Before I get into why it matters for EVERYONE (especially you money makers) I’d like to start with a tweet.
I know I’ve briefly touched on diversity in films in the past but this development has me diving back into the subject.
So a few days ago Rupert Murdoch decided to tweet something. I assume when his old wrinkly thumbs were moving across his blackberry screen he was clear-headed and not at all inebriated. But the tweet he sent out was ridiculous nonetheless. A tweet claiming that all the Egyptians he knew were white so whats the big deal about having an all white cast……for a movie filmed….. in Africa. While I don’t doubt uncle money bags only knows white people in Egypt. Your tiny little club of people you know in Egypt clearly doesn’t represent the entire country. And oh I’m sorry it’s not an all white cast, How silly of me. Here let’s see the cast.
So…the main characters, the kings and queens. Those can be white, but for the slaves and assassins, now we have to be realistic. If all of the Egyptians Murdoch knows are white, why isn’t he complaining that the servants aren’t white as well? Blatant racism and whitewashing is why this film has been facing a boycott since its inception. #Boycottexodus is a pretty huge movement as minorities are tired of getting the old “heave-ho” whenever big productions feel like it. Which leads us to some very interesting statistics about diversity in film. Here are a few stats about Race and Hollywood based on a study done at UCLA.
The lack of minority representation has always been known, but sometimes it’s good to actually see it. It’s actually sickening. But here’s the GOOD news. Because of things like boycotts and people in general just being tired of this mess. There seems to be an upswing in people going to see films and tv shows with higher minority representation. This comes through in data obtained by
Movies with higher minority representation(21-30%) posted $160.1 million in global box office receipts in 2011. Films with lower Minority involvement(less than 10%) made just $68.5 million. That’s 91.6 million dollars MORE just for doing something you should be doing ANYWAY. I mean asinine, archaic Hollywood casting practices aside, the data is very clear. By being bigoted you are losing money Hollywood. Here’s the full report. See that’s why it matters for everyone, everyone makes more money, A LOT more money in the end. So do the right thing. Diversify your talent, your creators, your directors, hell diversify the agents at the agencies that represent these people. Watch your profits (which have been steadily dropping) soar.
Kanye West is one of the most prolific rappers in modern history modern being 2010 and on. Before that I can only assume people were banging out beats on the back of dinosaurs, mastodons, or other animals and grunting.
In all seriousness though the last mainstream rapper to really address philosophical and political issues died in 1996. Since then we’ve had Mos Def, Common, Lupe Fiasco, and Andre 3000. The only one with real “crossover”, “mainstream” appeal is Andre 3000 and that was only with one of his Outkast albums. Ask anybody who wasn’t black who they were before the love below and you’d get “aren’t they the Scooby Doo guys?” Everybody else who has become millionaires off of merchandising and opportunistic business capitalization have completely sold out any chance they have at making a real statement. Jay-Z actually used to talk about things that mattered, now its all materialistic. Actually today a rapper can garner a huge following talking about the stuff they DON’T have as if they had it. At some point the record labels realized people would pay them to have their rappers put their crap in their lyrics. I was working at a liquor store and I swear Moscato stayed on the shelf until they started saying it in rap songs that they played in the club. Not just black college kids but all races all of a sudden had a taste for this sweet wine meant for desserts. Of course they never drank it in the manner it was supposed to be but alas such is life.
I have long had an issue with the direction rap took. It started off as an amazing way to express an opinion. A way for people to get the word out about what was really going on. Public Enemy, Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash, and I must included The last poets in there as well though they were more than rappers.These rappers realized the type of platform this gave them and utilized it in a way that made people think. I’m not saying club music doesn’t have its place but why is EVERYTHING that comes out meant to objectify women or get you to buy something?
I’ve been upset with it for awhile now but what could I do? I can’t rap, all I can do is write a few thousand words on a blog and join the rest of the league of upset guys on the internet who complain. That’s why when Kanye west debuted his two new songs New slave and Black Skinhead my ears perked up. He debuted New slaves on random walls throughout the world. The next day he performed New slaves and debuted Black Skinhead on SNL. These are two hard hitting songs from his new album.
Immediately I could pick up major influences in the style he chose to get his message across. The musical influences being one that has influenced him in the past, Common. Also The last poets were clearly a major influence.
His blasting of even himself when it comes to materialism and exposure of the crooked system that puts a disproportionate amount of blacks and minorities behind bars is just what people need. He took a stand on SNL where they COULD NOT ignore him. Honestly its people who probably didn’t get it, there are people who think what he did is wrong, that he’s trying to quit, give up.
Kanye West is just get started, if you’d been paying attention you’d have been waiting for this moment. When he’d stop making stuff just to seal up his position, one thing about him if you do your research, Kanye has always been Kanye. Even before he was famous he jumped on tables screaming he was the next Michael Jackson. He’s a little crazy yes but in order to do what you love doing and be great at it, you’ve gotta be crazy.
“I know that we the new slaves… Meanwhile the DEA, teamed up with the CCA They tryina lock n—s up, they tryna make new slaves See that’s the privately owned prison, get your piece today They prolly all in the Hamptons, braggin ’bout what they made”
With new slaves he aired out the DEA and the CCA which operate over the privately owned prisons. At the same time he spoke on how the actual conspiracy theories that people like to follow and quote about NWO and Illuminati are bull and nothing more than distractions from the real problems. The laws that effectively act as new Jim Crow laws, putting more African-Americans behind bars now than were in slavery in 1850. The private prison owners and boards are raking in profits at rates never before seen while the leaders in the minority communities fight to keep their children from going behind bars. The truth is though, everything right now is set perfectly for this to happen. They (prison owners) don’t want immigrants and minorities out of jail. In recent SEC filings, CCA admitted that drug law reform and reductions in mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes are “risk factors” for them that could hurt their bottom line. Corporations never play about their “bottom line.” Unfortunately for all of America, their bottom line means the destruction of our youth, many missed opportunities. Just one glimpse inside a prison and you will see several extremely intelligent people who perhaps because of this intelligence found themselves looking for ways of expression that may have led them to hang around the wrong people. Maybe they didn’t even do anything, (people are being released after going back through cases and being proven innocent at a growing rate)who knows, the point is when you are living in a system designed to make you fail its going to be hard. Especially when that same system also makes darn sure that you think its completely your fault that you failed. Any mention of unfairness and its “no you have the same chance as everyone else, quit whining and get your act together.” Really? Because when you’re saturated with media telling you to hate yourself because you’re dumb and evil, self worth and will power kind of wanes. Here’s an experiment that’s been done probably a few times every decade with African-Americans, with the same results.
“Y’all throwing contracts at me You know that n**** can’t read”
The irony and sarcasm in this one line alone from “New Slaves” makes it one of my favorite. In it he is showing how quickly he would turn down a chance to sell out in order to put forth better music and a better image. Anything that can be put into the media to counteract this mess you saw in that last video is a positive thank you Kanye for at least putting forth a strong black image in your music.
Black Skinhead is more geared towards the perception of blacks when they are proud of their race and doing well as well as when they are acting wild. It is also very good and insightful. He’s not afraid to put his own life on the chopping block and this allows for him to put everyone’s mess on display.
I’ve always listened to his music but I’ve never been excited to see a new album drop like I am for this one. He’s got the world listening right now, he’s dropped two amazing singles already, what is he going to do now? More importantly what are we as minorities going to do now?
Thanks for reading, Viva la revolution’ Entertainment Industry!