By: Jess Canty
Brian and I had the opportunity to attend an event this week at the Berggruen Institute in DTLA which was a panel discussion with a number of storytellers - from TV, to Film to Indie Film to News - about Hollywood's social responsibility in the stories we tell.
One of the things that came up during the discussion were the successes of films like Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean's Eight.
I want to preface this by saying that I loved each of these movies and these stories are looooooong overdue.
That being said, to me, I am concerned that if we stop here, this kind of filmmaking could potentially lead to a form of tribalism that doesn't look like the world in which any of us operate in our every day lives.
And it seems to me that something we will be facing as artists in the coming years is this tension between globalism and tribalism - specifically a tribalism based in 19th and 20th century tropes of race, religion, and nationalism.
I personally don't want the ONLY opportunities for Latinx actors to be all-Latinx movies. I don't want Black actors to only be able to be in all-Black movies. It still divides and separates us - and mostly in the name of marketing. In the name of letting the corporations that own the studios divide and conquer.
And again, I am not talking about right now. Because Hollywood - film in particular - is so fricken far behind itself.
I am, of course, super excited that these movies are providing opportunities for everyone to see themselves represented on screen. To play roles that have never been available before. And that these movies are great stories well told and that they are being received by wide audiences around the world.
But what I think we need to keep an eye on as artists in this industry is making sure that Hollywood doesn't stop here.
That we make sure that the powers that be are not allowed to say "Oh you had your Asian movie, we'll see you in 25 years."
And that we make sure that in addition to stories of Sioux families and lesbian families that we also demand more stories like This Is Us. We demand more casting like Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing - where Denzel and Keanu play brothers and it is never "explained."
I, for one, want to see stories that look like walking down the street in LA looks. These points of connection between different cultures, ideas - showing that we are more similar than we are different - is where I think art, and particularly stories, have the most power.
That we have an opportunity not to show how divided we are, but how together we can be.
And you know why I know that?
Because of this tribe.