With the Academy Awards approaching, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released its most recent report on diversity in Hollywood.
It documented an upward trend toward equality: The number of women and people of color in the role of lead or co-lead has risen over the last two years. Still, the film industry has yet to achieve parity, especially for people of color, whose representation is 11 percent lower than their share of the general population.
Statistics provide an indispensable metric to understand the big picture, what I call “creative labor” of who’s hired for particular jobs. But numbers alone can’t account for the types of characters being played – if they’re stereotypical roles or groundbreaking portrayals. Nor do numbers tell us why representations in popular culture can have such profound impact on people’s lives.
In my book “Worldmaking: Race, Performance and the Work of Creativity,” I approach the issue of diversity as a cultural anthropologist, playwright and performance studies scholar. In it, I argue that cultural representation is about something deeper than parity for the sake of parity – that everyone needs to be mirrored in the public sphere in order to exist and to count as a fully dimensional human being.
Classic psychoanalytic theorist Jacques Lacan proposed the concept of the mirror stage of development, which he argued was necessary for the formation of an identity.
He used the metaphor of infants recognizing themselves in a mirror as the first step towards seeing themselves as integrated, whole beings. While Lacan thought it was impossible to achieve “wholeness” – no one can be completely whole and integrated – he argued that identities are imagined and reinforced through this mirroring.
For this reason, it’s critical that people see themselves mirrored in popular culture. Identities can be formed by watching film, television, theater or sports. They’re shaped by playing video games, dancing and listening to music. The characters who appear and the roles they assume indicate whose lives matter in the public sphere, and who is erased.
The arts and popular culture stage what I call “visions of possibility” for what viewers and readers can become. For generations, members of the dominant culture were primarily able to see themselves on screen as leaders – the heroes of stories that are publicly recognized and celebrated. Marginalized people were relegated to more limited possibilities, and these limitations can carry over into diminished dreams and life choices.
That’s starting to change. A black child can now see Chadwick Boseman star as the hero of “Black Panther,” and Storm Reid play 13-year-old protagonist Meg Murry in “A Wrinkle in Time.” An Asian-American child can see Constance Wu command the screen in “Crazy Rich Asians,” while an indigenous person can see Yalitza Aparicio appear as the lead in “Roma.”
The ability of viewers to see themselves mirrored becomes especially crucial when we rethink how inequality operates. Racism, for example, is not simply a matter of spectacular violence or membership in the Ku Klux Klan. Nor is racism simply a matter of attitude or prejudice.
Critical geographer and social justice activist Ruth Wilson Gilmore calls racism “group differentiated vulnerability to premature death.”
In other words, some groups are more likely to experience lower life expectancies, whether it’s from violence, imprisonment, exposure to environmental toxins or even the greater amount of energy it takes to get through a day. Inequalities of race, class and gender can gradually erode psychological and physical health, in what English professor Lauren Berlant calls “slow death.”
To counter the slow death of inequality, I argue that the sort of mirroring in popular culture that affirms viewers from marginalized groups is life-giving.
This requires attention to creative vision. It’s not simply a matter of numbers; it’s a matter of whose stories are being told, and who is controlling the narrative. The growing number of women and people of color on screen may not signal a new, exciting creative vision if they’re cast in the conventional roles of damsel in distress, “the black best friend,” the increasingly popular gay, “fabulous” black best friend or “the Asian nerd.”
That’s why it’s important to shine a spotlight on all kinds of new stories, whether it’s making a superhero a star or simply highlighting everyday lives of people of different cultures, classes, races or sexualities.
What can be gained by subjects and premises that are so repetitive? What about the invisible everyday lives and experiences of indigenous or Middle Eastern women? What could be learned from an Asian-American female protagonist’s midlife crisis? Or would “midlife crisis” even be an apt term for her unique experiences? Would there be a new way to imagine her story?
How many other stories go unseen and untold?
Postcolonial scholar Gayatri Spivak wrote that racism and colonialism aren’t simply a matter of overt, conscious domination. Instead, they involve what she calls “zones of sanctioned ignorance.” In other words, what do people not know about the lives of those who are different from themselves?
