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Is white the only color available?

WKND FEEDBACK

October 07, 2004

Rumor has it from census data that Los Angeles is one of several counties in California where people of color are in the majority. This airy fact consistently eludes Calendar. Within the course of one week, Calendar covered the career of white filmmaker Alexander Payne and spotlighted four up-and-coming male filmmakers ("Filmmakers on the Verge," Sept. 30).

The Times' failure to include any filmmakers of color in its profiles reinforces the racism of the Hollywood machine. Talented up-and-coming filmmakers of color are not getting the deals, perks and media fawning because of the industry's deeply rooted biases toward perspectives that don't conform to its ghettoized image of people of color.

As a former instructor at the California Institute of the Arts, I was always amazed by the resilience and resourcefulness of my black and Latino film students, who would have to hustle 10 times as much as their white counterparts. Like all convenient American fictions, the bootstraps narrative of the underdog white male filmmaker is a seductive but dangerous one. The systematic exclusion of filmmakers of color from the spheres of influence that shape cultural representations of American life merely illustrates that Hollywood is steeped in a culture of white male affirmative action that is as intractable as any Jim Crow institution ever was.

Sikivu Hutchinson

Los Angeles

Sikivu Hutchinson is a visiting lecturer at Cal State L.A.

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