Many questions were asked following the screening of Dr. Gerald Peary’s film For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism—most of which seemed to focus on the diminishing presence of the Independent and Foreign film industry on American soil.  Why are Americans not interested in films that rest outside of the mainstream?  I, as well as other students at the symposium, attempted to answer the question, though Dr. Peary didn’t seem satisfied with any of the answers that were given.  Even after, I couldn’t help but continue to think about this question.

As with any intelligent discussion, there are multiple sides to answering this beyond “Americans are sooooo stupid.”  Okay, while an over-simplification of the American people, there are in fact many who do consume “film-junk” on a daily basis—paying $13 a ticket to be lulled into a sleep-like trance by explosions and attractive people doing “outrageously” attractive things on screen.  Yet, for every film about violent robots, wise-cracking stereotypes, or the usual maudlin film featuring characters afflicted with aids/cancer/9-11 , there is barely any mention of films that rest outside of the American stream.

Of course, I realize that there are older film-buffs violently shaking their heads at me; it’s still relatively recent that film-lovers were able to purchase movies to watch at home, much less being able to gain access to hundreds of films from all over the world via the internet.  I can only imagine how hellish it must have been to even attempt to acquire a film from Japan or Europe that didn’t come to a local art-house.

The advent of Netflix and the digital-medium has forever change the landscape of film, and is often to blame for why people just aren’t going to the theaters any more.  Why pay $13 to watch a big-budgeted film when you can simply rent a slightly older movie for around four bucks—in high definition no less.  Netflix, once notable for its practice of DVD shipping, has fully embraced the digital age with its streaming section—a vast collection of films made available on nearly every internet-enabled device; yet, I know of many who still claim their aren’t any good films available on the service—a claim that I would have once disputed, if not for the fact that I have noticed a dip in quality among the catalogue of film available in Netflix’s streaming service.  What with TV channel Starz removing all their films from the streaming service, and Netflix moving in an original programming direction—with its recent series Lilyhammer, as well as acquisition of a new season of “Arrested Development—“ it seems that, in a year or two, Netflix may not be the haven for unknown cinema as it once was.  Of course, Netflix isn’t the only available way to consume entertainment digitally; there are several “In Demand” services which allow consumers to either rent or purchase movies over an internet connection.

But that runs into another problem of the “Hollywood vs. everyone else” debate: How can I even find films that are even good?  As much as I adore Netflix, it does a fairly terrible job of informing users of new films; and other services aren’t any better.  This is coming from a guy who keeps up to date with various film sites/blogs, and even I have a hard time getting access to worthwhile entertainment.  Education is something that could work in advantage of getting people interested in obscure film titles; though, there is a reason–a rather sad one–as to why Americans seemingly have no interest in going beyond their comfort zones—they don’t care about film as “art.”  I realize how condescending that statement might appear, but there is some truth to this.  After a screening of the big-budgeted schlock Battle: Los Angeles, I explained to my friends that I thought it was an unoriginal mess of cliché’s stolen from nearly every American war film ever created, and had the audacity to somehow make an alien invasion “boring.”  All I got in response were glares from my friends and the tired statement of “stop acting like a critic, Chris.”  On film blogs, hundreds of posts can be read of commenters calling for the online critic’s head for dare claiming that Michael Bay film is (gasp!) terrible.  Anti-intellectualism is a term Dr. Peary used in describing the love-hate relationship movie-goers have with critics; the idea of a single person claiming authority over a specific subject tends to make people uncomfortable.  Perhaps it’s because feel rather stupid when someone who might be more qualified to talk about film proceeds to tear apart your favorite film; or maybe it’s simply because no one likes a know-it-all ass.  Either way, this notion of “people shouldn’t intellectually pick apart a film because it’s just fun, man” feeds into the idea that films aren’t worth anything more than trashy entertainment is rather insulting, and fills me with the kind of passive-aggressive rage that inspires one to blog.

