People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

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General_Norris
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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby General_Norris » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:53 pm UTC

somebody already took it wrote:That "I prefer" describes emotions and "I only go for" describes actions does nothing to invalidate casiguapa's criticism of "I prefer" being used in order to signify "I only go for".


Well if you prefer fish to meat why would you eat meat when you have fish avalible? You can't date everyone even if you liked to, why choose a subpar option and make yourself less happy?

Again, why is this different from dating only girls or handome men? This is the question you must answer.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby melonisms » Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:47 pm UTC

Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Feb 21, 2010 12:13 pm UTC
I'm just going to say, if you date people due to physical appearance, that there is a lot lacking in the relationship. But then again, some relationships are just chosen out of preference. It does not mean it will fail or succeed, just that your cutting out many possible mates. For example not liking a hair colour. Which IMHO means nothing to the relationship or is worth any considerations what so ever.


People date people "due to physical appearance", and NOT doing so would make a lot lack in your relationship. If you aren't attracted to how someone looks, how are you going to initiate and maintain a passionate relationship? Even if there is an underlying racial preference for your decision to date someone, wouldn't that be better than forcing yourself to date someone (perhaps of another race?) who may be very compatible personality wise, but who you are not attracted to physically? I think podbaydoor had an interesting point along the same line:



Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

New postby podbaydoor » Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:48 pm UTC
I said this before and it may come off as simplistic, but...what makes you happy in your pants makes you happy in your pants. You try consciously altering your perceptions of what's attractive to you. That's a pretty damn instinctive reaction, therefore pretty damn difficult to alter.

I'm pretty open about dating different ethnicities/races, but there are certain body types and facial characteristics I don't like, and if people of a certain ethnicity tend to possess those characteristics, well then, I'm probably not going to date them. For example, I don't like hairy upper torsos, and in my experience Indian/South Asian men tend to have really hairy upper torsos. I'm probably not going to date or marry one. (Though if I were to come across an Indian/South Asian guy with a smooth body...)

Yeah, maybe that's shallow. But I've already tried that and honestly, coming to terms with the fact that I don't like hairy upper torsos is a lot better than gritting my teeth and having sex with someone I'm frankly not attracted to just because of some high-minded worry about whether I'm being [preference]ist or not. Trying to force attraction to someone you're not attracted to pretty much sucks big time.



I remember reading somewhere that people in happy, long lasting relationships tend to have similar faces, eluding to the fact that people are attracted to people who look like..well, themselves! (This was a BBC news story, but I'm too lazy to retrieve it.) If this is generally true, as the study suggested, then it might explain why our dating practices can seem "racist"- maybe people of your own race tend to share more facial features with you, and that's why you're subconsciously more attracted to them. It's not to say though that its impossible for a Caucasian man to meet a woman from East Asian descent who shares many facial characteristics with him and be attracted to her. But it might be less likely than if that same Caucasian man met a Caucasian woman who looks like him and who he is attracted to.

Just sayin'.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:43 pm UTC

What? Currently my dating track record is all white guys and one half-Filipino. I've yet to meet an East Asian guy I wanted to be in a relationship with. So...yeah.
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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Peter Galbavy » Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:32 pm UTC

I think a lot of this comes from the difference between equality of opportunity and the wider, vanilla definition of equality.

For example if a dating site refused business from someone becasue of their race, sexual orientation etc. then that would be denying that person the opportunity to interact with other members. There is no guarentee that an out-and-out Satanist would get any responses on an openly Christian dating site, but... IMHO Expressing a personal preference to what makes someone else attractive is one area that must be off limits to anti-discimination frameworks else we really are lost as a society.

That does raise another question though; where do we draw the line ? In personal relationships it seems pretty fair that we can express preferences but what about someone being sent to repair your washing machine ? Can you ask a female engineer to leave because you think that she will not have the same engineering competence as a man ? Can the company providing the service then refuse to do further business with you ? Should they ? What if it's a warranty ?

This degenerates pretty quickly into stupidity and I would be interested to know how this can be reconciled ?

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Sharlos » Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:44 pm UTC

Peter Galbavy wrote:That does raise another question though; where do we draw the line ? In personal relationships it seems pretty fair that we can express preferences but what about someone being sent to repair your washing machine ? Can you ask a female engineer to leave because you think that she will not have the same engineering competence as a man ? Can the company providing the service then refuse to do further business with you ? Should they ? What if it's a warranty ?

I don't think it raises that question at all. Who someone is sexually attracted to is no-ones business at all. Even if they ARE racist, would you really force them to date someone who they believe is inferior because of their race?
When it comes to a working environment the situation is significantly changed, having a job without needing to fear about discrimination is important to living a productive life, just as dating someone who you don't hate is also important.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby General_Norris » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:08 pm UTC

Can you ask a female engineer to leave because you think that she will not have the same engineering competence as a man ?


No because her sex is unrelated to her ability when it comes to engineering while beauty is related to the happiness you experience in a relationship. If you are not attracted to your mate then it's a pretty poor relationship.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Peter Galbavy » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:50 pm UTC

OK, but is there a grey area ? Where does the line between personal preference and discrimination go ?

In films and theatre it seems reasonable that you only cast an actor who matches the sex, race, age etc. description of the character and that you should protected against charges of discrimination being brought. But why ? To bring this back at a tangent to "dating" what about clients and workers at a brothel in those places where they are a legal business and employer ? Can either party discriminate based on race or sex and it be considered "right" ?

In the UK there is at least one car insurance company that claims to sell exclusively to women (Sheilas Wheels). While risk profiles may make this a sensible commercial proposition, could they refuse me for being a man ? Can they work around the law by simply upping the premium to a ridiculous level and claiming I have a risk profile that justifies it ?

I am curious what other people think - not necessarly know of the law in various countries.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby ianf » Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:17 pm UTC

Peter Galbavy wrote:In films and theatre it seems reasonable that you only cast an actor who matches the sex, race, age etc. description of the character and that you should protected against charges of discrimination being brought.


Actually, I feel that such castings are often racist. For most characters, where race is not specified, the default is assumed to be "white" - even though there is no reason for this to be the case. Thus black actors (for example) are only cast where the character is specifically black (usually because of something critical to the plot - e.g. Halle Berry in Monster's Ball).

Even when white characters are specified by the script, that is often the same "white is the default" being applied to the writing process rather than the casting process.

There are white characters (e.g. the lead in a movie about the Mafia), black characters (e.g. the lead in a movie about Idi Amin) and characters who could be from any race (e.g. a pilot in an airline movie). And it is this latter case where white actors are usually chosen, even though there is no need for this.

