Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Where Are The Extraterrestrials Of Color?

This week I attended a press screening for the film Knowing starring Nicholas Cage as an MIT professor with a young son. Because his wife died recently, the prof has taken to drinking a lot while pondering the meaning of life. He even lectures his students about the randomness of it all.

The movie opens fifty years earlier as elementary school children each contribute a piece of artwork to a time capsule. All the students are happily coloring and drawing, but one girl is obsessively writing rows and rows of numbers. What does it mean? I'm not going to give away the plot in case you plan to see this movie, but I will reveal that it involves the world coming to an end and "good" aliens rescuing "the chosen". And, just who are these chosen? Out of the billions of folks on planet earth, the lucky two that the aliens save happen to be the granddaughter of the little girl who wrote all those crazy numbers fifty years previous, and the professor's son.

Of course, the two children (who we assume will be the Adam and Eve of the new world) are mono-racial Caucasians. And, so are the aliens. In the scenes that take place 50 years earlier, it's historically accurate to show an all-white school. And later, most of the crowd scenes correctly feature various ethnicities. But as far as the aliens being portrayed by four white actors, three of them male, all I can say is why? This lack of colored folks as extraterrestrials bothered me so much that I posted the question on Facebook: Why are there no aliens of color in American films? Besides Brother From Another Planet, I couldn't think of any others. Several of my friends, however, came up with names like Damon Wayans in Earth Girls Are Easy and Louis Gossett, Jr. in Enemy Mine. There was mention of Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones in Star Wars, and Whoopi Goldberg in Star Trek, too. Still, the names of actors of color were rare. Besides, all the ones mentioned were black, and my question was meant to address all people of color including Asians, Indigenous folks, Latinos, and even biracial people.

Are we to assume, based on the film Knowing, that there are no people of color in the future? How does that compute when people of color dominate the world population right now? What happens to all of us then? If anything, futuristic films should heavily feature the Chinese.

One thought that persists in engaging my mind is that extraterrestrials are, in Hollywood's eyes, synonymous with superior intelligence. After all, they manage to find their way to Earth while earthlings haven't, so far, visited other planets. Is there some subtle message emitting from Tinsel Town that says people of color aren't smart enough to be a part of the future? Of course, a progressive director like John Sayles, often flips the script. Thus, the irreverent Brother From Another Planet.

I've been so disturbed by this lack of colored aliens issue that I vow to write a script about space creates of various hues, especially biracial ones. That's how I see the future, don't you? With so much race mixing going on these days, multiracial people are bound to be the dominant majority some day. So, why not aliens?

Meanwhile, friends, fans and family, we're still casting for Watermelon Sushi, we're still selling Hapa*Teez t-shirts to finance the film, and we're still recruiting members for our Facebook group called Hip Hapa Homeez. Join us today. Where else can you have rapper Kool Mo Dee as your Veep and group members like MC Lyte and Patti LaBelle?

Speaking of aliens, that's my sister and me in the pix above on a subway train in Tokyo. Note the flash of light around my head. Could it be my aura, or my alien antennae emerging?

Your Hip Hapa,

1 comment:

Jessie said...

It's funny that you should mention this. I was thinking the same exact thing while I was watching Race to Witch Mountain with Dwayne Johnson a week ago. Good grief, it's almost as if the studios thought that having Dwayne in the movie was too much color, so they had to pick the whitest most bleach-blonde kids to make up for it. 9_9