Movies / Music / Politics / Race

The Soundtrack to Every Movie is Racist

In Hollywood, there is a language problem. Specifically, the target audience is known to speak one language and be offended at the insinuation that they learn others. But at the same time, it turns out that there are quite a lot of languages in the world, possibly more than four! One favored solution in Hollywood is to deny that the rest of the world exists populated by human beings (also known as “US foreign policy”), either by never leaving the only country that matters (not to be confused with the only band that matters, which is presently Dir en Grey), or by going mostly to countries which speak American (albeit with funny non-American accents). Non-Anglo countries can be dealt with by having the natives speak English (even when they take place before there was an English language), or in the case of non-white countries, populating them predominantly with animals (the Lion King, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol).

On some rare occasions the natives may be insolent enough to open their mouths and let their own heathen tongues be heard by genteel white Anglo ears. To maintain realism (and because the target audience abhors reading), this is generally not subtitled, except when it advances the plot for our white heroes, because, as is known, white people magically become fluent in any foreign language if what it is being said is REALLY important to following the plot.

don't die

Narrative flow excuses a lot of nonsense. Just ask Excel…

But there’s another way the oriental natives communicate with the white man. Through song. But not just any song: Oriental song.

It’s important to distinguish oriental song from western song. For you see, western song has many genres developed in modernity which are used to signify the era and attitude of the white men in question. Orientals lack modernity or indeed eras at all. Time never passes in the orient, existing as it does outside of history. There is no modernity in the orient, and while each decade in the west is completely distinct with a different soundtrack to match, in the orient music from hundreds of years ago is what is presumably still listened to today by the mysterious natives.

get high and listen to this

It sounds like this looks…

One may argue that such music is used to strike a mood. I would not contest this claim, the issue is that this mood is “foreign.” Whatever is happening to the natives is irrelevant, they can always be announced by their foreign nature. One cannot universally announce an American milieu with bluegrass, one needs to consider the period, class and outlook of the Americans in question. But there is no issue in announcing the arrival in China with Chinese orchestral music.

One may also argue that humans naturally associate their own music with their own culture and want markedly foreign music for foreign cultures, but there is no good reason why contemporary music from each country cannot be used. One would be hard pressed to deny the obviously Japanese origins of this Japanese pop song:

Or the clearly Arab nature of this Syrian song for drinking `araq and cutting your wrists to:

The reason why contemporary music is preferred for the US in cinema is because the target audience wants to be able to relate to a contemporary narrative and place a historical narrative appropriately. The reason why “timeless” music is preferred for foreign settings is because the target audience does not want to place foreigners as being part of the contemporary world, nor as part of discrete periods in history. Foreigners do not advance in the absence of the white man, and therefore they must be thematically placed in a way that denies the industrialization and modernization of their societies, at least on an “essential” cultural level. The Arab is essentially defined by his Islam (and in cinema all Arabs are Muslims), and so the adhan (the Islamic call to prayer) is the inevitable choice of sonic introduction for Arab countries (not that any distinction is made between Arab states and other majority-Muslim societies), while India is announced with the North Indian art music popularized by Ravi Shankar back when white Anglos were pretending to admire (selected elements of) Indian culture, rather than resenting them for running all the 7-11s and call centers.

Matters are arguably made worse when the white man is denied contemporary sonic accompaniment. In such cases, such as the awful film Babel, post-modern electronic ambient music is used for our white heroes, placing them as almost post-human, futuristic beings, while the oriental remains “grounded” in his culture by the same “timeless” oriental music (in fact Babel was a tiered case, with Arabs having only pre-modern music, the Japanese having their pop music, and the white man is an Übermensch inhabiting a world of post-modern ambient noise to help him think about his big white guy problems more efficiently).

no frets on an oud

If only there hadn’t been `ūd playing in this scene, this wouldn’t have happened!

