Scholarly Perspectives on Multi-Culturalism in Media: Part 1

The influence of media is as pervasive as changing from a world of Black and White television to color.   It is infinite as the internet in comparison to even the best cable package offering of channels.  Media is far-reaching and profound.   This is why media plays a critical role of representing  the voices, cultures, food, and representation of people as simply different not superior to one another.  Does media really step up to the call of to whom much is given, much is required?

In a paper by Katheryn Wright, PhD she cites the following  about the influence of film, “The institution of the cinema provides a place where a dialogue concerning power, oppression, privilege, representation, theory, and identity, begins to emerge both simultaneously and synthetically.”  She goes on to say, “Balancing Form and Content in Multicultural Film” deals with the challenge of looking at the cinema as both a vehicle to teach multiculturalism and an art form, which carries with it its own formalistic elements that make it something more than mere content.

Last year Zoe Saldana played the object of affection in both Star Trek and Avatar.  Whether in her own skin or in blue, even in 2010 she is atypical casting meaning against type for a leading lady.  Avatar for the past few weeks has experienced some backlash about racism.  IMHO(In My Humble Opinion) it is definitely not.  Cameron seems to go out of his way to drive the propaganda engine of loving despite color.  (Spoiler Alert: Just case you are in the minority folks who have not seen Avatar)  Clearly, the kiss and affection Neytiri (Saldana) and Jake (Sam Worthington) as a non avatar human demonstrates pure love transcending human race and the alien race.

The boundaries of intimacy still suffer in the real world and on-screen.  From friends to lovers, many people think multicultural casting is convoluted.   The bargaining chip that the original Star Trek series of the 60’s had for multi-cultural casting was that it was set in the future.  It leaps forward to a future of hope depicting race among human as a non issue.  The original Star Trek series is known for its ground breaking strides in multiculturalism in casting and the first Black/White interracial television kiss.   However,  some believe strides began with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.  An article from the Museum of Broadcast Communications states, “The CBS network and prospective sponsors balked at the casting of Arnaz, fearing that his Cuban accent–his ethnic identity–would alienate television viewers. To dispel doubts, Ball and Arnaz created a nightclub act and toured during the summer of 1950. When the show proved to be a huge success CBS agreed to finance a pilot starring husband and wife.