While Hollywood is often the first to be blamed for the state of the film industry—not to suggest that Hollywood isn’t—some of that blame lies squarely with the audience that feeds the machine.  People want the loud, brashness of today’s Hollywood action-films because they’re easy to digest and contain American sensibilities that most people are familiar with.  Could you say the same for Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation or Michael R. Roskam’s Bullhead?  In today’s modern society, people want their entertainment—which ranges from film, television, music, and literature—in bite-sized, easy to digest formats, where the good-guys win and get rewarded for their deeds.

I don’t want to suggest that people are unintelligent because they don’t appreciate film nor would I ever suggest that film-viewing shouldn’t be fun.  Movies might be one of the most enjoyable social activities that people can enjoy, and I certainly enjoy the decent summer blockbuster as much as everyone else; but I do believe the key to widening the gap is an understanding of film culture in general—not just what Hollywood hypes up.

from Monthly Gamer

It’s a bit unfair to review Quantic Dream’s cinematic video game Heavy rain nearly three years after its release: other games have been released since that time and, of course, we’re currently in a post-The Walking Dead world, which pushed the envelope of what to expect from video game narratives. However, back in 2009, Heavy Rain was hyped as being the next step in bringing video games that much closer to film, heavily promoting its realistic depiction of human performances through motion capture and its usage of Quick-Time Events (QTE) which served to maintain its cinematic influences without breaking away into more “gamey” territory by giving direct control to gamers.

Heavy Rain begins with an idyllic scene: we’re introduced to Ethan Mars, one of four playable characters throughout Heavy Rain’s single-player campaign as he prepares for his son’s (JASOOOOOOON!!!) birthday party. This also serves as the game’s tutorial level as many of the game mechanics are used here. Players move characters via the R2 trigger and use the left directional stick to move in the appropriate direction.  It works better than you might expect, but it is at times needlessly frustrating (a la Resident Evil’s tank controls) whenever you need to make a sharp turn or even walk towards a specific object: Ethan will sometimes walk toward the opposite direction or take too long to go through an animation. The L2 trigger is used to access the thoughts of each character, which serves as a helpful reminder as to what you’re supposed to be doing.

The other main component is the Quick-time-event sequences. Much like predecessor Indigo Prophecy, cut scenes are comprised entirely of QTE’s where the game will present images indicating which face button to press, using the right analog stick, or the trigger buttons in order to successfully do tasks as simple as picking up an object or as complex as engaging in one of the game’s many fight sequences. Some might find them overly redundant as the game uses QTE’s for even the most mundane things, such as making breakfast, but I think it does help in making sure gamers remain engaged as these QTE prompts come randomly.

Of course, there’d be no video game if a tragedy didn’t occur (or else, Heavy Rain would be the happiest film noir ever made) and soon enough, JASOOOOON is killed, setting the tone for the rest of the game and bringing us back to Ethan two years later, who has since become disheveled, divorced, and suffers from random blackouts. As if Ethan wasn’t already in a tight spot, his other son (SHAAAAAAAAAUN!!!) is missing, and believed to have been kidnapped by the Origami Killer, a serial killer who has been drowning young boys and leaving their bodies with a single origami figure. From here, the game slowly introduces us to the other playable characters: Scott Shelby, a private detective; Madison Page, a journalist; and Norman Jayden, an FBI Agent. Each character slowly uncovers clues as to the identity of the Origami Killer.

Throughout the game, players are given the ability to choose how they want to deal with specific circumstances; events can change drastically depending on those choices. Actions made during a specific character’s play through can determine who lives or dies and completely change how the game ends. It makes for some thrilling moments as the specter of death constantly hangs in the air.

Graphically, Heavy Rain is still a good-looking game. Wearing its film-noir aesthetics on its sleeves, the game is filled with world-weary environments; rain spots nearly every single part of the game (It always rains in Noir City) serving as an extension of the characters’ state of mind. More importantly, the game understands the language of cinema. When the game works best, it understands how to get into the player’s head, creating agency simply through presenting certain camera angles and the (at times oppressive) musical score. At its best, Heavy Rain does feel like a well-produced film.

