Author Archives: Caroline Heldman

Magic Mike: Old Sexism in a New Package

Cross-posted at Caroline Heldman’s Blog.Magic Mike is “wildly overperforming” at the box office because women and gay men are going to see it in droves.  Thank you Hollywood executives for finally noticing that there’s plenty of money to be made off of heterosexual female and gay male sexuality.  Magic Mike purports to be a movie that caters to het women, and while it does provide a highly unusual public space for women to objectify men, the movie in fact prioritizes male sexual pleasure in tired, sexist ways.

Watching Magic Mike was an experience.  Many of the female theater-goers around me were hollering demands (e.g., “take it all off, baby!”) and grunting approvingly during dance scenes.  The camera unabashedly focused tight on the dancer’s abs and buttocks, requiring viewers to objectify the male actors.  I’ve written elsewhere that living in a culture that objectifies girls/women is highly damaging, and emerging male objectification is a corporate wet dream to sell products by creating new body dissatisfactions/markets.

Make no bones about it, this movie is all about reinforcing the notion that men are in control and men’s sexuality matters more.  It baffles me that the filmmakers were so effective in conveying these themes in a movie about male strippers that a mostly female audience is eating up.  Have we learned to devalue our own sexual pleasure so thoroughly that the scraps of het female sexual pleasure provided by Magic Mike feel like a full meal?

Aside from the questionably-empowering viewer interaction with the film, the content of Magic Mike is old-school sexism wrapped in a new package.  It reinforces prevailing notions of masculinity where white men are in control, both economically and sexually, and women are secondary characters to be exploited for money and passed around for male sexual pleasure.

Most of the women in the film are audience members portrayed as easily manipulated cash cows to be exploited for money.  In one scene, the club boss, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) gets his dancers pumped up before a show by asking them, “Who’s got the cock?  You do.  They don’t.”  Dallas has a running commentary that forcefully rejects the idea that female audience members are sexual subjects in the exchange.

Beyond the foundational theme of male control, many (but not all) of the simulated sex acts the dancers perform in their interactions with female audience members service the male stripper’s pleasure, not hers.  Dancers shove women’s faces into their crotch to simulate fellatio, hump women’s faces, perform faux sex from behind without a nod to clitoral stimulation, etc.  As a culture, we have deprioritized female sexual pleasure to such a great extent that these acts seem normal in a setting where they don’t make sense.While the men in Magic Mike strut their sexual stuff with a plot line that constantly reaffirms their sexual subjectivity, the few supporting female roles show women in surprisingly pornified, objectifying ways.  Magic Mike is pretty tame when it comes to male bodies.  Lots of floor and face humping, but no penis or even close-up penis tease shots through banana hammocks.  In fact, viewers aren’t exposed to any male body part that they wouldn’t see at Venice Beach.  The same cannot be said for women.

The movie features gratuitous breast scenes galore (yes, the breasts are the scene) and full body (side and back) female nudity. One of the male stripper’s wives is reduced to a pair of breasts that are passed around when her husband encourages another male stripper to fondle them because “she loves it.”  The few recurring female roles in the cast are flat with no character development, including the romantic interest, while the white men in the film enjoy extensive character development.

Other disturbing moments are peppered throughout the movie.  Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) makes a thinly veiled rape innuendo when he’s “teaching” a younger guy how to approach a woman at a club: “Look what she’s wearing. She’s asking to be bothered.”  The movie also asks viewers to laugh at a larger woman who hurts a dancer’s back when he picks her up (see photo and trailer below).  And one of the main characters has a homophobic reaction when he’s grossed out that his sister thinks he’s gay.  Also, this is a story about white men where both women and men of color exist at the margins.  The Latino DJ is a drug dealer (how original), and the two Latino dancers barely talk.I was heartened and humored by grandmas and teenage girls asserting their sexual subjectivity in the theater by yelling at the screen.  It is wonderful to see so many women spending money for an experience that purports to cater to our sexual desires.  We want to feel powerful when it comes to our sexuality because we’re constantly robbed of sexual subjectivity through popular culture, pornography, the male gaze, and in the bedroom.  One Sexual Revolution later, men are still twice as likely to achieve orgasm than women during sex.

