- Feb 22, 2013
Nor do I disagree with you here. The higher-ups can and do often have their heads up their backsides, especially when at odds with the creators below them, but you do generally have to be right more than wrong, especially if you're an executive dealing with huge sums of invested money, or else you're not going to last long either. I am totally behind diversification in art, just not for the same reasons most people seem to be. I don't view it as an ethical issue, I view it as a creative one. I can go into that more should you like but it's not necessary.The Almighty Aardvark said:I don't disagree with you here. Though it should be noted that what the higher up's in big companies think is economically viable isn't always what is. That's how movies like Deadpool can come out of nowhere and make a big splash, and how movies that they've sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into (Even those containing all the factors they believe will appeal to the majority demographic) can absolutely flop. One way to show different paradigms work is as you say, have something come out of nowhere and be a hit. Another is to have enough of a vocal support for a paradigm shift. Or through a combination of the two, to really drive it home.Gorrath said:If 60-70% of your customer base is group X, then nearly 100% of your product is going to be aimed at group X. A much better way of attacking creative stagnation is to show that different creative paradigms can be commercially viable. The only way this can be done is through big companies taking risks or small companies making it big, I'll grant you that, but companies by their nature are risk averse creatures and rightfully so. You are right that the star power argument facilitates a continuation of the creative stagnation but one must also demonstrate that a break from that stagnation to be economically preferable. That's the hard part.
As to your analogy though, it's not a great one. You're conflating a macro situation(the whole economies of nations) with something micro (the ethics of individual hiring practices.) The ethics of "positive discrimination" are in no way comparable to macro-economic factors of nations because people aren't collectives and nations are.
The problem with your first analogy is one of scale. You fix that in your second analogy but you've made another problem by creating a red herring. You are right that taking food from a rich person and giving it to a poor person isn't the same as the reverse, morally or ethically. I totally agree with that. The problem is that's not what's going on here. An analogy that actually encompasses what's going on is this. John is white and Sam is black; both are starving. You have food to give to one of them. You choose to give it to Sam because white people are more prosperous in general than black people in the society.The point of my analogy wasn't to say that these two scenarios are equal. It's not hypocritical for more white countries to donate food to black countries, as the reality is that the only distinguishing factors are not just that one group is majority white, while the other is majority black. There's also the fact that black countries overall hold a lot less wealth than white countries, and this is why you can argue that the situation isn't hypocritical, on average black countries need more food.
Same with casting roles, there are far fewer roles for black actors than there are for white actors. Casting one of the rare black characters as a white actor will make it more difficult for black actors than casting one of the common white characters as a black actor will for white actors. For a more micro comparison (Although of obviously different scale), taking food from a starving person and giving it to someone who's full isn't morally equivalent to the reverse. It's disingenuous to reduce the only relevant differences to the color of their skin.
In light of that analogy, where both people are competing for a resource they both need, you aren't taking from a rich John and giving to a poor Sam, you are taking a limited resource and discriminating against John because he's white. The problem is that if you start with the premise that discriminating against people because of the color of the skin is wrong, then you have just done an injustice to John. Yes, white people on the whole might not be starving but John is and so the general success of white people should not be used as a reason to do him an injustice. John is not a nation, as in your first analogy, he's not rich, as in your second and he's not a collective, he's a person, an entity all to himself, who deserves to compete equally for work without regard to his skin color. The same is true with Sam.
This is why the notion that it's okay to make white characters black but not the reverse is hypocritical and unjust. You aren't simply taking from the haves and giving to the have-nots like the over-simplified version of the defense of this kind of policy suggests, you are taking from a person because of the color of their skin and giving to another person because of the color of their skin. That's where the hypocrisy is in all this. You can't say that discriminating against someone due to their skin color is unjust and then claim that discriminating against John because he's white is just; appealing to a collectivist view does nothing to moderate or assuage that fact because John isn't a collective or a nation.
All of that said I have no problem with the race of characters being changed. Idris Elba as Heimdall being one of my favorite examples of why, in most cases, this just does not matter. Changing Martin Luther King jr. to be white in a movie is obviously a huge problem though, so context is key. But in any case, appealing to collectivism to defend racist policies is deeply flawed and terribly unjust. Appealing to creative exploration and diversity for the sake of everyone is a much more sound position.