The character models are extremely detailed with their own various facial tics and postures that make them feel like individuals alive in their own world. Quantic Dream was clearly proud of how the game looks, and oftenHeavy Rain will feature close-ups of its central protagonists to show-off the emotional impact of the game. However, as the game approaches reality, the limitations of the tech make for moments of “unreality:” it’s hard not to ignore those dead, soulless eyes that imply mere imitation of human qualities. Sometimes mouths move in strange ways, or at times, not at all; and NPCs serve to show how artificial Heavy Rain’s heavily detailed environments ultimately is, sometimes clipping into buildings or each other. Even the sight of two identical-looking models is enough to take you out of the experience.

Though that’s not all Heavy Rain’s fault and even the worst technical slip-ups can’t entirely mar a quality gaming experience. What I can blame Heavy Rain for is the awful voice acting; there’s a reason why that clip of Ethan running around screaming “JAAAAAAASON!!” is infamous—the voice acting range from bland to humorously bad, with the actor for Ethan being the worst. Which is unfortunate since Ethan is put through the most trauma as he is forced to prove his love for his son in increasingly dangerous ways. But it’s hard to take in what’s going on when I’m too busy giggling over his accent slipping in and out as he talks.

All this leads to the most problematic thing about Heavy Rain: the narrative eventually stumbles all over itself. The game starts out strong with Ethan trying to find his missing son and sets up an interesting mystery-plot regarding the origins of the Origami Killer, but it quickly falls into B-grade silliness which serves to cheapen the experience. The Walking Dead works so well because the game derives emotion and tension entirely from the interaction of its protagonists. Heavy Rain routinely throws spectacle after spectacle that serves only to gain a shallow emotional response: a moment that forces you to choose whether to spare or kill a man is instantly undermined by a previous chase sequence in which said man is manically chasing after you with a shotgun. The game is filled with moments like this that make the game ironically “gamey” than what was obviously intended. The final reveal operates purely in the M. Night Shyamalan “let’s just pull things out our ass” school of thought as the final plot twist is a complete betrayal of the choices that you have made during the game. It doesn’t really make any sense and it’s kind of insulting.

As a relic of a specific time in the Playstation 3’s life-cycle, Heavy Rain makes for an interesting look at how far video games have come in telling stories. But as it stands, Heavy Rain is an ambitious and gorgeous video-drama that unfortunately teeters into pure silliness thanks to ridiculous leaps in logics, a dumb plot twist, and some unintentionally hilarious voice-acting, keeping this from being the great piece of narrative that it so desperately wants to be.

Christopher Exantus

22 Jefferson St, Metuchen, NJ 08840 | 732-841-6492 | ceexantus@gmail.com

Objective: To obtain an editorial position within a media-related company, utilizing strong writing skills

Education

May 2013

Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Major: English
  • Minor: Cinema Studies

May 2011

Middlesex County College, Edison, New Jersey

  • Associate of Arts
  • Major: Liberal Arts

Experience

June 2012 – August 2012

Ology Media Inc, New York, New York

Intern

  • Created articles for the television section of Ology.com
  • Screened and reviewed
    • Films
    • Television shows
    • Documentaries
  • Assisted editor on site projects

September 2011-present

The Rider News, Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey

Journalist

  • Create articles for the opinion and media sections of the newspaper
  • Write articles on subjects such as

○        Smoking on campus

○        Rider University Events

○        Film Reviews

○        editorials

September 2011-November 2011

Rider University Network (R.U.N), Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey

Host of Rider Television segment on Bronc Blockbuster

  • Create television segment “Overrated/Underrated,” in which films that are under-appreciated or given too much praised, are discussed.
  • Write all scripts for television segment

February 2009- August 2011

Atlantic Rehab Institute, Morristown, NJ

Pharmacy Technician

  • Assisted Pharmacist in their work
  • Prepared medication for patients
  • Distributed medication to patients

