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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

WHITE RACIAL APOLOGY #100,816,024 Deadline's Offering For A Headline

 "Pilots 2015:The Year of  Ethnic Castings -
About Time or Too Much of Good Thing?
"




Cutesy but Serious Format - The Apology was within a sort of living room chat format. I assume Bart & Fleming have these little discussions online much like Siskel and Ebert used to quasi-competitively review movies on television. Two thumbs up!



This would be Mistake Number 1


The Apology is one thing in a list of things to discuss


Here we have Mistake Number 2


The apology consisted of apologizing for specific word  choices and word arrangement and never, Ever, EVER EVAAAAH...what those words meant collectively....ala the Levi Petty Pettit apology (#100,816,019). As long as they cyber-droned on, they only discussed how things sounded
 
This isn't just mistake number 3, 
this is mistakes numbers 1 through 100,816,021




How is it everybody above the age of 12 understands that beliefs are connected to thoughts are connected to the words that come out of your mouth...unless race is the subject.   When the subject of race enters the picture, white fragility, being what it is, white folk and Bobby Jindal, seem to suffer this pinpoint amnesia and forget there is a link between belief, thought, words, and then sometimes actions. Yes, sometimes you say "math" when you meant to say "bath."   Yes, even I, as a person of color, as an "ethnic" person, understands what a slip of the tongue is.





Too bad this isn't about that




This is about how most of us, above the age 12, understand that putting individual words together give them a meaning that's more than the sum of their...parts(?). Whatever. And a lot of the time we MEAN those meanings...regardless of what we want to believe about the purity of our own motivations, conscious or unconscious.



The words that form the question, "Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings About Time or Too Much of Good Thing?" have a meaning collectively. And people of color understood that meaning, collectively. And that's why, "HELL NO" was the answer cyber-shouted by Shonda Rhimes and a host of entertainment news reading others.  
 


We, the "ethnic," were not confused.  

And it's very rare we all get confused, all in the same direction, all at the same time, for the record. I'm not even sure that kind of unified confusion is possible when a thing as complicated as the social construction of race is at the center. 





And the thing that really killed me about the 100,816,024th white racial "apology"was this: 

These two chuckle-heads discussed the true meaning of the headline without even noticing. Before they started riffing on forever about the offensive uses of the word "ethnic"(???) which led to a discussion of the how boring the word "diversity"(???) is, then they actually said aloud the truly offensive meaning of  "Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings About Time or Too Much of Good Thing?" without even knowing this belief/thought/idea was offensive and self-serving.



FLEMING:

....My co-editor-in-chief Nellie Andreeva’s goal was to convey that there was such an uptick of TV pilot casting of people of color
that it pinched white actors who’ve historically gotten most of the jobs,

Yeah, we know that's what you meant. We KNOOOW



Link: Deadline's Apology Discussion Of Bad Word Choice



EXCERPT FROM THE APOLOGY CHAT SESSION

"All this was undermined by that headline (which we changed after the fact) and a repetition of the word “ethnic”that came off cold and insensitive.


BART: When you and I worked for years in print, we were stuck with what we published; it was there forever. Did you consider taking the story down when you realized how it offended people?

FLEMING: That story was up all night. It was 12 hours before I awoke to.... who were rightfully incensed...damage was done. I don’t believe you can can make an unwise story disappear and pretend it didn’t happen.

I observed how Amy Pascal raced around with knee-jerk apologies to anyone who’d listen, after those stolen Sony e-mails surfaced. Her actions felt like panicked damage control to me; we decided to face the consequences and take our lumps. [Yeah, apologizing for her WORDS was the point of the scandal, not what she meant,  not her likely actions of hiring, not-hiring, not promoting blacks/browns --actions that walked lock-step with her beliefs, thoughts, and words used]
We did that in the comment tail following that story, where over 700 readers teed off on us. Nellie is trained in the sciences and used those sensibilities to analyze a data sample; the word “ethnic” is commonly used by casting agents.

None of that works when talking about people, and race. Our writers, and editors, can be so focused on the trees they sometimes forget to look at the forest, or in this case, the readers who are much more than statistics. A perfect storm of events left us vulnerable, including me choosing the worst time to be zonked from a 22-hour return flight from New Zealand, and normally smart editors on duty failing to respond decisively even after a torrent of hostile comments rolled in.[<----all of this is about word choice and not getting it offline quickly. Amazing.]

BART: I have always nodded off at the word ‘diversity’ – it somehow sounds blandly corporate. The dictionary defines [the word] as “composed of distinct forms and qualities” and I find hope in the notion of distinctive. People who are distinctive deserve the opportunities, irrespective of their color.

Having said that, casting people tell me the good news that enormous opportunities have opened up for distinctive actors of color thanks to the success of several new shows. The big question: Will that phenomenon extend to the domain of show runners, which seems more like a fraternity? I would like to see the industry launch a drive to recruit a more distinctive (and diverse) array of show runners who, in turn, could nurture a more distinctive (and diverse) creative community. I don’t think the broader opportunities for actors will continue unless that trend is fed by a truly distinct and varied group of writers and producers and, yes, even executives[<--Okay Bart Earned A Few Points Back Here]





THE APOLOGY

FLEMING: I agree with all this, but after our turn in the barrel, I wanted to say a few things to our core readers who felt betrayed.  That original headline does not reflect the collective sensibility here at Deadline. The only appropriate way to view racial diversity in casting is to see it as a wonderful thing, and to hope that Hollywood continues to make room for people of color."


But problem is that  THIS

"Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings About Time or Too Much of Good Thing?"

DOESN'T MEAN


The only appropriate way to view racial diversity in casting is to see it as a wonderful thing, and to hope that Hollywood continues to make room for people of color.
 
BUT IT DOES MEAN
  ...My co-editor-in-chief Nellie Andreeva’s goal was to convey that there was such an uptick
of TV pilot casting of people of color
that it pinched white actors
who’ve historically gotten most of the jobs,
 


Nellie may not have intended to convey the same ole, same ole  'What about us? Why isn't there a WHITE HISTORY MONTH!  I'm complaining because 95% of grade school, junior high school, and high school history class being about white wasn't enough.'  She may not have meant to express "What about us?" But how many coincidences in a row are we "ethnics" supposed to swallow.

Okay "ethnic " is weird, 1980s, and distancing. But THAT'S what you focus on?  You don't focus on the other obvious meaning of that headline...and why Nellie, and the dozen or so people who read the article before it was published, didn't see what people of color saw almost instantly?

Why didn't they see, or at least discuss during the apology, the "What About Us" aspect of that headline?


Deadline won't be able to fix the race problem they promised to fix because they cannot see how effortlessly they chose to close white ranks,  as easily as most of us suck air into our lungs to live....and just about as unconsciously.

So there's going to be repeat performance. Somewhere. Apology #100,816,025 is out there waiting for us. There are editors everywhere, including the editors at Deadline, who can't even try to get past thinking about their "word" choices, worry about political correctness, and their own hurt feelings to look inside themselves for deeper, possibly unconscious motivations.

I
f Deadline can't see that the headline itself, Nellie Andreeva's  goal, and keeping  TV, Hollywood, and the Oscars white dovetail pretty easily, then what are they but just one more unconscious part of the problem? 


            Whiteness of the Oscars Beautifully Illustrated