Racist, Sexist, Boring! Wackness At The Movies

I usually love going to the movies during the summertime, but this year I'm not exactly feeling excited about what's in theaters. There are a whole lot of racist, sexist, materialistic and downright boring films available for our viewing pleasure.

OK, that's true every summer, but this year, there seems to be more than usual. For example:

1) Whitewashing Prince of Persia: I've given Jake Gyllenhaal the side-eye ever since I took him to a middle school in Compton and he told the kids he doesn't read books.

His disdain for reading aside, Gyllenhaal being cast as a Persian hero named Dastan is like Elizabeth Taylor playing Cleopatra, except it's 2010, not 1963.

I've complained about his casting in this film being neither princely nor Persian since last summer. And for those of you all who think his bod is hot:

a) I live in LA. Hot bods are seriously a dime a dozen.

b) I know a gazillion Persian guys MUCH hotter than Jake.

The casting director could've just gone and hung out in Beverly Hills or in Westwood to find one. This city, affectionately dubbed "Tehrangeles", has the most Iranians outside of Iran, so I'm not buying that there were no qualified Persian actors with amazing abs and biceps around to play the role.

2) SATC 2 = Sex, Shoes and Sisterhood In Abu Dhabi? Are
you heading to see this with your girls? Sigh, I guess the awful ageist photoshopping on the promo posters didn't turn you off. Read this review and get a taste of the bigger picture.

I never watched this series, and everybody says how awesome it was, but I just can't get into it. Maybe that's because I've only ever seen the first film and a couple episodes on TV, and neither of those left me feeling impressed.

I know people want escapism but at a time when people are freaking out because their unemployment benefits are expiring and they still can't find a job, it would've been nice if Carrie had been laid off from a magazine gig and freelancing stuff had dried up.

Oh, and maybe a real plot would've been Mr. Big being impacted by corporate downsizing so he has to go into recession mode like the rest of us... and maybe Carrie realizes volunteering in the community is fulfilling.

Instead we get, "We're rich, white and bored so let's have sex and shop!"

Even the cast knows this is vapidity at it's finest! Don't believe me? Their official press commentary is translated into plain English!

3) Shrek: My two sons loved it but I hope it really IS the final chapter because I laughed like twice during the whole film. I was so bored I ate all my kid's popcorn, and I walked away thinking Shrek and Fiona should've just hired Rumplestiltskin as their resident party planner/club promoter and he wouldn't have caused so much trouble.

I also wasn't laughing at the ticket prices. $13 per kid and $16.25 for moi, for a grand total of $42.25. That's why I don't get all excited when I hear how many millions a film made over the weekend. For real, I can do without 3D if I need to fork over that much cash to see it.

That brings us to one of the previews shown during Shrek...

4) Boycott The Last Airbender: I guess when the big screen version of the "Avatar: The Last Airbender" cartoon dropped the "Avatar" part of the title (due to a Billion-Dollar-Movie-With-Blue-People) and just became "The Last Airbender"the filmmakers figured no one would notice that the main characters also morphed racial backgrounds.

Except, some of us have noticed and we don't like it. The first time he saw the trailer, my nine year-old said, "Isn't the kid supposed to be Asian?"

Yes, my dear, he sure is!

Check out Racebending's excellent breakdown on the all-too-common and seriously racist casting practices used by Paramount Studios:
Is it OK with you that in the cartoon, the characters are all Asian, but in the movie, ALL the heroes are white? Only the villain in the film is Asian. And that's why I won't be spending my dollars going to see racist crap. I even signed the petition to boycott it. I won't be taking my sons to see it.

Seriously, is this the best Hollywood can do? If so, I'm not buying it.


