I get it. Those of you who control the purse-strings: You say you’re only interested in the color green, but your behavior doesn’t bear that out. I know you’re really only interested in stories of straight white men doing straight white mannish things, whatever those might be. I get that the voices of women grate upon you like a rasp over nutmeg and you’re not really interested in desegregating racially either. Seriously, there’s no need for you to justify yourself or try to explain that you’re not bigoted, it’s just the audience that you’re concerned about… because frankly, it’s not what you say that matters, here. It’s what you do. And you have been doing so much that’s just… wtf.
But I have a question. How’s that whole bigotry thing working out for you? Financially, I mean.
‘Cause, y’know, from where I’m sitting, it doesn’t look like this strategy has been especially effective lately. Last year, one of your biggest flops was a beloved children’s TV show that in its original form was chock full of brown people — which you whitewashed. People are still making fun of the monstrosity that resulted. This weekend past, your “female empowerment action fantasy” got the crap beaten out of it by a wimpy kid, in part because it wasn’t empowering at all, and was actually pretty damn misogynistic. Wow, not even your usual demographic, the straight white guys you’re trying so hard to appeal to, liked that one. And I’m already seeing storm warnings on the horizon re a few new projects coming down the pipe.
What kills me is that so many of these things are adaptations of other properties that were successful in their original forms. Brown people, strong women, and all. I take it you’re buying these properties, and turning them into films, because of their preexisting success and built-in audience — so why then turn around and piss off that audience? Disrespecting them pretty much ruins all the free publicity they would’ve given you — or rather, you’ll still get it, but it will contain lots of teeth-gnashing rage. And calls for boycotts.
Look, I know old habits are hard to break. I know you’ve been doing this for decades, and it’s worked for you sometimes. But women buy 55% of movie tickets these days. And people of color are 40% — and growing — of your potential audience. Your most successful films have been those that broke these old habits, and appealed equally to all comers. You don’t actually have to change that much to fix this problem — you can still put white guys front and center if you really want to. All you have to do is insert a smart woman or two, and this guy, and that will make the movie perfect. (Okay, sorry, I’m a Watanabe fan. Some other brown people would be nice, too.) That’ll do — as a stopgap measure, anyway.
Until you’re ready to put people who look and act like your audience front and center. Which you aren’t doing. (86% of lead roles go to white males? I mean, come on.) Which you really should be doing now. See, if you really did care about green, this is a choice you would’ve made ages ago. Which is more lucrative, selling something to a small demographic set, or selling something that everyone can enjoy? Other parts of the world figured this out long ago — contrary to what the US comics industry thinks, women frickin’ love comic books when those books treat them like people and not objects of lust and manpain. Other industries are figuring this out too — so what’s wrong with you? Why are you sleeping on the job?
And when are you finally, finally going to wake the hell up?