September 2009- November 2010

Livingston Infusion Care, South Plainsfield, NJ

Pharmacy Technician

  • Assisted Pharmacists
  • Worked with IV
  • Organized medication
  • Skills

Selected Skills and Abilities

○        Microsoft Word

○        PowerPoint

○        Excel

○        Office

Activities

2011-2012

  • Treasurer of Alternative Film Club

○        signs off on club’s purchases

○        manages club’s activities

■screenings

■trips

  • Co-host of “The Unnamed Show” radio show

○        Discuss film-reviews

○        Interact with other co-hosts on various subjects:

■      Pop-culture

■      News

■      Music

■      Random musings

One of the more effective aspects of Suzanne Collins’ ever popular science-fiction novel, “The Hunger Games,” is its unrelenting sadness—a portrayal of a dystopian world that acts as an allegory for our own modern day class-based issues.  Since its release in 2008, “The Hunger Games” has achieved a level of success that made a film-adaptation inevitable.  While exciting for fans, some grew hesitant over one of the more “controversial” aspects of the book: it’s depiction of children participating in death-matches.  With a pg-13 rating attached, how on earth could a “Hunger Games” adaptation be properly made, much less maintain the brutality contained in the novel?  Director Gary Ross manages to bring the book to the big screen, crafting a rather faithful adaptation; however, faithfulness is not synonymous with quality, and through the cinematic transfer, loses many of the nuances found in its source material.

Ross opens “The Hunger Games” depicting the poverty of District 12, one of thirteen districts put down during a violent uprising by The Capital. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone)is one of District 12’s inhabitants.  A born survivor, Katniss illegally hunts for her family and seeks to protect her sister, Primrose, from the possibility of acting as a “tribute” for The Hunger Games—a gladiatorial event where two tributes are forced to fight to the death against the other district’s tributes.  Strong, and fierce, the character may as well been created with Jennifer Lawrence in mind as Lawrence’s performance captures the independent nature of Katniss rather well.

The film proceeds to streamline most of the events that take place in the books, though many of the smaller touches from the source material are lost in translation.  A powerful moment of silent rebellion from the people of District 12 as Katniss volunteers to take part in the games is rather muted in its film interpretation.  Even so, Ross, armed with cinematographer Tom Stern, manages to recreate the bleakness that permeated the world of Collins’ novel.

However, the film trips and falters as it moves to more fantasy fare.  Katniss, partnered with the District 12’s male tribute, Peeta, (Josh Hutcherson) makes her way to the Capital to be pampered and prepared for the games.  The film swaps out the harsh landscape of District 12, for the cleaner, if slightly generic, visual aesthetics of the futuristic metropolis.  Katniss and Peeta, in a clever nod to our own obsessions with reality-show celebrities, are forced into a state of artificialness—smiling robotically for the attention of millions and, ultimately, for surviving the games.  “The Hunger Games” lays its social-commentary on thick, parodying our self-obsession with fame; yet, the film loses the overall punch of its first half, thanks in part to some drab visuals–a scene during the opening ceremonies has all the qualities of a FMV video game—and some pacing issues.

“The Hunger Games” manages to retain some of its momentum during the start of the actual games, but it’s here that proves to be the most troubling.  Gary Ross trades in the potential brutality and horror for that of visceral entertainment; what should be shocking is instead turn into rousing enjoyment as the audience cheers on Katniss as she faces a cadre of cartoon villains.  For a movie that puts much emphasis in its message, it’s disconcerting how it avoids exploring the grey area that is typically associated in similar stories such as Lord of the Flies and the oft compared Japanese film, Battle Royale.

Ultimately, The Hunger Games is a solid adaptation that will make fans happy, and is a strong film directed at those who tire of Twilight’s long-reaching influence over young-adult cinema.  However, those expecting a more mature science-fiction film may be turned off by the film’s “black-and-white” approach to its themes.

