In Febuary 2015, Upworthy published a video that brought together actors of color to describe their experiences at auditions for the U.S. entertainment industry. The actors recount being told by casting directors to act in a stereotypical fashion and being typecasted based on their race and ethnicity. The clip uses personal stories to challenge accusations that the film industry is too Eurocentric and therefore, leaves few roles for actors of color to audition for. The clip cites various studies supporting the use of diverse casts stating that nearly 70% of casting calls prefer white actors, that films with relatively diverse casts excel at the box office and in returns on investment, and that television shows reflecting the nation’s diversity excel in ratings. So with potential for better ratings and better returns, the video asks viewers, “What’s the new excuse?” Upworthy is a website for viral content that promotes progressive stories tackling political and social issues.
In this 1940 episode of Looney Tunes, Porky Pig, who is working for the French Foreign Legion, gets a secret message that “Ali-Baba and his Dirty Sleeves” are going to attack the desert fort. Porky and his camel are left alone to defend the fort against Ali-Babi and his attackers, and a series of typical Looney Tunes gags ensue.
H&M Close the Loop video is an advertisement for the clothing company’s sustainable fashion through recycling clothes campaign. The ad features a diverse representation of models that are different sizes, ages, genders, sexualities, religions, races, ethnicities, varying degrees of able-bodiedness, and people wearing and presenting their hair - including under arm hair, beards, and head hair - in different styles. The ad features a voice-over saying commonly stated and sometimes contradictory fashion rules and advice while images of diverse, fashionable people in various settings challenge assumptions about these rules. The ad closes with text urging people to leave unwanted garments in any H&M store so that the company can reuse or recycle them into new clothes.
This video describes how graffiti artists snuck subversive messages onto a 2015 episode of Homeland, an American political and espionage television show about a CIA agent. The artists were asked by producers to add Arabic graffiti to the walls of a fictional Syrian refugee camp and they decided to take the opportunity to make a statement about the show’s repeated stereotyping and negative, limited portrayals of Muslims, Arabs, and the Middle East. The clip describes what happened and also shows one of the artists explaining why he finds Homeland problematic. He says, “It’s a complete inaccurate description of the Middle East and the Far East and the wider region. It shows every Muslim or every Arab who appears in the series as a terrorist, basically…In a case like Homeland, when it’s really degrading people and cultures…we should try and look a little bit beyond entertainment and also see the political messages that are transported on TV.” The graffitied messages (in Arabic) included, “Homeland is Racist,” “There is no Homeland,” and “#BlackLivesMatter.”
In this documentary program produced by the University of Southern California in 2008, Professor of Cinema and Television Ellen Seiter leads a discussion on “Film Viewing Across Cultures.” The project brought together a dozen undergraduate students, with participants born in the US, Egypt, Pakistan, Kuwait and South Africa. The goal was to explore how film and television portrayals shaped understandings of America, Islam, and the Muslim world. Viewing a variety of historical and contemporary media portrayals, the discussion also interrogated the extent to which studying film can deepen cross-cultural understandings.