Wednesday, September 15, 2021

When US films don't look like America


A new report from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative— released to coincide with the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month—finds popular movies continue to marginalize Hispanics and Latinos.
The investigation—co-authored by Ariana Case, Zoily Mercado, and Karla Hernandez —assessed leading and co-leading Hispanic and Latino actors and all speaking characters across 1,300 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2019, as well as their presence working behind the camera as directors, producers, and casting directors.
It’s important to note: Hispanics/Latinos spend $1.7 trillion as consumers. They account for 25 percent of movie tickets sold.
“Whether in leading roles or across all speaking characters, the absence of Hispanic and Latino actors and characters is noticeable. This community represents nearly 20% of the U.S. population and nearly half of Los Angeles residents and yet remains almost invisible on screen,” Case said in a statement.
To preface the findings, the words Hispanic and Latino are not interchangeable. Hispanic refers to people who are descended from Spanish-speaking countries and speak Spanish—regardless of race. Latinos hail from Latin American countries; specifically Central and South America, and the Caribbean—regardless of race or language. Although there will be people who can be both Latino and Hispanic, not everyone is considered both. Hispanic includes countries like Spain but excludes Brazil; whereas Latino includes the latter and excludes the former.

The results are awful -- only 7% of the leading roles are filled by Hispanics or Latinos. And it's really bad because note this:

There’s also an age-related barrier as only one percent of the study group featured a Hispanic/Latino in a leading or co-leading role aged 45 or older—including none in 2019. Only three of these roles were held by a woman 45 or older; two were Jennifer Lopez, the other was Cameron Diaz.

One question -- DRUNK PARENTS. It's a 2019 film starring Alec Baldwin and Salma Hayeck. Why is that not counted? The film did get a limited release, look it up.

Anyway, Jennifer Lopez still has hit movies but she's not in a ton of romantic comedies in the last years because the industry really didin't care for them anymore. And Cameron Diaz? I love her work but she retired in 2016. That's five yeas ago. No one has filled her shoes. She made 14 films from 2007 to 2014 (the study looks at all films from 2007 through 2019). During the time of the study, Jennifer acted in 11 feature films. (She has two coming out shortly MARRY ME and SHOTGUN WEDDING). A really good film recently is HALF BROTHERS. I'd missed it until Ava and C.I. noted it in "Media: Connections or the lack of them." It was funny and time well spent.. Luis Gerardo Mendez should be cast in a lot more comedies and in leading roles. He's very skilled. In a system that rewarded based on actual ability, Luis would be a huge, huge star with one role after another offered to him.

My top five favorite Jennifer films?


My top five favorite Cameron films?


 Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 Wednesday, September 15, 2021.  The lies, like the war, continue.

Starting with California.  Gavin Newsom remains governor of California.  That will make some people mad -- some out of California.  To those who predicted his demise, sorry you were so stupid.  I don't know what else to say.  You were an idiot?  I'm not saying that to those who don't like him but I am saying that to those of you who 'just knew' he was going down.  As long noted, I've known Gavin for years.  Yes, I did do outreach for him for this vote.  No, I did not turn this site into: We must support Gavin!!!!

Three e-mails to the public account ( whined that I didn't note Rose McGowan's support for one of Gavin's opponents.  When did I note Gavin's supporters?  I haven't turned this site into a recall website.  Second, if Rose endorsed she did so on Monday of this week. That's a little late in the game to have any effect.  At least three weeks ago, it was obvious from internal polling that Gavin stood no real threat of being turned out from the governor's mansion.  I wasn't 'censoring' Rose.  We weren't using THE COMMON ILLS to promote the recall.  If I'm not going to be noting, "Support Gavin" here, I'm certainly not going to be noting, "Rose McGowan is supporting Gavin's opponent . . ."  If Rose wanted to make an impact, she should have endorsed at least three weeks ago and turned up at some functions for her candidate of choice to get attention for that campaign.