I predict that some reading this will counter that they like the “timeless” oriental music to which I refer, and that it deserves to be heard by the McDonald’s-eating heathens at the cinema. But the issue was never about quality. I happen to find properly performed bluegrass extremely beautiful, as well as jazz and the blues and other “dated” American musics. I happen to like the folk music of the British isles. But the English characters in “Snatch” are not announced by beautiful English folk ballads, while the Uzbekistani Russian is announced by menacing balalaika (although the late Soviet era ballads of Vladimir Vysotsky would have gone very well with the character) and the (quite modern-looking) American Jewish gangsters are announced by klezmer.

obama is a war criminal though

How exotic!

Indeed, on this issue one may even feel justified in invoking the traditional racist English expression “the wogs begin at Calais.” The idea being that a non-white “other” begins in France, or in other words, anywhere which is not Anglo, no matter how close this other is culturally in all other respects. This is why the genre used to announce the Muslim world is “chanting” (or some other form of religious music, such as in the terrible film Argo, where the lone scene in 1980 Turkey is a meeting, inexplicably in the church/mosque/museum Hagia Sophia, accompanied by the ney associated in Turkey with “Tasavvuf müziği” or “Sufi music,” while every scene in the US is accompanied by rock and roll), the genre used to announce (non-Muslim parts of) South Asia is “sitar” (this is even employed to announce South Asians in Western contexts in Anglo cinema), the genre used to announce Paris is “musette accordion” (again, also used to announce a French character in any setting), and the genre used to announce both London AND New York is…

Of course there is no genre. Because these cities “belong” in the popular consciousness (even outside of “the West”) to white Anglos (even though in fact whites are no longer the majority in New York, won’t be the majority in London for much longer, and both cities are in fact quite multilingual). Being culturally associated with white Anglo power affords these cities the privilege of being depicted (as the US and UK at large are depicted, and as individual white Anglos are depicted) as complex and evolving. Non-whites and non-Anglos, by contrast, are homogenous as whole populations in the popular imagination created and reified by such media representations, even across class and generation. The individual and the collective for these “others” are collapsed just as are the past and the present, where fine gradations of individuality and historical progress are constantly obsessed over in depictions of white Anglos. The soundtrack to films serves to reinforce this by providing quick aural queues to remind us of the representative of an unchanging “mass” that “others” and their “exotic” locales represent, while “our” (that is, white Anglo) places and (particularly male) persons are given the spotlight, the lead role, fleshed-out character development, and the bulk of the soundtrack in all its nuance and diversity to match.

john fucking williams

Gawrsh!

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12 thoughts on “The Soundtrack to Every Movie is Racist

  1. “it turns out that there are quite a lot of languages in the world, possibly more than four!”

    Yeah, but unless foreign languages are an aspect of a film then there is no need to effectively shoe-horn it in.

    “One favored solution in Hollywood is to deny that the rest of the world exists populated by human beings (also known as “US foreign policy”), either by never leaving the only country that matters”

    The reason why there aren’t many hollywood films set outside of the United States is because THE PLOT DOESN’T REQUIRE IT. Would it have made any sense if, in the middle of the film “Super 8”, the kids all bought a plane ticket to fight the Alien menace in Benin city, Nigeria?

    “Non-Anglo countries can be dealt with by having the natives speak English (even when they take place before there was an English language)”

    Fun-fact: The majority of the people who watch the film can only speak English (and occasionally French or Spanish). It would have been both stupid and inconvenient to have the characters in “The Others” speak Jèrriais without any subtitles whatsoever.

    “On some rare occasions the natives may be insolent enough to open their mouths and let their own heathen tongues be heard by genteel white Anglo ears.”

    Why the hell is the author of this article trying to make this a race issue? There are almost certainly black people who are in the same position of the “white Anglo” (pretty much all Black people in the US can only speak one language), so I don’t see why the author is trying to make it out that all white people are small-minded and all non-whites are educated in other cultures. This simply isn’t true.

    “To maintain realism (and because the target audience abhors reading), this is generally not subtitled, except when it advances the plot for our white heroes, because, as is known, white people magically become fluent in any foreign language if what it is being said is REALLY important to following the plot.”

