Is diversity “pandering”?

Kareem re: The Bachelor

I was talking to a White friend of mine recently. During the conversation, they said that all those television advertisements showing diverse people, folks of many colors and sizes, and abilities, are “pandering.” This took me aback.

Maybe it’s because I’ve written about this at least twice. Here’s the second piece, because the comments to the first piece (which I linked to in that second post) were so filled with racist vitriol that it was exhausting.

The less vulgar responses were like what “Bruce” wrote: “My count of Blacks in commercials exceeds 33%… But blacks make up 14% of the population and only 10% of total consumption (commercials, after all, are all about stimulating consumption)…

“So explain that huge discrepancy. I surely don’t mind seeing diversity in TV ads. But they should reflect fairness relative to these respective groups’ overall economic impact. Otherwise, it’s just PC gone haywire.” As I noted, I grew up when there were NO people of color in TV ads and damn few on the programs.

It finally occurred to me that I was stating the premise incorrectly. Advertisements have always been aspirational. I can see myself in that new model T Ford. My new Frigidaire will keep my food fresher.

Frankly, I don’t watch many television ads, as I fast forward a lot through recorded programs. The shows I watch tend to be news programs. But even speeding through them, I can tell many, if not most, of the programs I watch, are for prescription drugs.

Let me be clear that I despise these direct-to-the-consumer Rx ads, which seem to run only in the US and New Zealand. Their goal is to remind Black women they can also have clearer skin. Hispanic men no longer have to suffer the embarrassment of ED.

These ads show diversity, not because they are “woke” or pandering but because they want to sell stuff – sometimes things you don’t need – to as many people as possible.

As author Walter Mosley speaks to CBS News about how much more buzz his new book, Every Man a King, is getting than any of his others, he notes it’s because of capitalism.  

The Bachelor

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who incidentally appears in an ad about AFib, though not tied to a particular product, recently wrote about diversity in television. His example was The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, et al. I’ve never watched a single episode.

He asks a “simple question:  Do reality shows (or TV shows and movies in general) have a responsibility to be aspirational as well as reflecting ‘reality’? By that, I mean, should a reality franchise with a vast audience and influence on popular culture merely reflect systemic racism, or should it aim higher in creating the kind of diverse world that we aspire toward?

“When you reflect systemic racism by not including a more ethnically diverse cast, then you are perpetuating that racism. For money.” He explains it well.


Another friend noted, “I’ve seen some media coverage of the Oscars. The whole thing seems like a study in overcompensation, as if ‘the academy’ feels guilty and hopes throwing everything at a single film can make up for decades of ‘in-crowd’ awards.”

The reference, of course, is to Everything Everywhere All At Once, a movie I  extolled. It may be my favorite film of this century. (My friend hasn’t seen it for what I know to be good reasons unrelated to the ethnicity of the actors.)

My take: EEAAO was a film that would not have been made a few years ago,  but it can now be with an Asian co-writer/co-director/co-producer. And that should be celebrated. I’m REALLY happy that I saw it at the cinema.

And it’s not just Asians being honored. Of the four acting winners, Michelle Yeoh is 60, Jamie Lee Curtis is 64, Ke Huy Quan is 51, and Brendan Fraser (The Whale) is 54. The guys had both been lost in the Hollywood wilderness.

I understand that “diversity” is a bugaboo for many people. On a recent episode of the TV drama The Good Doctor, the black female third-year resident didn’t want to be on a video chat talking to would-be doctors that “looked like her.” It was a burden, which I totally got. Mild spoiler: she gave the talk at the end and realized how powerful the experience was.
Another friend asked me in a public setting recently whether we should stop counting race in the US Census since race, as we all know, is a social construct. I said yes, which was disappointing to that person. They were sad that Barack Obama had not checked the White AND Black boxes on the 2010 Census.
I opined at the time that the race question might disappear when the number of people selecting multiple race boxes increased enough to make the numbers meaningless.
In retrospect, I don’t believe it’ll go away until America becomes more willing to discuss the consequences of racism. Since the distinctions will be based on historic racial characteristics, they will remain relevant for… I don’t know how long.

March rambling: 2008 again?

amateur sleuths

Everything Everywhere All at OnceIs it 2008 again, or not? (bank failures)

US Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) makes his DC entrance

New Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-AR) Signs Law Gutting Child Labor Protections for Minors Under 16 Years Old

Defiant Woman at the Center of New York’s First Abortion Battle – in the 1840s

How to Make the Hybrid Model Work for Women

The HistoryMakers: Documenting Black history through first-person accounts | 60 Minutes

My City by James Weldon Johnson

The Destruction of Negro Communities and the Birth of the African American

Mapped: Which Countries Get the Most Paid Vacation Days?

Indonesia unveils the construction site of a new capital city, Nusantara.  Jakarta is experiencing overpopulation, infrastructure problems, and chronic flooding. The current capital is quickly sinking into the Java Sea, and parts of the city could be entirely submerged by 2050. But the new “project may lead to substantial rainforest deforestation, threaten endangered species’ habitats, put Indigenous peoples’ homes at risk, and more.”

