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Author Topic: TV/Film: Miss peregrine's and representation. (spoilers!!!!)  (Read 2740 times)

mandrina

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Miss peregrine's and representation. (spoilers!!!!)
« on: October 06, 2016, 10:08:29 am »
I went to see Miss Peregrines home for secular children last night.  I have NOT read the book, but I think I will. However, I remember seeing an open letter to Tim Burton by a POC that made me think.  I'm a white middle-class american woman, widowed after 23 years of marriage, and I've started dating again, but the man lives 3 hours from me, so most of our interaction is online, and he is far to the right of me politically, but tolerant at least for female company.

The gist of this letter is "Tim, you had the chance to make this diverse, given the set up, there would have been no difficulty making any of the children or the adults black english or indian english or whatever english (although the hero's grandfather is polish, so that adult role was pretty set), but no, the only nonwhite in the entire story is Samuel Jackson, as the villain.  How could you crush a fan like this and I am disappointed, to put it mildly."

I mentioned this and he mentioned that he had bingewatched Luke Cage the other night and there is only like 10 nonblack people in the series, but since it is based in Haarlem, that makes sense and he doesn't complain as to why is it more diverse. 

His comment is right, BUT.  I'll lay odds, (but I haven't watched Luke Cage), that the white people in the series are not exclusively villains.  And that's where the trouble comes in.  And even if they are, that actually makes more sense than the opposite situation in Miss Peregrins. 

Anyone else have any comments.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2019, 05:26:02 pm by RandallS »
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Re: Miss peregrine's and representation. (spoilers!!!!)
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2016, 10:40:42 am »
Quote from: mandrina;197171
I mentioned this and he mentioned that he had bingewatched Luke Cage the other night and there is only like 10 nonblack people in the series, but since it is based in Haarlem, that makes sense and he doesn't complain as to why is it more diverse.  

His comment is right, BUT.  I'll lay odds, (but I haven't watched Luke Cage), that the white people in the series are not exclusively villains.  And that's where the trouble comes in.  And even if they are, that actually makes more sense than the opposite situation in Miss Peregrins.  

Anyone else have any comments.

 
So, basically, he wants a cookie for not having a 'But what about the white guys?!?' tantrum.

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Re: Miss peregrine's and representation. (spoilers!!!!)
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2016, 11:02:19 am »
Quote from: mandrina;197171
I went to see Miss Peregrines home for secular children last night.  I have NOT read the book, but I think I will. However, I remember seeing an open letter to Tim Burton by a POC that made me think.  I'm a white middle-class american woman, widowed after 23 years of marriage, and I've started dating again, but the man lives 3 hours from me, so most of our interaction is online, and he is far to the right of me politically, but tolerant at least for female company.

The gist of this letter is "Tim, you had the chance to make this diverse, given the set up, there would have been no difficulty making any of the children or the adults black english or indian english or whatever english (although the hero's grandfather is polish, so that adult role was pretty set), but no, the only nonwhite in the entire story is Samuel Jackson, as the villain.  How could you crush a fan like this and I am disappointed, to put it mildly."

I mentioned this and he mentioned that he had bingewatched Luke Cage the other night and there is only like 10 nonblack people in the series, but since it is based in Haarlem, that makes sense and he doesn't complain as to why is it more diverse.  

His comment is right, BUT.  I'll lay odds, (but I haven't watched Luke Cage), that the white people in the series are not exclusively villains.  And that's where the trouble comes in.  And even if they are, that actually makes more sense than the opposite situation in Miss Peregrins.  

Anyone else have any comments.

 
A complete non-issue that people like to whine about.

mandrina

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Re: Miss peregrine's and representation. (spoilers!!!!)
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2016, 12:09:02 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;197173
So, basically, he wants a cookie for not having a 'But what about the white guys?!?' tantrum.