    This is almost the trope codifier for “Comically Missing the Point”. The author hates it when they don’t include a foreign language (“they pretend no other cultures exist!”), when they have a foreign language with subtitles (“they’re trying to undermine it for the white man!”), AND when they have a foreign language without subtitles (“they’re acting as if it is mystical!”).

    —-
    God. I’m not even halfway through the second paragraph and I’ve written a good portion on why this article is dumb.

    This article is why everyone hates liberals.

    • The plot doesn’t require it… Except in many cases where it does. Like Babel or Argo, or Taken, or any of the movies mentioned in this post. I can name more if you like…..

    • “unless foreign languages are an aspect of a film then there is no need to effectively shoe-horn it in.” What are you talking about? I live in the United States and encounter non-English languages every day without making any effort! Even if, as you falsely assume, we’re discussing only films which take place in the US, the films neatly depict a monolingual world that does not exist even within the borders of the continental United States.

      “The reason why there aren’t many hollywood films set outside of the United States is because THE PLOT DOESN’T REQUIRE IT. Would it have made any sense if, in the middle of the film “Super 8″, the kids all bought a plane ticket to fight the Alien menace in Benin city, Nigeria?” I don’t actually think every film has to leave the US. That was just a joking way for me to mock the Hollywood obsession with the US as if it represents the whole world. Of course in many cases once a film already takes place in the US there’s no reason for it to leave the country. But why does Super 8 take place in the US in the first place? In Hollywood, aliens “invading Earth” often means that they are invading and fighting THE UNITED STATES, as if the US is the entire planet. In a realistic alien invasion, the US would chip in as one of the parts of the planet and one of its most powerful militaries (but not singlehandedly the sole military protector of humans). At any rate, the films I reference in my article all do deal with foreigners, often in foreign countries.

      “Fun-fact: The majority of the people who watch the film can only speak English” No, the majority of the people who the film is made FOR can only speak English. Hollywood films are watched around the world and receive profits from people whose perspectives are never considered important by the filmmakers, or counted by persons such as yourself ;)

      “Why the hell is the author of this article trying to make this a race issue? There are almost certainly black people who are in the same position of the “white Anglo” (pretty much all Black people in the US can only speak one language), so I don’t see why the author is trying to make it out that all white people are small-minded and all non-whites are educated in other cultures. This simply isn’t true.” You are absolutely right that there are non-whites in Anglo societies whose position vis-à-vis foreign cultures mirrors that of white Anglos from those same societies. I phrased it in racial terms because I found that a humorously provocative way to mock the colonial-minded way that Hollywood deals with foreigners. A lot of my phrasing in the piece is ironic. I don’t seriously think that there is an “Oriental man” in the first place, I use that language to mock the barely-changed-from-the-19th-century perspective of those whose job it is to shape popular perspectives of the outside world for the US populace (and thanks to the US’s global influence and Hollywood’s international popularity, many other countries perspectives on one another and/or the US itself, such as the false idea that the US is monolingual in its entirety).

      Your summary here completely misses my point: “The author hates it when they don’t include a foreign language (“they pretend no other cultures exist!”), when they have a foreign language with subtitles (“they’re trying to undermine it for the white man!”), AND when they have a foreign language without subtitles (“they’re acting as if it is mystical!”).”

      I have ZERO problem when they include subtitles, indeed I prefer it (I usually praise films based on the amount of subtitles they use). The issue is that the subtitles unrealistically appear and disappear throughout the course of a single film. Either have no subtitles at all (thus realistically having the audience perceive the “other” based on their own linguistic abilities), or have them consistently for all instances of foreign language use (thus granting the audience a narrative-granted omniscience).

      “I’m not even halfway through the second paragraph and I’ve written a good portion on why this article is dumb.” In the like, at least seven paragraphs after that I discuss music, which is the main topic of the article.

      “This article is why everyone hates liberals.” I’m not a liberal.

  2. “What are you talking about? I live in the United States and encounter non-English languages every day without making any effort! Even if, as you falsely assume, we’re discussing only films which take place in the US, the films neatly depict a monolingual world that does not exist even within the borders of the continental United States.”

