scary) level.

    And yes, we've always needed more black writers, producers, directors, executives, etc. Spike Lee has been preaching this for decades now.

    But I have a question: do you think that by seeking race-neutral roles black actors miss rare opportunities to change the narrative of blacks on screen/in the media? For example, Neil Cross says the character of Luther has "no color"(paraphrase), which is what attracted Idris to the role. But what if the description of Luther had been a black man? Same script, same character development. Could Idris have used this as an opportunity to show a side of blacks the media rarely shows...a complicated, multi-dimensional man who also happens to be a brilliant thinker and the best at what he does?

    I hope my question makes sense. Interested to hear feedback.

  • Jasmin | March 27, 2012 7:32 PM

    The quick answer is, it depends. Regardless of how Luther may have been described, when Idris plays the character, we can't deny that he's black on screen. But it's an interesting argument, which TV writer Lena Waithe actually just addressed in a recent S&A interview. You can find that article here: http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/finding-the-new-black-lena-waithe-part-two

  • Nadine | March 27, 2012 7:26 PM

    It is also important to note that they are females.

  • Cinetim | March 27, 2012 7:07 PMReply

    It is very sad and by no means a good thing, but it is true that people relate more to those of their own ethnic group. It isn't just white people: black people relate more to black characters, white people to white characters, latino people to latino characters, etc.
    If you look at the % of each racial demographic for each movie, it correlates with the race of the protagonist. Don't just bash white people--everyone suffers from it.
    In a way, it makes sense. We like to see movies with people we identify with most. Personality, physical traits, ethnicity--they all apply.

  • CareyCarey | March 27, 2012 8:24 PM

    Well Ladies, I have to agree with CINETIM. I mean, who can dispute this very basic behavior of all living species. Sure, we're called "humans" but our basic instincts and natural survival skills demands that we relate more to those of their own ethnic group. Until we accept and understand that basic human function, we will forever continue to cry and moan and mistakenly point fingers at each other because the white man is not supporting this or that movie. Simply put, the white man could care less about black folks and their life. Heck, I'd like to believe I am openminded on racial issues and racism in general. I was not raised in a racist home. However, whenever I see 2 men of different colors in a match of wits or brawn, I always cheer for the black man. I am not saying I cannot share common emotions, but it's a fact that I do not always connect with their humor, their speech cadence, nor their penchant for fake-ass pretentious drama. Consequently, it would be unwise and unfair for me to fault them for not engratiating, nor relate, to my black existence/journey. And, I don't ever expect them to love me. So again, I wholeheartedly agree with and understand CINETIM's comment---> "We like to see movies with people we identify with most. Personality, physical traits, ethnicity--they all apply.

  • saadiyah | March 27, 2012 8:11 PM

    Nadine and Jasmine your arguments are on point. From an early age, Blacks and other minorities are presented with all kinds of images that don't look like us, yet we learn to empathize with them and of course learn about them. Contrast that with the experience of Whites, where in films, television shows, etc. POC are mostly marginalized, stereotyped, or exist only to serve the needs of the White main characters. White youth learn early that the world revolves around them and it is only their experiences that matter. It is shocking, but not surprising to hear the comments from these young people concerning the characters in The Hunger Games. It isn't a rare phenomenon either. Lots of minority movie characters (actors really) have been greeted with racism when the White masses discover their beloved assumed-to-be-White character isn't. Cho Chang (she's not WHITE!!!) in Harry Potter is another.

  • JMAC | March 27, 2012 7:37 PM

    Cosign with Nadine and Jasmin. I don't know how many times I cried over or intimately identified with a white character ... and there was never any "gosh if he/she had been black I would have felt more" sentiment afterwards. Since the racial dust up over HG was already discussed here after the posters came out, this is an old, unsurprising topic. I understand the necessity for a "follow up" though. What to do about it? Nothing to be done. Work for yourself, hope people relate, and screw the idiots who can't.

  • Nadine | March 27, 2012 7:25 PM

    It does not make sense. Did you even read the reactions or are you just having a knee-jerk protective response.

  • Nadine | March 27, 2012 7:23 PM

    I don't. I absolutely don't. What is true is that White people have not HAD TO LEARN how to identify with other types of people because they are almost always catered to. In the U.S., being of color, you couldn't tell me I wasn't Hayley Mills in the Parent trap or Pollyanna or Anita in West Side Story or Mulan. That how I got into acting at an early age. I saw differences, but that didn't make people NOT RELATABLE to me because that would just be crazy. The biggest hurdle I had to overcome in terms of identification wsa the gender hurdle, but even though I was unable to successfully traverse, I appreciated boys and movies like Stand by Me, Lost Boys, Goonies which featured guys. BECAUSE WE ARE ALL HUMAN BEINGS, we should be able to find connections everywhere because there are, but if one has been taught that no other connections matter if they cannot connect with you on this one specific level, then that "one" has a major problem and shouldn't be in any positions of power. That is what is so disgusting about it. It is not bashing white people, please stop. There are real issues and for whatever reason, you are choosing to ignore them in favor of discrimination based on individualism.

  • Jasmin | March 27, 2012 7:16 PM

    @Cinetim Actually, that's untrue. This subject has been studied ad nauseam, and even people of color have been shown to internalize negative messages about themselves based on the distorted views offered by film, television and new media.

    Try to look beyond being defensive to see that this isn't "white bashing," but highlighting a very real issue within media. It's not a "natural" thing or something that can or should be excused.

    Also, I'll say that I tend not to post op-eds for this reason - because people tend to hold fast to what they already believe. But due to the overwhelming response on this issue, we felt it should be addressed.

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