The Stuff of Dreams
At the end of the Maltese Falcon, Humphrey Bogart, as Sam Spade, refers to "the stuff that dreams are made of."
Dreams are still the currency of Hollywood. These dreams for the most part by and large have always been and continue to be overwhelmingly "white." What are the consequences of that sad state of affairs?
When I open my eyes to find inspiration
I search for the best I can see
If I settle for less I won't be the best I can be
When I dream, I dream in color - Regina Belle
When we look with our eyes at the world around us we can not not see color. Which is why after the advent of motion picture stock that would render the color that we see in that natural world on screen, shooting a film in black & white now connotes a "period" -Art Deco- or a "mood" - Noir. When one shoots in color one has to remove the color information, meaning there is a loss of the original richness, vibrancy to create a black & white image. One lights differently when shooting in black and white, because all you have to work with is light and shadow. As the invention of sound motion picture changed the "language" of film so did the advent of color photography.
The "white" dreamers who control the Hollywood "Dream Factory" as it was once known, for back in the day, Hollywood made movies the same way Detroit made cars "assembly-line" style. During the time of the Mogul-driven, "studio system," the actors, writers, directors, were treated much the same way as workers on the line, as nothing more than interchangeable parts. There are some creatives today who would argue, at least in the realm of actors, (not the A-list stars), the folks who speak the lines, carry the story to the audience, make the writer and the director's vision come to life still are treated as "the red-headed step child."
Of the more than 160, 000 members of SAG-AFTRA a very small percentage actually earn a living from acting. For "minority" performers that number is smaller yet. And why should we care if the stuff of dreams that show up on our TV screens and in the local Metro-plex theater are worlds overwhelmingly imagined by "white" folks?
From page six of The African American Television Report by SAG in 2000 you will find the following:
"Media scholars long ago identified mass media like television as pivotal players in the process by which we perceive reality. Indeed, one scholar identified six generic functions that these media invariably perform for us: "window" (extending our sight beyond the confines of our physical location), "interpreter" (helping us make sense of ambiguous situations), "platform" helping us obtain the information necessary to participate in societal debates), "filter" (moving certain ideas or images to the foreground by relegating others to the background), "mirror" (reflecting an image of society back to its members), and "screen or barrier" (cloaking certain truths about society in the service of propaganda campaigns)."
"The stuff that dreams are made of" shouldn't be only one color or the absence there of.