    Okay, so if we are discussing hollywood films which are supposed to be set outside of the US, why did you feel the need to also specify films which were set in the United States as well (“either by never leaving the only country that matters”). That sounds an awful lot like saying “a lot of countries are set in the US”.

    You’re basically suggesting that films should try and be “anti-racist” rather than entertaining. No, the definition of “racist” is: “a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others”. The definition of racist is NOT: “A film that touches on foreign languages and cultures in a way to make it more convenient to the person watching it”.

    “You are absolutely right that there are non-whites in Anglo societies whose position vis-à-vis foreign cultures mirrors that of white Anglos from those same societies. I phrased it in racial terms because I found that a humorously provocative way to mock the colonial-minded way that Hollywood deals with foreigners.”

    A “humorously provocative way”? I can see what point you are trying to make and I do think it is interesting how you have formatted this article, I’ll give you that, but that strays away from my original intention of saying that this article is making a mountain out of a molehill.

    “A lot of my phrasing in the piece is ironic. I don’t seriously think that there is an “Oriental man” in the first place, I use that language to mock the barely-changed-from-the-19th-century perspective of those whose job it is to shape popular perspectives of the outside world for the US populace”

    You know what, you really do sound like the type of person who publishes studies called things like “Parallels to class-struggles in the 19th century found in the 1996 Adam Sandler film Happy Gilmore”. You seem to have a tendency to look too deeply into movies and music with the purpose of de-constructing them — the trouble is, is that you are probably not going to find much intellectual depth in “A Good Day to Die Hard” on a critical level, let alone on a research level. That is because it is a dumb action movie which isn’t meant to be taken seriously, even if technically it does “undermine Russian culture”.

    “(and thanks to the US’s global influence and Hollywood’s international popularity, many other countries perspectives on one another and/or the US itself, such as the false idea that the US is monolingual in its entirety).”

    Well, English IS the primary language for the vast majority of Americans. Want to make a movie about mexican immigrants who mainly speak Spanish? Do so. But don’t make those characters the main protagonists of a film purely for the sake of inclusion.

    Inclusion, in my opinion, is essentially having them in order to create the false sense of diversity. That’s why a boss of a company, despite the fact that he may very well not like black people, still hires a few in order to make it LOOK like he’s anti-racist, rather than actually BEING so.

    I have ZERO problem when they include subtitles, indeed I prefer it (I usually praise films based on the amount of subtitles they use). The issue is that the subtitles unrealistically appear and disappear throughout the course of a single film.”

    Fair enough.

    “Either have no subtitles at all (thus realistically having the audience perceive the “other” based on their own linguistic abilities), or have them consistently for all instances of foreign language use (thus granting the audience a narrative-granted omniscience).”

    Based on the first part of your paragraph, you seem to heavily advocate just having subtitles all the way through. I won’t hold that against you, though.

    “In the like, at least seven paragraphs after that I discuss music, which is the main topic of the article.”

    How was that related to the main point I was trying to make, that this article seems to ramble on over a non-issue?

    “I’m not a liberal.”

    Somehow I find that claim unlikely. This article sounds like something you’d find on a tumblr blog written by someone who has a flag of East Germany on their bedroom wall un-ironically.

      • “Okay, so if we are discussing hollywood films which are supposed to be set outside of the US, why did you feel the need to also specify films which were set in the United States as well (“either by never leaving the only country that matters”). That sounds an awful lot like saying “a lot of countries are set in the US”. ” No, I’m covering multiple things. My point is mostly about how foreigners are depicted in Hollywood, but I also would argue that the portrayal of the United States from a linguistic perspective is inaccurate.

        “You’re basically suggesting that films should try and be “anti-racist” rather than entertaining.” The usual racist assumption that entertainment has to be done on the terms of racists. Also: For a lot of my responses to you I suggested that they be consistent or accurate. It’s not anti-racist to have subtitles used consistently throughout one film, it’s just consistent. It’s not anti-racist to admit that many people in the US speak Spanish, many racists admit it!

