The Hollywood film industry isn’t exactly known for diversity, in front of or behind the camera. This week a Sony executive’s leaked email exchange put racism right in the spotlight.
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Sony co-chair Amy Pascal traded with film producer Scott Rudin a series of cringe-inducing emails published by Buzzfeed on Wednesday night. In the emails, the two speculated about President Barack Obama’s taste in movies—with all of the films they suggested he might like (such as "Django Unchained," "12 Years a Slave," or "The Butler") featuring black actors and/or storylines relating to the oppression of black people.
According to Variety and Deadline, both Pascal and Rudin have issued apologies.
“I made a series of remarks that were meant only to be funny, but in the cold light of day, they are in fact thoughtless and insensitive — and not funny at all,” Rudin told Deadline.
Pascal’s statement said that the content of the emails was “insensitive and inappropriate but … not an accurate reflection of who I am.”
Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network, released a statement that said Pascal’s apology isn’t enough and calls on her to meet with black leaders.
“What is most troubling about these statements is that they reflect a continued lack of diversity in positions of power in major Hollywood studios,” Sharpton said.
Popular screenwriter, director, and producer Shonda Rhimes, who has TV hits from "Grey's Anatomy" to "Scandal" to "How to Get Away with Murder" offered her thoughts on Twitter.
Calling Sony comments"racially insensitive remarks" instead of "racist"? U can put a cherry on a pile of sh*t but it don't make it a sundae.— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) December 11, 2014
A UCLA study released earlier this year examined the significant under-representation of women and people of color on the big and small screens.
With Sony clearly in the hot seat, comic Wyatt Cenac, known for his turn on "The Daily Show," joked on Twitter that it “might be a good time to start pitching Black superhero movies to Sony. Or really ANY movies with black people…”
Some responses via Twitter:
Yeah, no. I don't have emails that disparage, & straddle racist themes and stereotypes. So stop with "everyone would be embarrassed". #Sony— Deborah NYC (@DebsWorldNY) December 12, 2014
Those racist Sony emails about the President from so called liberal producers make me sick. How they really feel. pic.twitter.com/J0BShcea1q— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) December 12, 2014
1 - Leaked Sony emails today sickened me. It's racist. It's dark. Racism is NEVER a joke. (1 OF 2)— Pauley Perrette (@PauleyP) December 12, 2014
Go ahead and tell me racism is dead! I dare you!! Racism has certainly changed faces, but because it wears a... http://t.co/5dhLQMTxq1— Twyla Everett (@Twylasfitclub) December 12, 2014
The Sony emails shows very clearly how racist Hollywood power brokers are. Hollywood is not and has never been exempt from racism.— Oliver Collier (@LuckyLibrarian1) December 12, 2014
Image via Wikimedia