Admittedly this is changing now for the top male actors (like WIll Smith and Denzel Washington) but it is still a big issue outside that small set of superstar actors.

And this then raises other issues, which brings us back to racism and mate preferences (to get back on topic). If Will Smith is the lead character in a movie and he is in a relationship with a lead female character, then the studios think very carefully about who to cast as the lead female character. They feel that they cannot cast a white actress, because they fear the loss of sales in certain states/countries. They also feel they cannot cast a black actress, because then the movie will be perceived as a "black film" and they will lose sales because of this. So they go for "black but not too black", maybe a Latina (like Eva Mendes in Hitch).

I've kind of lost where I was going with this, but I think that I'm saying that if we saw more interracial relationships in the media as normal (and not as plot devices) then people would be more ready to date without thinking about race.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Peter Galbavy » Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:40 pm UTC

ianf wrote:
Peter Galbavy wrote:And this then raises other issues, which brings us back to racism and mate preferences (to get back on topic). If Will Smith is the lead character in a movie and he is in a relationship with a lead female character, then the studios think very carefully about who to cast as the lead female character. They feel that they cannot cast a white actress, because they fear the loss of sales in certain states/countries. They also feel they cannot cast a black actress, because then the movie will be perceived as a "black film" and they will lose sales because of this. So they go for "black but not too black", maybe a Latina (like Eva Mendes in Hitch).

I've kind of lost where I was going with this, but I think that I'm saying that if we saw more interracial relationships in the media as normal (and not as plot devices) then people would be more ready to date without thinking about race.


Very much agreed. Also, in 99.9% of action films only "good" characters who are women are allowed to fight women. "Good" men cannot fight back against "evil" women. e.g. The TV series Chuck as an example.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby BlackSails » Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:54 pm UTC

Peter Galbavy wrote:Very much agreed. Also, in 99.9% of action films only "good" characters who are women are allowed to fight women. "Good" men cannot fight back against "evil" women. e.g. The TV series Chuck as an example.


Dollhouse. Battlestar Galatica. James Bond. Off the top of my head, there are more.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Chen » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:14 pm UTC

ianf wrote:I've kind of lost where I was going with this, but I think that I'm saying that if we saw more interracial relationships in the media as normal (and not as plot devices) then people would be more ready to date without thinking about race.


I'm sure in some areas the race of the person you're dating, regardless of any physical characteristics of said race, are an important consideration. This is almost certainly a cultural effect. That said, in places where interracial couplings are common place and not looked at very differently, you'll likely still see people making choices based on the physical characteristics that certain races have and do not have. If you absolutely do not find people with dark hair attractive, a large % of Asians will likely not be attractive to you. Its not necessarily the fact that they are Asian that would make you not want to date them but rather a characteristic that is common among Asians.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby bvih » Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:12 am UTC

ianf wrote:I've kind of lost where I was going with this, but I think that I'm saying that if we saw more interracial relationships in the media as normal (and not as plot devices) then people would be more ready to date without thinking about race.


One thing to note: there are more Asian females paired with white guys than Asian guys in American media. Hollywood's pretty messed up in general regarding racism/sexism issues anyhow, which has a lot to do with public perception and understanding of these issues.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby ianf » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:59 pm UTC

bvih wrote:One thing to note: there are more Asian females paired with white guys than Asian guys in American media. Hollywood's pretty messed up in general regarding racism/sexism issues anyhow, which has a lot to do with public perception and understanding of these issues.


I would think that Hollywood's casting reflects what it thinks will put the most bums on seats. It thinks that a pairing of an Asian female and a white male will not affect sales. Whereas if the lead is an Asian couple, then the movie will be perceived as an "Asian movie" and will get lower sales.

Sometimes this means that castings reflect real life and sometimes it doesn't. Take the idea of a couple where one person is white and one is black. Here in the UK, around half of black males are in a relationship with a white woman, whereas something like less than 5% of white men have had a relationship with a black woman.

You would expect, therefore, that in a movie or TV series, half the black, male characters would be in relationships with white women and you would hardly ever see a relationship between a black woman and a white man. However, that doesn't seem to be the case. Take the TV series Friends as an example, both Ross and Joey have dated black women (one was a recurring character during a multi-episode story arc), but I don't recall any of the female characters dating a black guy.

This would suggest that the casting reflects what the makers feel will be acceptable to their marketplace, rather than either reflecting society or casting without preconceptions.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Zamfir » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:33 pm UTC

ianf wrote:Sometimes this means that castings reflect real life and sometimes it doesn't. Take the idea of a couple where one person is white and one is black. Here in the UK, around half of black males are in a relationship with a white woman, whereas something like less than 5% of white men have had a relationship with a black woman.

You would expect, therefore, that in a movie or TV series, half the black, male characters would be in relationships with white women and you would hardly ever see a relationship between a black woman and a white man. ...

If all black women in the UK had only relationships with a white men, and all black men only with white women, the far majority of white men and women still wouldn't have ever dated a black partner.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby ianf » Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:33 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:If all black women in the UK had only relationships with a white men, and all black men only with white women, the far majority of white men and women still wouldn't have ever dated a black partner.


You are correct, but missing the point I was making. What I was saying was that the depiction of interracial relationships on the media does not reflect real life.

So, if 50% of black men are in relationships with white women then (if the media reflected this) half the films where the lead was a black male should have that black male in a relationship with a white woman.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby General_Norris » Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:48 pm UTC

ianf wrote:So, if 50% of black men are in relationships with white women then (if the media reflected this) half the films where the lead was a black male should have that black male in a relationship with a white woman.


Bud it doesn't happen so it is not that way. And even then, would you censor or force them down that useless stadistic? What happens if 60% of films don't follow that rule? You censor random movies? Please, no. And blaming every film is absurd.

Also remember that most actors are white, and that the writer may like X character as white in the very same way he likes X character as blonde. And again, most writers are white, so you get more white characters in the very same way that a character has more probabilities of being male if the writer is male. And most people don't live in the US so having a large black cast in a Spanish movie would be unrealistic. Now consider what happens if an european script gets picked up for the States, is that racist?

And Author avatars, Freudian slips and Writing about who you know also heavily influence this. It's unrealistic to assume the industry is so overtly sexist that they don't create black characters because they hate black people. There's no intent.

If there's something racist, that's racial/sex quotes. No longuer race doesn't matter, it's now the reason of you appearing in a movie. Not nice. If you want to get a better "quota", don't censor, make more black people write movies and so on.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby bvih » Sun Mar 07, 2010 7:24 am UTC

It's not about the industry being overtly racist or sexist, that sort of publicity doesn't fly well today. Contemporary racism is much more subtle than that, but the results are still highly visible, and racism is still a big problem even if it doesn't seem to get (properly) addressed very often. It's easily arguable that Hollywood sees only money, and not race, but that's not much consolation if you consider how Hollywood is a major factor in American culture (not to mention world culture through exports). I don’t care what Hollywood’s intentions are, what I care about are the racial images that get perpetuated regardless of intent.