        “No, the definition of “racist” is: “a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others”. The definition of racist is NOT: “A film that touches on foreign languages and cultures in a way to make it more convenient to the person watching it”.” It’s pretty racist to erase groups that you don’t like. If that’s what I feel is happening, then that’s what I’ll call it.

        “my original intention of saying that this article is making a mountain out of a molehill.” If you don’t think it’s an issue, why did you dedicate so much energy to responding? You’ve responded to two paragraphs with far more text, and then have responded to my response. If I’m taking a non-issue on going on too much about it, why encourage me? Its lack of importance ought to render me irrelevant.

        “You seem to have a tendency to look too deeply into movies and music with the purpose of de-constructing them” I will quote you from our “About” page: “The writers of BYSU aren’t content to let media hit them in the face, and they aren’t content to get along with the world as they were born into it. BYSU seeks to scrutinize everything, and to understand how, invisibly, media affects our politics, values, and the way we see ourselves and others.” This is kind of what we do…

        “the trouble is, is that you are probably not going to find much intellectual depth in “A Good Day to Die Hard” on a critical level, let alone on a research level.” it’s a good thing for me that that’s not my area of research then? Also, you keep mentioning films I don’t mention in my piece, are you offering them as exceptions to the politically-oriented and “racially”/culturally-biased nature of Hollywood? Because I can analyze them too from that perspective if that’s what you want. Or else are you just throwing out titles at random and arguing that all films are basically just entertainment with no socio-political influence? Because you ought to google “hollywood military collaboration” if that’s what you think.

        “Well, English IS the primary language for the vast majority of Americans. Want to make a movie about mexican immigrants who mainly speak Spanish? Do so. But don’t make those characters the main protagonists of a film purely for the sake of inclusion.” There’s so much wrong with this paragraph. For starters, you’ve assumed that Spanish-speakers ought to be automatically excluded unless we go out of our way to include them (how generous of us!) Secondly, you assume that the main characters ought to come from the majority except in films about the minority or except in cases of conscious inclusion. But although Hispanics are more than 10% of the US population, even English-speaking Hispanic characters are not 10% of main characters in films set in the US. Also, you bring up main protagonists as if the supporting cast of many films isn’t also quite white and Anglo. Even if all of their closest friends are fellow unilingual Anglophones, English speakers don’t inhabit a purely English-speaking world in the US, so why does Hollywood depict one?

        “How was that related to the main point I was trying to make, that this article seems to ramble on over a non-issue?” It’s related in that the article “rambles on” over an issue you didn’t address. But yeah, I mean, if you just wanna discuss language, as you can see, I’m perfectly capable of discussing that on its own, and will continue to do so if you continue to poorly argue your case that Hollywood has no ideological biases and is just pure entertainment.

        “This article sounds like something you’d find on a tumblr blog written by someone who has a flag of East Germany on their bedroom wall un-ironically.” East Germany? You seem to be mixing up “liberal” and “Marxist”. You might want to go read the wikipedia article on “liberalism” since you seem to have very little conception of the history of that school of political thought, which I find most distasteful and full of the sort of pseudo-intellectuals who I am surrounded by and who are the target audience for most of my articles.

  3. Seriously, I can no-longer be bothered with de-constructing every single piece of dribble that falls out of your mouth. So instead, I’m just going to select what I believe are the most inherently retarded and it’ll pretty much speak itself:

    “No, I’m covering multiple things. My point is mostly about how foreigners are depicted in Hollywood, but I also would argue that the portrayal of the United States from a linguistic perspective is inaccurate.”

    How is it? If there really were as many minority languages as you claim, then there would be hollywood films made about them. Another point that I think is worth bringing up is the fact that most Hollywood writers ARE white — it’s not Hollywood’s fault that there aren’t many non-Anglo directors. Do you want to know why there aren’t many Hollywood screenwriters who don’t speak English? Because it’s an English country. It’s much the same way there aren’t many Bollywood screenwriters who don’t speak Hindi or Gujarati.

    “The usual racist assumption that entertainment has to be done on the terms of racists. Also: For a lot of my responses to you I suggested that they be consistent or accurate. It’s not anti-racist to have subtitles used consistently throughout one film, it’s just consistent. It’s not anti-racist to admit that many people in the US speak Spanish, many racists admit it!”

