Thursday, December 11, 2014

Some frank talk, but don't expect any "discussion"--let alone "change"

There has often been “conflict” in this country between blacks and Hispanics, which generally revolves around blacks blaming “Mexicans” for taking “their” jobs, or Hispanics who think of themselves as “white” when the prejudice of the wider community is based on the premise that they are not. The truth of the matter is that blacks and Hispanics are in the same “boat’; being patronized by whites—usually by those who either need to satisfy themselves that they are not “racist,” or need someone even “lower” than they are to feel good about themselves—does not change that.

Thus it comes as a bit of a surprise when African-American actor/comedian Chris Rock comes out in a recent issue of the Hollywood Reporter and states quite frankly than blacks and Latinos are in the same boat socially and economically in America. Rock—whose essay has aroused interest in him in the media rather than a frank discussion of what he said—opines a number of interesting things about the state of Hollywood studio employment, such as something I‘ve always suspected—that black women are more likely to be sought to “diversify” office environments, in my opinion probably because the serve both the race and the gender “diversity” numbers at one shot, and because they are seen as less “threatening.” However, the frank but politically-incorrect Rock on this issue admits (or perhaps he is just being sarcastic) that he’s not sure if the current black youth culture that his daughters have embraced is preparing them for the future:

“It's a white industry. Just as the NBA is a black industry. I'm not even saying it's a bad thing. It just is. And the black people they do hire tend to be the same person. That person tends to be female and that person tends to be Ivy League. And there's nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, that's what I want for my daughters. But something tells me that the life my privileged daughters are leading right now might not make them the best candidates to run the black division of anything.”

While Rock admits that most movies, TV shows and books “suck,” they are all still a matter of one’s “taste,” and he doesn’t believe that there is a difference between what white audiences and black audiences “like.” However, he suggests that the black audience seems to like anything with themselves in it, if only because they are just happy to be in something.

Rock also observed that while it is difficult for people of all colors to break into films and television, it just seems much harder for some. “Someone's going to help the white guy. Multiple people will. The people whom I've tried to help, I'm not sure anybody was going to help them”—meaning, of course, anyone who isn’t white, and that includes Latinos, and this where Rock breaks rank with many of his “brothers.”

“But forget whether Hollywood is black enough. A better question is: Is Hollywood Mexican enough? You're in L.A, you've got to try not to hire Mexicans. It's the most liberal town in the world, and there's a part of it that's kind of racist — not racist like ‘F— you, nigger’ racist, but just an acceptance that there's a slave state in L.A. There's this acceptance that Mexicans are going to take care of white people in L.A. that doesn't exist anywhere else. I remember I was renting a house in Beverly Park while doing some movie, and you just see all of the Mexican people at 8 o'clock in the morning in a line driving into Beverly Park like it's General Motors. It's this weird town.”

It is actually a rather sad commentary on the so-called Latino activist community that are not as courageous in speaking frankly on the prejudices they are forced to accept as the price of being “tolerated”—when not scapegoated for every ill of the country. Of course, it could merely be that the people who are courageous enough to speak out are not being given a forum to speak by the mainstream media—or that the Latino community is so “ethnically” polarized that certain segments of the population consider criticism of white society as an attack on themselves as well. 

At any rate, Rock pointed out a truism that in many jobs, being “book smart” has nothing to do with the qualifications to do the job—like acting, or working on a set, or deciding what clothes someone should where. Hell, most people could do the job of a producer if given the opportunity:

“You're telling me no Mexicans are qualified to do anything at a studio? Really? Nothing but mop up? What are the odds that that's true? The odds are, because people are people, that there's probably a Mexican David Geffen mopping up for somebody's company right now. The odds are that there's probably a Mexican who's that smart who's never going to be given a shot. And it's not about being given a shot to greenlight a movie because nobody is going to give you that — you've got to take that. The shot is that a Mexican guy or a black guy is qualified to go and give his opinion about how loud the boings are in Dodgeball or whether it's the right shit sound you hear when Jeff Daniels is on the toilet in Dumb and Dumber. It's like, ‘We only let white people do that.’ This is a system where only white people can chime in on that. There would be a little naivete to sitting around and going, ‘Oh, no black person has ever greenlighted a movie,’ but those other jobs? You're kidding me, right? They don't even require education. When you're on the lower levels, they're just about taste, nothing else. And you don't have to go to Harvard to have taste.”

Rock asserts that things may change, or at least there is a chance of change if people are more assertive. “I wouldn't be here if I thought I couldn't play those parts. I never limited myself. And that's the beauty of Obama. It might be a generational thing, because the difference between Barack Obama and Jesse Jackson was that Jesse Jackson never actually ran for president. He ran to disrupt the presidency. If he actually ran for president, he probably could have been president. Jesse Jackson won a bunch of primaries in Southern states, but not for five seconds did he think he could be president, whereas Obama was like, ‘Yeah, I could be president,’ and nobody stopped him. Literally, nobody stopped him.”

I don’t how many more movie roles that Chris Rock is going to be allowed to audition for after this piece of blunt talk, knowing how “sensitive” liberals can be on the subject of their own hypocrisy. Unfortunately, the question of whether the blunt talk on these topics will lead to "enlightenment," further discussion and "change" seems unlikely.

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