If Magic Mike is our sexual outlet, we deserve something better.  When women turn around and engage in the same objectification that harms us, is that empowering?  When the men we’re objectifying on the screen are degrading women and prioritizing their own sexual pleasure, and we eroticize this behavior, is that empowering?  And when women eroticize sexual acts that don’t involve the clitoris/orgasm, is that empowering?  I don’t have definitive answers to these questions, but I do know that Magic Mike would have been a radically different film had it truly been about female sexual pleasure.  It’s high time more women were calling the shots in Hollywood and making mainstream movies that feature female sexual pleasure.

Magic Mike trailer.  To see the sexual double standard, note how the trailer frames male stripping as a “fantasy” life, and imagine this term being applied to female strippers in a Hollywood trailer.

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Caroline Heldman is a professor of politics at Occidental College. You can follow her at her blog and on Twitter and Facebook.

Sexual Objectification (Part 1): What is It?

This is the first part in a series about how girls and women can navigate a culture that treats them like sex objects. Cross-posted at Ms.,  BroadBlogs, and Caroline Heldman’s Blog.

Around since the 1970s and associated with curmudgeonly second-wave feminists, the phrase “sexual objectification” can inspire eye-rolling. The phenomenon, however, is more rampant than ever in popular culture.  Today women’s sexual objectification is celebrated as a form of female empowerment.  This has enabled a new era of sexual objectification, characterized by greater exposure to advertising in general, and increased sexual explicitness in advertisingmagazinestelevision showsmoviesvideo gamesmusic videostelevision news, and “reality” television.

What is sexual objectification?  If objectification is the process of representing or treating a person like an object (a non-thinking thing that can be used however one likes), then sexual objectification is the process of representing or treating a person like a sex object, one that serves another’s sexual pleasure.

How do we know sexual objectification when we see it?  Building on the work of Nussbaum and Langton, I’ve devised the Sex Object Test (SOT) to measure the presence of sexual objectification in images.  I proprose that sexual objectification is present if the answer to any of the following seven questions is “yes.”

1) Does the image show only part(s) of a sexualized person’s body?
Headless women, for example, make it easy to see her as only a body by erasing the individuality communicated through faces, eyes, and eye contact:
We get the same effect when we show women from behind, with an added layer of sexual violability. American Apparel seems to be a particular fan of this approach:

2) Does the image present a sexualized person as a stand-in for an object?

The breasts of the woman in this beer ad, for example, are conflated with the cans:

Likewise, the woman in this fashion spread in Details in which a woman becomes a table upon which things are perched. She is reduced to an inanimate object, a useful tool for the assumed heterosexual male viewer:
Or sometimes objects themselves are made to look like women, like this series of sinks and urinals shaped like women’s bodies and mouths and these everyday items, like pencil sharpeners.

3) Does the image show a sexualized person as interchangeable? 
Interchangeability is a common advertising theme that reinforces the idea that women, like objects, are fungible. And like objects, “more is better,” a market sentiment that erases the worth of individual women. The image below advertising Mercedes-Benz presents just part of a woman’s body (breasts) as interchangeable and additive:

This image of a set of Victoria’s Secret models, borrowed from a previous SocImages post, has a similar effect. Their hair and skin color varies slightly, but they are also presented as all of a kind:

4) Does the image affirm the idea of violating the bodily integrity of a sexualized person that can’t consent?

This ad, for example, shows an incapacitated woman in a sexualized positionwith a male protagonist holding her on a leash. It glamorizes the possibility that he has attacked and subdued her:

5) Does the image suggest that sexual availability is the defining characteristic of the person? 

This ad, with the copy “now open,” sends the message that this woman is for sex.  If she is open for business, then she presumably can be had by anyone.

6) Does the image show a sexualized person as a commodity (something that can be bought and sold)?

By definition, objects can be bought and sold, but some images portray women as everyday commodities.  Conflating women with food is a common sub-category.  As an example, Meredith Bean, Ph.D., sent in this photo of a Massive Melons “energy” drink sold in New Zealand:
In the ad below for Red Tape shoes, women are literally for sale:

7) Does the image treat a sexualized person’s body as a canvas?

In the two images below, women’s bodies are presented as a particular type of object: a canvas that is marked up or drawn upon.

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The damage caused by widespread female objectification in popular culture is not just theoretical.  We now have over ten years of research showing that living in an objectifying society is highly toxic for girls and women, as is described in Part 2 of this series.

