Does this seemingly oddball claim have a shred of veracity? I get that movies are a global market these days, but does overseas Asian markets potential antipathy toward black people really impact casting decisions for US movies?
It’s a mildly interesting notion, but while I could see it possibly applying to the relatively few big-budget action movies each year that are dependent on Asian revenues to get in the $200 million+ category, it shouldn’t affect smaller films, dramatic or comedic.
My experience is from a couple of decades ago, and is a very small sample size, but with those caveats, an Asian racist enough to skip a movie because it features blacks is just as likely to skip a movie because it features whites.
This is like a “Racist Mobius Strip”.
Maher is a horse’s ass.
I guess you’d have to look at Asian box office numbers for action films where the likes of Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Jamie Fox star in.
How did the Men In Black films do in Asia?
Yea, I’d believe it for big-budget films, that are often made at least in part with a Chinese audience in mind. But not for the “Oscar bait” type prestige films that make up most of the high profile Oscar noms. Those pretty obviously aren’t made to be accessible to foreign audiences.
Well, there is always Jackie Chan’s Rush Hour with Chris Tucker.
IMDb: Cultures clash and tempers flares as the two cops named Detective Inspector Lee a Hong Kong Detective and Detective James Carter FBI, a big-mouthed work-alone Los Angeles cop who are from different worlds discovers one thing in common: they can’t stand each other. With time running out, they must join forces to catch the criminals and save the eleven-year-old Chinese girl of the Chinese consul named Soo Yung.
Just adding that Detective James Carter was black. Jackie and Chris had some pretty funny stereotype busting scenes. My favorite is this interplaysinging the song War.
There is a much longer extended scene that highlighted how blacks can use the n-word but not others. The on line clips I found don’t have the extended scene where the James Carter character say’s “what’s up my nigger” to his IIRC cousin. When Jackie does the same later in the scene, the cousin took offense.
Anyhoo, just an anecdote where one of the biggest Asian movie stars ever deliberately used a black actor and a key part of the story line.
As someone upthread pointed out, that average Asian that wouldn’t go see a movie because of a black person, probably wouldn’t go see a movie that has an actor/actress outside of their own Asian nationality.
I think you have to differentiate between the Big Name back actors and some no-name black actors. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in a few Asian countries and I can see the former being somewhat of a draw and the latter having the opposite effect.
Does this mean that Asians are taking all the work of hating Blacks from America’s White racists?
I think Bill Maher’s full of hot air since the type of movies that win Oscars are generally not shown in China (I can’t speak for other parts of Asia). Here is a list of China’s box office for 2015. The Martian was probably the most “prestigious” movie released last year.
He’s not entirely wrong though. There was the dust-up about a month ago about the Chinese Star Wars poster. link here. The poster was modified to appeal more to Chinese tastes and John Boyega’s picture was shrunk considerably. Apparently the Chinese are the most racist about Wookies since Chewbacca was cut out completely (though I think they wanted to emphasize the sci-fi aspect of space armies and robots and deemphasize shaggy aliens).
I do know that when people dug into the Sony hack there were many e-mails blaming foreign markets for a lack of people of color fronting movies but it felt to me like it was just an excuse.
Bill Maher deserves respect. No one has the balls anymore to do what he does. Whether you agree or disagree with him you have to respect the man.
I can’t find any info about how well Rush Hour did in China. I did find an article that says Rush Hour 3 wasn’t even released in China.
The article of course doesn’t say “Because there’s a black guy in it!” They don’t quite pinpoint what the reason was other than “too much other competition” (at the time, and maybe now, only 20 or so foreign movies per year are shown in China) and a guess that there was a problem with scenes of Chinese gangsters.
Anyway, the fact that Rush Hour exists doesn’t really mean that Chinese people like to see black people in movies. We’d kind of need to see some numbers for a deeper discussion.
Nm- Box Office Mojo has poor details for old years like 1998.
I’m not a big fan of Maher, but I don’t think he’s entirely wrong here. My experiences are slanted towards the Japan region, but I can definitely imagine most people around here avoiding a movie if they think it’s going to be about “black people problems”. The stereotypical image of a black guy being loud, rude, and brash would also be an unappealing protagonist for a lot of Asian moviegoers, and they would probably avoid a movie if that’s what they expect. I wouldn’t be surprised if movies with a black lead character do better in Asian markets when the advertising de-emphasizes the importance of that character.
Rush Hour is an interesting example because it would probably actually do pretty well. If it were a movie just featuring Chris Tucker, it would probably be a major turn off, but having Jackie Chan as a point of view character would probably actually make it pretty appealing to an Asian market. It’s a complete crapshoot as to what comedy successfully makes the transition to Asian markets, though, so it’s futile to read too much into only a handful of examples.
I see what you did there.
Watching his show right now, but he hasn’t got there yet.
OK, just got to it. Bad reporting by the cite in the OP. Maher starts out saying “Part of the problem is…”. Part of the problem, folks. Part of the problem.
The issue is a lot more nuanced than “Asian people hate Blacks” but it undeniably exists. People seem eager to talk about the complexity of race relations when it’s in their own country but feel the need to impose and then debunk cartoonish notions of race in other lands. Even in the depths of pre-integration South, Americans were still proud of Jesse Owens winning the Munich Olympics and all but the most racist Americans today still enjoy sports teams that are predominantly Black.
The restrictions on race placed on Black Americans today are rarely at the level of straight boycotts, domestically or abroad. Rather, it’s a conservatism about the white male default and antipathy towards breaking that mold. For example, it’s exceedingly hard to name a movie in which a Black man is romantically involved with a White woman, unless that’s the plot of the movie. Denzel Washington has apparently never appeared in a movie across from a white female partner and Will Smith, only once or twice. On the contrary, White men are paired with Black women all the time in a much more racially neutral way.
The issues to do with Asia aren’t all that dissimilar to the conservative elements in our own country. Remember the “controversy” when it was revealed that in Spectre, James Bond would sleep with an “older woman”? These tensions have always roiled movie production since the very earliest days of film and the growth in the Asian markets is simply shifting the balance in numbers towards a different direction.
For the most part, it doesn’t have an effect on the average person reading this forum. The type of movies being made for the “other audience” barely crosses our radars. It’s stuff like Paul Blart, Mall Cop and Transformers which purposely attracts a more conservative audience.
But just be aware that for every “controversy” like the Spectre one, we only hear the voices of the domestic debate but movie executives are watching numbers coming in from around the world and the silent audience that is talking about these movies in another language, in other forums are far more in alignment with the conservative voices in our culture. That makes movie directors lean towards safer choices and blander material to cater more towards global tastes and that has an impact on everyone who is not part of the mainstream.
It doesn’t affect Black male leads in a serious way because Black male leads are already part of the mainstream but it affects Blacks who want more and different roles in film and are pushing for more varied representation and less reliance on stereotypes and tropes. That’s the real impact that Asia is having on the American movie scene.
edit: The good news is that there’s no intrinsic reason for Asia to be more culturally conservative and it’s more of a factor of the relative recency of media as a force in their culture. As the countries get richer, better educated and more worldly, there’s going to be the emergence of a large market demanding the same complex, nuanced, challenging films that we demand in the West and that’s going to buoy a new renaissance of great populist film making.
So I get that there’s often more to the story than meets the eye on a first pass, but upon reading the OP, my first thought was, yeah right, it’s not us whites who are racists, it’s them yellow folk! Glad we cleared that up. :smack: