We all live on one planet but at times it feels we are worlds apart.
Racism is and may always be a strong theme in films.
Most of us have experienced racism in one form or another. We feel the scorn. We are not sure why. We figure out later it’s because we are of a different race, we have different ways of doing things. For many of us it’s a sad wake up call and we have to figure out how to cope and it’s NOT EASY. Because of this universal feeling you can write about it in your screenplays, bring it to life in your performances, it will resonate with your audience as it’s a core issue here. We can ALL relate to this and in many ways it’s through films we feel we have a place here. Films that help us feel accepted and help us to accept others are important. We see racism across all genres. Some of your films can be only about race and the complications it brings or it can be a part of the background. I hope you use this information to help break down the barriers between races. We need more cinematic heroes out there.
T) How have you ever experienced racism? Do you feel your race is superior to others? Are you accepting of all races of people? Mentally jot down examples of this, how you were exposed to racism.
Racism is a wonderful topic for films, it helps us all become more tolerant, accepting of other races and learn how we can gradually become united as we learn how the hero faces the torture of the villain. Many incredible films help us all to learn how other cultures live, how we are all inherently human and how to accept each other’s difference. The X-Men films are a good example… the Uncanny X-Men are about a group of mutants who are ridiculed by society for their uncanny abilities must band together to save the world the very society dwells.
Each race has a rich culture.
A film that has characters from each culture can really help us learn the various customs, the spiritual beliefs and the ways of life from each. I love to learn about this. I am fascinated about how different cultures experience life, what they are taught and how they go about being productive.
A monomythic film should help the audience overcome racism. Despite vast differences, it’s these very differences that make the very spice of life. Many films have helped me understand this. I have lived through the screenwriters versión of the hero’s journey, I have been the hero I see on screen and I have learned how change my very mindset. In fact as I write this I am in awe how I may have learned more about universal laws more from the films I’ve watched then really from any other source. A good movie achieves this, it speaks to purpose here, reminds us of oír humanity. I believe this is our duty as a creator. Our art can truly help others learn how to face, how to cope, how to overcome and ultimately how to change the inner workings of racism. Show us the effects racism has on the other side so de can legal how not to take things fíe granted.
So many of you have faced so much recently and we all have been through a lot together and many are dealing with racism as we speak, some in subvert ways and some more blatant. It’s something I’ve never had to face racism until recently myself. We all seem to face unbelievable hardships, betrayals and brutal circumstances just because a group of people feel a certain way about the other. Film, art, creative works in many ways has become the light. We have a duty to show our audiences stories
T) Mentally jot down what you enjoy learning about those who are different then you. How do other races view religion, diet, marriage, relationships. What racism have you seen different races face? What are the consequences of racist behavior?
Let’s take a broad look at racism through the lens of the monomythic story structure. The filmmaker can see the structure of how racism is funneled through here. I hope this work inspires you to create films, to create characters that inspire others to change racism, racist posturing. The pain, the hurt is holding us all back from focusing on the inventiveness of the human experience. We all have so many more important questions about life to explore together.
The villain in racist films are cruel, judgemental, discriminate and are just full of plain ‘ol hate. The villain should remind the audience of someone or something they can relate to. The racist villain feels their race is the chosen race that is here to do or to accumulate what all villains desire… domination, material wealth, rule and destruction. They have been taught that the color of their skin is a free ticket to feel this way. Their parents taught them to blame the other races for their circumstances, or for a stain on humanity. The villain now takes the baton from their parents or those that trained them to be racist and becomes the villain through their actions. They recruit their first minion by conversion of their beliefs. They execute their first dark order. They build a mob mentality in their dark quarters. They dream of crushing the other race through their own selfishness and believe these dreams are actual experiences. The pain seems to build. The pressures from those that taught them to think like this builds and the villain begins to work, begin to hunt the hero. This work is incredible proof for the screenwriter and the actor, or really the creative. Your collaborative team can, in a very mature way, explore the villainous natures and jot down proof of their actions as filmables, film-able actions that prove the nature of your character. Action makes for a powerful choice in your films, in your acting. We would rather see the villain hate rather then hear the villain talk about their hate. This is why I asked you to jot down the actions you have experienced regarding racism. These actions are filmables. If the actor auditions with this in mind it can create a memorable audition, as it can trigger the imagination of the director. There are powerful creative examples that prove the thoughts of the villain. While the racit villain may be hard for you to even imagine racism films that help end racism need to be made. We still have a lot if work left here to do and the result of more films like this can really help in the liberation from racism.
Let’s take a look at some of the WORST racist villains of all time!
The hero in racist films has a lot they are up against. The color of their skin gives them a disadvantage going in. They must overcome angry mobs, dirty looks, plots against their family, physical pain and facing a world they feel is out to get them. It’s just harsh and unfair. The hero is never perfect, they also have a tragic flaw they must face. To follow the hero’s journey is the very process of shedding old beliefs, perhaps the hero is heading down a dark path to becoming a racist themselves and must go through trials to help them turn back to the light. These old beliefs are like tyrants in our psyche, they simply will not go down without a fight. In many ways these inner tyrants protected us from something in our past, but like old skin they must be shed. The only way the racist villain arrives is because the hero needs to grow. The villain archetype is actually seeking to help the hero in the long run, they are only playing a role.
- Actor note: When auditioning for the hero remember you are the audience. You feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, you feel the loss of your prince/ princess, you feel the grind to overcome, the camaraderie of your ally, the divinity of your mentor… your performance is an observance of the rollar coaster. It’s a great ride! Your work can help many take the journey with you, to help many. You feel the lows and the highs and in the end you shed an old belief.