Caroline Heldman is a professor of politics at Occidental College. You can follow her at her blog and on Twitter and Facebook.

The Hunger Games, Hollywood, & Fighting Fuck Toys

Cross-posted at Ms. and Caroline Heldman’s Blog.

The Hunger Games should serve as a wake-up call to Hollywood that women action-hero movies can be successful if the protagonist is portrayed as a complex subject — instead of a hyper-sexualized fighting fuck toy (FFT).

In its first weekend, The Hunger Games grossed $155 million, making it the third highest opener of all time (behind the last Harry Potter film and The Dark Knight), despite a marketing budget half the size of a typical big-studio, big-budget film. It seized the records for top opener released outside of July, top non-sequel opener and top opener with a woman protagonist. By the second weekend, The Hunger Games had made $251 million in the U.S. — the fastest non-sequel to break the quarter-billion-dollar mark.

While the movie arguably plays up the romance angle more than the books, The Hunger Games is still squarely an action thriller, set in a dystopic future world where teens fight to the death in a reality show.

Its success is largely based on the wide appeal of its teenage hero, Katniss Everdeen, who makes it through the movie without being sexually objectified once — a rarity in action films. Katniss is a believable, reluctant hero.

Katniss succeeds with audiences where other women heroes have failed because she isn’t an FFT. Fighting fuck toys are hyper-sexualized women protagonists who are able to “kick ass” (and kill) with the best of them — and look good doing it. The FFT appears empowered, but her very existence serves the pleasure of the heterosexual male viewer. In short, the FFT takes female agency and appropriates it for the male gaze.

From an ethical standpoint, Hollywood executives should be concerned about the damage girls and women sustain growing up in a society with ubiquitous images of sex objects. But it appears they are not. From a business standpoint, then, they should be concerned about the money they could be making with better women action heroes. But so far, they seem pretty clueless.

Hollywood rolls out FFTs every few years that generally don’t perform well at the box office (think ElektraCatwomanSucker Punch), leading executives to wrongly conclude that women action leads aren’t bankable. In fact, the problem isn’t their sex; the problem is their portrayal as sex objects. Objects aren’t convincing protagonists. Subjects act while objects are acted upon, so reducing a woman action hero to an object, even sporadically, diminishes her ability to believably carry a storyline. The FFT might have an enviable swagger and do cool stunts, but she’s ultimately a bit of a joke.

For a breakdown of why FFTS lack believability and appeal, check out the Escher Girls tumbler, a site that critiques the ridiculous physical contortions of FFTs that allow them to be both sex objects and action heroines.  Contortions like this:

As Mark Hughes from Forbes.com points out, movie studios artificially limit their profits when they target only male audiences (by, for instance, by portraying women only as FFTs). With the phenomenal success of The Hunger Games, Hollywood can no longer deny the bankability of believable women action leads. Forty percent of the audience for The Hunger Games is male, proving that a kick-ass woman lead who isn’t reduced to a sex object can appeal to all genders. That should put dollar signs in executives’ eyes.

Hollywood is now on a quest to find the next Katniss Everdeen. Whoever she is, the question will be: Do executives know better than to turn her into a fighting fuck toy?

Election 2012 Sexism Watch (NSFW)

This is the official SocImages Election 2012 Sexism Watch.  We add content, as it arises, in reverse chronological order.

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#9 Bachmann Pours Away Presidential Bid

How did we miss this one? Representative Michele Bachmann performed the comically gendered role of pouring water for all of the (male) Republican candidates and the (male) host at the start of the Republican Family Forum debate in Iowa this past November.

Some of the candidates seemed uncomfortable at this puzzling behavior, and the host joked, “I want to begin by thanking Representative Bachmann for taking care of the water for today’s event.” It’s possible that Bachmann only intended to pour water for the person sitting next to her, but was put on the spot when the host assumed she would pour water for everyone.

This event was hosted by CitizenLink, the political action arm of the uber-conservative Christian organization, Focus on the Family. CitizenLink describes itself as a “family advocacy organization that inspires men and women to live out biblical citizenship that transforms culture.” They promote traditional families as the “building block of society,” so it’s possible that Bachmann was strategically catering to an audience that is less supportive of women in “unconventional” roles.

