Wednesday, July 08, 2015

A Letter to Miranda July, and my overall issue regarding casting minorities in Hollywood

Dear Miranda July,

I recently read your most recent and debut novel The First Bad Man. I finished it within a week, which took longer than expected due to my hectic schedule at that time. I never bought it. I never buy books, especially novels (the only exceptions are some graphic novels, literary classics and some used novels/novels on sale). Instead, I placed it on hold and waited as the 455-something-th person in line. I was fine. In fact, it built my anticipation for reading this more.

Before I get on to the issues regarding this novel, let me go back in time to when I first discovered Miranda July. A very close friend of mine was reading No one Belongs Here More Than You when we were in high school. The stark yellow of the slim book intrigued me and the your deer-caught-in-headlights look on the back cover. So much so that when I was sixteen, I accumulated enough money of my own to purchase one out of the two copies sold at my local Chapters (at that time).

At the time, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Truly. Some scenes still stick with me, which in the case of other books I've read,  have been long since forgotten about.

From there, you were (kind of?) on my radar. I remembered your limited edition of No one Belongs Here More Than You with the variation of book colour choices. I remembered your art installation [specifically Eleven Heavy Things], which I wrote a whole critique on in my art class.

I later watched Me And You And Everyone We Know when spotting it at my public library (for context: I volunteered at my local public library and one of the duties was shelving DVDs. Scored some pretty rad ones as I had first grabs at a lot of them!). I didn't finish it (not in the hating-it way but I-honestly-can't-remember-why way) but one scene in particular (the two girls watching the guy looking at the girls from his window scene) was one was brought laughter from both my dad and myself. 

Another project that popped up on my radar was We Think Alone. I subscribed, read some, forgot all about it. At the time, I didn't mind Dunham so I wasn't surprised that she was one of the correspondence.
Now, I'm not surprised they're friends, and not in a good way.

Another project she did with some fashion designer was a bag that represented a women's "going out for the night/club/bar/event" bag.
It's a clutch called "The Miranda". It retails for $1500 (still on sale by the way. Gee, I wonder why). It showed me personally of a too good for you air and attitude and exuding this bougie-ness which I never thought she had prior to this project.

Then, and I don't know how I discovered this (by myself anyways) on my newsfeed, but Miranda July was coming to Toronto to talk about her book (mentioned first paragraph), her life and other artworks, etc. I was estatic. So much so, I was extremely disappointed when I found out that tickets were sold out (it was a free event) but hopeful when I read that I might have a chance if I come 15 min before the show started (in case of no-shows).

I show up to the event with this glimmer of hope and luckily for myself if worked out. I sat down, listened attentively, had a question (but didn't have a chance to ask it) and even re-purchased the damn yellow book so I could get it signed (in all fairness, the first one I bought as a ripe teenager got warped in a rainstorm). They were selling The First Bad Man there too, don't get me wrong, but to me it's not worth $25.00.

And boy am I glad I did not spend that amount.

As I read the book, something was rubbing me the wrong way about it. At first I couldn't place my finger on it, but soon I came to the conclusion: race.
Yes, race. Yes, I understand that most people in the United States are white. Yes, books are allowed to describe race. No, they should not be done (anymore anyways) in the manner July used. Ever.
It's a little subtle at first, but then becomes a pattern. Consistent.

Here's an example.
Any character that's described and is white is described by their expression, hair, eyes, lips, face-shape, clothes, everything to the air they produce.

Then, there's "The Indian mother", and "The Asian chubby girl" and "The Hispanic women"



Besides this being the worst book of your, and goddamn Lena Dunham praising it, pushing this book into hypedome (didn't know that until recently but not surprised), this irked me to no end. I'm comparing this to the first Hunger Games novel, to which the author described people of colour by their features and not just race. It brings the issue of your perception of people that aren't white like you and encourages society of how other races should be described, which is entirely wrong.

It bothered me to a point where I was trying to re-collect the memories of your short stories, and I couldn't for the life of me remember such atrociousness about race. However, I'm doubting that at the moment and will go back to that book to confirm.

I hope one fine day (but in reality never)  read this and acknowledge my problem with the book. It it a serious issue amongst the numerous issues minorities deal with that while may seem slight, has a much bigger impact than you can imagine.

Yours truly,


 PS. Somebody? More like Nobody (seriously, no one bothers being the messenger).

Which brings me to Hollywood and media with minorities.
It is a huge issue still to see other races case in titular roles, or have any speaking role in a film (when it is not a film based on colour as the main theme). This is such a huge issue still because at this point in the century, any goddamn fucking character played in a film (minus a biopic) can and should be played by anyone.

Race. Does. Not. Matter. When. Casting. Roles.

And yet, it does.
Don't bullshit me about "not enough minorities want to be in Hollywood". That is bullshit and you are fed lies from other people or are in serious denial.

Yes, there's The Mindy Project. But that' one, one. And after the black nurse on the show, it's all white people.

And don't get me started on the "token black guy/girl" which nowadays just is "token minority" in media.

I am riled up about this because it's 2015 and unless we start altering things, it's never going to be altered. So many people of colour are struggling in Hollywood and while casting directors are to blame, so are so many more people out there, July included.

With all this in mind, please check out Buzzfeed's article (aka my inspiration for this additional rant as this sums up my issue with Hollywood so beautifully) on Dylan Merron's work.

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