The point isn't to force people to do things, it never has been. Nobody believes that affirmative action is an ideal solution. The purpose of affirmative action is to mitigate an existing inequality in society, not create another one, but that’s another debate. It’s no secret that Hollywood has many issues with regardsp to race and sex. The question is why we as a society are either ignorant or tolerant of such practices, and unfortunately I think I'm happier not knowing the answer to that question.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby General_Norris » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:58 am UTC

Contemporary racism (In Hollywood) is much more subtle than that, but the results are still highly visible,


Prove it. You have not proved anything. Prove me what that "subtle racism" is. Prove me that the results are "highly visible" because I do not see proof of COMTEMPORARY racism, I see results of PAST racism. It's very important to understand the difference.

I already explained why there's that difference in "quotas". It's like the people who say that there's a lot of sexism in Spain because Women earn a lot less. They think that the evil corporations pay women less on puporse when the truth is that women have less paid jobs on averange and have far less experience in every field because Franco didn't allow them to do anything other than staying in the kitchen. How many women were able to study Industrial Engineering with Franco? Not many, I tell you.

Does that mean that there's some kind of sexism now preventing girls from getting into the University promoted by the very same University? No, not at all. But it will take time for them to be as common as men there because they have been prevented in the past from accesing it or because they don't want to.

Prove me that there's ill intent. I'm pretty sure that you can't say that cinema, as a whole has an ill intent and even if it did it would not mean that action X is sexist because it's more common than action Y. How common an action is doesn't tell us anything about it other than how common it is.

I don’t care what Hollywood’s intentions are, what I care about are the racial images that get perpetuated regardless of intent.


Racism, as we have said several times in this thread, requires belief in superiority. So if there's no belief they were not racist. Period. It's also really annoying to put all filmakers in a big bag because they have the same profession.

Also be careful not to trip on a double standard. Is a movie that portrays a man saving a woman sexist while a movie that portrays a woman saving a man progressive? All you achieve is making it harder for female actors to be funny characters, or weak characters. The idea is not to remove those, it's making them able to do BOTH weak and strong characters.

For example you have this:

http://thehathorlegacy.com/easy-mode-is-for-girls/

Basically, a game where the male character fights and the woman solves puzzles. Sexist. However if it were the other way around it would have been progressive! They are creating a double standard! If you have two characters, one male and one female and split them gameplay-wise HALF of the time you are going to be "sexist" even if you flip a coin in the air! It's absurd!

And again, if you pick to movies and both have a man saving a woman, what do you do? You censor them both? You pick one at random? It makes no sense.


And there's nothing more racist that Positive discrimination. You destroy everything people have fought over all those years. Remember Mather Luther King?
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character"

With positive discrimination (Positive discrimination! Yay Oxymoron!) your character, your merits...they no longuer matter. Race is your defining characteristic, you are different, because you are black. You need help, not because you are unskilled, but because you are black.

It's the most racist thing around.

PD: The Bedchel test is a very poor test even if you consider every "gender role" sexist because you will remove historical movies, a good deal of love movies (The characters only talk about the boys and the girls), movies with very reduced cast,or movies centered about a male character, or even movies that have LOTS of female characters but because of the interpersonal relationships the characters barely speak to people of their gender (Avatar).

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Jesse » Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:39 am UTC

(As a side note, the Bechdel test isn't too often applied specifically, but is generally applied to a broad swathe of films, to show how little it actually passes. If it was standard to pass it, and then you had certain movies that didn't, like Citizen Kane etc. then there wouldn't be a problem. It's the fact that Hollywood and the film industry as a whole generally completely fails when it comes to portraying women realistically. If you'd actually studied film in any way the most basic thing you'd know is that films can be viewed through different perspectives. So, on a cinematographic level, The Dark Knight is an amazing film, but from a feminist perspective it has very little worth. This doesn't mean one perspective is wrong, and one is right. They're both right, and depending on which one it bases its claims on, and you decide to view it through, you'll get the different experience.)

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby bvih » Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:13 pm UTC

I can’t prove intent. I can however point out that 21 was a movie based upon a real event involving many people of Asian descent, but when it comes time to make a movie there aren’t any prominent Asian-American stars around so they go with white stars instead. Then you have a movie such as the upcoming The Last Airbender movie, a perfect opportunity for an Asian-American star to rise to prominence, but instead the starring roles again default to white actors, presumably because they’re more marketable. There’s not necessarily any ill intent in either instance, but then it becomes the case where Asians can’t get roles because there are no prominent Asian actors, and there are no prominent Asian actors because there are few instances for them to rise to fame. Sounds like institutional racism to me, but perhaps we disagree on that point?

You also have the white messiah theme, visited in Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai, and most recently, in James Cameron’s Avatar. While they aren’t explicitly racist, the recurring theme is one where a white man out-natives the natives. Perhaps the audience requires a white lead in order to relate to the story, such as in Step Up and Step Up 2, where you could easily have had a minority character play the lead, but again white leads are more marketable so we go with those, and instead have minorities in stereotypical roles instead (angry violent black man! Asian girl speaking broken English! Minority side-kick!).

Examples of racism in contemporary Hollywood are numerous, so long as you care to see them. Of course, maybe it’s just minorities being overly sensitive about race. Or it could be white people not seeing such issues because their white privilege permits them not to. It’s debatable, so I can’t prove things either way. Of course, these things aren’t present in every movie, nor do they apply to every filmmaker, but they do occur more often than people should be comfortable with.

I agree that quotas are a terrible idea, but that’s where it becomes frustrating, because I don’t have a better solution. Doing nothing means that we do not acknowledge that race still matters a lot more than we’d care to admit (There are plenty of studies to back this up, just google aversive racism). In Hollywood, racial disparity means that white is the default race, which doesn’t seem to be much of an issue until you realize that this means anything else is less than normal. Colorblind attitudes are nice in theory, but in practice it just means everything defaults to white much more often than not.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby General_Norris » Sun Mar 07, 2010 7:05 pm UTC

bvih wrote:You also have the white messiah theme, visited in Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai, and most recently, in James Cameron’s Avatar


No it's the other way around: The ecological, nice people are the natives not the evil white man. The point is that "technology" and "the white man" etc are evil, you are missing the point of those movies.

In Avatar "the White man" is not represented by the main character, it's represenetd by the bad guy. The main character when shown how awesome the Na'vi are changes sides because the Na'vi are just better. The natives are the good guys and the lead can only be a good person when he becomes a native.