Whether intentional or unintentional, Bachmann’s actions highlight the contradiction between traditional gender roles and conceptions of leadership.  And the lack of media focus on this incident illustrates how unremarkable it is for a woman to be in a service role in the company of men.  If Governor Rick Perry had gone around the table and dutifully poured water for all of the Republican primary contenders, it would have made the front page.

More Election 2012 Sexism Watch after the jump!

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Voter Suppression: The New Disenfranchisement

Cross-posted at Caroline Heldman’s Blog.

In early 2009, I had dinner with a prominent, conservative political operative. He calmly (and accurately) predicted that the 2010 mid-term election would see the largest Republican gains in half a century. He then leaned in and half-whispered, “but you haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait until 2012 .” I pressed him on specifics, but he would only allude to a campaign that would rewrite the political rules. With the revelation that a centralized, state-by-state voter suppression campaign is underway, I now know what he was alluding to.

The New Voter Restriction Laws

In 2011, a sudden wave of state-level voter restrictions in Republican-controlled states has swept the nation, just in time for the 2012 election, with 19 new laws and two executive actions on the books. Some of these laws reduced or eliminated early voting, while others did away with weekend voting and same-day registration. All 50 states require voters to prove their identification at the polls, but 17 states have pending or approved law mandating government-sponsored IDs in order to vote, despite the fact that approximately 11% of citizens don’t have such IDs (for various reasons). For some Americans, even those with ample resources, getting an ID can be quite a challenge (even for nuns!).

The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that 5 million eligible voters face disenfranchisement from these new voter ID laws.

 

Voter ID laws disproportionately affect Black AmericansLatino/a voters, U.S. citizens who were born in other countrieselderly peoplepeople with disabilitiestransgendered people, and students — all of whom are less likely to have the required ID for different reasons. A 2006 Brennan Center study finds that 25% of Black , 16% percent of Latino/s, and 18% percent of elderly Americans lack the necessary ID. Some on the left have accurately likened these new laws to Jim Crow Era poll taxes because the expense involved in obtaining an ID place a disproportionate burden on many groups that have been historically disenfranchised.

What do all of these groups have in common? With the exception of elderly Americans who have shifted Republican in recent years (although they still comprise the most active voting group for Democrats), the Americans who will be disproportionately affected by voter ID laws all vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

There is little doubt, then, that voter ID efforts will affect the upcoming presidential election. The states that have restricted voting rights also have 185 Electoral College votes, two-thirds of the 270 needed to win the presidency. Out of the twelve battleground states in the upcoming election, five have already restricted voting rights and two others are considering new limitations.

Who’s Behind the New Laws?

The corporate organization behind the new spate of voter ID laws is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which claims to be a “nonpartisan public-private partnership” between legislators, the private sector, and the general public to promote “principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty.” (How is requiring government-issued ID to vote a promotion of “limited government” and “individual liberty”?) In actuality, ALEC is a hyper-conservative Republican organization that receives 98% of its funding from corporate entities, such as Exxon Mobil, Atria (formerly Phillip Morris tobacco), AT&T, Coca-Cola, and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.

And ALEC is more than just a corporate lobbying organization. They work directly with legislators (who are ALEC members) to craft model legislation that is then introduced in statehouses across the country without acknowledging that corporations drafted the bill. ALEC drafted model ID voter legislation, and every single new voter ID law was passed with ALEC member involvement. ALEC’s policy agenda for 2011 included bills to deregulate polluting industries, privatize education, eliminate unions, and voting restrictions.

David and Charles Koch, two brothers who have quietly promoted their radical, free-market agenda with $100 million in contributions to conservative causes, including bankrolling Scott Walker’s election and subsequent recent assault on public unions in Wisconsin, have long ties to ALEC. Koch Industries has been one of a select group of members on ALEC’s governing board for nearly two decades, and from what little financial information is available, the Koch contribution to ALEC likely exceeds $1 million. The lead lobbyist for Koch Industries formerly chaired ALEC. Koch brother involvement in voter ID laws should be of particular interest for the Occupy Movement considering that David Koch’s project, Citizens for a Sound Economy, spearheaded the effort to repeal Glass-Steagall that enabled banking institutions to gamble in securities and tank the economy in 2008.

