Ch01.B22 Say what?!
You’ve heard about the white washing of Hollywood and the Oscars.
You’ve probably heard about Zoe Saldana ‘blacking up’ and using a prosthetic nose to play legendary Nina Simone and the outcry it has created.
You’re probably aware that there aren’t too many indigenous or multi-cultural faces on Australian television or film.
It’s a curious thing and I certainly don’t feel like I can tackle this issue with a why or a fix-it solution. And I don’t want to upset anyone.
I recently watched a series of videos from Screenworks about taking books to screen – featuring Benjamin Law – writer of ABC’s The Family Law – first a book, then a screenplay. Groundbreaking because it’s the first time an all-Asian/Australian story and faces were seen on screen.
He points out that 1 in 4 Australians are born overseas and almost half of all Australians have at least one parent born overseas – which inherently makes us ‘diverse’. And he poignantly talks about growing up and not seeing anyone that looked like him on TV.
How many people must feel that way?
Then there’s the fact that we have one of the most ancient civilisations on the planet right here – with dreamtime stories buried deep within their culture, justifiably hidden to remain sacred to them.
We call ourselves ‘culturally diverse’ – but where are these people on our screens, in our magazines, on our radios? Not the anomaly, but just there without needing to notice it.
I don’t know how to change it. I don’t have the answer. But I’d like to know what you think about it and how we move forward from here.
I look forward to the day when we don’t have to make it a ‘thing’ – where someone is cast in a role because they can do the job (or any job) because they are the best one for it – appearance irrelevant – colour/race/skin/size.
“No one has exclusive rights over the definition of family—what it is, or it should be like.” – Benjamin Law
Where we don’t even have to write about ‘diversity’ or the lack thereof, because instead, we are equal. We don’t have to strive for a diversity quota in our media or employment sectors, because we are EQUAL. Of course, if you’re a minority it’s because there’s less – but ultimately, shouldn’t it just become an ‘is’ rather than a ‘thing’?
Probably too idealistic, but hey – I live and work in the dream-making business.
While you’re here, check out Benjamin Law’s speech from 2010, Diversity, Everyone Benefits.
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