During this time, we noted every clip THE CONVO COUCH did (they hate Gavin) about Gavin.  So this site was not used as a campaign site.

The only 'censorship' I'm aware of was that I didn't note a passing here.  The last few weeks have been really busy with news out of the Middle East so I might not have noted it anyway.  But a relative -- once, by marriage -- of Gavin's passed away.  JACOBIN, among others, was in tears over the passing.  The man was a raging homophobe.  His beef with Charlton Heston is purposely misremembered, for example.  It was political.  And then the man called, in front of the press, Heston a "cocksucker."  That's part of why the man's show was cancelled.  The man's politics had been tolerated -- leftwing -- but the network was not going to tolerate that.  The man realized he'd gone too far and tried to then lie, a day after, to the press that it was a term of affection.  Mm-hmm.  He was trash his whole life.  I don't care what his politics were.  He was a known homophobe and everyone looked the other way.  Then he did that to Heston and that was a step too far.  Ask Molly Ringwald who, a few years later, ended her own career by making remarks about a living film legend who was a lesbian -- it involves a LIFE magazine photo shoot.  Most people outside the industry don't know about that either but that is what killed Molly's career.

And not because the industry cared so much about LGBTQs in the 80s but because the industry was determined to hush up their existence as had been the m.o. since the 'pictures started to talk.'  Nancy Reagan's godmother Nazimova could be a star in the silent films, but the industry went reactionary shortly there after. 

(The man calling Heston a "cocksucker" was intending it as an insult.  Whether Heston was gay or bi or whether the man was just trying to land the worst insult he can imagine, I don't know.  I never met Heston and I have no knowledge of what he did or didn't do in the bedroom.)

Gavin still holds his post.  A lot of time and energy was wasted by people outside California who just knew he was going to be ousted.  This is why I don't endorse in elections I can't vote in.  What may be perfectly obvious on the ground may not be obvious from a distance.  

Those who hate him on the left have their reasons and I'll assume they are solid ones.  But I have reasons for supporting Gavin and every time I spoke to a group -- in person or virtual -- I was able to list many reasons to support him, many things I am proud of him for.  I was not scripted -- by the campaign nor did I use my own list of talking points.  I think Gavin's done a solid job.  

I also understand the difference between what our state legislature can do and what our governor can do and I'm not sure that all of Gavin's critics on the left grasped that difference -- again, if you're not able to vote in the election you may not grasp what's going on.

I'm happy for Gavin and I'm happy for the state of California.  If Gavin had been ejected?  I'd be upset but the state would have gone on and it wouldn't have been the end of the world despite the hype and drama so many try to bring to political races.  I'm sure it's gotten worse but since THE NATION dubbed an election "the torture election," I've been immune to the hysteria.

Iraq is gearing up for elections which are scheduled to take place next month.

Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) reports:

With only weeks to go until a parliamentary election, Iraq's politicians are not merely putting on their best smiles and making promises but also providing services the government was supposed to.

The election on October 10, the fifth since the end of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in 2003, is an important test for Iraq’s fledgling democracy amid widespread sentiment against its political elite. A mass protest movement that began in October 2019 forced a change of government last year and elections are to be held early under a new electoral law.

Iraqis will cast their ballots to choose among 3,249 contenders for the 328 seats in Parliament. The new electoral law means independent candidates are standing for the first time. Out of about 25 million registered voters, slightly more than 23 million have updated their information to become eligible to take part.

Candidates are using every possible method to attract voters, from the traditional billboards and shaking of hands to sponsored advertisements on social media and holding rallies with speeches, song and poetry.

Some candidates are even paving streets, replacing electricity transformers and repairing or installing water treatment plants in rural areas at their own expense.

Bribery?  ARAB WEEKLY notes:

At least 30,000 former members of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces-PMF) are to be reinstated and receive their salaries, the paramilitary coalition announced Monday.