To help illustrate the absurdity of racism let’s go to one of our time’s best comics in this controversial sketch –
Usually the shapeshifters in these kinds of films illustrate the betrayal of racism to the hero. The hero discovers the truth about their shapeshifter “friend” often times in dramatic fashion, in the presence of the villain. Fear not… the betrayal ends up teaching hero to not place their faith in others but rather the integrities that truly govern us. The betrayal is so great, so shocking it forces the hero to turn to mentor and from the mentor the hero discovers their own purpose. A good example is the hero has, what they believe to be, a friend in someone of a different race who later leads the hero into a trap.
T) Have you ever been nice to someone to their face but once you don’t see them you judge them? Have you ever been the victim of this? Jot down how it felt. Think of why it may have happened and where it may be coming from.
The mentor in a film about race, or touches on racism sees above race. These characters have risen above the surface and have discovered truths that brought racism into the mind to begin with. The mentor has traveled the hero’s quest already, they have faced the same betrayals and they know what awaits the hero if they stay the course. Often times we learn the mentor may have had it worse then the hero, perhaps they had much worse circumstances they had to face in their journey. This experience and the fact the mentor kept hold of their principles has brought the mentor to a kind of peace of mind the hero is working to obtain. The mentor coexists with other mentors, or feels connected to the invisible side of life. They are not afraid, they are more or less at one with their purpose. I love real life mentors of all kinds within different races. Every race has incredible examples of this and I am sure they all coexist in the happy ever after. We all should strive to make art with the mentors message in mind.
T) Have you ever been able to help someone through this journey? Been able to provide insight to someone who is experiencing racism? What did you tell them, what did you say to help them understand racism?
The Prince/ Princess
This archetype holds incredible power in the films about race, about the various aspects of racism. They possess the gift if release from the mind. Once the prince/ princess is stolen the hero starts to learn their love of this archetype supersedes their own tragic flaws and will finally do or learn the lessons to adapt to their own flaws. It’s a thrust of positive energy that that truly awakens the hero, activates the hero’s laden gifts.
T) Have you ever been so discriminated against it’s as if you can’t do anything about it but just let it happen? Mentally jot down how it felt to experience this. By writing these elements down you can recall these emotions and bring them back when writing or performing.
In films about race it’s the ally’s purpose to illustrate to the audience the power of friendship that lies beyond race. While hatred, cruelty and violence between races seem to exist it’s the kinship between the ally and the hero that will rise to the surface. This surge of friendship between races can remind your audience the potential advancements these bonds can have on humanity. Each race, each culture possess attributes of itself that can benefit the other and when shared will lead to the enrichment of the other. We are here for this reason. We are here to learn and if we continue to pass judgment on each other we never will. There is warmth, respect and loyalty to be earned by the hero from the and these qualities are greatly needed, for in these kinds of films it’s in short supply.
T) Do you have allies from different races? What have you learned about the culture that has enriched you life?
The minions represent the gossip of the racist mind. This gossip from the town, the world around the hero drowns the hero into despair. All the negative aspects of racism are personified through the actions of the minions. They help the writer create pressure for the hero, the more extreme the pressure the more opportunity the hero has to overcome, to triumph over. The minions are also in a way mindless drones working for the empty promises of the villain. Minions are weak in their personal integrities which makes them subjective to the seductive promises of the villain. Often the villain will turn or convert the minions beliefs over to theirs.
So there is a lot to think about here.
You can make a film all about racism or you can touch on it. Often times racism can be a secret reason why the hero experiences so much hurt, so many challenges in life, a truth to reveal that will explain why characters are behaving the way they are. They may be in training by their own culture to hate another but their divinity prevents them and they must face their own cultures incredibly strong feelings about it.
For the actor having a strong character analysis here can add tremendous depth to your work. You can work to find where your judgement lies or doesn’t.
Films about race are needed right now as the world seems to believe one race is superior then the other. Films help the individual understand themselves, find solutions, help us cope with and overcome racism. Filmmakers have a duty to help us in this regard. Help us to learn that all races share the same duty to family, to education to keeping divine purpose and because of this there is so much we can all learn from one another. This is the magic of life.
Many actors are nervous about taking on racist roles as often times actors are the most accepting bunch, most actors I know do not see color and are very accepting of one another. However they are sensitive and they do not want people to assume they are racists themselves, or be associated with the beliefs of the characters they play. So the actor here struggles with the ethics of this. Often times the screenwriter is striving to make a film that addresses racism and needs an actor to bring to life a villainous character to cause havoc for the hero. They need an actor willing to become the racist villain, so and do things they in real life would never do but because the film needs to illustrate a truth about race. If the actor understands that they are an integral part of telling the story to help the audience fully see the message they should go into the work without hesitation. However if they feel the film is a propaganda film that encourages racism I would personally steer clear.
I believe racism needs to to quietly go away in our personal lives.
T) How can you make a difference? You don’t have to make movie or book a huge role to start making a difference right now. You start by going within, challenging your own beliefs. Counting the times perhaps you judged another, or took the judgements from others.
Now you have gone through this module you may have a broad idea of your own film about racism, or you may be able to pepper in race/ status into your work. Typically your villain feels power from the color of their skin while your hero feels the pain of it. Go through your notes. See if you have a story you can outline. See if you have story elements you can use later in an audition or a performance.