I can’t prove things either way


Then I'm sorry but I can't accept your arguments. I'm sorry but good ideals are built on good reasonings, and I can't accept anything lesss. If I found my arguments faulty I would change them. I know that you have good intentions but if you have no proof you have no reason to think there's intent. Yes, it sucks when there is a murder in a closed circle and you know the murderer is around but framing everyone is not the way to go, they are innocent until proven false. The same thing applies.

I know there's racism and sexism but those arguments are not true and thus I don't accept them. I can't accept a bad argument even if I would love to.

I think the most important reasons why most characters are white/male is a combination of the following:

- Most writers are white
- Most writers are men
- Most actors are white
- Most filmakers are white
- Most filmakers are men
- A writer writes abouts what he knows
- A writer writes about WHO he knows
- Most of the Western world is white
- Most of scientists/soldiers/businessmen are men
- Historically those have been white men so those characters are more likely to reflect them*
- Historical realism instead of Basically Decent history (Because there are far more men than women in the army right now, for example)
- Censorship**
- Creating a script specifically for an actor (Since most actors are white...)
- Logistical limitations

And last but not least

- Sexist characters, settings and worlds on puporse. Hey, perhaps I want to have a sexist male lead or the main character is insane as cool as it may he may be.

All of those have an enormous influence on a character and are pretty proven axioms. I prefer to stick to those than "blame" the race of a character to racism. Probably there's some racism involved, yes but I can't point it this way.

*For example, Mad Scientists are either Nazi Doctors or Nikola Tesla in disguise or Einstein in disguise. Or just simply good ol' Frankenstein.
** It's debatable if having a "conservative" movie is better than not having movies at all. Yes, if your movie X has a good message witha strong female lead perhaps it's a well done good if you had to cut the lesbian relationship so as to be able to sell the movie in country Y.


but that’s where it becomes frustrating, because I don’t have a better solution.


There are. Instead of being sexist to get underskilled women into the jobplace make them skilled. In the end, the goal is not to have a 50/50 split. Equality is not based on results, but on opportunity.

@Jesse

I agree that as originally made, as a thought experiment, it has a lot more value than as a "moral law" to follow.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby jakovasaur » Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:13 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:
bvih wrote:You also have the white messiah theme, visited in Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai, and most recently, in James Cameron’s Avatar


No it's the other way around: The ecological, nice people are the natives not the evil white man. The point is that "technology" and "the white man" etc are evil, you are missing the point of those movies.

In Avatar "the White man" is not represented by the main character, it's represenetd by the bad guy. The main character when shown how awesome the Na'vi are changes sides because the Na'vi are just better. The natives are the good guys and the lead can only be a good person when he becomes a native.

Yeah, the white guys are generally evil, but Jake doesn't just join the blue people, he becomes better than them at being a na'vi, and is their savior. For some reason they make him way bigger than all the others, he hooks up with the hottest na'vi lady, and is capable of not only learning all their skills in a remarkably short time, but manages to ride that giant dragon thing, which is apparently super hard.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Vaniver » Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:48 pm UTC

General Norris wrote:No it's the other way around: The ecological, nice people are the natives not the evil white man. The point is that "technology" and "the white man" etc are evil, you are missing the point of those movies.

In Avatar "the White man" is not represented by the main character, it's represenetd by the bad guy. The main character when shown how awesome the Na'vi are changes sides because the Na'vi are just better. The natives are the good guys and the lead can only be a good person when he becomes a native.
As hinted at by jakovasaur, you are confusing white culture and white people. Yes, the whites as a group are bad- but the main character is a representative of "the White man" because, well, he is a white man. There are two roles that sort of movie give white men- the transformative role of changing from their wicked culture to the moral culture, and then the messianic role of fighting for that culture against the wicked culture. If Avatar had just been about cat-people attacking human miners, would it have had the same moral impact? No- it is specifically about cat-people that white men can become.

Which is, in my mind, why such movies are exercises in wishful thinking, effortless guilt assuaging, and stacked cultural comparisons. Jake had an awesome time taking on our sins for being exploitative of native cultures by becoming one of them, and stopping our worst excesses- despite the lack of any relation that story has on real stories.
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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby bvih » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:11 pm UTC

I can’t prove things because they are subjective. Not everything is black or white, that’s what makes them debatable. I can't prove that filmmakers are racist, but I can point out many instances where films convey racist themes, which are of course still debatable.

Take Avatar for instance. You say I’ve missed the point of the movie, yet I understood that the Na'vi were the good guys, and that big corporations were the bad guys. What I also understood was that the Na'vi needed a white man in order to protect them from the big corporations. You might argue that he becomes a native, which he literally does of course, but in my interpretation of the movie he's still a white man, despite outer appearances. Of course, I'm not the only one who interpreted the movie this way. Is Avatar racist in its implications? That's debatable, although I'd like to see some compelling arguments as to why it's not. He might become a Na'vi, but then why couldn't they have had a Na'vi as the lead from the start?

I understand why most characters are white males, but unless I'm mistaken what you're basically saying is that it's a white man's world and women and minorities should just learn to deal with it. I'm sure you can see why somebody might take offense to that.

General_Norris wrote:
but that’s where it becomes frustrating, because I don’t have a better solution.


There are. Instead of being sexist to get underskilled women into the jobplace make them skilled. In the end, the goal is not to have a 50/50 split. Equality is not based on results, but on opportunity.


and the way to make them more skilled is to get them into the job place to begin with, or to get them into schools so they learn those skills, which is difficult because historically they are not known for doing so, and so the cycle continues and the status quo is maintained. Yes, I do think that things will eventually change for the better. No, I do not think that change is coming fast enough.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby BlackSails » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:21 pm UTC

bvih wrote: He might become a Na'vi, but then why couldn't they have had a Na'vi as the lead from the start?


He isnt as heroic then. If he were a Navi from the start, he is just fighting to preserve his home. Heck, in that case its just self defense, its barely even a moral decision. Starting out as a white man though, he has to turn his back on his people to do the right thing. Its classic Joseph Campbell

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby General_Norris » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:53 pm UTC

bvih wrote:I understand why most characters are white males, but unless I'm mistaken what you're basically saying is that it's a white man's world and women and minorities should just learn to deal with it. I'm sure you can see why somebody might take offense to that.


I never said that. Period. So, better luck with the next strawman.

and the way to make them more skilled is to get them into the job place to begin with, or to get them into schools so they learn those skills, which is difficult because historically they are not known for doing so, and so the cycle continues and the status quo is maintained.