It’s exciting times to be a Ridley Scott fan.  The versatile director has recently announced his film Prometheus—a pseudo-prequel of sorts to the fan-favorite film Alien.  While any sort of connection to the mature horror film is greatly appreciated, the fact that Prometheus will mark Scott’s first foray into the science-fiction genre in thirty years is pretty exciting in itself.  Though despite how varied in quality Scott’s work tended to be, it at least showed he isn’t willing to be tied down by “genre labeling”

However, Ridley Scott’s return to the genre that had made him the big-named director he is today is exciting indeed, and footage from Prometheus looks to be a grand return to form for the director.  Though the new movie has revitalized interests and discussion of the mythology of Alien—and as to whether or not James Cameron forever ruined the franchise with his sequel Aliens, a film that shifted from the claustrophobic tensions of the original movie to Cameron’s action-pack interpretation in his sequel—it has also laid attention to another Ridley Scott film—Blade Runner.  The 1982 film adaption of Phillip K. Dick’s sci-fi novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, was a far more ambitious film than the admittedly small-scaled Aliens; and yet, retained that same feeling of claustrophobia in its depiction of an Earth where corporations rule, and American cities have literally become a hastily, slapped together melting pot of Asian-centric cultures.  Blade Runner is the type of ambitious film from a dedicated director and his staff that is rarely seen in modern cinema.

It’s also known for notoriously bombing when first released in theaters, failing to provide the action-adventure spectacle that many expected from a Harrison Ford-starring vehicle, instead alienating audiences with its slow-moving, “artsy-fartsy” pacing.   Blade Runner has since achieved a level of acclaim and success that has become the basis for all supposed “cult-classic” films; successful enough that Blade Runner has seen the release of five different versions of the movie, all of which are available in specific collector editions of the film (for the purpose of this writing, I decided on watching the international director’s cut).

If there are any similarities between Ridley Scott’s sci-fi films, it’s that, much like Alien itself, Blade Runner hints at an expanded universe; the film’s story of  bounty hunter Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) attempting to hunt down a group of Replicants,—cyborgs who are able to think and act like human beings—feels like simply part of an anthology.  Early on we find that most of humanity has moved on to live in space colonies, while the “dregs” of society are forced to stay on earth—Deckard, among those who are simply wasting away in worn-down Los Angeles.  In fact, Deckard seems like the very representation of what humanity has become in 2019: tired, afflicted with alcoholism, and a cynical outlook towards life in general.  To make matters worse, Deckard has been forced out of retirement by the very people he used to work for—“You’re little people now,” remarks Deckard’s former supervisor, Bryant—and  is put on a case to find four deadly Replicants who have landed on earth after taking part in a violent uprising in one of the space colonies.  The Replicants: Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Leon Kowalski (Brion James), Pris (Daryhl Hanna), and Zhora (Johanna Cassidy), land on earth in hopes of finding a way to extend their own lives, which are limited to four years thanks in part to the Tyrell Company’s efforts to control the replicants.

Whether or not these replicants have a right to humanity, is a theme that, while the film never focuses explicitly, is always in the background; The replicants don’t want vengeance on mankind, or even to rule any part of the world.  What they want most is to be able to live lives that we generally take for granted; it’s a freedom that they’re all willing to kill for—to die for.  It can’t be any coincidence that Ridley Scott’s upcoming film is titled Prometheus, a title that alludes to the Greek god Prometheus responsible for granting human beings with fire; the name also serves as the subtitle for the popular Mary Shelly novel, “Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus,” a cautionary tale of personal responsibility and the consequences that come from playing god.  Much like the novel’s protagonist, Victor Frankenstein, Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel) has conquered the role of god with his cyborg creations—especially with the recent Nexus-6 models, of which the replicants featured in the movie are based on– that are able to completely replicate the thought-processes and emotions of human beings.  However, unlike Frankenstein, who hesitates and fears the unholy creature he has created, Tyrell controls his creations by taking away the one thing granted to all living things—the right to live.  Considering that the most basic natural rights—if one should believe in such things—is considered to be accessed by all living things, should that not include androids that are able to form their own emotional responses?

