I have been in awe of some of the things that are happening in Hollywood, and it gives me hope.
Anyone who saw it was blown away by Stan Lee’s Marvel Brand story, Black Panther, produced by Ryan Coogler, a young black filmmaker known for his rags to riches story, where we get to see an advanced black African society and its super smart black women inventing great technology and confronting questions about race issues, tradition, and world race interactions.
Black Panther poses questions about the inequities experienced by blacks in our culture and further pushes the boundaries of our responsibilities to address those issues.
Then there is the film retelling of A Wrinkle in Time, from the 1962 book by Madeline L’Engle. The film brings to life the story of Meg Murry, a nerdy black adolescent who travels across dimensions to rescue her scientist father. Meg is guided by a trio of ethnically diverse women guardian angels collectively called “the Mrs.”
The book and the movie are about what it means to be a source of light in a world in which darkness seems to dominate. A Wrinkle In Time also makes the case for strong female leadership and thinking independently when conformity is the norm.
A Wrinkle in Time’s producer, Ava DuVarney, is also a black woman known for her social commentary in film and about blacks in society.
So, you see, things are beginning to really move in Hollywood, and reflect what we see in our real life. We are diverse.
And, it is my own opinion, but I think it is important that the way we see ourselves in Hollywood is representative of who we really are. Our politicians listen to and spar with Hollywood personalities. They are clearly watching to see what Hollywood thinks we are. Rarely before has a Hollywood movement, like “Me Too,” been so effective at helping others outside of Hollywood to find their voices.
And to some extent, the rest of the world sees us in the way that Hollywood represents us, whether that’s being so trite as to care about things like “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” or whether it is making social commentary about things like race and climate change, or the importance of science, culture, humanity and diversity.
So, when I say that Hollywood is making ripples, I’m not just talking about the “Me Too” movement (but I am proud of the ladies and gents who are standing up to take a stand and be vocal about sexual assault and gender inequality) but also the things taking shape to look like we really look in our society.
And others are making waves on television.
Not only on the big screen, but on the small screen, things are happening that show how much we care about being represented for our common concerns about diversity, peace, and respect for our differences.
I got to be part of a really fun event this week, the PaleyFest in Los Angeles, a yearly celebration of television in America, where the cast, writers, and producers of some of the most popular television shows gather to be interviewed by a moderator and fans at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Yesterday, I was honored to attend a session with the cast of The Orville, a modern-day Science Fiction show (written and produced by Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane) that dances on the heels of other great ScFi television shows like the Star Trek, but with a humorous (and often introspective) look at modern issues and scenarios.
The live stage interview show opened up with a replaying of the first season’s finale, “Mad Idolatry” on the big screen of the Dolby Theatre. In the story, we see the crew of The Orville accidentally interacting with a new planet’s society, and they create a “diety” and religion from an encounter with The Orville’s 1st Officer, Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), ex-wife of Orville Captain Ed Mercer.
The new planet advances at a faster rate of time due to a “space” anomaly and we see the ramifications of the new church’s strict rules and influence on its world. And “Kelly” finds herself as the “namesake” used in the religion, a religion that punishes in the name of “Kelly.”
The Paleyfest showing of The Orville finale wrapped up with a view of the society in its future, where it had advanced to a better understanding of science and developed a tolerance and equity among people. And the religion of “Kelly” had taken a step down in the society, seen as a pious way for church and political leaders to control people.
MacFarlane, when asked, said he created The Orville because he wanted to see a SciFi show that focused on the positive aspects of exploring space and working together in technology to find future solutions and equity.
MacFarlane commented that there are a lot of dark “apocalyptic” shows on television. He added that when he couldn’t find what he wanted to see on TV, he decided to create it. The Orville has become a huge hit already, gathering a Star Trek-like fan base.
The diverse cast was only part of The Orville’s story. While watching the season, I was impressed by the diversity in the story creation throughout its season with topics that included: single parenting, peaceful negotiations in war, inter-racial relationships, the value of life, same-sex marriage and parenting, divorce, and women in command. But I was even more impressed by the intentional treatment of the subjects by MacFarlane and the show’s producers.
I admit, I love the new movements in television and applaud the diversity I’m starting to see take shape in an industry plagued by its lack of diversity.