No. They don't have difficulty because they are black/women anymore when it comes to enter the university. Unless you live in a third-world country that is false. The reasons why there are less engineers, for example is because:

1) Before (Not now) women were not allowed in the field
2) Women like engieniering less and prefer to seek other fields. Is this caused by sexism? Perhaps, but it's not because Universities are sexist but because gender roles. I don't know but the girls of my class did not take other exam because they were female nor they were given less of a score.

You discriminate people because of sex. You tell women that they are weak and incapable of being worth by their work and skills, they are "weak" and must be protected because they aren't able to work in a meritocracy.

It's a double standard, wheter you like it or not. It's sad to see someone complaining about sexism and then creating their own mistakes. It's laughable to say that you want to solve sexism by being sexist XD I mean, if you don't see the problem with that I no longuer know what to tell you.

Remember what I said because it was the most important part of my post and you didn't really comment on it:

General_Norris wrote:In the end, the goal is not to have a 50/50 split. Equality is not based on results, but on opportunity.


You just think about "results" not "opportunity". This is your flaw.


I can’t prove things because they are subjective.


Logic is, by definition, objective. If you think logic is subjective then there's no reason for us to debate. Why do you make arguments then if they are worthless?

The reason why things are "debatable" is because we aren't omniscient, not because logic is subjective.


Vaniver wrote:As hinted at by jakovasaur, you are confusing white culture and white people.


I used quotation marks. (Except once, that was a mistake). I'm talking about "white culture" if that exists. You know, you have the Native Americans and the White Man. Excuse me if I have been confusing.

@BlackSails

Agreed. And again, why should them change their plot? Do you really want to promote censorship based on this?

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby BlackSails » Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:05 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:Agreed. And again, why should them change their plot? Do you really want to promote censorship based on this?


They could have reversed it entirely - alien invaders and humans defending earth, but nobody really is going to relate to a giant blue man turning against his alien people.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby somebody already took it » Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:20 am UTC

General_Norris wrote:And there's nothing more racist that Positive discrimination. You destroy everything people have fought over all those years. Remember Mather Luther King?
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character"


Keeping in mind that you have stated racism "requires belief in superiority." what makes you think positive discrimination is racist?

As to the MLK quote:
Wikipedia:Color blindness wrote:From an American conservative standpoint, color blindness is generally perceived as an issue of fairness rather than an attempt to provide an advantage to either socially dominant groups or minority groups. This view of color blindness differs from the framework presented by Martin Luther King Jr., whose argument premised on group rights, with recognition of unequal power relations between the majority and minority groups.


General_Norris wrote:In the end, the goal is not to have a 50/50 split. Equality is not based on results, but on opportunity.

Wikipedia:Equality of outcome wrote:Outcomes can usually be measured with a great degree of precision, opportunities cannot. That is why many proponents of equal opportunity use measures of equality of outcome to judge success. To the extent that incidental inequalities can be passed from one generation to another through substantial gifts and wealth inheritance, some claim that equality of opportunity for children cannot be achieved without greater equality of outcome for parents. Moreover, access and opportunity to various social institutions is partially dependent on equality of outcome.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Griffin » Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:42 am UTC

Well, since positive discrimination (EDIT) being racist (/EDIT) requires a belief that one race is inferior (in some way) (and thus needs to be propped up by law) I could see how one could argue it would be racist. Its not a view I share, but its not inherently flawed.

And the problem with measuring opportunities by results is we aren't in a controlled experiment here. The are numerous confounding variables, and a significant time delay. While results are definitely something that should be considered and weighed heavily, its important to develop a context for interpretation.

It's a bit like balancing a seesaw - you'll never get it balanced if you add weight based on how far up or down each side is. Its important, and it can tell you something, but it cant tell you everything - and it can't tell you enough to accomplish what you want, at least.
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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby bvih » Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:51 am UTC

General_Norris wrote:
bvih wrote:I understand why most characters are white males, but unless I'm mistaken what you're basically saying is that it's a white man's world and women and minorities should just learn to deal with it. I'm sure you can see why somebody might take offense to that.


I never said that. Period. So, better luck with the next strawman.

So explain your point. I get why most characters are white/male, I don't get why that's a good thing, or why things should remain that way.

General_Norris wrote:
and the way to make them more skilled is to get them into the job place to begin with, or to get them into schools so they learn those skills, which is difficult because historically they are not known for doing so, and so the cycle continues and the status quo is maintained.


No. They don't have difficulty because they are black/women anymore when it comes to enter the university. Unless you live in a third-world country that is false. The reasons why there are less engineers, for example is because:

1) Before (Not now) women were not allowed in the field
2) Women like engieniering less and prefer to seek other fields. Is this caused by sexism? Perhaps, but it's not because Universities are sexist but because gender roles. I don't know but the girls of my class did not take other exam because they were female nor they were given less of a score.

Do you understand what latent bias is? Things are not equal as they stand, here's an article explaining how, and why.
-How many have heard that persons with "white sounding names," according to a massive national study, are fifty percent more likely to be called back for a job interview than those with "black sounding" names, even when all other credentials are the same?
-How many know that white men with a criminal record are slightly more likely to be called back for a job interview than black men without one, even when the men are equally qualified, and present themselves to potential employers in an identical fashion?
-How many are aware that black and Latino students are about half as likely as whites to be placed in advanced or honors classes in school, and twice as likely to be placed in remedial classes? Or that even when test scores and prior performance would justify higher placement, students of color are far less likely to be placed in honors classes? Or that students of color are 2-3 times more likely than whites to be suspended or expelled from school, even though rates of serious school rule infractions do not differ to any significant degree between racial groups?

(Citations are given within the article)

Theoretically we're a meritocracy, but realistically we're far from one where opportunities are equal, and if you're going to argue otherwise I'm going to want to see some studies backing that up.

General_Norris wrote:In the end, the goal is not to have a 50/50 split. Equality is not based on results, but on opportunity.

Prove that there is equal opportunity in this country, you already have my argument that there is not.

I can’t prove things because they are subjective.


Logic is, by definition, objective. If you think logic is subjective then there's no reason for us to debate. Why do you make arguments then if they are worthless?

The reason why things are "debatable" is because we aren't omniscient, not because logic is subjective.

Movies by their nature are open to interpretation, that's what makes them debatable. You cannot prove the filmmaker's intent any more than I can. This doesn't mean discussion of a movie and its themes are worthless however, as some interpretations hold more merit than others.

As for Avatar. Please point out where I said they should change their plot, or where I'm advocating censorship. I'm actually fairly happy with the way Avatar turned out, in that a vocal amount of people noticed that it's essentially the same white guilt fantasy being played over again. It's enough for me that more people are beginning take notice of these things. While I'd like for movies to do away with racist undertones, I agree that censorship is not the way to go about it.