Blade Runner makes for an interesting subject on the “Nature vs. Nurture” debate; whereas “Frankenstein” portrays a more negative stance —the monster is driven to kill because of a lack of emotional response from his fellow living beings– Blade Runner ends on a surprisingly upbeat note.  In his last act, Roy Batty chooses to save Deckard from falling to his death.  Despite Batty’s labeling as a combat android, and despite the oppressive nature of his human counterparts, he experiences a sense of empathy during the last moments of his life.  The Rutger Hauer monologue, which is famously known for being adlibbed by Hauer, is one of the more understated moments in the movie, and it’s ultimately up to the viewer to determine the meaning of the scene.

On the other side of the spectrum, Rachel—a replicant who, unlike the others, is not stricken with a four year life span, allowing her to live almost like an actual human—is a reverse “Frankenstein monster;” unlike the others, she is allowed to experience human emotions, thanks in part to “false memories” that are imbued into her consciousness.  However, her “humanity” is as every bit as artificial as her own replicant body.  It is only when she is forced to confront her own identity, does she come to resemble an actual person.

BladeRunner’s bold-headed attempt at subverting the expectations of mainstream cinema is most likely the cause of its lackluster sales.  BladeRunner is not an action film.  Whereas we’re used to rooting for our masculine protagonists struggling in the face of evil, defeat is well-worn on the face of Blade Runner Deckard; whereas we’re meant to cheer as our hero combats evil, BladeRunnerforces us to witness in horror as Deckard “retires” beings with the capabilities of human emotions.  Humanity has already lost, revealing a futuristic world that isn’t unlike our own. Ridley Scott makes the smart decision of not including any notions of some kind of social-rebellion; apathy seems like the more realistic approach.

Yet, in a sense, a rebellion—no matter how small—is nevertheless sparked.  By not dying silently and anonymously, the “replicants” continued existence fly in the face of their creato.  Even Deckard himself makes a small movement towards rebellion by refusing to put down Rachel, and go into hiding.  It’s inconsequential as to whether or not Rachel and Deckard live or die—there are books that go into detail of the continuing adventures of Deckard, but it’s safe to assume that only those stories helmed by Scott should be considered canon—there is now a spark of hope that true human compassion can exist in a typically robotic, dystopian world.

From Trippedmedia.com

Usually when we digest our daily amount of media consumption, we expect some semblance of reality in what we watch. Sure, there’s the matter of suspending ones disbelief—the cinematic world is one of fiction and not like our own—but a level of realism allows us to remain enthralled in whatever we watch, which is why even fantasy-laden superhero films such as The Dark Knight or even The Amazing Spiderman operate on some level of reality—even if they’re about individuals who make the conscious decision of donning tights and punching bad guys repeatedly in the face. When entertainment becomes “unrealistic,” it’s jarring; it becomes noticeable and can potentially take us right out of the film.

Even television, in all its artificial, studio-mandated glory, attempts to operate on an acceptable level of realism.  But discussion routinely arises to question that reality: If we expect some level of realism in the way television characters act or the settings that these series take place, should we not expect it in its portrayal of race?

Stereotypes—whether you like or not—are an almost fundamental part of fiction: specific character traits that allow us to recognize where characters place within the structure of the story. If a female character is portrayed with glasses and conservative clothing, then odds are she’s the shy, innocent bookworm of the group; if a male is portrayed as slightly overweight, messy, and otherwise the complete opposite of the main character, then he’s typically the “best friend” who provides much of the comedic relief.  From a superficial point, it’s relatively harmless and part of a series of tropes that has been around since the dawn of fiction. But it becomes a bit troubling when we look much deeper into the tropes and clichés of modern television—especially in regards to race. It might seem humorous to see the classic “black friend” trope or even the loud and sassy “latina,” in a comedy but what does it say about our expectations of race, especially when it finds a way to keep showing up in our media?  Anything that is produced by a human being all comes from a specific ideology, and in this case, an American one. What does that ideology say about our culture when we pride ourselves in being a “melting pot” of various ethnic backgrounds, yet that diversity we’re so proud of is almost non-existent in our media?

