This segment is a simple one and reminds me a little about the blog entries where I simply interchange the racial minority for the dismissed minority of those with a disAbility. Here it is about the words spoken in an acceptance speech and nothing needs to be interchanged. There just needs some inclusion added to the inclusion spoken of and implied! This is my favorite part of this Academy Awards Show so far! I was coco, crazily happy with the words spoken during this segment of the show! But would like Hollywood to see it on the big picture. Real inclusive when it comes to the Hollywood’s dismissive minority – especially when this minority is huge! If they did, I am sure we’d all go coco or rather coo-coo or cuckoo – obviously I am referring to the television commercial for the cereal brand of Cocoa Puffs where the animated, Sonny the Cuckoo Bird is so happy and goes so crazy, in a good way, when given a bowl of Cocoa Puffs. I would go crazy for more of this inclusion of people with a disAbility. So let’s talk about this and how it would be if Hollywood was serious as they seemed to be during this segment of the Academy Award’s show.
This year’s Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film went to “Coco.” Producer, Darla Anderson, writer and director, Lee Unkrich, and I believe voice actors, Anthony Gonzalez and Gael García Bernal, who plays the featured characters, Miguel and Hector respectively. But the latter two only give brief thanks and I want to focus on Producer, Darla Anderson and writer and director, Lee Unkrich.
Darla Anderson was the first to speak.
Darla K. Anderson: “Thank you to the Academy. We’re so happy. Coco is proof that art can change and connect the world. And this can only be done when we have a place for everyone and anyone who feels like an ‘other’ to be heard.”
Wow! Again something that I have been saying for decades! Here of course she is speaking primarily about her film, “Coco” that features Mexican characters and voice actors for the animated film. But it should be universal and include people with a disAbility. She says, “have a place for everyone and anyone”. There is that word “everyone” again! If you have not read my previous blog entry, “Oscar’s 90th – Segment 2 – Let’s Dream”, I invite you go back and read it! But I do believe she means it! And this means she does believe it to be universally extended to all of those, “who feels like an ‘other’ to be heard”! We certainly fit into that category! Obviously when I speak of “we” I mean those with a disAbility! The entire community of people with a disAbility would love to be seen in movies and television, as well as those trying to be heard, accepted and included as people with a disAbility in the creative and technical roles in the entertainment industry to represent ourselves in movies and television. And as she said at the beginning of that sentence, “And this can only be done when we have a place for everyone and anyone”. That place is in the entertainment industry! And then we can, just like, “Coco is proof that art can change and connect the world.” I would love to have the entertainment industry allow us a place to connect with them and so our art, our movies and television programs, can also connect us, the people with a disAbility with the world in general. That would help “change and connect the world” for us here in America but also for those with a disAbility around the world who are even more discriminated, cast aside, dismissed and even in some cultures throw out of families and treated by their societies as animals. We can help facilitate a change – if Hollywood would give us “a place”.
The next one I want to talk about and a lot of people did talk about the day after the Oscars was the writer and director of “Coco”, Lee Unkrich. Here is what he said after he thanked his cast, crew, execs from Disney and Pixar, and his family:
Lee Unkrich: “And the biggest thank you of all [goes] to the people of Mexico. ‘Coco’ would not exist without your endlessly beautiful culture and traditions (Huge applause). With ‘Coco,’ we tried to take a step forward toward a world where all children can grow up seeing characters in movies that look and talk and live like they do. Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters.” (Big applause)
WOW! WOW! WOW! – How long have I been saying this? What matters? Does this fit people with a disAbility? In our American society we have gotten much better of inclusion in the past 20+ years that I have become a paraplegic. But Hollywood has only inched their way forward. They still marginalize us. Making us feel like we don’t belong in their society. — We are creatives in the entertainment industry – particularly in the movie and television industry are dismissed and excluded even from those projects that feature a character with a disAbility. Which is rare when considering that we do make up nearly 20% of the American population. And this forgotten or dismissed minority wants and needs to be “seeing characters in movies that look and talk and live like they do.” Or is this just for the racial minorities? Mr. Unkrich was talking about his movie that featured a Mexican kid and so he did preface it by saying, “we tried to take a step forward toward a world where all children can grow up seeing characters in movies” and I agree that children with a disAbility need at least a step forward toward a world where they see “characters in movies” that “look and talk and live like they do.” But so do adults with a disAbility need to see characters who are kids and adults with a disAbility “that look and talk and live like they do.”
Yes! Representation matters! We all need to have some representation in the movies and television shows we watch and pay money for. And with Hispanic or Latino – 17.8%, and Blacks or African-Americans – 13.3%, make up the percentage of the American population according the 2010 US Census estimates for 2016. They are all looking for more representation in movies and television. Often looking for more representation in the front offices as executives but also in the writing of their characters and to have more directors. Women have also wanted more representation in all of these areas as well (I will speak about them in the final Segment of these 90th Oscars).
Like so many of those people with a disAbility, who make up 19% (according to 2010 US Census) of the American population (and I am sure it is more than that in 2018) want more representation. But unlike the other sub-groups or minorities I just mentioned, who do not need to ask for “authentic” representation because they do not have to worry about a white person portray them – or a man representing a woman in movies and television – we do have to worry about someone without a disAbility representing us on screen. We want more representation and at least some more of that representation being authentic representation. Representing ourselves more in the currently infinitesimal percentage of movies and television that Hollywood produces. Our fight for representation is doubled when you consider that we are so often excluded from representing ourselves in the little amount of movies and television we are in. Representation matters and so does authentic representation.
First, can we get some more characters with a disAbility in movies and television? Remember the percentage of characters with a disAbility in movies and television, who many were speaking parts and how many of them were portrayed by those with a disAbility, according to the research that I spoke about in the first Segment about these Oscars?
And secondly, can we represent ourselves in more of those characters with a disAbility? Is that wrong? If we are going to cheer and applaud for those when it comes to Mexican-Americans, the Hispanic or Latino communities being represented like in, “Coco” at these Oscars – and for blacks and African-Americans – and for women, like those nominated for the first time for Best Cinematography and Best Director for the first time in 8 years at this year’s Oscars — can’t we all cheer and applaud for some more representation and authentic or self-representation for people with a disAbility? Especially when you consider the disparity that people with a disAbility have in movies and television versus the American population of people with a disAbility? Can we get some support for some authentic representation? After all don’t you agree that “Representation Matters”!!!!
We have 2 more segments in this year’s Oscars commentary. Next up is, “Oscar’s 90th – Segment 4 – Hum if You Don’t Know the Words”