The announcement, which came weeks before the country’s October 10 parliamentary elections, follows months of demonstrations by ex-members whose jobs had been terminated.

Faleh al-Fayyad, a senior Hashed official, said on television that the organisation would use its own funds to finance the rehiring operation and urged the government to re-enrol others who had been laid off.

Observers said the move comes at a crucial timing as Iraq prepares for the October 10 elections and just a few days after the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi approved a draft law for compulsory military service, 18 years after its abolition, in attempt to end sectarian polarisation caused by such powerful groups as the Hashed.

The Hashed decision to reinstate former members, observers added, is a direct message to Kadhimi, who has been struggling to restore the government’s control over the security file, something that the Hashed does not accept and sees as a threat to the militias’ influence.


Back in June, Brookings offered an assessment by Marsin Alshamary:

To understand the likely and unlikely outcomes of Iraq’s early parliamentary elections, scheduled for October, we need to understand both who is running and who is voting. Although these early elections were an answer to the demands of the October 2019 protest movement, they are likely to be boycotted by the same activists who demanded them due to an inhospitable pre-electoral environment. The impact of the boycotts will be tempered by the formal and informal coalitions being formed among established political parties but will likely result in outcomes similar to the previous elections in 2018.
Among the established party leaders in Iraq, only former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Ammar al-Hakim have formally formed a coalition, the Power of the National State Coalition. Al-Hakim, who is both a cleric and a politician, formerly headed the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq before breaking away from it to establish the National Wisdom Movement (al-Hikma), claiming to be a “civic” rather than Islamist party.
The informal coalitions, expected to form post-hoc, are between Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement and Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and between Hadi al-Ameri’s Fateh coalition and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), co-led by Lahur and Bafel Talabani. While the former may style themselves as the anti-Iran coalition, both al-Sadr and the Barzanis enjoy close ties to Iran. Al-Sadr is a populist cleric with a cult-like following and a reputation for being politically inconsistent. In Iraq’s 2018 elections, his Sairoon alliance won the most seats, largely due to low voter turnout as a result of the boycott movement. Mohammed al-Halbousi, the current speaker of parliament, is expected to align with them. Such a coalition would be disastrous for the already waning freedom of speech in Iraq, as both the Sadrists and the KDP have been known to curtail freedoms.
For these established parties and big-name politicians, Iraq’s new and smaller electoral districts — a demand of the 2019 protests — means that they are less inclined to run many candidates, but rather to focus on the districts in which they can win. This has resulted in a precipitous drop in the number of candidates registered from 7,178 candidates in 2018 down to 3,532 parties in 2021. The ability to win at the provincial level, but not district level, will deter some party leaders from running for office. Though this is a positive development, it comes with repercussions including the fear amongst activists that they are easier to target when running in smaller communities.

Amnesty International's Donatella Rovera Tweets:

 Head of #Iraq’s Electoral Security Committee says a comprehensive plan has been developed to provide the highest and unprecedented level of security for the upcoming elections on Oct. 10, with specially trained forces in charge during the #elections.

Turning to violence, Layal Shakir (RUDAW) reports:

Unknown airplanes targeted Iranian militias based on the Syrian-Iraqi border late Tuesday night, reported a conflict monitor. The US-led coalition has denied involvement.

Sounds of explosions were heard in Deir ez-Zor province, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding there was no immediate information on casualties of material damage.

Telegram channels affiliated with Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) claimed that “US airstrikes targeted PMF bases.”

The US coalition said they are not responsible for the attacks. “We can confirm these are NOT our airstrikes,” it said in an email sent to Rudaw English.