Lack of diversity creates zones of sanctioned ignorance. Denying playwrights, screenwriters and directors from marginalized communities a platform for their work deprives everyone the opportunity to engage with the world in new ways.
What intriguing tales might await when richly specific, expansive creative visions from previously overlooked writers and directors are given the space to blossom? What fresh, fascinating stories will emerge?
Without a continued push for diversity, audiences will never know.
Dorinne Kondo does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Former Suits star turned Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle has made a home for herself in London with husband Prince Harry. However, when it comes to the celebration for her soon-to-be-born royal baby, it's the Big Apple that has welcomed Meghan with open arms.
According to People, Meghan arrived in New York City to celebrate her rumored baby shower Tuesday. Wearing a grey coat and sunglasses, she was, once again, the most stylish mom in the city — even if this city was firmly on United States soil.
Per The Daily Mail, Meghan reportedly hit up the Met Breuer museum, before heading to the nearby Surrey hotel. On the itinerary, according to TMZ, was lunch with pals at the Surrey's famed French restaurant Cafe Boulud.
The Surrey isn't the only hotel she checked out: Meghan then headed to the Mark Hotel, which, according to Vanity Fair, is where the royal's baby shower is taking place. Serena Williams is apparently the brains behind the celebration, which will include desserts and flower-arranging in the hotel's penthouse suite, composed of two floors with five bedrooms, four fireplaces, six bathrooms, and two powder rooms. Williams is paying the $75,000-a-night bill, per Tatler.
As for who was in attendance, The Daily Mail states that Abigail Spencer, who worked with Meghan on Suits and is a good friend of the royal, was spotted at the Mark. Vanity Fair also says Misha Nonoo, stylist Jessica Mulroney, and Priyanka Chopra, Benita Litt, and Markus Anderson are also there.
Not reportedly celebrating in New York is Meghan's mom, Doria Ragland. The Daily Mail reports she was seen walking her dog in Los Angeles. Prince Harry is also not alongside his wife. The two also recently spent Valentine's Day apart.
Toast with a mimosa in honor of Meghan — she's living her best baby shower life.
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Remember Black Dahlia? Ostensibly, this show is about her murder. For those unfamiliar, the Black Dahlia murder is a famous 1940s murder of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short. Her body was severed in half and left on a vacant lot in Los Angeles. Her murder is still unsolved and a source of fascination for the true crime community — so much so that Josh Hartnett starred in a movie titled The Black Dahlia back in 2006.
The crime case was a source of fascination even during the era in which I Am the Night takes place , as evidenced by Jay’s (Chris Pine) purchase of a Black Dahlia-themed gossip rag at the end of last week’s episode. This episode finally comes forward with what has seemed evident all along: The murder of Janice Brewster, the body Jay examined in the premiere, looks awfully similar to that of the Black Dahlia. Brewster’s body was dismembered, disgustingly so, and Brewster herself resembles Short. All of this evidence appears to be leading to the fact that George Hodel (Jefferson Mays), sinister mustachioed villain, is both Short and Brewster’s killer. Also, he may have made their bodies into art? Serial killers are weird.
Much of episode four takes place around the murder of Sepp (Dylan Smith), George Hodel’s henchmen. Honestly, Sepp’s demise is a pity, because Sepp himself seems like he was a character worth exploring. A man who aspired to do “real” work for a gynecologist-cum-art-collector? A man who grew up under the tutelage of an art snob and ended up working as a part-time assassin? Let’s not forget that Sepp killed Nero (Astro), too, a death that is acknowledged but hardly explored. And it’s still not clear what Nero offered to Sepp and George — all he appeared to do was record a telephone call with Fauna, which may not have given George any information, anyway.
The Hodels are apparently masochistic nihilists, causing trouble and wreaking havoc just for fun, at least for now. Both Corinna (Connie Nielson) and George are obsessed with art. They are high-minded and condescending and maybe just bored rich people having some violent fun. Corinna is a performance artist, according to the event that both Jay and Fauna attend in this episode. Looking to stir drama, Corinna invites both of them — her granddaughter and a disgraced reporter — to what she calls a “happening,” a party that the show appears to have been referencing all along. Is this "happening" the same sort of party as the one featured in episode three?