The purpose of new voter ID laws is to demobilize certain portions of electorate who are more likely to vote for Democrats, a goal laid out by ALEC founder, Paul Weyrich many decades ago who stated that “I don’t want everybody to vote… Our leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populus goes down.”

In short, this is a corporate-sponsored attack on democracy, spearheaded by Republicans intent on disenfranchising certain groups in the electorate in order to gain political control.

But Don’t We Need to Enhance Voting Security?

No. The voter ID movement is based on a bald-faced lie that voter impersonation is an issue. It’s not. As the DNC humorously notes, a person is 39 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to engage in voter impersonation, and 3,600 times more likely to report a UFO.

This voting fraud figure is based on a Bush Administration investigation into the matter that involved only 70 prosecutions nationwide, some of which were honest mistakes.

The Real Problem: Voter Turnout

We don’t have a voter impersonation fraud problem in the U.S., but we do have a voter turnout problem. Turnout in presidential years has declined since 1960, and pitifully hovers below 60% of the eligible electorate. We should be undertaking Herculean efforts to increase voter turnout, not erecting barriers to voting based on trumped-up problems to serve partisan ends. Yet, despite the data, untold resources are being spent to “correct” a problem that simply doesn’t exist. These new laws will cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually to implement, not including the cost of certain litigation. When a situation like this arises in politics, it means there are other motives at play.

We don’t need new barriers to voting, we need a state-by-state response with the concrete goals of getting people ready to vote, registering new voters, and overturning these laws.

On “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street”

Cross-posted at Caroline Heldman’s Blog.

Demand #8 from the Occupy Wall Street list of demands is a call for a “gender equal rights amendment,” a good sign that OWS is thinking about inequality in all its various forms.  This sentiment, though, seems to be lost on (supposedly) liberal filmmaker, Steven Greenstreet, whose past work  includes documentaries about the Mormon influence in passing Proposition 8 and the conservative backlash against Michael Moore.  Greenstreet is also the proud creator of the website, Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street.  He was watching news coverage of the Occupy movement that inspired him to tell a friend,

Wow, seeing all those super smart hot chicks at the protest makes me want to be there… Hmmm… Yeah, let’s go with that.

We instantly went to Tumblr and made [Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street]. Our original ideas were admittedly sophomoric: Pics of hot chicks being all protesty, videos of hot chicks beating drums in slow-mo, etc. But when we arrived at Zuccotti Park in New York City, it evolved into something more.

There was a vibrant energy in the air, a warmth of community and family, and the voices we heard were so hopeful and passionate. Pretty faces were making signs, giving speeches, organizing crowds, handing out food, singing, dancing, debating, hugging and marching.

The evolution from “sophomoric” to “something more,” inspired by “community and family,” is not evident on the website.  Aside from the obvious reduction of activist women to sexual objects, this site is shockingly offensive in its inclusion of young women/girls, one with the caption “She is identified as being 18 years old.” [Hint: If you have to identify “her” as being of age, that’s a sign you probably shouldn’t be posting the photo.]

And these photos:

Greenstreet does not provide information about whether he gained permission from the girls/women featured, but since no names are provided, we can assume he did not systematically seek permission.

It is also unlikely that Greenstreet informed his subjects of his intention to post their photos on the Hot Chicks website.  With his accomplice, Brandon Bloch, Greenstreet shot a video with interviews of women in which it is clear they thought their words, not their bodies, would be the focus:

And in case the message that women are primarily sexual objects wasn’t clear, Greenstreet even includes photos of professional women in his voyeur collection:

Greenstreet has posted criticism on the Hot Chicks website like a badge of honor:

@JaeChick: Nothing like degrading women to get attention. You are a small, sorry excuse for a man.

@MeFunk: Whatsay you take down your sexist video, issue a formal apology to female protesters, and then I pour hot coffee on you?

He responded to critiques of sexism with the following statement:

Apparently a lot of controversy has erupted online from people passionately opining (among many things) that this is sexist, offensive, and dangerously objectifies women. It was not my intent to do that and I think the spirit of the video, and the voices within, are honorable and inspiring.

However, if you disagree with me, I encourage you to use that as an excuse to create constructive discussions about the issues you have. Because, to be honest, any excuse is a good excuse to bring up the topic of women’s rights.

Wow, what a humanitarian.  It appears that this fumbling display of overt sexism was really just a ploy to get us talking about women’s rights.  Thanks, Steven.

