Updated: Sally Field discusses diversity in cinema

Tonight at a screening of of her new film, My Name is Doris, Sally Field (joined by director Michael Showalter) says Hollywood has long had a need for greater diversity in film-making. Her (almost) complete comments are below. I missed a few seconds at the beginning.

Toward the end she implies that she voted for Straight Outta Compton and Beast of No Nation on her Oscar Ballot.

Update 1/31/16: It’s too bad more people didn’t pay attention to Sally Field’s comments. She made these comments the same week that Julie Delpy, Michael Caine, and Charlotte Rampling made news for their unfortunate comments. Charlotte Rampling, most-notably, said that she believe criticizing the lack of diversity at the Oscars was racist against white people.

In the miasma of so many unfortunate comments come from respected actors, I was left wondering “why isn’t anyone famous contradicting these sentiments?” But here, before my very eyes, was Sally Field doing just that. Her comments, however, didn’t get much press.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Sally Field should be showered with praise and adulation just because she didn’t say something overtly racist. Her comments, if anything, meet the bare minimum for racial sensitivity. Ta-Nehesi Coates, she is not. In fact, she took special care to let everyone know that she thought all the white male actors did a terrific job, lest the’re sensitive egos suffer a bruise. I mean, she’s right, but do we really need to worry about the feelings of Eddie Redmayne or Jennifer Lawrence? Don’t they have enough? Isn’t it more important to worry about all the children who won’t be able to see themselves in Ryan Coolger or Michael B. Jordan?

The reason I think Sally Field should have received more positive press is because our reaction shows others how to behave. If we only publicly chastise those who say overtly racist things (aka punish the wicked), then we’re treating silence and apathy in the same way as we treat those who actually do or say good things. By paying attention to Charlotte Rampling, but not Sally Field we’re letting public figures know that they can get by as long as they don’t say dumb things. We aren’t yet giving anyone any incentive to publicly stand in opposition to the system as it currently stands.

Had Sally Field’s comments gone viral, and her popularity and presence in the media increased, causing waves of new people to see her new movie then maybe more actors would follow her lead. Maybe more people who feel comfortable in their silence, would start to realize that they could benefit from helping to move the needle toward greater diversity in Hollywood.


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