Sunflower

 
its' more of he's dismissing the concerns of the letter writer, also pointing out that the place in the movie is WWII era wales, so most of the characters would be white and the diversity is not important.
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mandrina

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Re: Miss peregrine's and representation. (spoilers!!!!)
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2016, 12:11:06 pm »
Quote from: Castus;197176
A complete non-issue that people like to whine about.

 
i'm not sure that it's a non issue, given the consumption of media.  It's better than it used to be, but there is still a lack of black people in the media, especially non villainous black males.
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Re: Miss peregrine's and representation. (spoilers!!!!)
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2016, 07:00:48 pm »
Quote from: mandrina;197171

The gist of this letter is "Tim, you had the chance to make this diverse, given the set up, there would have been no difficulty making any of the children or the adults black english or indian english or whatever english (although the hero's grandfather is polish, so that adult role was pretty set), but no, the only nonwhite in the entire story is Samuel Jackson, as the villain.  How could you crush a fan like this and I am disappointed, to put it mildly."

I mentioned this and he mentioned that he had bingewatched Luke Cage the other night and there is only like 10 nonblack people in the series, but since it is based in Haarlem, that makes sense and he doesn't complain as to why is it more diverse.  

 
Luke Cage having a mostly black cast is accurate to time period and real-world setting.  Anyone who qualms over this is, imo, just looking for something to bitch about.  

Now, with Miss Peregrine... I've only read part of the book (yes, it's great, and I will see the movie) but if I recall correctly, it's set in a remote British (Welsh?) rural village.  The period is present-day, but many key players (mild spoiler) never left the 1940s. So, is it a real stretch for characters to be whiter than flour?  I'm thinking... no.  Now, if the setting were modern London, there'd be a different conversation.
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Re: Miss peregrine's and representation. (spoilers!!!!)
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2016, 07:30:13 pm »
Quote from: MadZealot;197191


Now, with Miss Peregrine... I've only read part of the book (yes, it's great, and I will see the movie) but if I recall correctly, it's set in a remote British (Welsh?) rural village.  The period is present-day, but many key players (mild spoiler) never left the 1940s. So, is it a real stretch for characters to be whiter than flour?  I'm thinking... no.  Now, if the setting were modern London, there'd be a different conversation.


Yes it is set in Wales ( or a version of Wales that exists in the novelists imagination!)
 
There were black people living in Cardiff (modern capital of Wales) prior to WW2 but outside the city, in the rural areas it would have been unlikely that there would have been many, if any at all. For the cast of Miss Peregrine's in the 1940s  to be white is true to the time and place.

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Re: Miss peregrine's and representation. (spoilers!!!!)
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2016, 02:43:04 am »
Quote from: MadZealot;197191
Luke Cage having a mostly black cast is accurate to time period and real-world setting.  Anyone who qualms over this is, imo, just looking for something to bitch about.  

 
It's also true to the source material, so anyone bitching over it doesn't understand the comics at all.
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Re: Miss peregrine's and representation. (spoilers!!!!)
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2016, 05:47:53 am »
Quote from: mandrina;197178
its' more of he's dismissing the concerns of the letter writer, also pointing out that the place in the movie is WWII era wales, so most of the characters would be white and the diversity is not important.
I'm not entirely sure how he can saliently dismiss the concerns of a letter-writer for Miss Peregrine's specifically by...talking about Luke Cage. It's like saying, "Blech, these fries are soggy," and having someone else reply, "I don't mind carrot sticks." Uh, what does that have to do with anything? Is that a solution they're offering? Does a different angle bring any insight to the fries situation, or health in general? What's going on, here?
 
If this were a more thematic conversation for which these two media portrayals could be made an example, I would have some thoughts. For instance, these are media portrayals, so arguments for historical accuracy...actually, I don't consider those salient points either. I thought those in even the better-funded visual media always had set/costume designers and cinematographers do concept art, often researching on a deadline and grabbing whatever's been used in some other work from the props-and-costumes cabinet then shooting it all in a way that they hope the audience doesn't notice.

