climbing out from the valley of the shadow of school homework to rec this post:
Recognition, Codes & Box Office Draw
It is exciting to recognize something, to know what something is supposed to be, even when it’s in a new form, a new medium; even when it is a new interpretation. A lot of my own enjoyment of Batman Begins, for example, was in recognizing batarangs and other devices, as well as recognizing characters. There’s an insider’s kind of glee to see the new interpretation but know what the original looked and sounded like. There’s a bit of that involved in fanfiction as well, reading it and writing it both; though in writing it the fun is in coming up with a new interpretation whether you’re writing an AU or a ‘missed scene’ or a set of continuing adventures.
That Recognition Glee is what’s counted on when Hollywood takes inspiration from somewhere else and brings a book, tv series, comic/graphic novel to life. That’s part of why they bother to do it in the first place; because those who liked/loved it once, will WANT to see a new spin on things. Assuming the movie isn’t meant to round off a series that never properly ended, that is. Still, taking from somewhere else and bringing it to the silver screen is a unique relationship, with hesitances, false starts, supposedly good natured intentions…
Whatever term they have for it, Hollywood knows all about Recognition Glee & Recognition Rejection. And they’ve been pointing at Recognition Rejection for years when it comes to heroes and leads of colour – except the place they point to keeps changing. First it was ‘The South Won’t Show This & We Will Lose Money‘ and now it’s ‘Middle America Likes To See Itself And It Is White Or We Will Lose Money‘.
“Well we don’t want to upset people, and well, the coloureds should just be glad we’re risking putting them on screen in the first place. Look, we know what we’re doing. We’re putting coloureds in roles we know regular people can expect them in – roles that fit them, fit their place in society. That’ll get people used to seeing them up on the screen. A Chinese person as the hero? With Chinese culture everywhere?! We’d never make movies again! You can’t bring change that quickly,! People just won’t accept it! Hold your horses! Patience is the key here. Patience and calm.”
Now it’s the 21st century and we still have the Mammy/Sassy Confident, The Inscrutable Servant or Villain, The Hot Spicy Cha Cha and all those other stereotypes that ‘fit their place in society‘; those stereotypes that bring their own Recognition Glee – for white viewers and Recognition Rejection, for PoC sick and tired of narrowed and negative associations.
Hollywood might be a place with individual struggling artists. But the people in power aren’t poor struggling producers/movie studio moguls/directors/investors. No. What they are, is soaking in greed and cowardice and have been for so long as an industry they barely know anything different. They’re the ones who created the concepts of the ‘general audience’, and ‘relatability’ as a sugar coat for racism and white superiority. They’re the ones who have the movie industry set up so that equal time equals segregation (black movies, kung fu imports, foreign stuff, foreign brown stuff).
And then, every time Recognition Glee does happen with an audience for a lead/hero of colour, they’re the ones calling the phenomena a one off and an exception.MORE
*sinks back under the wave of essays*
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