    So you’re calling me a racist now? Fine, go ahead and call me names. Also “has to be done on the terms of racists”? More like “done on the terms of the average consumer” — you seem to have this strange idea that the average Joe is as culturally enriched as you. I’m not saying that it’s untrue that there are many spanish-speakers in America, I’m just saying that the reason there aren’t many films based on spanish-speakers in the US is not because directors are racist, but because their film isn’t about spanish-speakers. Common sense.

    “If you don’t think it’s an issue, why did you dedicate so much energy to responding? You’ve responded to two paragraphs with far more text, and then have responded to my response. If I’m taking a non-issue on going on too much about it, why encourage me? Its lack of importance ought to render me irrelevant.

    I don’t think that it’s an issue in the real world. Of course this topic is going to be relevant to you, because otherwise you wouldn’t have written an article about it. And the reason why I’ve responded is that this article was so infuriating — this article is a fine example of political correctness gone mad. Furthermore, I did not believe that you, as the author, would take offense to criticism in a way to try and argue back with me.

    “The writers of BYSU aren’t content to let media hit them in the face, and they aren’t content to get along with the world as they were born into it. BYSU seeks to scrutinize everything, and to understand how, invisibly, media affects our politics, values, and the way we see ourselves and others.” This is kind of what we do…”

    Yes, and what you do is known as “whining”.

    “Secondly, you assume that the main characters ought to come from the majority except in films about the minority or except in cases of conscious inclusion. But although Hispanics are more than 10% of the US population, even English-speaking Hispanic characters are not 10% of main characters in films set in the US.”

    Listen: Hollywood exists to make a profit. It doesn’t care about the issues of minorities because that doesn’t sell. I don’t know how else I could possibly explain this to you — HOLLYWOOD DOES NOT MAKE FILMS ABOUT HISPANICS BECAUSE IT IS NOT PROFITABLE.

    In case you haven’t noticed yet, the US is a capitalist country. And it works well that way. Do you think that the government should FORCE screenwriters to include token minorities? God, I bet you want an NHS (which puts people on death pathways) as well.

    “it’s a good thing for me that that’s not my area of research then? Also, you keep mentioning films I don’t mention in my piece, are you offering them as exceptions to the politically-oriented and “racially”/culturally-biased nature of Hollywood? Because I can analyze them too from that perspective if that’s what you want. Or else are you just throwing out titles at random and arguing that all films are basically just entertainment with no socio-political influence? Because you ought to google “hollywood military collaboration” if that’s what you think.”

    You said “hollywood” in general: this ought to include “A Good Day to Die Hard” and “Happy Gilmore” as well as the ones you mentioned. And your reference about hollwood millitary collaboration? Yeah, that’s propaganda. Are you trying to tell me that makes-up the films you were describing in your article? I’m completely baffled.

    “Also, you bring up main protagonists as if the supporting cast of many films isn’t also quite white and Anglo. Even if all of their closest friends are fellow unilingual Anglophones, English speakers don’t inhabit a purely English-speaking world in the US, so why does Hollywood depict one?”

    Have you ever heard of the concept of tokenism? It’s where a minority is included purely for the sake of inclusion. As I have said earlier, it is done in order to create a false sense of caring about minorities, even if in real life the director couldn’t care less. It’s insulting to minorities and it doesn’t treat them as fellow citizens.

    Look, the only way you could really include minorites without needlessly shoehorning them in is if it is already a stated part of the writer’s vision to begin with. If a film doesn’t need a minority character, then there’s no need for a minority character. Simple.

    “But yeah, I mean, if you just wanna discuss language, as you can see, I’m perfectly capable of discussing that on its own, and will continue to do so if you continue to poorly argue your case that Hollywood has no ideological biases and is just pure entertainment.”

    What?! YOU were the one who brought language up! (“What are you talking about? I live in the United States and encounter non-English languages every day without making any effort!”). Here’s how this discussion has worked out so far: You bring up a logical fallacy, I refute that fallacy, and then you say that I was the one who brought up the fallacy in the first place.