So it can be either bothersome or entertaining to have a history major in your group of moviegoing DVD-binging friends, because they'll do things like sniff at the wasteful use of candles in a Shakespearean flick where everybody else--cinematographer, director, and audience alike--knows that we'd rather be able to see the actors' faces in a visual medium. That's one example. There are so very many examples. So very many: anachronistic turns of phrase, fabrics, makeup, customs of courtesy, what the food looks like, all always always always so very wrong in some way according to the latest research (that most people making or watching the movie can't be bothered to keep up with.) So really, really nothing we modern folk make to watch, and then watch...is ever going to be historically accurate.

Maybe more interesting are the inaccuracies we'll tolerate, or what we're trained to consider inaccurate. Apparently there's always a kerfuffle when someone casts a black American actor to play Lancelot...because it's historically inaccurate? Okay, I'm thinking of when they cast somebody American, so a posh English accent is going to be fake, and the accent probably does not even exist in the 5th century. That's not what's the complaint, though, nor the anachronistic plate armor and architecture, even though that's as inaccurate as the thing that gets complained about: that Lancelot's black. Which isn't all that inaccurate because there's medieval art out there that sometimes shows black European knights, evidently a minority in that field, but it's not as though it didn't ever happen.

On the other hand, we might easily accept a black Cleopatra, because she's Egyptian and Egypt is in Africa and everyone in Africa is black except for Capetown, right? Nope, historian friend says Cleopatra's from the Ptolomy line and might have been more likely a sort of Mediterranean white, and anthropologist friend shows me a gallery of different African peoples for whom the facial features set them as far apart from one another as Malay to South Asian Indian. I just want to watch HBO's Rome already.

So even if Miss Peregrine's home is somewhere in Wales in the 1940s...I think the main character might be imagining it all as a way to cope with the trauma of learning that his grandfather wasn't the greatest most perfect person in the world. So, yeah, sure, in the film adaptation that doesn't go right for the old photographs gimmick of the book, why not cast Karen David (the ethnically hard to pin down actress from Galavant)  as Miss Peregrine? (Search engine results tell me she's Indian and Jewish, not an overly common combination but I'd say definitely fits the story or would add an interesting dimension if that got brought in even subtly.) Or why not have Bronwyn as a tomboyish Chinese girl, and consider that casting a film-long audition for Toph in a better adaptation?

Because white people are just better-looking all the time and just consistently more interesting and more worthwhile to pay attention to? That's not a problem in the world at all, hum-ho, nooneenoo. Really, though, I'd consider these discussions around media portrayals as the most accessible platform, and the fact that it's fiction makes it safe to examine even if the issue itself is volatile. Maybe I can't claim that it's both safe and effective (to change aspects of a fictional medium, and make some sort of statement; representation isn't inherently commentary) so I'm still figuring that out, because I believe good stories done well and right can be phenomenally fulfilling and that is powerful...but at the same time, I consider entertainment media (especially mainstream rather than indie) as products of society more than creators of a new society. So, I wouldn't want to blame a thermometer for not being a radiator.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2016, 05:49:52 am by Faemon »
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mandrina

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Re: Miss peregrine's and representation. (spoilers!!!!)
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2016, 08:26:16 am »
Quote from: Faemon;197207
I'm not entirely sure how he can saliently dismiss the concerns of a letter-writer for Miss Peregrine's specifically by...talking about Luke Cage. It's like saying, "Blech, these fries are soggy," and having someone else reply, "I don't mind carrot sticks." Uh, what does that have to do with anything? Is that a solution they're offering? Does a different angle bring any insight to the fries situation, or health in general? What's going on, here?
 
If this were a more thematic conversation for which these two media portrayals could be made an example, I would have some thoughts. For instance, these are media portrayals, so arguments for historical accuracy...actually, I don't consider those salient points either. I thought those in even the better-funded visual media always had set/costume designers and cinematographers do concept art, often researching on a deadline and grabbing whatever's been used in some other work from the props-and-costumes cabinet then shooting it all in a way that they hope the audience doesn't notice.