@Blacksails
It was a rhetorical question... The audience obviously would not relate to a giant blue cat man, unless the giant blue cat man was really a white man on the inside. Sure, it makes him more heroic, but it also makes for some pretty cliched storytelling.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby somebody already took it » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:21 am UTC

Griffin wrote:Well, since positive discrimination requires a belief that one race is inferior (in some way).

In what way?

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Zamfir » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:47 am UTC

bvih wrote:It was a rhetorical question... The audience obviously would not relate to a giant blue cat man, unless the giant blue cat man was really a white man on the inside.

But audiences have no problem identifying with Thomas the Tank Engine. If something has a face, audiences can identify with it (and there will be porn).

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby General_Norris » Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:30 pm UTC

bvih wrote:So explain your point. I get why most characters are white/male, I don't get why that's a good thing, or why things should remain that way.


Again I never said that.

Theoretically we're a meritocracy, but realistically we're far from one where opportunities are equal, and if you're going to argue otherwise I'm going to want to see some studies backing that up.


The proof is unto you, not me. You have not given me any proof that people are actively being pushed out of the University, or the workplace because they are women. I think the USA don't suck so much as to not being able to control that. I don't need to prove you there's equal opportunity because I'm sure you have read the laws already.

Do you want proof? Here, in Spain, a country as good and as bad as any other there are far less women than men studying Engineering. Some think that this is because Engineers are sexist or the University is sexist or something like that.

There are more women applying for the University than men and women get, on average, better scores. They can go to my class if they wanted to, but they do not want to. Gender roles are marking their preference but the system is clean. In fact the Engineering courses require a mere 5, the minium.

It's a conspirancy theory to say that the reason why there are not as many female engineers is because they cannot get into it.

Your article doesn't explain anything and posting useless links does not an argument make because you point me to a book nobody has ever heard about (and you haven't read) and a broken link.

I don't know but the girls in my class did exactly as everyone else to get in my University. Unless you think that the very same university discriminates against female electrical engineers but loves female chemical engineers.

There's racism, sure. But that is not the main reason why there are far less black actors or female engineers and so on.

Movies by their nature are open to interpretation, that's what makes them debatable.


We were not talking about movies in that quote. You said

bvih wrote:I can’t prove things because they are subjective. Not everything is black or white, that’s what makes them debatable. I can't prove that filmmakers are racist, but I can point out many instances where films convey racist themes, which are of course still debatable.


If we track back where this comes, we see this quote of mine

Prove me what that "subtle racism" is. Prove me that the results are "highly visible" because I do not see proof of COMTEMPORARY racism, I see results of PAST racism. It's very important to understand the difference.




somebody already took it wrote:In what way?


Well, you don't meet the requirements for this but since you are a woman we are going to help you. We don't help men because they don't need our help. Strong people don't need our help unlike you. The reason you need help and a man doesn't? You are a woman,

Real Example: If you are a woman we give you twice the money than we would give you to a man in order to start a new business. You are weak and will need more money because you are a woman.

Or

You are man, you sexist pig! You don't need money because you are PRIVILEGED. I don't care how poor or rich you are or how good your shop was going to be, you are a man and you are only defined by your sex.

You are discriminating based on sex when it comes to business, you are saying that how good you are at setting up a business is related to your sex.

In the end my point is, there's racism? Yes. It's the main cause why there are far more white actors or male engineers? Yes and no. It WAS the cause, a cuase that has effects right now but is no longuer alive.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby ianf » Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:42 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:
ianf wrote:So, if 50% of black men are in relationships with white women then (if the media reflected this) half the films where the lead was a black male should have that black male in a relationship with a white woman.


Bud it doesn't happen so it is not that way.


I'm not exactly sure what you mean by this sentence. Are you saying that movies are made the way they are and we should let things stay as they are?

General_Norris wrote:And even then, would you censor or force them down that useless stadistic? What happens if 60% of films don't follow that rule? You censor random movies? Please, no. And blaming every film is absurd.


No, you wouldn't do that. What you would need to do is convince people that things can change. What you need are a few influential people who are happy to cast a movie where (for example) the two main characters are Will Smith and Sandra Bullock. Or a TV casting executive who says "so why exactly does this character need to be played by a white actor".

General_Norris wrote:Also remember that most actors are white, and that the writer may like X character as white in the very same way he likes X character as blonde. And again, most writers are white, so you get more white characters in the very same way that a character has more probabilities of being male if the writer is male. And most people don't live in the US so having a large black cast in a Spanish movie would be unrealistic. Now consider what happens if an european script gets picked up for the States, is that racist?

And Author avatars, Freudian slips and Writing about who you know also heavily influence this. It's unrealistic to assume the industry is so overtly sexist that they don't create black characters because they hate black people. There's no intent.


That sounds like institutional racism to me. If you said similar things about another industry (e.g. most police recruiters are white and don't feel comfortable relating to non-white people, so don't hire non-white police), it would definitely look racist. Most movies are just "making things up", so it's as easy to make up stuff where someone is black as it is to make up stuff where someone is white.

In London (in the UK), around 15% of the population is black. It would therefore look strange to me if a film is set in London and doesn't have a significant number of black characters. Also, given that 50% of black men in the UK are dating white women, it would seem odd if all the black men I see in a movie are dating black women. I'm not saying that we should legislate this, but when Richard Curtis (for example) is being interviewed about a film he has made which is set in London, I would expect his use of an all-white cast to be brought up by interviewers. You would hope that this would lead him to reflect on his attitude to casting next time around.

Or how about casting a black actor as James Bond? Why does he need to be white? Yes, I know that he was white in the original books, but the films discard many aspects of the books so why shouldn't he become a black character? It's all a made up story anyway. Why is it okay for him to now play poker in the casino, but not okay for him to be black?

General_Norris wrote:If you want to get a better "quota", don't censor, make more black people write movies and so on.


This is just the worst attitude. You are taking the white bias of the film industry and then making it a problem for the black part of the film industry to sort out.

General_Norris wrote:I think the most important reasons why most characters are white/male is a combination of the following:

- Most writers are white
- Most writers are men
- Most actors are white
- Most filmakers are white
- Most filmakers are men
- A writer writes abouts what he knows
- A writer writes about WHO he knows
- Most of the Western world is white
- Most of scientists/soldiers/businessmen are men
- Historically those have been white men so those characters are more likely to reflect them*
- Historical realism instead of Basically Decent history (Because there are far more men than women in the army right now, for example)
- Censorship**
- Creating a script specifically for an actor (Since most actors are white...)
- Logistical limitations


Like I said before, this is not a reason to let things continue. Things need to be picked up on and discussed, rather than just shrugging and saying "that's just the way it is". For example ...