    “You might want to go read the wikipedia article on “liberalism” since you seem to have very little conception of the history of that school of political thought, which I find most distasteful and full of the sort of pseudo-intellectuals who I am surrounded by and who are the target audience for most of my articles.”

    Liberalism and Marxism have many similarities (wanting everything nationalized, being aganist choice, etc.). Marxism most certainly has more to do with Liberalism than Conservatism, I presume that you would at least admit that.

  4. “If there really were as many minority languages as you claim, then there would be hollywood films made about them.” I never named a number of minority languages, just that there were any. Spanish on its own suffices to demonstrate that Hollywood does not depict the linguistic situation in our country accurately. “Hollywood films made about them”, about what, the languages? There aren’t Hollywood films made about English, the films are made in English and depict a monolingual English-speaking country which doesn’t exist.

    “Another point that I think is worth bringing up is the fact that most Hollywood writers ARE white” Well that’s sort of a problem. “it’s not Hollywood’s fault that there aren’t many non-Anglo directors” Um, yes it is. Hollywood isn’t interested in greenlighting films about the experience of growing up bilingual or even as a fluent English speaker from a Hispanic background. “Do you want to know why there aren’t many Hollywood screenwriters who don’t speak English?” I didn’t say I wanted screenwriters who don’t speak English (or even necessarily speak any other languages in addition to English), I said the films should depict the reality of multiple languages. They can write in English and nobody is trying to take that away from them. Do you believe that films which DO contain foreign languages are written by people who speak every language spoken in that film? No, they write the script in English and hire translators and actors who speak those languages to render them accurately. “Because it’s an English country.” No, England is an English country. The United States is a predominantly English-speaking country which in actual fact lacks any official language. “It’s much the same way there aren’t many Bollywood screenwriters who don’t speak Hindi or Gujarati.” Again, you assume I want screenwriters to NOT speak English, rather than acknowledge that other languages are spoken in addition to English in the United States. This isn’t a beef with English. If I were French, I’d be writing about cultural and linguistic supremacist attitudes in France. Also, most Bollywood films contain quite a bit of English, because not every society is as monolingual in its cultural ideology as the US is.

    “So you’re calling me a racist now?” No, I called the assumption racist. The fact that you feel defensive about racist things means that you’re not particularly bothered by racism, merely at its being spoken about. The fact that you think it’s name-calling shows that you don’t take part in a lot of serious debates.

    “More like “done on the terms of the average consumer” — you seem to have this strange idea that the average Joe is as culturally enriched as you.” Again, you assume everyone watching Hollywood films is even a US citizen. Our films are watched worldwide, and not only in English-speaking countries. Also, I don’t blame people for not being “culturally enriched” when they are confronted with a media which seems to believe they can only stomach depictions of reality which reinforce the concept of a monocultural and monolingual world. They would be far more “culturally enriched” if Hollywood put any effort into acknowledging the reality of the US, let alone the world outside of the US.

    “I’m not saying that it’s untrue that there are many spanish-speakers in America,” Then why do you assume that they shouldn’t appear, complete with their language, in Hollywood? Why wouldn’t Hollywood want to depict for a US audience that mostly speaks English the reality that they encounter of Spanish being spoken around them? They sometimes do, and I’m pleased when it happens, but you seem to think that it’s perfectly okay to erase this reality, even in films which take place in California (where I’m from), which quite a few films do.

    “And the reason why I’ve responded is that this article was so infuriating — this article is a fine example of political correctness gone mad.” Why is that so infuriating to you? “Furthermore, I did not believe that you, as the author, would take offense to criticism in a way to try and argue back with me.” You didn’t believe I would respond to your points?

    “Listen: Hollywood exists to make a profit. It doesn’t care about the issues of minorities because that doesn’t sell.” It actually does sell. I don’t think it was such an amazing or perfect film on any front but Spanglish sold quite a bit [see correction in comment below this one] and it depicted a multi-lingual and multi-cultural society.