So it can be either bothersome or entertaining to have a history major in your group of moviegoing DVD-binging friends, because they'll do things like sniff at the wasteful use of candles in a Shakespearean flick where everybody else--cinematographer, director, and audience alike--knows that we'd rather be able to see the actors' faces in a visual medium. That's one example. There are so very many examples. So very many: anachronistic turns of phrase, fabrics, makeup, customs of courtesy, what the food looks like, all always always always so very wrong in some way according to the latest research (that most people making or watching the movie can't be bothered to keep up with.) So really, really nothing we modern folk make to watch, and then watch...is ever going to be historically accurate.

Maybe more interesting are the inaccuracies we'll tolerate, or what we're trained to consider inaccurate. Apparently there's always a kerfuffle when someone casts a black American actor to play Lancelot...because it's historically inaccurate? Okay, I'm thinking of when they cast somebody American, so a posh English accent is going to be fake, and the accent probably does not even exist in the 5th century. That's not what's the complaint, though, nor the anachronistic plate armor and architecture, even though that's as inaccurate as the thing that gets complained about: that Lancelot's black. Which isn't all that inaccurate because there's medieval art out there that sometimes shows black European knights, evidently a minority in that field, but it's not as though it didn't ever happen.

On the other hand, we might easily accept a black Cleopatra, because she's Egyptian and Egypt is in Africa and everyone in Africa is black except for Capetown, right? Nope, historian friend says Cleopatra's from the Ptolomy line and might have been more likely a sort of Mediterranean white, and anthropologist friend shows me a gallery of different African peoples for whom the facial features set them as far apart from one another as Malay to South Asian Indian. I just want to watch HBO's Rome already.

So even if Miss Peregrine's home is somewhere in Wales in the 1940s...I think the main character might be imagining it all as a way to cope with the trauma of learning that his grandfather wasn't the greatest most perfect person in the world. So, yeah, sure, in the film adaptation that doesn't go right for the old photographs gimmick of the book, why not cast Karen David (the ethnically hard to pin down actress from Galavant)  as Miss Peregrine? (Search engine results tell me she's Indian and Jewish, not an overly common combination but I'd say definitely fits the story or would add an interesting dimension if that got brought in even subtly.) Or why not have Bronwyn as a tomboyish Chinese girl, and consider that casting a film-long audition for Toph in a better adaptation?

Because white people are just better-looking all the time and just consistently more interesting and more worthwhile to pay attention to? That's not a problem in the world at all, hum-ho, nooneenoo. Really, though, I'd consider these discussions around media portrayals as the most accessible platform, and the fact that it's fiction makes it safe to examine even if the issue itself is volatile. Maybe I can't claim that it's both safe and effective (to change aspects of a fictional medium, and make some sort of statement; representation isn't inherently commentary) so I'm still figuring that out, because I believe good stories done well and right can be phenomenally fulfilling and that is powerful...but at the same time, I consider entertainment media (especially mainstream rather than indie) as products of society more than creators of a new society. So, I wouldn't want to blame a thermometer for not being a radiator.


Spoiler, the movie did go straight for the black and white photographs, but it's not like those are the originals from the 'original true story."  
Fiction, particular not 'we're trying to be somewhat historically accurate here, this is supposed to be realistic historical fiction' type things, are, to my feeling, an opportunity for the thermometer to showoff it's radiator parts.  Could have been (should have been done) in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I kinda think that we should do this where it can be done.  For example, the original Lavender Brown in the 1st movie was black, but once she became a speaking character, she morphed into this curly headed white girl, but like Hermione, race was never specified in the book.  A few characters were racially identified, Padma and Parvati, Lee Jordan, and Ron and his family, for example, everyone else is pretty much up for grabs. if we mix it up where race doesn't matter to the story, it'll stop being commentary and just be.  People and Society can't change habits without effort, but new habits can be established so that they continue with minimum effort, and there are a lot of habits our society needs to change.  So I think is if we can without messing with the story, we should.  Sometimes it will mess with the story.  Roots doesn't work if Kunte Kinte is white and the southern master is black.  But a lot of time it doesn't matter, it;s just risky, but some of the really big directorrs, like Burton, it will be less risky.  


