Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Asian and Africans Pushed to the Background to tell the tale of an Anglo family (was really a Spanish family) Experience with the Tsunami in 2004

In sociological terms Asians are viewed as the model minority in America, although this forgets the fact that the Middle East is part of Asia, and by most across the world define these individuals as Asians.  I digress.  My cultural intrigue was spurned by the release of the movie trailer for the  The Impossible, which was released recently.  The Impossible tells the story of a British family who were effected by the Boxing Day Tsunami in Southeast Asia (2004), the film is based on a true story and details their attempt to reconnect once the Tsunami hits.  The trailer is gut wrenching and reminded me about just how painful this experience must have been for those involved.  The trailer also reminds me of how Hollywood likes to to cast "familiar" Anglo people in movie that should be about different races.

In this situation the most affected group was Asians throughout Thailand, Myanmar, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Africans in South Africa, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, and Somalia. Hollywood uses the same   spin the news media uses when a white girl goes missing, because she is white the little girl or boy (mostly girl ) gains much more attention if she is a minority we often rarely hear about the case.  Hollywood pretends to be a bastion of liberalism, but films like this one prove they still have dollar signs in their eyes.  I am shocked the far right does not slam them for this more often, maybe I just gave them the ammo.  This issue seems less about more about a fear of losing money than anything else.

Hollywood moguls ranging from studio executives, to producers want their films to be well made (I hope), and also want to make money.  This combination of elements does not always align, so often times quality is  sacrificed.  In this film it looks like this film, which is based on a true story, but through a fact finding mission I have come to find out that real life people were from Spain and did not remotely resemble the films stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor.  Ironically the film has a Spanish production team, and has the same director as The Orphanage, Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona.  So why the white washing?  Does this film, which will be released in Spain first need an Anglo cast?  In this global film economy films are forgetting diversity, and placating to a white washed American audience.  The one problem with this is that middle America is not going to run out to see this film, and it probably will not make much money in the USA domestically.  In fact I predict the foreign market to be quite larger than the domestic.

Going back to the beginning, why have Hollywood studios decided to pick the journey of these vacationers instead of the actual residents.  Whether that be the those from the Asian or African part of the globe.  Films about either of this continents are few and far between or we show them as exotic foreign lands in an action sequence.  That's on a shoot with a global focus.  If you look at Asian Americans in film today they are almost invisible.  There are few popular Asian actors who have "made it big," I can barely name five Lucy Lui, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, these three are household names, and have had few major roles in films.  Jackie Chan was the new mentor in the update of The Karate Kid franchise, and Jet Li has been in The Expendables franchise, but he is marketed as supporting.  People think including foreign actors means subtitles in a film, it does not have to, but even if it does, sometime reading through the emotional journey would be worth it!

To boil things down, I am disappointed that this film contributes to the constant cultural cleansing within the mainstream film world.  Today's films are so concerned with making money they are forgetting the fact that people will pick up on this aspect, and will once again lose faith in the industry.  Hollywood has become an isolationist world, especially films.  Films cost a lot of money, and taking a risk in today's economy can make or a break a company.  That did not stop production companies from making films like John Carter or Battleship.  I want the Hollywood machine, to pause and think before they put together a movie about an important cultural experience.  Hollywood has been churning out films, in a bland mechanized process for years now.  I want to explore the story of this without major stars, the extra were part of the Tsunami, use people who experience this, and can give audiences a more natural free flowing film.  Use those whose culture we often forget instead of trying to bring the white folks to the movies.  Every now and again like when we little children people have to try something they think they may not like, but actually end up loving.  Now is the time to explore and become more innovative with film.

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