If a writer cannot write outside their experience, then they are a poor writer and the film industry should be looking for better writers. As a counterexample, there is a very successful series of books (and a TV series based on them") called "The Number One Ladies Detective Agency". The books are about female black detectives and were written by a white man. Agatha Christie's Poirot character was a male character written by a female author.

A lot of the time, characters aren't specifically "white" or "black" they are just human. One of the main characters in Friends could just as easily have been black as white. In most action movies, the main characters could just as easily be black as white.

And don't even start on "historical accuracy". There are many examples where black historical figures were played by white actors. Obvious examples are white actresses playing Cleopatra and white actors playing Jesus (depending on how you want to define history). More recently there was the situation in the "World Trade Center" movie where two african-american people (Jason Thomas and Bruce Reynolds) were represented by white characters.

General_Norris wrote:Sexist characters, settings and worlds on puporse. Hey, perhaps I want to have a sexist male lead or the main character is insane as cool as it may he may be.


I don't think anyone has a problem with that. What I am saying is that in situations where there is no plot reason for a character to be a specific race, why not use a black actor instead of a white actor? Or, instead of only casting interracial couples in situations where it leads to dramatic tension, why not have interracial couples where that fact is unimportant?

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby General_Norris » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:49 pm UTC

ianf wrote:I'm not exactly sure what you mean by this sentence. Are you saying that movies are made the way they are and we should let things stay as they are?


Sorry that was a mistake of mine, given the "if" I thought that "If X were to happen, Y should be true" I misread your sentence. Sorry about that.

That sounds like institutional racism to me. If you said similar things about another industry (e.g. most police recruiters are white and don't feel comfortable relating to non-white people, so don't hire non-white police), it would definitely look racist.


No, it's not the same thing because you recruit other people, you CREATE characters. What I'm saying is that there's no overt sexism or insitutional racism, what there is the simple and unavoidable fact that those characters reflect their author, what he is and what he isn't.

Even if you are the best author in the world you will notice that X character looks to much as the author and no amount of race lifts will solve that. Asimov? Full of those. Cervantes? Please, it's obvious.

Myself. I will not lie the main character is me, no amount of tits is going to solve that, she is me, and I prefer to be honest about it and make the character male, black short-haired and white because that character is me. Heck, the other characters are ME too. I may change them and try to hide it but they still reflect me in one way of another. Who do you think most of? Yourself! You can't lie!

And no, you can be a very good writer without writing outside of your experience. Artistic merit doesn't require writing about what you don't know about. In fact, Cervantes wrote about what he knew best, Literature and Spain.

You are trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist. Writers don't write male white characters because they are racist or sexist but because they are white and male. If you made them change you would still have the same gender roles around because you didn't fix them. You hid them but didn't solve them because you were busy with something that wasn't broken.

You would hope that this would lead him to reflect on his attitude to casting next time around.


The problem is that he didn't have any attitude to casting! He chose the best actors and since most actors are white it's not his fault! This is what I'm saying all the time. You can't blame the producer or the writer, blame the gender roles or past racism but not the director.

You are pointing the finger wrong, and that is of no help.

Or how about casting a black actor as James Bond? Why does he need to be white? Yes, I know that he was white in the original books, but the films discard many aspects of the books so why shouldn't he become a black character?


Because there's no need to. It makes as much as much sense as saying "Why isn't X's hair red?". Well I like the character that way. That's all, why should your cosmetic tastes be prevalent over the author? It makes no sense. If race doesn't matter don't make it matter so as to tell everyone it doesn't matter.

All you achieve is to be inconsistent in your portrayal of the character. Remember how bad everyone took Daniel Craig as the new Bond because he is blonde? And we are talking about Mr. Hotness here.

What reason there is, plotwise, to have a black James Bond? None. So don't change it.

Most people also think that race lifts are pretty racist, so no.

And don't even start on "historical accuracy". There are many examples where black historical figures were played by white actors.


Duh, then that doesn't apply. But if I make a femenine girl, or my army has almost no women in sight that is not sexist, that is realistic. It refelects a sexist trend in the society I'm portraying but the portrayal isn't sexist.


This is just the worst attitude. You are taking the white bias of the film industry and then making it a problem for the black part of the film industry to sort out.


Duh. It's analogous to saying "If there are not enough female engineers get more women to study engineering". I don't see where I make it a problem for the women or not.

There are far less black actors, that is a fact. How are you going to solve that without getting more black actors? All you avhieve this way is getting token characters with no plot.

You know why the black guy always dies first right? Because he is, more often than not, a token character in response to cries of racism like this. And, as a token character, is a bad character.
st filmakers are white


Like I said before, this is not a reason to let things continue.


To let what continue? This is the point, nothing bad is happening!

It's bad to write about myself? It's bad to write about my friends? What about my mother? None of those things are bad!

If a writer cannot write outside their experience, then they are a poor writer and the film industry should be looking for better writers.


As a counterexample, there is a very successful series of books (and a TV series based on them") called "The Number One Ladies Detective Agency". The books are about female black detectives and were written by a white man. Agatha Christie's Poirot character was a male character written by a female author.

A lot of the time, characters aren't specifically "white" or "black" they are just human. One of the main characters in Friends could just as easily have been black as white. In most action movies, the main characters could just as easily be black as white.

And don't even start on "historical accuracy". There are many examples where black historical figures were played by white actors. Obvious examples are white actresses playing Cleopatra and white actors playing Jesus (depending on how you want to define history). More recently there was the situation in the "World Trade Center" movie where two african-american people (Jason Thomas and Bruce Reynolds) were represented by white characters.

What I am saying is that in situations where there is no plot reason for a character to be a specific race, why not use a black actor instead of a white actor?


And I ask, why choose a black actor instead of a white actor? Choose the best one not the one who fits a certain race! You desire what you hate! You complain about white people being chosen over black ones and then complain because black people isn't being chosen over white ones!

If most actors are white then what would be rare to have as many black characters! If for every female engieneering student there are 10 male ones it's no surprise most engineers are male! The problem is not at the workplace, it's way back, when they get the gender roles. People want to "fix" the problem in a pinch when it's a deep one that can't be solved so easily.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby bvih » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:54 pm UTC

I'm tired of walls of texts, so I'll try to keep this brief. I'm well aware that the laws require that you cannot have discriminatory hiring practices, but as I said before:
How many have heard that persons with "white sounding names," according to a massive national study, are fifty percent more likely to be called back for a job interview than those with "black sounding" names, even when all other credentials are the same (5)?