“You want to know something?” Corinna taunts Jay over the phone. “I’ll show you something. I’ll tell you something.” She then invites him to her show, where, naturally, he meets Fauna.
The “happening” is a massive art installation — a kind of haunted-looking Instagram playland for the ‘60s. Corinna’s section of it entails Corinna lying down in the middle of a room while spectators approach with scissors, ready to do whatever they want with her. Most of them just snip off parts of Corinna’s outfit, afraid to do any real harm. Later, Fauna gives her critique of the art piece:
“For your show, I think you just wanted us to be responsible for you,” says Fauna. “Joining in, or just watching and doing nothing.”
A burgeoning art critic! She may not have the quirkiness of Jake Gyllenhaal in Velvet Buzzsaw , but she’s getting there.
Alas, George Hodel isn’t at the party, although his presence is certainly felt. There may or may not be a minotaur on this show, and, as of now, the show appears to be hinting that George and the minotaur are the same. He’s a were-taur! The animal is also potentially a bull (not a minotaur), as this episode is appropriately titled “Matador. Alas, the show isn’t revealing the beast just yet! For now, all the show will share is hoofbeats and the heavy breath of a huge animal.
The real monster, at least for now, is Sepp. When he tries to kill Fauna in this episode, attacking her at the “happening,” Jay intervenes, brandishing his fearsome combat skills. Jay is still haunted by his time at war, as evidenced by the repeated appearances of imaginary soldiers in his bedroom. He has PTSD, clearly — at another point, he leaps on the ground after a chair breaks, thinking he heard gunshots — and this is why he doesn’t just hurt Sepp. He kills Sepp, stabbing him to death with a knife.
Grisly as it is, the death binds Jay to Fauna, which is helpful for this show moving forward. Fauna is a curious girl, and Jay is interesting, too, but they are far more intriguing as a team than on their own. Now that they’ve collaborated on a murder, they have to stick by each other’s side. Fauna owes her life to Jay, first of all, and they also now know that there’s something deeply wrong with George Hodel.
Which brings us to: Hawaii. Who knew that TNT’s latest noir crime drama would swerve into another state? Tamar Hodel was the only one who knew. Fauna’s mother is in Hawaii, a place where no minotaur can get her, according to Corinna's address book. She's going by "T.H. Apate" now. Knowing this information, Fauna strikes a deal with Jay: If he finds out why Sepp was following her around, she will lead him to her mother in Hawaii. How he'll find the cash for a plane ticket is less clear. The next episode is tellingly titled "Aloha," though, so Fauna and Jay are absolutely leaving California.
As for Sepp, his real name is Ivanovich Victor — just a fun fact for all of us! After some snooping, Jay intercepts an invite for Sepp for yet another Hodel-sponsored art event. This family is deeply, deeply into art. At this event, Jay confronts Corinna about her husband: Where is George Hodel? And what's his big secret?
In this episode, Jay tells Fauna that George's big crime was that he operated an illegal abortion clinic in Los Angeles. But the tone of I Am The Night suggests that this wasn't his sole crime. There's something sinister about the abortion clinic that Jay suspects but isn't willing to share.
As of this episode, Jay discovers another secret: George owns a lot of very creepy art. The art isn't just creepy — it evokes the death of the Black Dahlia, Jay discovers. Which suggests that George Hodel's interests in macabre paintings may be more violent than just that of a fun new hobby.
Meanwhile, Fauna goes to her mother, Jimmy Lee (Golden Brooks), to get more information. All Jimmy can say is that the Hodels are monsters. She is insistent that Fauna should never discover the truth of her origin. The Hodels? They aren't worth Fauna's time. That doesn't deter our heroine, though.
Says Fauna, "I'm going to find out everything. And I don't care what it breaks."
For Jay's sake, I hope that's a "breaking news" pun.