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The Colon Club calls attention to the disease.

Why are nurses quitting? Ask the nurse no hospital will hire.

Idaho Murders: As a Small Town Grapples With Sinister Rumors, Media’s True-Crime Obsession Grows and The Case the Internet got wrong: A new investigation sheds light on Lindsay Buziak’s unsolved murder, revealing a vast web of misinformation. These are as much about the rush to judgment by amateur sleuths as the crimes themselves.

Worst Civil Engineering Failure in US History – March 12, 1928: St. Francis Dam Disaster
And more

John Cleese was confronted with three men who kinda looked and/or kinda sounded like his character, Basil Fawlty. He had to guess which one did the impersonation professionally.

Chaim Topol, Tevye the Milkman in ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ Dies at 87

Robert Blake, the Combustible Star of ‘In Cold Blood’ and ‘Baretta,’ Dies at 89

Marvel Working to Find ‘Quantumania’ Leaker. It’ll probably be more successful than SCOTUS was. 
My friend Fred Hembeck asks Mark Evanier about Tiny Tim

Is the Beyond Burger Healthy?

Hey, Stewart’s, $5 / 2 = what??

Now I Know: The Dark History of Groomsmen and Baseball’s Strangest Trade and When Space and Physics Don’t Mix and Why Beer Comes in Brown (or Green) Bottles

I’m happy about the results of the Academy Awards, although I did not watch the program. It’s been my experience that people who saw EEAAO in the cinema, as I did, enjoyed it FAR more than those who watched it at home.

To me, it’s all one big, continual story. The Big Lie about the 2020 election, including the allegations about rigged voting machines.The January 6, 2021 insurrection.   Dominion voting machine’s defamation case against Fox News and the information that came out during the trial’s discovery phase.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy gave Fox News exclusive access to raw footage of Jan 6. Tucker Carlson, one of the verified liars in the Dominion discovery, had footage of Jan 6 edited to suggest that the insurrection was just a sightseeing event, a claim so absurd that the White House and Senate Republicans from Mitch McConnell to Thom Tillis rebuked Carlson.

Check out pieces by Jake Tapper, Bill Maher, Seth Meyers, Drezner’s World, and possibly most comprehensively, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.


In honor of ME: Adagio and Allegro for Piano and Horn by Robert Schumann, Opus 70!

And this: Sir Roger Norrington Eroica/Happy Birthday surprise from the SWR Symphonieorchester

Afro-American Symphony by William Grant Still

Casablanca suite by Max Steiner

Coverville 1433: The Rihanna Cover Story and  1434: Cover Stories for Nik Kershaw and Nina Simone, and 1435: Album Cover: Dark Side of the Moon’s 50th Anniversary

Wayne Shorter, 1923-2023

Guitarist David Lindley: 1944—2023

K-Chuck Radio: The joy and sadness of Yvonne Barrett

Classical Composer Reaction – Analysis of This is America (Childish Gambino) | The Daily Doug Ep. 542. (Doug Helvering)

Make Way For Tomorrow dance number- Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth, and Phil Silvers (!)

Carpenters with Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft

Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Julien Neel

It’s not Lou Reed … and it’s not Jefferson Airplane, either.

Mr. Ma answers all the cello questions you never knew you had!

Burt Bacharach’s Clever Key Changes – David Bennett Piano

Ten classical music songs you know, but you may not know their names

“We’re willing to sacrifice our egos for the good of the band” – interview with  Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran.

Please keep voting for the niece Rebecca Jade for the San Diego Music Awards daily in categories 20, 21, 25, 26, and 27. Also, vote for Peter Sprague in category 4, which RJ sang on.

2023 Oscar-nominated films

The Academy Awards are on Sunday, March 12

2023 oscar-nominated filmsI’ve made a concerted effort to see as many 2023 Oscar-nominated films as possible, all at the cinema.  I try to see them in the movie theater because I can “give in” to the film easier, without the distraction of the phones or the cleaning that needs to be done.

If I watched it, there’s an asterisk  (*) before it. And if I reviewed it, I link to it. I’m not predicting anything here, only noting my rooting interests.

Indeed, I’ll not watch the awards show on Sunday, March 12, though I may record it to watch a few highlights.

