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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Jamie Broadnax: What It's Really Like to Be a WoC Film Critic (Blog Series)

A scene from Gods of Egypt

I interview Jamie Broadnax, founder of BlackGirlNerds.com, who discusses the lack of representation on the big screen and intersectionality when it comes to feminist standards among white and non-white critics:

Candice Frederick: In response to the recent Atlantic article, how do you think women of color film critics are represented in conversations regarding feminism and women's voices in film criticism?

Jamie Broadnax: Women of color are almost always erased from the conversation when feminism in the film industry is discussed. I wrote an article for The Mary Sue about how we are always dismissed even on covers of magazines where optics have an impact women of color are removed. I think the lack of representation further perpetuates that our voices don't matter or that we are not a part of the "feminist industry standard" that is touted around in blog posts and plastered on magazine covers.

CF: What do you think WoC film bloggers contribute to film criticism that is missing from other articles/posts?

JB: Women of color contribute a sensitivity to race, culture, sexuality, and most importantly focusing on marginalized voices and how important they are to be heard in mainstream spaces.
CF: What has been your experience in conversations about film with other critics?

JB: My experiences in discussing film do vary based on the genre of film, the tone of the film, the production team coordinating the film. It just depends. I can say that the conversations that have circulated around films that have notoriously whitewashed people of color are discussed more among WoC than other women. I didn't see many film feminist critics in an uproar over the Exodus: Gods and Kings film or the Gods of Egypt film.
CF: How has social media influenced your writing, and how has it influenced your perception of film?

JB: Social media has made a significant impact. It's helped me see how often whitewashing is happening and it's also highlighting various biases that occur among the Hollywood elite. The #Damonsplaining fiasco, a hashtag I started on Twitter began as a result of Matt Damon mansplaining and whitesplaining to producer Effie Brown, a black woman, what diversity means in film production. Social media sheds light on microagressions that may seem trivial to some, but are a huge deal for people of color who continue to get pushed away from gatekeepers that firmly believe that tokenism is diversity, when in fact tokenism is just that...being a token.
 
CF: What do you look for in a film?
JB: I look for a unique, fully nuanced story told from a perspective that isn't always my own. Sometimes I like seeing stories in my own perspective and often would like to see women who look like me going through a variety of experiences. I look for many things--laughter, joy, suspense and thrills. I want every minute of my time invested in that piece of celluloid to be worth it.
CF: How do you think your personal identity plays a role in how you receive a film?

JB: It plays a huge role. We want to see ourselves in various spaces, that's why you hear terms like "representation matters," because it does. It shapes who we are. There is a reason why so many of us create spaces that are for marginalized groups, because we need a safe space where we can see ourselves. I want to see more of myself in movies.
CF: Do you think your racial or gender identity affects the way other critics (or readers) interpret your or opinion of film?

JB: [Some readers] say I provide a fresher perspective or one they haven't quite seen before, which is not at all surprising when you're inundated with opinions and points of views from white women of all the time.
CF: Do you feel that there is a camaraderie among WOC film critics?

JB: I feel like there needs to be more. Your podcast, Cinema In Noir, provides great criticism on movies from a WoC perspective, but I would like to see and hear more. Websites, podcasts, shows, magazines, etc. There just aren't enough. And WoC critics do a better job of holding studios feet to the fire when it comes to whitewashing or patriarchy in the film industry.
Jamie Broadnax
CF: What would you like to see in film criticism?

JB: I'd like to see more diversity. I'd like to see more conversations around sexually fluid and gender fluid people and why straight men and women play gay roles and cis men and women play transgender roles. I'd like to see more film criticism around body positive women who embrace their weight and why there aren't enough people with disabilities working the industry as professional actors and actresses.

Follow Jamie on Twitter. And check out the next post in this blog series next week. 

3 comments:

Karen said...

Good Q&A. Black Girl Nerds is one of my fave Twitter feeds. I like Jamie's point about wanting to see more films starring actors with disabilities.

Kimberly said...

Nice! Awesome way to kick off the series.

Kyna said...

Thank you for this! There is such a dearth of women film critics out there, and even moreso when it comes to WoC film critics! There is obviously so much anxiety within the white community about diversity and inclusion, and it makes me sad, angry, embarrassed, disappointed and cynical (but that is a huge issue I won't pursue further in this comment)! As a white woman studying film and running a website to support women in film around the world (Her Film Project), and interested in film criticism, I'm eager for, and encouraging of, more voices to be included and shared within broader society, but especially in the community of filmmakers and cinephiles to which I (and we readers of and contributors to this site) belong. For me, a diversity of voices, inclusion of perspectives, ONLY makes us all stronger. Exclusion breeds ignorance which breeds fear which breeds hostility which breeds violence. Thanks so much for this series.

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