Representation of travellers

Image result for John ConnorsJohn Connors won best actor at the Irish Film and Television Awards recently for his role in Cardboard Gangsters. His speech addressed a number of issues including discrimination against Travellers, suicide and how creativity saved his life and has been watched over 1 million times on Facebook alone. He speaks with Guardian journalist Iman Amrani about class, his journey into acting and what he plans to do next.



Representation of mental illness

In 2014, Time to Change worked with Glasgow Media Group to review three months of TV drama, in order to identify themes in the way that mental health problems were being portrayed. Time to Change also surveyed the public about the impact that mental health storylines had on them, and sought insights from big names in the industry. On November 11th 2014, Time to Change produced the report ‘Making a Drama Out of a Crisis’, which found:

  • encouraging signs that mental health depictions had become more positive. More storylines had attempted to ‘normalise’ mental health problems and fewer characters with mental health problems were portrayed as violent.
  • the growth of a relatively new type of narrative, focusing on the damaging stigma a character with a mental health problem faces.
  • the existence of some alternative stereotypes and over-simplifications, for example, about tragic victims and medication.
  • over half of the survey’s respondents who recalled seeing a character with mental health problems on TV said that this had helped to improve their understanding of such problems.
  • among all those respondents who had personally experienced a mental health problem, a quarter said that seeing a character with similar issues encouraged them to seek professional help.

Collective identity – Black Panther

Image result for black panther black representation

Although “Black Panther” isn’t the first black superhero film ever (Hancock, Blade, The Meteor Man and Blankman) lots of commentators are claiming that Black Panther is the first real ‘blackbuster’ and therefore it is unsurprising that many are hailing the importance of the film for the African American collective community. The $200m film is directed by African American director, Ryan Coogler and contains an overwhelmingly black cast, of course starring Chadwick Boseman (above). Black Panther challenges the over riding cultural norm that heroes are white males.

Unlike the films we have studied in class, this is definitively a mainstream movie with a huge reach. Therefore, if the film is constructing positive representations for African American males it is likely to have a profound effect upon audiences especially when the film is entering into the cultural consciousness at a when the Black Lives Matters movement is still buoyant, Donald Trump has referred to African countries as “shitholes” and systematic racism seems ubiquitous:   


  • FRONT COVER OF TIME MAGAZINE – the author, Jamil Smith argues:“This is not just a movie about a black superhero…it’s very much a black movie. It carries a weight that neither Thor nor Captain America could lift: serving a black audience that has long gone underrepresented…For a wary and risk-averse film business, led largely by white film executives who have been historically predisposed to green light projects featuring characters who look like them, Black Panther will offer proof that a depiction of a reality of something other than whiteness can make a ton of money”.
  • IMPORTANCE TO THE COLLECTIVE COMMUNITY – activist, Frederick T Joseph is crowdfunding money to help African American children watch the film:gofun“[Black Panther] is something that is not only wrapped in blackness but is also layered and nuanced. It has aspects of  feminism, of black non-toxic masculinity, of loss, of pain, of various black existences – and that’s something very important for our kids to see.” After appearing on her show, Ellen DeGeneres donated $10,000. What’s more, there are now more than 200 campaigns worldwide, with over $250,000 raised from more than 4,000 donations.
  • A COLLECTIVE CHANGE – Chadwick Boseman accepts that Black Panther is not going to change representations on its own, indeed, “this is one of many things that have happened over the past few years. This moment has been building.”  Films such as Mudbound, Selma, A Wrinkle in Time and TV programmes such as Insecure and Atlanta are part of a growing long tail of diverse representations of African Americans.
  • NO TOKENISM HERE – “Quality film-making is the key,” Boseman argues, “You don’t wanna do films with black casts and directors just for the sake of doing it. Critical acclaim and commercial success is the goal. Also the way we work together as artists; giving to one another and sharing in the work. That’s what a renaissance is: artists who wanna be around each other and work together. It won’t be a fad as long as that love and community continues to exist. And it’s about people. Not the studios or the word ‘Hollywood’. Most people wouldn’t even know that Nate Moore is black, but he’s one of the shot-callers at Marvel. It’s not just the black people, though. The fact that you have someone like Kevin Feige [president of  Marvel Studios] and Alan Horn [chairman of Disney], who are white, is important because they’re progressive thinkers. Everybody’s minds are opening up, people are more conscious than they used to be.” 
  • PROFIT MOTIVE – Perhaps the greater range of representations of African Americans is simply a reflection of economics. There were 5.6 million African American moviegoers that were recorded going to the cinema in 2016 (National Association of Theater Owners). African Americans make up 12% of the population, they accounted for 14% of ticket movie ticket sales in 2016.

Further reading:

Heroes, leaders and innovators

How ‘Black Panther’ could change representation in a part of Hollywood we often ignore

The Revolutionary Power Of Black Panther

Why The Black Panther Movie Is Important For The Film World, According To Chadwick Boseman


Image result for moonlight stills

I hope you all (besides Danny!) enjoyed Moonlight as much as I did. I think that it is an wonderful exploration of African American masculinity and  the performances from the actors playing Chiron are superbly crafted by Barry Jenkins. In particular, I think that the performance of  Trevante Rhodes who plays ‘Black’ is very impressive because he is able to subtly transition between the hegemonic masculinity of ‘Black’ and the vulnerable Chiron.

Please watch and listen to the following links to help you engage with the film as much as possible:

Filmspotting (the podcast I listen to) – interview with Naomi Harris and Barry Jenkins, and review of the film: and the review: and an article by regular contributor, Michael Phillips:





MOONLIGHT EXPLAINED: Symbols, Camera & More


Gender Ideology in TV and Film

This is what gender ideology looks like:


That’s The Walking Dead’s Rosita Espinosa with newly shaven armpits.

This is also gender ideology at work: the privileging of an idea of gender over real life or, in this case, realism.

The Walking Dead’s producers go to great lengths to portray what a zombie apocalypse might be like. They are especially keen to show us the nasty bits: what it really looks like when dead people don’t die, what it looks like to kill the undead, and the evil it spawns in those left alive. It’s gruesome. The show is a gore orgy. But armpit hair on women? Apparently that’s just gross.

If gender ideology had lost this battle with realism, we’d see armpit hair on the women in Gilligan’s Island, Planet of the ApesThe Blue Lagoon, Beauty and the BeastWaterworld, Lost, and The Hunger Games – but we don’t. (Thanks to Ariane Lange at Buzzfeed for the whole collection and to @uheartdanny for the link.)

At least Rosita could conceivably have a razor. How do women supposedly shave their armpits on deserted islands? Did the Beast slip Belle a razor, you know, just as part of his controlling personality? And maybe some persnickety women would continue to shave even if they were lost in purgatory, but Riley in Alien? Come on.


Our interest in realism only goes so far. Armpit hair on women is apparently one of its limits.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


 Independent Film Bucks the Odds

Budget: $30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $19,828,687 (USA) (18 April 2010) (3065 Screens)

Gross: $48,043,505 (USA) (27 June 2010) 

“All the studios said no to it,” director Matthew Vaughn told Reuters.

So, the “Layer Cake” director raised the $35 million he needed from private investors and reached his target only weeks before the first signs of 2008’s financial market meltdown.

Backed by private funding, Vaughn added some star appeal by hiring comic fan Cage, and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment signed up as a co-producer with Vaughn’s Marv Films.

Mini-major studio Lions Gate, which released Oscar winner “Crash” and nominee “Precious: Based On the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” smelled a hit and acquired U.S. distribution rights for a mere $15 million

The “Kick-Ass” Facebook page enjoys over 150,000 “fans”.