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Thanks to Katrin, Melanie L., Jessie W., and Nathan Jurgenson of Cyborgology for asking us to write about this topic!

Lisa Wade on the Occupy Movement


My colleague and co-author, Lisa Wade (you’d know her better as one of the people behind SocImages), gave a seven-minute speech at an Occupy Teach-In at our shared institution, Occidental College.  She said I could post it for you.

In the video she says she’s optimistic about the movement because it’s deeply sociological, drawing our attention to the way we organize our society, not just the individuals in it.  She contrasts this ability to critique the system with the early years of the Great Depression, during which many of the unemployed felt like they had failed their families because of personal faults (leading to a rise in the suicide rate).  Then, using the truly inspirational story of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott (in which people walked to work and rode carpools for over a year!), she warns students that the movement is about to stop being fun and require real commitment. She ends by asking the the audience whether they can rise to the occasion and make the sacrifices needed to move Occupy forward to achieve specific demands.

Also see the three-minute bit on hook up culture that she did for MTV Canada.

Tower Heist Acclaim Reveals Hollywood Racism

Cross-posted at Racialicious and Caroline Heldman’s Blog.

Tower Heist (2011) the new movie starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, is the latest installment in blatantly racist movie-making. Stiller plays a high-end condo manager in Manhattan who bails out a local criminal (Murphy) to steal a stash of cash that one of the wealthy condo residents swindled from the condo staff. It’s been nearly thirty years since Murphy played nearly the same character in his breakout role in 48 Hours, and the fact that he is still cast as a jive-talking criminal speaks to how little has changed when it comes to the portrayal of black Americans in popular culture.

Hyperbolic racial stereotypes are still sooooo amusing for some.  As LA Times film critic Betsy Sharkey writes, ”Murphy and Stiller are a good pair, with Murphy once again mainlining his ghetto-comedy crazy and Stiller suited up for another straight-man gig. These are the kinds of roles they both do best, and their face-off in the front seat of an out-of-control car is worth the price of admission.” (Now reverse the names in this quote to see how racialized and racially offensive it is.)

Perhaps more disturbing is the way in which film critics are talking about this movie as a comback for Eddie Murphy  (“Eddie Murphy’s Road to Reddemption,” “Tower Heist: Murphy is Back on Top,” “‘Tower’ Heist Features Eddie Murphy Back in ‘Classic ’80s Form“). What does it mean when playing an insultingly stereotypical black criminal is deemed “redemption” for a black actor whose movies have grossed nearly $7 billion worldwide? And where, exactly, did Eddie Murphy go? The Shrek series grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide, while his Nutty Professor and Doctor Dolittle franshises grossed $428 million and $470 million, respectively. Murphy has appeared in a steady stream of successful movies in the past decade, including Dreamgirls for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.

Closer examination of media critics’ analysis reveals a nostalgia for Eddie Murphy’s breakthrough role as a criminal in 48 HoursJon Niccum writes that inTower Heist “Murphy shows flashes of the aggressive, non-family-friendly persona that made him a superstar following 48 Hours. Aggressive?  Non-family friendly?

eddie-murphy-comeback-stern

To summarize, Eddie Murphy grossing oodles of money as a successful director, producer, writer, and actor in films featuring him as a doctor, a veterinarian, a dedicated father, and the voice of a beloved donkey in the second highest-grossing animated film of all time is considered some sort of failure, but playing a jive talking felon is redemption. Huh?

There are many ways to interpret this — that Hollywood and movie critics (and many in society) are more comfortable with black actors playing damaging, stereotypical roles involving criminality, violence, and deviance (remember back in 2002 when Denzel Washington finally won the Oscar for playing a crooked cop?); that male actors are failures if they appear in family-friendly movies, regardless of how economically successful these movies may be; that to be considered successful, male actors have to appear in movies geared towards male audiences.

Whatever the reason(s), it is embarassing for Hollywood and its “critics” to continue to be so ignorant. Eddie Murphy called out the movie industry’s racism at the 1988 Academy Awards during his presentation of the Best Picture award: “I’m going to give this award, but black people will not ride the caboose of society and we will not bring up the rear anymore. I want you to recognize that.” Two decades later, Murphy finds himself riding the caboose, furnished by the creators of Tower Heist.