    “HOLLYWOOD DOES NOT MAKE FILMS ABOUT HISPANICS BECAUSE IT IS NOT PROFITABLE. ” Although I basically responded to this, I just love how furious you get at the idea that someone would think that Hispanics want to watch movies or that non-Hispanics want to watch movies with Hispanics in them seeing as there are so many Hispanics (in the US and in the world).

    “Do you think that the government should FORCE screenwriters to include token minorities?” No I think when people read articles like this they should think about the cultural assumptions that Hollywood helps reinforce. Hollywood cares a lot about profit, as you keep mentioning as if I’m not aware of it. Test screenings are often held where members of the public are allowed to directly give their feedback, and the public in question isn’t taught by the media to consider these issues at all. Having been presented with what I have to say, I hope that readers who are going into the film industry (I know some) would think about this when they make films, and I hope others will think about it when they watch and discuss films.

    “You said “hollywood” in general: this ought to include “A Good Day to Die Hard” and “Happy Gilmore” as well as the ones you mentioned.” Okay, should I start compiling a list of films (so far I’ve got Happy Gilmore, A Good Day to Die Hard and Super 8) that I should analyze their depiction of US society, culturally, “racially” and linguistically? If I do that will it do anything to change your views about these issues in cinema? My question, if you re-read what I wrote, was whether you were arguing that these films disprove my arguments, or if they are just films that you are using as examples because they are average films.

    “Yeah, that’s propaganda.” Propaganda by who? The US military itself has admitted investing in Hollywood. There are interests other than the moviegoer’s which dictate what sort of message shows up in Hollywood films. One of those interests is the interest in shaping moviegoer perceptions. Discussing this is apparently whining.

    “Are you trying to tell me that makes-up the films you were describing in your article? I’m completely baffled.” That makes two of us, since I don’t understand what your question is here.

    “Have you ever heard of the concept of tokenism? It’s where a minority is included purely for the sake of inclusion.” Yes, but the thing is, the opposite is often what’s happening. Depictions of urban areas often remove minorities artificially, rather than insert them “artificially”.

    “Look, the only way you could really include minorites without needlessly shoehorning them in” Still assuming minorities don’t belong onscreen, so that when they show up, it’s “needless” “shoehorning”. They seem to exist in our society, why not onscreen?

    “if it is already a stated part of the writer’s vision to begin with. If a film doesn’t need a minority character, then there’s no need for a minority character. Simple.” I can’t imagine how “racially” homogenous your environment must be that that sounds like a normal thing to say for you. “I didn’t need a black person so why is there one here?” I’d love to hear you utter that in the public sphere, but apparently onscreen depictions of the public sphere are exempt from charges of racism.

    “Here’s how this discussion has worked out so far: You bring up a logical fallacy, I refute that fallacy, and then you say that I was the one who brought up the fallacy in the first place.” I didn’t bring up a logical fallacy, you haven’t refuted anything, and you didn’t address the BULK of my article, which is what I expected, but as I said, I don’t mind if you don’t read all of my article before criticizing it. We can keep discussing language and depictions of minorities down here, with you continuing to insist that minorities “don’t belong”.

    “Liberalism and Marxism have many similarities (wanting everything nationalized, being aganist choice, etc.)” Nope. Traditionally, Liberalism has been pro-free market, and even in the US where it is not as strongly associated with that, the Democratic party politicians championed by liberals frequently speak of the virtues of “free trade”. And of course, no school of liberalism would claim to be “anti-choice”. I take it you have never read Locke, Hobbes OR Marx.

    “Marxism most certainly has more to do with Liberalism than Conservatism, I presume that you would at least admit that.” I wouldn’t. Marxists, for example, generally abhor Liberals and Conservatives. It may be so that Liberals in the US discuss Conservatives more than Marxists, but that’s because Marxism is not a powerful political current in the US. By the same reasoning, you could ask me to “admit” that Conservatism and Nazism are close, simply because Liberals are neither, and the latter isn’t around enough in the US for Conservatives to waste their time attacking when there are so many Liberals for them to attack.

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