Deadline.com realized exactly how ridiculous it sounded last week when it allowed one of its columnists to whine about the influx of “ethnic castings.”
Nellie Andreeva waxed entitled and upset about how many more ethnic people are popping up on network TV. In the original title, which has now just been truncated to “Pilots 2015: The Year Of Ethnic Castings” (still pretty offensive, BTW), she questioned whether it was “About Time Or Too Much Of A Good Thing.”
It’s about time, Nellie. The answer to that question is “about time.” We would definitely have to say that this shift to more inclusive casting is long overdue. According to the numbers compiled by GlobalGrind.com, Non-white people make up 40 percent of the United States population. However, we only account for about six percent of lead roles in film. That is blatant under-representation.
It shouldn’t be a problem that things are beginning to balance out. Because goodness knows that brown people snagging a few more roles that they earned through hard work and talent is just unacceptable.
Andreeva has gone on to write lots more articles since her orignal article was published, but not one of them has offered any sort of apology for what she wrote last Tuesday. Since she clearly wasn’t taking back anything she said, it was up to her co-editors Mike Fleming Jr. and Peter Bart to address the issue. Sadly, instead of dedicating an entire article to this mea culpa, it as the opening of a discussion that spun-off into other topics.
“I need to start off on a serious note. Deadline ran an article last week that generated controversy and hurt feelings. An unfortunate headline–Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings – About Time or Too Much of Good Thing?—created a context from which no article could recover, ” Fleming said. “My co-editor-in-chief Nellie Andreeva’s goal was to convey that there was such an uptick of TV pilot casting of people of color that it pinched white actors who’ve historically gotten most of the jobs, and to question if this could last if it was being treated as a fad. All this was undermined by that headline (which we changed after the fact) and a repetition of the word ‘ethnic’ that came off cold and insensitive.”
It never occurred to Deadline to yank the piece because Fleming believed that the damage had already been done. And he was absolutely right about that. The story had been up all night before Mike saw the flood of heated feedback.
“It was 12 hours before I awoke to numerous e-mails, some by people of color who are sources, who trust us, who were rightfully incensed. I don’t believe you can can make an unwise story disappear and pretend it didn’t happen. I observed how Amy Pascal raced around with knee-jerk apologies to anyone who’d listen, after those stolen Sony e-mails surfaced. Her actions felt like panicked damage control to me; we decided to face the consequences and take our lumps.”
Bart then chimed in: “I have always nodded off at the word ‘diversity’ – it somehow sounds blandly corporate. The dictionary defines it as “composed of distinct forms and qualities” and I find hope in the notion of distinctive. People who are distinctive deserve the opportunities, irrespective of their color. Having said that, casting people tell me the good news that enormous opportunities have opened up for distinctive actors of color thanks to the success of several new shows.”
Speaking of corporate, Mike delivered the standard denial that Deadline does not condone any racist or exclusionary sentiments–even though it was written by an editor-in-chief.
He stated: “That original headline does not reflect the collective sensibility here at Deadline. The only appropriate way to view racial diversity in casting is to see it as a wonderful thing, and to hope that Hollywood continues to make room for people of color. The missteps were dealt with internally; we will do our best to make sure that kind of insensitivity doesn’t surface again here. As co-editors in chief, Nellie and I apologize deeply and sincerely to those who’ve been hurt by this. There is no excuse. It is important to us that Deadline readers know we understand why you felt betrayed, and that our hearts are heavy with regret. We will move forward determined to do better.”
The apology is meh, but it would have meant more coming from Andreeva herself. She clearly took a lot of time thinking about how the push for more equitable casting practices has rattled White actors and castings directors. Was it too much to expect of her to see the problem in what she published and then be an adult about acknowledging her wrong? Sadly, it seems that way. She left it up to her co-workers to make amends.
This. Apology. Is. Not. Good. Enough. Most everyone else that makes an offensive statement–no matter what demographic it upsets–is expected to address the issue themselves. Hopefully, Nellie is working on her own apology right now, but we won’t hold our breath.
Also, the problem was not just the headline. People found issue with the entire contents of the article, which smacked of entitlement. Just needed to point that out because Deadline seems to think that was the only thing wrong with it. Apparently, the implication that White actors and casting directors feel inconvenienced by being forced to open up the field to deserving talent of all colors was not the problem. Being obviously upset that whitewashing everything is no longer being tolerated wasn’t what got people angry, either. Nope! It was just the title, which was lazily chopped in half and is still every bit as offensive as it originally.
Hopefully, Deadline will be able to achieve its goal: “Do better.”