The Chris Pine Shrine
Each week, as Chris Pine digs deeper into his role as Jay Singletary, we’ll catalog his best moments here.
Remember when Jay brushed his teeth using his finger after vomiting? So sturdy!
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Who is Keyser Söze?! And why are they trying to date the Bachelor even though they aren't ready for marriage? The Bachelor — and its star, Colton Underwood — are desperate to discover who isn't ready for marriage. This season has become very epic lately, with women prophesying left and right of a person unfit for the Bachelor throne, a person who may have just been under our noses all along.
This person...she is here..neither can live while the other survives!
In all seriousness, this kind of questioning happens on most seasons of The Bachelor. The difference with this season is that our lead, sir Colton Underwood, he of the football jersey and the cystic fibrosis research charity, is a virgin. He has also been in precisely one (1) long-term relationship. This means that he may not be attuned to his relationship compass. Is Cassie, an early favorite of his, to be trusted? Is she manipulative? Or is Colton just voraciously horny to make decisions? (Would that we could impeach the Bachelor because he was just too horny.)
Horny is questionable, but Colton is certainly feeling unstable. In his opening vlog, he whines that all his decisions feel weightier now. “Every decision that I make is bigger. And means more," he explains. Plus, on last week's episode, three women warned him that there were women in his cabal who weren't ready for marriage. Colton, like all good internet writers (and comedians), knows that three's a trend. Three warnings makes this a real threat. The call is officially coming from inside the house!
The reality, though, is that Colton is the one who has to live with his pick at the end of this season. Which means that he acts against the advice of a few of his women. Kirpa and Tayshia — both beloved on Bachelor internet — warn him that Cassie and Caelynn are the ones not ready for marriage. Tayshia even goes so far to say that the two were discussing the prospect of being the Bachelorette.
And, to be fair, Caelynn and Cassie have been presented, at least in this episode, as manipulative co-conspirators. (Cassie was also notably on another reality TV show.) In the opening minutes of the episode, the two are shown discussing the three "warnings" of the previous episode. They seem worried, but they reassure each other that Tayshia, a girl they don't really fraternize with, doesn't know enough about them to say anything to Colton.
“At least nobody named names," Caelynn says, sighing. This implies that maybe she would be worried if someone named names.
Tayshia does end up naming names on her one-on-one with Colton. Discussing other women while on a one-on-one date is usually verboten here — why would you waste time on a date talking about someone else? — but Tayshia manages to escape unscathed, mostly because she seems like she's telling the truth. When asked about this persistent rumor, she tells Colton matter-of-factly that she heard Cassie and Caelynn discussing becoming the Bachelorette. Then, they move on with their date, which involves chocolate on Tayshia's butt (part of the after show blooper), plenty of wine, and roasted Brussel sprouts.
Tayshia gets a rose for what is actually a very cozy one-on-one. The show has moved to Denver now, which means the dates are simpler and more intimate. Tayshia just gets a walk around Denver with Colton and Colton's dog Sniper. Then, they go roast some salmon. Easy, breezy, relationshippy.
Even Caelynn's date is closer to home. Colton takes her snowboarding, and they goof off on the slopes of Denver. After, though, he confronts her about the dreaded rumor: Is it true that she's not ready for marriage? Caelynn practically erupts, crying and hurling insults at Tayshia.
“There’s an insecure, 28-year-old girl running around the house," she tells the camera, adding, "Fuck her." Later, she says simply, “I will call that stupid bitch out.”
She and Tayshia eventually do have a conversation, and it's clear that neither one of them wanted this conflict. Tayshia points out that she was asked about Katie's warning, and she responded in kind. She wasn't trying to stir drama, and she certainly wasn't talking shit just for fun.
"I feel like our whole friendship is a lie," Caelynn retorts. Nevertheless, later in the episode, they are fast friends once more.
