Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just In Case You Thought I Was Making It Up

Not to bring up old dustups, but for those of you who thought I was exaggerating the biases in the media, read this:

A movie about to be filmed in Pittsburgh is casting Gothic characters -- including an albino-like girl and deformed people -- to depict West Virginia mountain people, says David M. Brown in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (2/26/08). "Regular-looking" children need not apply. ... "It's the way it was described in the script," Belajac [the casting staffer] said Monday. "Some of these 'holler' people -- because they are insular and clannish, and they don't leave their area -- there is literally inbreeding, and the people there often have a different kind of look. That's what we're trying to get." ... "From the standpoint of being a lifelong West Virginian, it's upsetting, because there are so many wonderful people to come out of this area," said Jeff Pierson, director of arts for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

As I said at the time, that there's some bullshit.

9 comments:

Laura said...

I was going to note the same thing on Gasp. Thanks for saving me the trouble.

Ian R. Crawford said...

Don’t you think it’s possible that we just don’t have all the information? I think if someone wants to make a movie with a specific aesthetic they should have the right to. Perhaps they are telling a story about the horrors of isolationism and putting it clearly in the physical world. People should have the right to create their own artistic aesthetic- why don’t we judge them after we see what they do with it?

Scott Walters said...

Ian -- I think the regularity with which these stereotypes arise should be condemned. The generalizations Belajac makes about "holler people" are offensive and insulting. We wouldn't tolerate it if the generalizations were about a race -- for instance, the Frito Bandito was banished from TV advertising long ago -- but we allow it to exist when it comes to class and region. And no, I do not think a "specific aesthetic" justifies it. If you are a child in WV, you do not need such stereotypes to be approved by our society. No sir.

Ian R. Crawford said...

The call also says that one of the characters is a witch who is hundreds of years old- this doesn’t seem like its making a statement about how inbred West Virginians are. It sounds like fantasy, would you feel better about it if the movie took place in New Mexico?

Troubador said...

Having read the entire article and looking at the track record of the artists involved, it sounds like an interesting movie.

I'll make up my mind about it after I see it.

So should everyone.

Scott Walters said...

The point isn't the movie, troubador.

Ian R. Crawford said...

I think there is a wealth of Appalachian history out there and depicting a geographical region in any stereotypical way isn’t any good. So here, for a real in depth slice of the Appalachian experience visit http://www.appalshop.org/ they do some really cool stuff. I first got interested in Appalachia researching for a production of Dark of the Moon. One could argue that play is a poor depiction of the region (though it really has more to do with America and bad religion than Appalachia.) Stereotypes are generally detrimental, and maybe the casting call wasn’t worded well but I think everything should be given a chance before it’s judged.

Troubador said...

Yes. That last thing Ian said is really the point.

Scott Walters said...

Appalshop is AMAZING -- I just did the world premiere production of their "Thousand Kites" play about the prisons. They do INCREDIBLE work.