At the same Time, I can't dictate to Tim Burton, other than with my money and a letter why Im not spending it on his movie,
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Re: Miss peregrine's and representation. (spoilers!!!!)
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2016, 10:42:52 am »
Quote from: mandrina;197210
Spoiler, the movie did go straight for the black and white photographs, but it's not like those are the originals

Ah, thank you. I should have clarified that I haven't watched the movie.

Quote
I kinda think that we should do this where it can be done...People and Society can't change habits without effort, but new habits can be established so that they continue with minimum effort, and there are a lot of habits our society needs to change.  So I think is if we can without messing with the story, we should.

Sometimes it will mess with the story.  Roots doesn't work if Kunte Kinte is white and the southern master is black.  But a lot of time it doesn't matter, it;s just risky, but some of the really big directorrs, like Burton, it will be less risky.

Indeed, you'd think reinforcing hegemonic powers would at least get boring. But most people just get so used to it that they really can't think of it any other way than it's been done before, or even get upset when there's suggestions or examples of something new.

Quote
if we mix it up where race doesn't matter to the story, it'll stop being commentary and just be.

This comment reminded me of how they did raceblind casting for the Hamilton musical, although of course being a retelling of the historical life of Alexander Hamilton, slavery and racism were brought up in the story as major issues of the time. Quotes I like about that come from Leslie Odom, who mentioned that better than raceblind casting are stories that are about those who embody major playing characters. Christopher Jackson mentioned a moment after Hamilton's widow (played by Philippa Soo) committed to speaking out against slavery, which Washington never did, so he played Washington as realizing this and bowing his head in shame. As Washington, he got to own that, and step down from glory that he didn't earn from fighting for justice. All varied and (in my opinion) brilliant perspectives. It can come off as complex to analyze, perhaps easier for a work to just be.

That is something I've wondered, too, how to really celebrate diversity without the context of oppression. Disabilities, for instance, in myths I've written for the Otherfaith, the disability in question comes from injury or trauma to a specific character, and I write it as a Bad Thing that's highlighted and explored that way. With the Faery Princess Irene, it started out sort of like the "blind seer" motif of irony, like "wisdom is the reward for listening when you'd rather have talked and now you cannot talk Irene so you absolutely must become wise" but I hope it developed the more subversive angle of "nuh-uh, if Irene can't communicate, society has to be the one to change so that Irene can communicate" and then the society does. Contrasting this with the god Clarene who (in the rest of the body of canon/fanon) has no legs and no problem, never did have such a problem...and I regret not showing that more, because I haven't the instinct or experience as to how, although the cosmology of Western Faery right now is very much a sandbox so it's not as though I have an excuse not to show comfort and pride of divine bodies that we corporeal human people might consider crippled. But if it's not an issue, then I'm less inclined to mention it in a way that sticks (unlike with Irene, where it's a constant,) possibly leaving able-bodied people inclined to envision the Clarene as able-bodied, which wouldn't be accurate to the mythology.

I remember reading an essay by Whoopi Goldberg about how much she loved reading Regency era romances as a kid, because nothing suggested that the characters weren't black. Contrast that with Chimamanda Adichie's "Danger of a Single Story" TEDtalk, where she never conceived of writing stories about her own experience and those of fellow Nigerians until Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye did. (Or, well, Laye's from Guinea.)

I finally got a copy of one of Adichie's short story collections, and my favorite thing about her writing was how it conveyed the lives of African people neither playing to stereotype nor meeting popularly bandied-about demands for explicitness. The latter, I can understand the arguable necessity for theoretically as a guideline, but personally consider appallingly ethnocentric and even oppressive at times, in some discussions where it becomes the one true only proper way to representation.
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