mosaicmama said…
not a SATC fan, haven't seen one episode and definitely not the movies. my son saw shrek today with my husband. had prepaid tickets from costco and had to pay another $14 on top of that. ouch. so glad that i don't like going to the movies. now on airbender, i am SO WITH YOU. when this movie was first cast, we were livid. our son was so into the cartoon, and we became connected to it also. we had a family day where we spent it watching each dvd all the way through. this was when we only had one kid, now we have three, my how times have changed! i've been following racebending for awhile and all the links they post and i just can't get on board with this movie. and my son understands that we won't take him to see it. we thought it would be such a great opportunity for him to see an asian kid in a positive leading role. we love all the eastern influence and many things in the show enabled us to further discuss eastern spirituality (hubby is from india) with him, such as when he went to open his chakras. this is a long blog comment, sorry. i'm just so pissed over this casting and the people who say that people who are bothered, are overreacting, piss me off even more. and m. night shyamalan thinks he deserves a reward for casting so many minorities in smaller, extra's roles. ugh.
Jameil said…
For me, I think most important is the fact that there are so many boring, poorly-written films out there. I've seen that stupid vapid plot repeatedly... ad nauseum... and I'm ready for it to stop. Stop the madness. SATC was really bad. & I didn't hate the series, enjoyed it at times, really liked the first movie. The 3.3/5 stars I gave was mostly for nostalgia. It was pretty boring. Rashan HATED it & gave it 1 star & completely agreed w/the first review you posted. Every word. Lol. Movie prices have gotten completely out of hand. I'm absolutely feeling like the world should start boycotting films in theaters b/c of those outrageous prices. So tired of $10+ for a mediocre movie that will be on netflix in a month or 4. I can wait for that amount of money.
Unknown said…
Thanks Liz. Agree completely. Especially with comments about PoP. I haven't even seen the movie and I've said before, it doesn't make sense in 2010 that Hollyweird finds it necessary to have an American actor playing a Persian prince with a British accent. Could Bruckheimer and Disney not find a Persian actor in Tehrangeles?

nick said…
I love your alternative plot for Sex and the City. A lot more realistic than the actual plot which is absurd. The film's been almost universally panned in the UK but zillions of women will still flock to it because they want to drool over all the clothes and fashionable this and that. People's superficiality never ceases to amaze me.
There are no Iranian actors who can greenlight a 200 million dollars action movie.

My suggestion would have been to make the movie less expensive and cast a more believable leading man. Not sure why they thought Jake could open this film.

I can't believe he said he doesn't read books in front of kids. Wow.

Regarding SATC 2, I am a fan of the series, especially the earlier seasons. The movie? I have no words. If there's a SATC 3 they better bring back some of the female writers and let someone else direct.
Friday Night my friends and I saw SATC2 while their sons saw Prince of Persia...we all left the movie theatre less than impressed. At least I only paid $10.50 for my ticket!

I don't go to the movies as much as I use to with Netflix annd OnDemand...I can be much more selective about how I spend my movie money AND pay less for the privilege. Yes, this means that sometimes I have to wait 3 months but by then I have a really good idea which ones to avoid and which ones are worth my money.

I don't really care about opening weekend receipts on very many films...it's not like Hollywood is going to roll up its magic carpet and go away...they will continue to make an assortment of crappy movies, awesome movies and big blockbusters to numb the masses.
Liz Dwyer said…
My sons were really into the cartoon as well. I'm sure the boy cast to play Aang is a nice kid, but c'mon, it's ridiculous! I saw one interview where someone involved with the film was saying the cool thing is that all that characters are racially ambiguous! I was like, for real? Are you kidding me? I'm so sick of it! I'd like to see Asian leads in something other than the latest wuxia or Jackie Chan. And Karate Kid...oh gosh, I have a whole post marinating over how pissed I am that 1) The movie is set in freakin CHINA and they're doing KUNG FU, not karate and 2) The American kid goes over there and can magically whoop the asses of all the Chinese kids who've been studying kung fu for like forever. Gets a big #bishplease from me.

I seriously think my blood pressure just went up. It makes me SO angry!

BTW I didn't know movie tix are sold at Costco! See, I learn something new every day.

Sure are a whole LOT of boring films out there. It's like they're stuck in a rut with these dumb plots and they don't want to get out of it. Yeah, there's a LOT of films I've skipped and I'm waiting for the Netflix. Plus, now that I can stream on the Wii and the PS3... SCORE!

Oh gosh, the British accents are ridiculous! When I first saw a preview of this last year, I ranted on Twitter and made an awesome list of all the FAB actors that could've played both Gyllenhaal's and Arterton's roles - and made it more bankable worldwide. Sigh.

I read they spent $10 million on wardrobe. I'm like, really? If I can't experience your character in the outfit for longer than 10 seconds, why should I care?

