I have a love/hate relationship with SOUTHLAND the TNT TV show. On one hand I appreciate great acting from Regina King, Ben McKenzie, etc; on the other hand I despise the characterization of most of the young men of color. On the 2012 season opener I had hopes that multiethnic actor LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS in a role of cop would be a positive person of color. My hopes were quickly dashed when his character turns out to be a sick cop who refers to Latino gangsters as "animals" & laughs as they sit in a pool of blood dying. I have no problem with depicting gang members as part of a storyline, but gangsters in SOUTHLAND are nothing more than bloody background actors. The gangsters never get a back story or in depth look into why they are doing what they do. Ok I get that the show is from the LAPD perspective, but when Hollywood is short on shows with people of color in leads, it is all the more disheartening to be represented as only gangsters, rapists, druggies etc, relegated to "animals". They even showed a Latino youth poking a dead gangster with a stick as if he were a dead animal. Do these writers actually think our youth are so gone that they would be numb at the sight of a dead body in the alley? Even the new Asian cop played by LUCY LIU was stereotyped as the "me so horny" happy ending Asian sex object. I also got a chuckle that a young black man was pulled over for reckless driving when most are pulled over for DWB (Driving While Black). The writers could have at least got that right!
Which leads me to the only way we will change the way Hollywood portrays people of color is by encouraging writing! All these plot lines begin with the pen and ideas of the script/screenwriters. I have decided that I will no longer play a gangster unless there is a storyline or actual story around the character. I understand that in Hollywood the only way to get paid is to play what they are giving us, my acting teacher prepared me for that reality. Well I am ready to flip the script, and show our people's true reality. Sure we have the gangsters, and thieves but that is just a very very small percentage. Most of our people are hard working, patriotic, caring humans whose stories deserve to be told! I have a challenge to my fellow writers of color, let's pick up our pens or get to typing and tell our own stories!