The prophecy will return! But, briefly, Colton deals with Hannah B. instead. Hannah B. has been a curious figure on the show so far. She's endlessly chipper and, because of it, ever-so-slightly tragicomic. Hannah B. is a "Hannah Beast" of awkwardness, kindness, love, and neediness. She's going to be a whirlwind of delight on Paradise, but she's not for this season of The Bachelor. After introducing her to his family, Colton ships her home, explaining that he didn't think he had it in him to meet her family at hometowns next week. Hannah B. is dejected, but surprisingly sturdy in the aftermath.
“I’m a little confused as to what you want, but I’m glad to know that," she says plainly. As she leaves, she gives one more warning: "Man, just, like, listen to people."
What a lovely warning. Even as she said it, though, Hannah B. didn't seem to believe that it would work. And it doesn't! Colton does not do this! He doesn't listen! To be fair, he has a lot of voices in his head right now, and being the Bachelor is hard. In his opening vlog, he admits, “Falling in love with multiple people scares the shit out of me.” As it should. Colton is playing with fire, and the entire premise of this show ensures that he eventually gets hurt.
After sending Hannah B. home, Colton has a four-on-one, a replacement for the show's traditional two-on-one. Kirpa, Heather, Hannah G., and Cassie go on a date to observe a train in the wilderness. With all due respect to the New York City subway, it's a very cool train. The vehicle hardly gets any attention, though, as the date quickly turns to the identity of Keyser Söze. Is it Cassie? Kirpa thinks so, and she tells Colton this. Cassie, like Caelynn earlier in the episode, erupts, weeping and lashing out at Kirpa.
"This all just, like, reeks of desperation to me," Cassie says.
Kirpa stays strong: She has nothing to feel guilty about, just Cassie crying and stuttering in the Denver mountains.
This doesn't save Kirpa, even if it should. Both Kirpa and Heather head home on the four-on-one date, Heather by her own volition, and Kirpa by Colton's hand. Colton just "sees" his relationship with Cassie more. And Kirpa? Well, she's quiet, and Colton has to listen to his gut.
I just wonder what kind of gut Colton is listening to right now.
Leonardo DiCaprio's The Departed: Heather, Hannah B., Kirpa
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The pieces are starting to fall into place for True Detective Season 3 with the penultimate episode, "The Final Country," though the season finale next week will undoubtedly throw in a twist or two. But for now, we've got a semi-clear picture of what happened to Julie Purcell (Lena McCarthy) — and it is not pretty, though it might not be quite as dark as viewers were expecting.
So here’s what went down in the three different eras.
Not much happens in 1980 because we've kind of exhausted this storyline, but there are two brief scenes we need to talk about.
First, Tom (Scoot McNairy) is leaves town for awhile. The despondent, broken man who doesn't know what to do with himself now that his kids are gone. West gives Tom his home phone number just in case and Tom must have called it at some point since we know that West helped Tom turn his life around.
Secondly, after their night together, Hays finds out Amelia (Carmen Ejogo) is thinking about writing about the case. He encourages her to do it because he thinks someone ought to point out how quickly local law enforcement wanted to close the case by pinning it on the deceased Brett Woodard (Michael Greyeyes). Obviously, she took his advice.
Following up on last week's cliffhanger where Harris James (Scott Shepherd) attacks Tom Purcell (Scoot McNairy) inside the Hoyt mansion, Hays and West are called to Tom's "suicide" scene. It's staged to look like he shot himself in the head at Devil's Den, leaving behind a typed note reading, "I am sorry. Please forgive me. I'm going to see my wife and son."
Hays almost immediately smells a rat, but it takes West a little while to get on the same page because he's so blinded by guilt for going after Tom after all these years. He thinks their actions drove Tom to die, and he feels so bad about it that he can't see the forest for the trees. But Hays points out Tom would have never typed a suicide note. West cautions him to just let it go or he'll never get his career back on track, but Hays can't.
Instead of letting he go, he decides to pursue the lead about the one-eyed black man that Amelia tipped him off about. But West isn't convinced.
