Yes yes, y’all! Actor and graphic novelist Erika Alexander (you may know her as Living Single’s Maxine Shaw) approached the R to cross-post the very first post on her blog, Showbiz Is Glamorous—and we were thrilled to do so!!!
Check it out:
Why did I write an episode of Mad Men with Negroes? And by that I mean with “Negro” characters in it, not with.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Anyway, why did I write an episode of TV that I know will never be made?
ThoughI work as an actress and have pitched and sold a television series or two in my time in Hollywood, I’m not a writer on Mad Men, so this episode won’t appear anywhere but here. Why, then? And why negroes? Aren’t we finished with all that? In honor of the Season 6 premiere, let me tell you about it.
I like Mad Men. A lot. I like the subject matter (advertising); I like the cast (Don Draper is hot); I like the look (sexy Eames meets Op Art); I like the writing (Matthew Weiner is a storytelling beast). I love the writing.
I have only one issue with Mad Men (OK, with a bunch of shows, but let’s stick with this one): I’d love to see more diversity. I’m a Black actress, so diversity is an issue that comes up for me. A lot. Mad Men, Game Of Thrones, Girls, Veep–these are cool shows, except for the fact that they would really rock with more people of color, series regulars or otherwise. I complain, wtf?…and bemoan, WTF!…but alas, for all my years in TV, I’m not able to make a difference in my own living room. Or am I?
[T]here’s a very clear utilization of offensiveness in pornography, to some the idea of a pornographic film that doesn’t intentionally offend the viewers taste is useless. As a society we’ve fetishized the very idea of being offensive for offensiveness sake. A movie like Slant Eye For the White Guy might not actually ever refer to the Asian women as slurs durring the scene, but the taboo attached to “yellow fever” itself is part of the fetish being served to consumers. If any of the parties involved were trying to insult their audience like many porn films aim to do that would be entirely different that defending yellow face as completely innocent.
There were no such Asian Americans in the Walking Dead parody. The people who had the power decided to go with yellowface and are continuing to defend it. Interestingly, according to actor Danny Wylde in his apology, the role of Glenn was the last to be cast and not being familiar with the show he wasn’t even aware that he would be playing an Asian- American. After seeing himself in make up , he raise questions about racism. The reaction was mostly laughter.
Wylde was cast because he was already an considered an acceptable performer. Every person involved has mentioned that the casting was inevitable because the ONE Asian man in porn either wasn’t available, wasn’t Korean, or just wasn’t considered. Pistol and Warren weakly argue that people would have been just as upset if Keni Styles would be cast–something I highly doubt as the British Thai actor is somewhat of a Asian American folk hero and favorite among female viewers. He’s also one of the first award winning performers in the United States, but far from the first or the only Asian male doing straight porn. No one mentions actors from websites such as Asian-Man.com , Shelovesasiancock.com or PhuckFuMasters.com, the latter having 3 Asian, and Asian American male performers. Even more telling , no one mentioned the idea of finding a Korean American actor for the role.
Pistol smugly tells an Asian American actress vocally opposed to his film that if she could bring him a “a hung Korean American that can act” he would be open to using him in the sequel. If there was any actual interest in finding Asian talent, why didn’t he do that in the first place. It’s a low blow to tell a underrepresented and often looked over group that the reason they’re invisible is no one is bringing them to the light, but then shutting off that light when they actually have a chance present themselves.
Warren, Pistol and Wylde all write that there are plenty of stereotypical portrayals of Asians in American porn, they are absolutely correct. There are stereotypical and negative portrayals of every group, but what is uniquely lacking for Asian Americans is options. Black and Latinos can find content created with the intent to be consumed by Blacks and Latinos without racist overtones. Lesbians that are sick of seeing female sexuality performed for hetersexual male fantasy can check out Girlfriends Films. Buck Angel created Sexing the Transman for the often ignored female to male transgendered population to feel celebrated. If Asian Americans, want to see non-objectified Asian American sexuality performed by Asian American men and women together, where are the choices? If Asian American men want to see a reflection of themselves perform on screen where can they turn?"
— N’Jaila Rhee, “Yellowface And Asian America’s Porn Problem,” BlasianBytch.com 2/5/13
From Hyphen Magazine:
“New show alert! Monday Mornings premiered last week (fittingly, on Monday), and not only is it based on the novel by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, it also introduced us to two Asian American characters: Dr. Sydney Napur, played by Sarayu Rao, and Dr. Sung Park, played by Keong Sim(the eagle-eyed among you will recognize the latter as Mike Chang’s dad on Glee). It really warms the cockles of my cold heart to see a medical show that’s not only created and produced by an Indian American doctor, but also features two prominent Asian American leads and many Asian American background characters. How refreshing to not only see so many APAs at once, but to also see them representing a field that is FILLED with Asian Americans — you don’t get that too often on television (I’m not overlooking you, Sandra Oh and Daniel Henney — RIP, Three Rivers). “
Perhaps it doesn’t seem like the biggest of deals, but our willingness to accept the casting of anyone with a tan as a
generic ethnic/exotic look is what got us Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl (A Mighty Heart), Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin (Iron Man 3), and Janina Gavankar as Luna Garza (True Blood). People of color aren’t as interchangeable as Hollywood would like us to believe, but Infinitely Polar Bear‘s casting calls prove that that belief has yet to successfully challenged.
Beck reminds us that this systematic problem in casting doesn’t boil down to the idea that all directors, producers, and casting directors are evil racists that need to be stopped. Yeah, something needs to be stopped, but it goes beyond shaking up the people making decisions. We need to shake up our school of thought. We need to stop finding excuses and loopholes for monochromatic casting, even if that means that I crawl through breakdowns every day with the sole purpose of publicly shaming those who deserve it. We need to stop defaulting to white."
— Well, if you ever wondered about the mechanics of casting—and how Hollywood casting directors, producers, and directors miss the boat on casting people of color—Racialicious staffer Kendra James demystifies the process in a new column called “The Racialicious Casting Couch.”
“Every time I go see the comic book movie and I have a 3 year-old son and he’s always telling me he wants to be Spider-Man or Captain America. It’s unfair for little black kids not to have a superhero to look up to.
“When I got the call about the Falcon that was a no brainer. I feel that this is for a whole generation who has the opportunity to know a superhero like we did. We grew up with Spawn and Meteor Man. Every kid had a pot or can and thought they were Meteor Man, so I’m excited for a bunch of kids to say that I’m the Falcon.”"