In a perfect world, the idea of non-white actors at the forefront of television (or any entertainment medium for that matter) wouldn’t be much of a surprise; it would be a thing that just happens. More often than not, however, you’re likely to see a cast of smiling white faces mugging it for the camera then you probably ever would a diverse cast of characters.  A show like The Walking Dead, despite being a hit for AMC, is largely faulted for having a token black (T-Dog) and even Breaking Bad focuses mainly on the trials and tribulations of white people. In shows skewed for a younger demographic, even ABC Family’s seemingly harmless Bunheads couldn’t escape controversy when Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Shonda Rhimes called out the show’s lack of ethnic characters. With tragedies such as Treyvon Martin’s death stoking the flames of America’s perceived racism, it only makes sense for some of that outrage to reach our television sets.

It’s rather unrealistic that in settings that typically breed a multi-cultural environment, that whites are the only ones television seems to focus on—even if it is a work of fiction. It’s a problem that Lena Dunham of Girls ran into when critics and viewers pointed out how “white” the show is. Despite the generalness of its title, Girls focuses entirely on a group of post-collegiate, white hipsters, and critics noticed the complete lack of any substantial ethnic presence. Considering that show takes place in Brooklyn, it’s easy to see why so many people were upset with what they saw as Dunham leaving out minorities.

But aren’t there shows that are made specifically for minorities like Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and TV Land’s The Soul Man?  As a black film/TV enthusiast, nothing infuriates me more than the notion of the “ethnic” show, programming that is made in mind for an ethnic audience-you know, people like me. The problem is that despite being marketed towards an “ethnic” audience, they are often guilty of indulging in the same negative stereotypes that are found in shows that are “whitewashed.”  Aside from the fact that this creates the implication that this is how people of a certain race act or that this is what they exclusively find hilarious, it also implies that while non-white viewers need their own TV shows, that shows featuring whites are for everyone: they are the default race.

Of course there’s a flip side to this conversation: forced political correction doesn’t really help, and is just as bad as tokenism. Shonda Rhimes’ argument that Bunshead should have included black ballerinas so she “could feel good about her kid watching the show” implies this sort of attitude that every show should include an ethnic character so that those people could “relate to them.” As much as I’m in favor of seeing more non-whites play prominent roles on television, I don’t necessarily want to see them shoehorned in just to make me feel better.  In defense of Girls, I don’t believe that show would get any better (or worse) if it suddenly had a couple of Indian or Asian girls to complain about their lives and wear trendy clothing. Obviously context is important and I’m not about to go after a show like Arrested Development just because it has a predominantly white cast or even Mad Men since, you know, it takes place during the 1960s. And no one, reasonable at least , is claiming that white actors should be fired so that a Black or a Latino actors may get a role; ultimately, good acting is good acting regardless of the race, but when so many shows seem to have this problem, perhaps there are some issues regarding casting.

One of the most common arguments I’ve heard against claims of whitewashing is that TV creators shouldn’t be held accountable for appeasing to every single demographic—which is somewhat true. Despite the supposed whiteness of Girls, it’s a show that feels intensely personal and is noted for mainly coming from Dunham’s own experiences, so I can understand the argument that Dunham doesn’t necessarily have to appeal to everyone. BUT, I also understand that when you’re producing a show for a popular network, one that is watched regularly by a wide variety of people, you inherit a set of responsibilities in which it might be wise to be conscious of the people that are watching your show. If NBC’s Community can successfully portray diversity in a school setting without resorting to tokenism or the campy “rainbow effect,” where a group is comprised of nearly every single race, could it not be expected of all shows?

The whole point  of shedding light on this “problem,” is to create a conversation; to educate and to fight back against all forms of ignorance .The assertion that this doesn’t matter because no one gets hurt if a couple of characters aren’t “minorities” is a rather apathetic one. Racism is still a brutal reality, one that knocked people on their asses recently during the Treyvon Martin. But racism, or hatred, doesn’t occur in a box; it doesn’t just happen, and while I’m certainly not going to try to explain a causal connection betweenThe Big Bang Theory’s usage of Indian stereotypes and hate crimes, I will say that it’s a factor, albeit a small one, but a factor all the same.