Luckily, Hays and Amelia are more than happy to keep pursuing the investigation until West comes around. Amelia goes to see Lucy Purcell's (Mamie Gummer) friend, Margaret (Emily Nelson), to ask her about the one-eyed man and finds out that Margaret actually has a photo of the Purcell kids on Halloween that shows the two sheet-wearing adults lurking in the background. Amelia also discovers that the manager at Lucy's bar had seen the one-eyed black man before — talking to Cousin Dan (Michael Graziadei).
There are two things that finally get West on board with Hays' hunch that the case is far from closed. First, that Cousin Dan has apparently gone missing and second, that Lucy called Harris James a bunch of times the day before she died. The final piece of evidence is records of James taking a three-day trip to Las Vegas arriving the day before Lucy’s alleged overdose, and leaving the day after. Shady.
Hays insists they go rough up James to try to get some answers out of him and West reluctantly goes along with it after Hays plays the "Tom" card — they have to get justice for Tom. But their "interrogation" goes horribly awry and West is forced to shoot James to keep him from escaping and/or killing Hays. So now they have a dead body on their hands and West is rightly furious about all of it.
They bury James in the woods and West is fuming This is the moment where the Hays-West relationship broke.
Also of note — while he was being questioned, James insisted he would "never hurt a child" and it feels like he was telling the truth, which lends some weight to a theory I'm going to float here in a minute.
The next day, two black cars pull up outside Hays' house and old man Hoyt calls him, telling him to come outside while vaguely threatening his family. Hoyt knows what happened to Harris, and he wants to talk to Hays about it. Now. Hays gets in one of his blacked out chauffeured cars as Amelia watches him drive off.
During the TV interview, Elisa (Sarah Gadon) asks Hays if he ever considered that Tom didn't commit suicide. Hays begs off, noting the medical examiner ruled it a suicide, but he's hiding his true feelings again. He knew it wasn't a suicide then, and he still doesn't think it was. But he keeps quiet about it.
What does pique his interest is that Elisa suggests there was a larger conspiracy at play: a cover-up. And you know that has crossed Hays' mind many times over the years — and it definitely feels like Attorney General Gerald Kindt (Brett Cullen) had to have been involved. Hays is also interested in Elisa's information about the one-eyed black man, who one witness identified as "Watts." The TV investigators think he was a "procurer" of kids and Elisa shows Hays an article about Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson), saying she thinks Hays' case might be part of a bigger network of pedophiles, one that involves high-level politicians and businessmen. Men with money commit crimes often mean they are easily covered up.
Hays still won't show all his cards to Elisa, though, and she's disappointed he can't provide some answers for her. He refuses to give her anything, though, preferring to keep investigating in secret with West.
Together, they do get a lead in their investigation. The reunited detectives locate a former Hoyt kitchen maid/housekeeper and she reveals that Hoyt's daughter, Isabelle, lost her husband and daughter in a car crash in 1977. Isabelle never recovered, and became a recluse. Then one night she took her car out and caused a huge accident; after that, a black man named "Mr. June" became the sole provider of Isabelle. He was the only one permitted into her area of the mansion (might this area contain a pink room). And — you guessed it — he had one white eye.
Theory time: The whole thing with Julie wasn't about pedophilia at all. She was kidnapped by Mr. June and the unknown white woman accomplice (who is probably Isabelle) to come live at the Hoyt mansion and take the place of Isabelle's dead daughter. Julie eventually escaped, but she had mental issues from all those years of isolation and captivity. That's why she didn't go back to her father and that’s why she nicknamed herself "Mary July" (there's that June-July connection).
The last little bit of intrigue in the present-day timeline is a mysterious sedan that is still parked outside of Hays' house. West sees it too, proving that it's not a figment of Hays' delusions. They manage to get a license plate before it speeds away — do you think it might be Isabelle?
Odds & Ends
We finally meet Hays' daughter Becca (Deborah Ayorinde) in a brief scene when he drops her off at college sometime around 2003 or so. The scene doesn’t reveal much, but hopefully it indicates that we will find out why the two are estranged in the finale. Maybe they'll even reconcile.
In a brief 2015 scene, Hays finally remembers that he really pushed West to go after Harris James and he's sorry for how that all went down. West forgives him and they move on.
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