If I'm wrong, then I'll be happy about it, trust me! I try to be optimistic, too. But it's frustrating to constantly hear "it'll happen, wait for it!" or "they're just hiring the right people for the job," like talented minority filmmakers don't exist. (Especially when people like Taika Waititi, Ryan Coogler, Patty Jenkins, Ava Duverney, and Jordan Peele have been garnering so much acclaim lately.) And ESPECIALLY when Kathleen Kennedy is helming the franchise and talks about the importance of diversity in all aspects of filmmaking. I understood and defended the ideas behind hiring JJ Abrams for Episode IX (he started the trilogy), and Rian Johnson for developing a new trilogy (they liked what he did for TLJ), and Ron Howard to step in for Solo (they wanted someone with a proven history to get the movie back on track). But now, to continue to pitch entirely new Star Wars concepts and ideas? Star Wars is a license to print money. They can hire anyone they want. I respect the hell out of Kennedy, but she needs to start putting her money where her mouth is.
All that all said, I don't think this is the end of the world and I still love Star Wars.
It's really nice Taika Waititi (Cohen) gets referenced like this for his skill as a director. I don't know of the others you bring up, but perhaps I've seen their work.
I grew up in New Zealand (the same country as Taika), and in fact he used to come into my shop quite a bit for coffee and food. Both in Auckland a few times and the shop I worked in London.
In NZ we don't have half the racial tension/problems the US and Europe has. I mean there will always be imbalances but nothing to the extent of the civil rights and upheaval of feeling in the US right now. I think that is for many reasons, all of which I won't get into, but one of those is the NZ government has spent the best part of the last 20-30 years atoning for European treatment of Maori in the form of reparations and the preservation of Maori culture under NZ law and education. The government has done quite a lot (some would probably still say not enough, and fair play), to make Maori culture a national treasure and something to be protected. (when compared to many other countries and their treatment of their indigenous population).
All that said.. Taika Waititi (and I dont want to speak for him here) is pretty much a middle class white guy. YES his dad is Maori. YES he's got brown skin. But he's also pretty well off financially (and I know nothing about his childhood so can't speak to that) and for all intents and purposes has the life of an upper middle class NZ citizen. That he has brown skin is just what it is. Circumstantial. If he should be hired as a director it should be because he is a good director. Not because he is a good "minority" director. Handing people work because they fit that criteria is kind of disrespectful in that it seems like throwing a person a bone, as if they need special help from the white establishment, when in fact his merit as a director and writer is enough to get him work. Irrespective of the pigmentation of his skin. Which is what this comes down to. People consider him a minority because of his skin colour not because of his heritage. Im 1/2 Norwegien, 1/4 Dutch and the rest 2nd generation New Zealand/British (a cultural "minority"). My cultural heritage is as varied as Taika Waititi's but because it is not reflected in the pigmentation of my skin (other than the fact I am more
pale than most) I for all intents and purposes am generic white dude. And that's fine, no problem here with that.. I don't particularly care my life isn't effected either way and I don't want any recognition or special treatment or understanding. But the only reason you (people) recognize Mr Waititi as having a "minority" heritage is because he is brown. And he's got an "ethnic" name ( and so do I and many other Europeans living in countries that are not their ethnic origin) . Never mind that Maori culture and heritage goes much deeper than the pigmentation of skin. Not to mention the fact many Maori have pale skin now, as centuries of ethnic mixing and genetics will provide. That makes them no less Maori than Mr Waititi, yet it makes them less distinguishable particularly to the perception of an outsider.
So what is my point?
My point is (and I don't want to speak for him but I'm going out on a limb) I don't think Mr Waititi would wish to be viewed or be given worked based on being a "minority" director. To do so implies that his heritage has been a burden on his life and that he would require special help and treatment. I suspect many Maori and Pacific islanders might find that
Going out on another limb here... I suspect many people of ethnic minorities working in film and various media would prefer to not have their ethnic heritage taken into consideration at all. That they get the job based on merit, not because it makes a politically savvy move for the white establishment to throw "them" a bone. Especially since our (white establishment) perception of what constitutes "them" is as superficial as skin pigmentation and a "funny" name, not the deep and rich cultural practices and heritage that are invisible to the eye, but are the core aspects of ethnic heritage and identity.
Apologies to Taika Waititi to be used as my reference to make this point. If I spoke out of turn I apologise. But I felt it needed to be said, because I kind of feel strongly about this.
And once again I've derailed a thread. I didn't mean to! Honest. Its all relevant and part of the natural flow of conversation and all that.
Edited by Odine, 08 February 2018 - 04:08 AM.