I don’t want to seem like I’m standing on a soapbox and I’m well aware that there are a growing number of television comedies and sitcoms that are reacting to this problem, among them Shonda Rhime’s ownScandal which stars Kerry Washington as the main protagonist in a role typical of Rhime’s trademark “color-blind” roles. But the fact that Washington, who is black, brings attention to the show simply by being the lead star speaks volumes of a climate in which minorities get the shaft—whether it be due to ratings or the unfortunate truth that racism and discrimination still has a place in America. It’s true that the situation is getting better and that many of the shows that are guilty of this problem are ones that I regularly enjoy myself; but it’s frustrating knowing that as a minority, most of those heroes that grace both the big and silver screen mostly come in one color.

http://www.ology.com/post/197696/interview-david-alan-basche-gets-with-the-exes-

There’s a lot of elements that go into making a sitcom, so it’s a wonder why every single thing has come together perfectly for TV Land’s breakout smash series that gives three divorced men an apartment and a sexy divorce attorney right across the hall. The most successful of them all, Stuart Gardner, is also secretly the craziest character on the show, and Christopher Exantus makes David Alan Basche explain all the strange charms ofThe Exes.

OLOGY: One of the best things about The Exes is that you guys have a cast dynamic that just absolutely works, and that’s not true for every show.

DAVID ALAN BASCHE: Yeah, we’re really lucky. Obviously the writing has to be there and it has to be funny, but the other half of it is the chemistry and that’s what makes it completely fun—if it looks like it’s fun, that’s because it is!

So for the second season, how did it feel coming back to the show?

I’ve done a lot of TV pilots that go nowhere and they’re sitting on the shelf somewhere; so many shows don’t make it to the second season. And we’re so grateful to the fans because they’re really happy and they’re tweeting every day how much they love the show, and every week they want to ask questions about it and tell us their favorite parts. So to have that kind response for the show is pretty great.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m really stingy when it comes to television—especially sitcoms. So any show that has me laughing out loud at the office is a guaranteed plus for me.

Well, that’s great. As an actor, when you read the script late at night after the writers have finally finished working, I’m lying in bed next to my wife reading my script and I’m laughing out loud, and she’s kicking me to be quiet. That’s pretty much the only time you want to be laughing out loud.

I actually just watched the episode “Cool Hand Lutz” where your character Stuart tries to hang out with Phil [Donald Faison] and his friends. I was laughing so hard, but it was so cringeworthy—that was incredible.

My part in that episode was totally making fun of myself- they’re really putting [Stuart] in funny situations and I really couldn’t be happier. Actors like Wayne Knight and Donald Faison, these guys have done a lot of TV, they know exactly what they’re doing and they’re a joy to work with. It’s a lot of fun, and fun things are happening.

One of the things about Stuart that’s shocking is that he seems like the typical straight-man of any TV-sitcom, and yet he might be the weirdest character on the show.

When people ask me what the show is like or what is it about, I say it’s like The Odd Couple. Its three guys: you had Felix and Oscar, and Oscar was the messy one. But I get to be Felix, the neat one who’s a little neurotic. And you’re right, at first glance Stuart seems perfectly straight-laced, but then you start to learn these things about him every episode that make him pretty weird and wacky, and I hope entertaining to watch. But then the really fun part is when something unexpected happens that you never ever expect from that character. So it’s been a delight to do.

So what can we expect from the rest of the second season?

I can give you one major hint. Spoiler alert! People have been tweeting me and asking me, “When will Haskell get a girlfriend?” And all I can say is there’s an episode coming up where Haskell gets very, very lucky.

You’ve been in all manners of television and film. How is it different to prepare for a sitcom than it is for a drama? What’s your favorite?

It’s totally different—and I’m really lucky that I’ve been able to do theater and I’m going to go back in a little bit, which is wonderful. I like them all, [but] I think theater is really my favorite: it’s live and there’s live energy from the audience… there’s nothing like it. But the closest thing you get to the theater when there’s a camera involved is a four-camera, traditional, live-studio audience sitcom, because it’s really like shooting a live play once a week.

The Exes airs Wednesday nights at 10:30pm on TV Land.