If you have a little over four minutes to spare, take a listen to the sound file below. It is snipped from an NPR podcast entitled Pop Culture Happy Hour. The full series is available for download for free on i Tunes.
By way of preface, I am interested in pop culture as much as the next person, which is another way of saying way, way more than I should be interested given what passes for culture in the pop realm. So I thought to give PCHH a listen. The show is hosted by Linda Holmes, an NPR editor, who has a rotating cast of other NPR editors and writers involved with books, music, comic books and the like.
Now I am not one to usually go on a tear about diversity, but this show could use a large dose of The Other. I couldn’t really tell the correspondents apart. It was like one person was having a conversation with other himselves and herselves. OK, the voices coming at me were in two separate registers–male and female–but other than that I felt like I was listening to one person going on and on about how enlightened they/we/I were.
I am also not one to go on a tear about NPR liberal bias either. I agree with Forbes that in terms of audience–the network of people that consumes the network’s content–NPR tilts left, but not by much and in a generally mainstream way. But there is little doubt that the individuals who work for NPR tilt left, and further left than news content indicates.
Here’s Bob Garfield from NPR’s On the Media, quoted by Bernie Goldberg:
If you were to somehow poll the political orientation of everybody in the NPR news organization and all of the member stations, you would find an overwhelmingly progressive, liberal crowd.
OK so now maybe give a listen to this snip from PCHH. In this segment, Holmes and her alter-egos were bemoaning the state of the casting for the new Star Wars movie. It just wasn’t diverse enough for her/their liking(s). You really have to listen to the whole thing to catch the clueless richness of the swirling, self-regarding opinion mash-up.
How is it that when doing a space opera set in a future time you “just get a better story” with a more diverse cast? Is Samuel Jackson supposed to do his tough guy routine, a la Tarantino? Or maybe bring on a hip-hopper to get real?
And note the smug collective snickers when Aronofsky’s Noah comes up. The host acknowledges the film was not “made in Sweden”, implying that at least it is not overly biased in favor of a Nordic look. Still, the cast is a white one, and that is what in the final analysis offends.
Spokesmen for the film argued–with merit, IMHO–that a cast comprised of a mixture of all races risked the Benetton effect. Hey, these are local tribesman in the Caucasus, not in the upper reaches of the Nile, and ethnic homogeneity is to be expected in the name of verisimilitude . Why would it make for a “better story” (in the words of one) to have a cast interspersed with minority actors that reflect our 20th Century obsessions?
But the assembled PCHH crowd can’t get enough of Aronofsky’s foolishness in thinking a racially homogenous cast would be most appropriate. Chuckles all around, with one correspondent slapping herself in the face as though to wake from a bad dream, remarking “is this coming across on mike? This is me palming my face so hard you can hear it.”
Jeez, they do seem to follow an unforgiving god.
At one point Holmes (I think) says:
If I look at a bunch of people in a room and they are all white guys it stands out for me right away. It’s not something like where I have to sit there and say “now I have to audit the case for diversity.”
OK and I don’t have to audit the cast of PCHH either. I also have just to observe. Here is a recent photo.
I think maybe I have a better idea now why folks like this are preoccuppied with diversity and white privilege.