Best Picture

*ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT; Malte Grunert, Producer
*AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER; James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
*THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN; Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, and Martin McDonagh, Producers
*ELVIS; Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Gail Berman, Patrick McCormick, and Schuyler Weiss, Producers
*EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE; Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, and Jonathan Wang, Producers
*THE FABELMANS; Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, Producers
*TÁR; Todd Field, Alexandra Milchan, and Scott Lambert, Producers
TOP GUN: MAVERICK; Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, David Ellison, and Jerry Bruckheimer, Producers
TRIANGLE OF SADNESS; Erik Hemmendorff and Philippe Bober, Producers *WOMEN TALKING, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, and Frances McDormand, Producers
I’m rooting for EEAAO, which I found, beneath its veneer of weird, told a compelling immigrant story. My second pick would be All Quiet On The Western Front. I also liked The Fabelmans, partly because of this spoiler-laden essay in Think Christian.
Avatar would be my last pick, which among other things, was trying to be too many movies at once. Triangle of Sadness was at my local theater again early in 2023, but life got in the way; it’s playing once next week, and I may go. Also the new Top Gun is returning, which I hope to see before Sunday, March 12.
Starring role
*COLIN FARRELL, The Banshees of Inisherin
While Farrell played a convincing nice dolt, Butler embodied Elvis. But Fraser was excellent.
*MICHELLE YEOH, Everything Everywhere All at Once
I’m pulling for Michelle, either one, though Yeoh a little more. Blanchett is always excellent. BTW, I thought the investigation of Riseborough’s campaign was a nothing burger.
Conversely, the suggestion that Danielle Deadwyler (Till) and Viola Davis (The Woman King) were subjected to misogynoir is credible. In any case, Riseborough’s surprise nom almost certainly came at the expense of Deadwyler, which Riseborough does not discount.
*BRENDAN GLEESON, The Banshees of Inisherin
*JUDD HIRSCH, The Fabelmans
*BARRY KEOGHAN, The Banshees of Inisherin
*KE HUY QUAN, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Supporting roles are so varied. Hirsch came in for filming a few days, but Gleeson shows up throughout. Yet Ke Huy Quan will, and should win.
*HONG CHAU, The Whale
*KERRY CONDON, The Banshees of Inisherin
*JAMIE LEE CURTIS, Everything Everywhere All at Once
*STEPHANIE HSU, Everything Everywhere All at Once
I saw all of the performances in this category! And I like them all. Bassett has… presence. Hong Chau was the window to the outside world. Condon was the glue that allowed for communication between the two men. This is Curtis’ first nomination after 40 years in the business. If I had to pick one, it would be Hsu, a worthy antagonist.
*ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, Screenplay – Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson & Ian Stokell
*LIVING,  Written by Kazuo Ishiguro
TOP GUN: MAVERICK, Screenplay by Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie; Story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks
*WOMEN TALKING, Screenplay by Sarah Polley
Women Talking, though I wish I’d seen the new Knives Out.

*THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN, Written by Martin McDonagh

*EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, Written by Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert

*THE FABELMANS, Written by Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner
*TÁR, Written by Todd Field
TRIANGLE OF SADNESS, Written by Ruben Östlund
EEAAO by the Daniels, though TÁR was interesting.
*EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
*THE FABELMANS, Steven Spielberg
*TÁR, Todd Field
Any of the ones I saw I’d consider, though I’m leaning slightly toward Field.
Other Categories
I saw only one of the animated features, Puss In Boots: The Last Wish, which I liked a lot.
Cinematography: I saw three of the five, ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, ELVIS, and TÁR. I thought the former’s war motif was most striking.

Of the three films I saw in the Costume Design category, EEAAO blew me away, though BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER was very impressive, and ELVIS wasn’t shabby.

For film editing, EEAAO doesn’t work without great skill in this area. ALL QUIET is the only International Film I saw, though THE QUIET GIRL is coming to the area. Makeup and hairstyling: THE WHALE is in a strong category; I did not see THE BATMAN.
Musical score: BANSHEES; I didn’t see BABYLON. Production design: the four I saw were all good, but the second AVATAR is mesmerizing; ditto for its Visual Effects. Sound: ALL QUIET.
I’ll deal with the shorts in a separate post. I have seen none of the documentary features.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The legendary James Hong

Everything Everywhere All at OnceWhen my wife and I went to see Everything Everywhere All at Once at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany in late January, the cashier said, “It’s a wild ride, but it’s worth it.” That’s true.

The IMDb description: “A middle-aged Chinese immigrant is swept up into an insane adventure in which she alone can save existence by exploring other universes and connecting with the lives she could have led.”

It’s very clever that it starts in such a mundane manner, with Evelyn Wang  (Michelle Yeoh) trying to sort through the business receipts for the laundromat that she and her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), own. She’s preparing for their meeting with scary IRS agent  Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis).

Also, she’s trying to say the right thing to her daughter Joy  (Stephanie Hsu), who’s in a relationship with non-Asian Becky (Tallie Medel).    To boot, she needs to tend to her father, Gong Gong  (the legendary James Hong).

Then the film takes an unexpected and surreal turn. Which Waymond is she talking with, her familiar or someone from another metaverse? Explaining this further is both difficult and ultimately pointless.


Yes, EEAAO is weird, bonkers, strange, absurd,  often hilarious, and occasionally exhausting. Sentient rocks, a dangerous vortex, and my need to rethink eating hot dogs are all here. The costumes, especially those worn by Joy, are fantastic in every sense of the word.

Yet, at the core of the story by Oscar-nominated writers/directors The Daniels, who are Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, is the conventional story. It’s about a second-generation, sandwich-generation American woman who is contemplating her life choices. At some level, I liked it more when it was over than when I was watching it. My wife wants to see it again.

The Academy Awards buzz is warranted for all the actors nominated but also for costume designer Shirley Kurata.

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