He sure did say that he didn't read books... and that reading wasn't necessary to get into college and be successful in life. The green-lighting thing is a problem for sure. A much less expensive film would've been a much better idea.

I've been REALLY curious about who in the heck they have writing these SATC films. They seem VERY out of touch.

I felt bad putting my cash down for Shrek but the boys had been harassing me about it. I wish I'd held out and said no. Till the masses stay resolute in our refusal to pay to see bull, they'll keep making it. The problem is that we, the masses, keep going.
Anonymous said…
Great critical comments, Liz. So many movies are such crap now, especially when we consider the fine films from an earlier time. As for Sex in the City, I so totally agree. Like you I watched the TV series a couple of times and found it border line loathesome and vacuous and certainly an insult to females, and a waste of Chris Noth. When the first one came out I was contacted by a London newspaper who wanted comment by me since they had learned I taught Kim Cattrall. I remembered her as a sweet and innocent young girl, vastly removed from her character.
digal704 said…
I am so with you on SATC! I saw a piece of an episode and neither movie. The first Shrek was the best! After that they were reaching! Its ridiculous how much it cost to get in a movie. However, the biggest racket is the concession stand. Eat before you go! I am lucky that here in Charlotte, if you go before 12pm you can get in for 5.00! Adults and kids. It's worth setting the alarm!
Anonymous said…
Jake G.=total airhead! Very much a hollywood creation. And they need to keep him from EVER interviewing.

1969 said…
I avoided Shrek all weekend. After reading this, I am so glad I did. LOL

I am also disappointed with the casting of Avatar and Prince of Persia. Good post.
caoileann said…
Hi Liz,
I love reading your blog - it's so fun and well written, and you have a gift of injecting humour in the best places!

How sad there's not one Iranian in LA to cast for the Prince of Persia film. And it seems that it gets worse with this SATC2 nonsense. It's not bad enough the way they portray the Middle East, and then of course they had to add in an iddly diddly Irish nanny (stereotypes abound... is the actress even Irish - I mean from Ireland, not Irish-American?). I'm from Ireland, and have been living in the US for the past couple of years. So SATC2, thank you for effortlessly offending several cultures in one film.

If anyone is interested, here's how the film is being reported in Ireland: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/theticket/2010/0528/1224271261315.html

Liz Dwyer said…
Maybe it's because we only hear from Cattrall when she's promoting one of these films, but sometimes it seems like she forgets the cameras aren't rolling and she's being Samantha all the time. It's weird.

Yes, the concession stand is CRAZY pricey! Thank goodness for big "mom" purses to sneak snacks in!

Yep, I try to avoid watching his interviews. I know loads of folks think he's a hot potato, but I'm not in the drooling fan club at all.

Shrek's definitely a DVD film. One that should viewed while I go take a nap.

Wait, they make fun of Irish folks, too? Oh HECK NO! That's so not cool. The link you shared didn't work but I went over to the paper and read a couple of the reviews on it. "Atrocious. Vulgar, reactionary, lazy, puerile, racist, smutty, sluggish", - Amen.

So kind of you to say you enjoy reading! Thank you! :) Btw, do you prefer Keelin or Caoileann?
caoileann said…

Apologies, the correct link should be below. I believe that you found the correct article on the site. "Atrocious. Vulgar, reactionary, lazy, puerile, racist, smutty, sluggish" - the journalist summed it up perfectly! Not that I'll ever get to find that out for myself as I won't be watching the film!

I know, this Hollywood idea of putting "recognizable" people in roles that could be portrayed far more accurately by local actors seems to happen all over the world. Of course dollars talk, but still... The Prince of Persia is a perfect recent example. At home we groan when this happens – take for instance Tom Cruise's horrific performance in Far and Away. I rest my case :)

Also, either version of my name is good (Keelin is the anglicised spelling) - thanks for asking :)

Lenina said…
I used to be a fan of Sex and the City. Still don't know why. Because I wanted to be strong and independent in spite of being single maybe? Anyways, I had the displeasure of watching SATC the Movie and found the most racist comments about my country there.

Hollywood makes good movies but also is responsible for a lot of prejudice and misconceptions about the world. Considering the impact movies have on society that's a shame.

I decided not to watch that show or any subsequent movies ever again.

Don't get me started on consumerism...

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