Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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Hollywood bends the knee to the cancel culture

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JUST when you thought identity politics could not get any more bizarre, along comes the Oscars affirmative action policy. To contend for Best Picture, producers must show that instead hiring performers and technicians on ability, they based their decisions on ethnicity, race, sexual orientation and disability.

The diversity guidelines must be implemented in time for the 96th Academy Awards in 2024 and cover every facet of movie production including  choosing the actors and actresses, the storyline and subject matter, production crew and even apprentices and senior executives.

The list reads as if it was written by people so Woke they never get a good night’s sleep. Included are the usual victim groups ranging from LGBTIQ+ people, those with cognitive or physical disabilities, the deaf and hard of hearing, members of designated racial and ethnic groups and women.

American actress Kirstie Alley said the rules were ‘dictatorial and anti-artist’, adding: ‘Hollywood, you’re swinging so far left you’re bumping into your own ass.’ 

The guidelines are only the latest example of how politically correct the American entertainment industry is. Celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro and Oprah Winfrey support the Democratic Party with many regularly invited to the White House during the Clinton and Obama presidencies.

On the other hand when the conservative Republican Donald Trump was elected President, Madonna lamented that it ‘felt like a combination of the heartbreak and betrayal you feel when someone you love more than anything leaves you, and also a death. I feel that way every morning’. 

Such is the pervasive nature of politically correct ideology that in June the HBO Max streaming platform removed the American Civil War classic Gone With the Wind, saying it was racist. It restored it with an introduction explaining the ‘historical context’.  In 2018 actress Scarlett Johansson withdrew from playing a transgender character in a film after a backlash mainly from the transgender lobby. 

The insidious dominance of cancel culture is not restricted to the United States. As a result of the Black Lives Matter movement London’s Royal Court theatre released diversity guidelines describing the British theatrical world as ‘institutionally racist’ and guilty of perpetuating ‘culturally biased assumptions’.  Based on the argument that Western civilisation is guilty of enforcing white supremacism and colonial exploitation, the theatre commits itself to abolishing ‘systemic racism, bias and discrimination’ in its organisation and the plays it performs. 

Soon after came the extraordinary ‘mea culpa’ from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) which David Cann reported in TCW in July. RADA’s director Edward Kemp wrote: ‘We are profoundly sorry for the role we have played in the traumatic and oppressive experiences of our current and past Black students, graduates and staff . . . We apologise unreservedly for failings of action, leadership and our systems in making RADA a safe and inclusive environment for Black staff and students.’

In the Alice in Wonderland world of identity politics and victimhood, one wonders how far the cultural-Left ideologues and thought police will go in enforcing indoctrination and group think. If Gone With the Wind is unacceptable without a disclaimer, what about the 1968 movie The Party with Peter Sellers playing a bumbling Indian actor? Guilty of black facing, cultural stereotyping and institutional racism. Ditto the great Sir Laurence Olivier for darkening his face in 1965 when playing the lead in Shakespeare’s Othello. The 1964 film Zulu, in which a small band of British soldiers defeat hundreds of Zulu warriors, glorifies white supremacism and British imperialism.

While Woke activists argue that more needs to be done to ensure Hollywood conforms to their politically correct dictates, it’s obvious the process of cleansing has already begun. In Disney’s 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast one of the central characters is reimagined as gay.

And as James Bond fans know, the early movies with their overt sexuality and often suggestive dialogue and puns have long since been superseded by a politically correct orthodoxy where Bond has been emasculated and no one can be offended.

One of the great attributes of movies is that creativity and originality are not based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or disability. To suggest otherwise is to promote Soviet-style agitprop and must be resisted.   

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Dr Kevin Donnelly
Dr Kevin Donnelly is a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University and author of A Politically Correct Dictionary and Guide (available at kevindonnelly.com.au)

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