Morgan Artyukhina (SPUTNIK) adds, "Lebanese outlet Al-Mayadeen reported that two vehicles were on fire, citing a reporter in Baghdad. They reported no casualties, but noted three explosions were heard. Video posted on social media showed two fires raging in the night purported to be the struck vehicles." ABNA offers that SABEREEN NEWS "said the convoy was struck by four missiles fired from US F-15 fighter jets, and that the attack left no casualties."  NEWSWEEK's Tom O'Connor states, "The official Syrian Arab News Agency contradicted the Popular Mobilization Forces position, claiming to cite a member of the Iraqi militia collective in Iraq's Al-Anbar province as saying 'warplanes and drones directed four missiles at the headquarters of the Popular Mobilization regiments that are securing the Syrian-Iraqi border strip'."

Moving to more claims, MEMO notes, "Terror threats emanating from Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq pose a greater danger to the United States than those that might emerge from Afghanistan, the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said yesterday."  Is that their assessment?  Take it about as seriously as you would a pronouncement from Condi Rice.  Or, for that matter, one from Colin Powell.


Collie and his 'blot.'  All the lies of Bully Boy Bush and Tony Blair.  At Australia's NEW AGE, Mohammad Abdur Razzak reminds:

TONY Blair, who was then prime minister of the United Kingdom, at a joint media briefing at Camp David in the United States on September 7, 2002, said, ‘The threat from Saddam Hussein and [his] weapons of mass destruction chemical, biological and potentially nuclear weapons capability, that threat is real.’ US president George W Bush supported the statement, adding, ‘I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were finally denied access to a report… that they were six months away from developing weapon.’

In addressing the British parliament on September 24, 2002, Tony Blair said, ‘… Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, … he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability…. The history of Saddam and WMD is not American or British propaganda. The history and the present threat are real.’

Fifteen days before the invasion of Iraq, US secretary of state Colin Powell went to the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003 ‘with evidence of WMD in Saddam’s arsenal and his terror link with al-Qaeda’. But his ‘ham-fisted speech and pictorial evidence’ in multimedia presentation lacked credibility. Consequently, the Security Council did not authorise the Untied States to invade Iraq.

The idea of attacking Iraq was floated in the late 1990s and the plan to invade Iraq began in 2001. President George W Bush’s State of the Union address on January 29, 2002 was the formal public disclosure of making the case for war against Iraq. Besides linking Saddam Hussein to terrorism, the US president also deliberated on Iraqi president’s decade-long resolve to develop anthrax, nerve gas and nuclear weapon. The president delivered the speech after making the decision, ‘Saddam Hussein must be removed’ before the election of 2004.

After the US president’s State of the Union speech, Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defence, said on February 4, 2002 that ‘they had no choice but to change the regime.’ US deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz said on May 9, 2002, ‘It was fair to say that Saddam’s days were numbered.’ During a press briefing on September 3, 2002, Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary told journalists, ‘The policy of the United State is regime change with or without [UN] inspectors.’



A lot of lives were lost because of those lies.  But, hey, a lot of money was made for the greedy.  David DeCamp notes:

    Brown University’s Costs of War Project released a new report Monday detailing post-9/11 spending by the Pentagon. The study found that of the over $14 trillion spent by the Pentagon since the start of the war in Afghanistan, one-third to one-half went to private military contractors.

The report, authored by William Hartung of the Center for International Policy, said $4.4 trillion of the total spending went towards weapons procurement and research and development, a category that directly benefits corporate military contractors. Private contractors are also paid through other funds, like operations and maintenance, but those numbers are harder to determine.

Out of the $4.4 trillion, the top five US weapons makers — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman — received $2.2 trillion, almost half. To put these huge numbers into perspective, the report pointed out that in the 2020 fiscal year, Lockheed Martin received $75 billion in Pentagon contracts, compared to the combined $44 billion budget for the State Department and USAID that same year.

Besides getting paid for weapons and research, US corporations profit from private contractors that are deployed to warzones. The most notorious private security contractor previously employed by the Pentagon is Blackwater, the mercenary group whose employees massacred 17 people in Iraq’s Nisour Square back in 2007.


The following sites updated:

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