arts, representation, and you(r local brown peeps)

Put a brown person in there.

You might have noticed there’s a new movie coming out about The Great Wall! What a delight! A movie about a major piece of Chinese histo-

OH IT’S ABOUT MATT DAMON SAVING CHINA. Yes, that’s right, it’s another white saviour movie! (It’s directed by Zhang Yimou, but it’s seriously not Chinese – it’s in English, it stars MATT DAMON SAVING CHINA, it actually hits a few points that mean it might not get a release in China, Zhang Yimou is already kind of distancing himself from it – it’s very much a white Hollywood movie)

Do we really need to talk about how CHINA doesn’t need to BE SAVED by A WHITE MAN WHO CAN’T SPEAK ANY CHINESE DIALECT?

Me, previously: Space racism: on Hollywood actors and their whitewashing

Some reading:

Visibility and representation is so important, it helps us visualise where we are and where we can go. You’ve heard it all before.

Think about this instead:


But most of us will never appear in front of a TV or a movie camera. Instead, maybe we’ll be behind it, writing or working. Maybe.

Taika Waititi, Māori man, New Zealander, hilarious dude, is directing Thor 3 in Queensland right now. His workspace includes three flags: Rainbow flag, Mabo flag, Tino Rangatiratanga (Māori) flag. It’s a quiet demonstration of support for the Indigenous people of his neighbour.

Less quiet a demonstration is that he made hiring Indigenous Australians for his crew a priority.

“It’s a responsibility you have to the Indigenous people. You’re coming to a country and you’re bringing money into the economy and creating jobs but I think you have an even bigger responsibility to look after the people that have less opportunities”

A great way to support a community, to build a community, is to make sure you’re thinking very consciously about how that works. And for us non-white Australians, who struggle in the Arts scene because of its whiteness, this is a great way to do it.

[Liz: DAMMIT, maybe I’m not boycotting that movie anymore…]

Obviously none of YOU would ask, “But does a scheme like this really work?” But just in case:

The attachments are part of an initiative by Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders a foot in the door of the film industry. One of the former participants in the scheme is Ryan Griffen who went on to create the acclaimed television series Cleverman.

OH, being given an opportunity helped an Indigenous man create the first Indigenous SFF series, did it? What a tiny, small achievement! That won’t benefit anyone but hims-

[Liz: There is also the black&write! mentorship program for Indigenous writers and editors — the editing bit is important, because #weneeddiversebooks means needing, not just writers of colour, but editors who understand where they’re coming from.]

It makes a difference, seeing someone like you achieving these things: knowing, even as you see Matt Damon rescuing China from the monstrous hordes, that POC can still get in these places, where we aren’t wanted.

We know we’re not wanted, because we have to deal with stuff like this:

Waititi, whose previous films include Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, is the first Indigenous person to direct a Marvel superhero film and says having Māori, Aboriginal Australians and New Zealanders on set has helped his nerves.

Oh, he’s the first Indigenous person to direct a Marvel superhero film? I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Create spaces where we can all grow. Representation matters, but so does opportunity.

(Thanks to twitter friend ourcatastrophe for pointing out Taika’s glory in this regard yesterday)

2 thoughts on “arts, representation, and you(r local brown peeps)

  1. Pingback: not entirely coherent thoughts on crime and representation | Reading Kills

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