How many know that white men with a criminal record are slightly more likely to be called back for a job interview than black men without one, even when the men are equally qualified, and present themselves to potential employers in an identical fashion (6)?

How many are aware that black and Latino students are about half as likely as whites to be placed in advanced or honors classes in school, and twice as likely to be placed in remedial classes? Or that even when test scores and prior performance would justify higher placement, students of color are far less likely to be placed in honors classes (8)? Or that students of color are 2-3 times more likely than whites to be suspended or expelled from school, even though rates of serious school rule infractions do not differ to any significant degree between racial groups (9)?

Sources:
Spoiler:
(5) Bertrand, Marianne and Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment in Labor Market Discrimination." June 20. http://post.economics.harvard.edu/facul ... lygreg.pdf.
(6) Pager, Devah. 2003. "The Mark of a Criminal Record." American Journal of Sociology. Volume 108: 5, March: 937-75.
(8) Gordon, Rebecca. 1998. Education and Race. Oakland: Applied Research Center: 48-9; Fischer, Claude S. et al., 1996. Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press: 163; Steinhorn, Leonard and Barabara Diggs-Brown, 1999. By the Color of Our Skin: The Illusion of Integration and the Reality of Race. NY: Dutton: 95-6.
(9) Skiba, Russell J. et al., The Color of Discipline: Sources of Racial and Gender Disproportionality in School Punishment. Indiana Education Policy Center, Policy Research Report SRS1, June 2000; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System: Youth 2003, Online Comprehensive Results, 2004.


How can these statistics be true in a society where everybody has an equal opportunity? These are findings are backed by scientific research, whereas all I'm getting from you is anecdotal evidence.

As for contemporary racism in Hollywood? Ask Ursula K. Le Guin. She intentionally wrote a book with a colored main character, but when it time for the TV adaptation he becomes white. Ask Neil Gaiman. He wrote a novel about two black boys, but when it came time to make it a movie they wanted to turn them white, so Gaiman decided he didn't need the money. Look at Firefly. Excellent series, but as XKCD has pointed out, there sure are few Chinese people for a universe that's supposed to be half Chinese. Jewel Staite's character was originally supposed to be Chinese, but the role went to a white girl in the end (not that it's a bad thing, Jewel's performance was excellent). Even if she didn't get the role, that still leaves a primarily white cast with one token black man and one token Chinese girl(who's smitten with a white man), for a universe that's supposed to be half-Chinese.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Zamfir » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:19 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:The problem is that he didn't have any attitude to casting! He chose the best actors and since most actors are white it's not his fault! This is what I'm saying all the time. You can't blame the producer or the writer, blame the gender roles or past racism but not the director.

You are pointing the finger wrong, and that is of no help.

Why all this mentioning of "blame" and "fingerpointing"? It's possible to say that the system should be changed, without necessarily putting "blame" on any individual.It's more an encouragement to writers, or casting agencies: once in a while, consider making the hero black and the token white. It seems to work for black action heroes, who are now sometimes cast as black just because it's possible. With a bit of luck, people get used to it and at some point no further encouragement is needed.

For women, the situation appears more difficult. By far most movies put men in the active, important roles, even if this was perhaps still more so in the past. Again, we're not blaming people for this, just trying to keep the issue in people's mind. So that writers think twice, and consider that this detective or that heroic figure could be a woman without any real difference to the plot. From time to time, it works, and that's good. Why should we stop encouraging?

General_Norris wrote:The problem is not at the workplace, it's way back, when they get the gender roles. People want to "fix" the problem in a pinch when it's a deep one that can't be solved so easily.

I am not sure the workplace has nothing to do with it. read Bviz's link above, you'll find some links to studies where blacks get lower grades and less invitations to interviews, for identical work and letters. The same studies exist for women, and they suggest that women in male-dominated fields have to swim upstream all the time, having todoing better work than men for the same rewards. A lot of people don't want to even try such a tiresome process. For all I know, the same is true for men in female-dominated fields.

But apart from such effects, you are of course right that a lot happens far earlier on, in childhood when people start imagining what role they can play in society. Which is why people keep hammering on those movies and games and books. But that's a possible channel to change the expectations children develop for themselves. Show examples of women in all kinds of roles, and girls can choose what they like. Show women only in a limited amount of functions, and girls might limit themselves in the roles they can imagine for themselves.

PS. Soemtimes you can point individual blame on people. The people who thought that the Anansi boys could better be cast as white were racists.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Chen » Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:58 pm UTC

We're kind of getting away from mate preferences here.

Though, I suppose in terms of movies people will want to see heroes (and heroines) that are attractive to them. I mean sex appeal sells a lot of things, and I'd imagine movies are one of them. I mean there are definitely adolescents who will go see a movie because its got some hot actress in it, even if the plot is stupid. If you're targeting a population that say finds white women with blond hair and blue eyes more attractive (overall), it makes sense to cast someone who fits those characteristics, if there is nothing else to consider. When it comes to things like acting ability and such, its a pretty subjective field, so picking minority actor A who may be a marginally better actor than generic white actor B, may not end up being a gain for the movie, if you attract more people with the white actor.

Again here we're in a bit of a vicious cycle. Media portrays X type of person as the epitome of beauty. As such movies will cast people that fit type X further perpetuating the media's portrayal that X is the best. In this type of situation its at least partially a business equality thing so perhaps you could regulate it. However, again you're marketing movies to people's perceptions. If a large percentage of people find X attractive and I want to cast an attractive person, shouldn't I follow what my audience thinks? Or should I be forced via a type of affirmative action to cast someone who may not be as attractive to the general public. The problem is attractiveness, in the movie industry, can be a very important criteria. Choosing a white person over a black person can be both racist (if the choice is purely because of skin color or whatever other prejudicial reasons) or it can be practical (if say a large % of your target audience will prefer a white actor to a black one, and consequently you'll sell more tickets and more people will be entertained). I'm not really sure what, if anything, should in fact be done in such a situation.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby MrGee » Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:01 pm UTC

Well supposedly America is moving away from a white majority anyway, so perhaps being a "black movie" or "hispanic movie" will cease to be such a bad thing.

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Re: People's mate preferences are racist. Do we care?

Postby Griffin » Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:31 pm UTC

Well, since positive discrimination requires a belief that one race is inferior (in some way).

In what way?


Left out a word. Meant to say "positive discrimination being racist"

It was kind of an important word, so I apologize.

And yeah, it is pretty bad when movies cast whites to play in roles that have a damn good reason not to be white, but I don't know if its plain old terrible discrimination, or if its just a lack of candidates.

I do wonder why there were so few asians in Firefly, though, all things considered. In most other ways it had a pretty diverse cast, all things considered.
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