What’s one of the easiest ways to detect a racially homogenous writers’ room? According to filmmaker Justin Simien, a quick analysis of the token minority character should do the trick.
In a HuffPost Live interview on Tuesday, the “Dear White People” director discussed the behind-the-scenes aspects of entertainment and suggested the value of having a diverse group of writers on television shows.
“When I watch television, you can always tell when the one black character that’s sort of guest-starring was written by a room of white people,” he said. “You can always tell because the traits and quirks that they give them are just like: Yeah, there was no black person in that room. They would have told you that that joke is completely absurd.”
While the depiction of the black experience in media may seem stereotypical, actress Tessa Thompson, who stars in “Dear White People,” said that the portrayal sometimes arises from the “fine line” between appreciation and appropriation, which can be so difficult to tread.
“We’ve had some questions about appropriation, the idea of twerking and things like that. And I think in some cases it is about celebrating, because culture is more than just our racial make-up,” Thompson said. “So it makes sense that people want to take on things from hip-hop culture. But there is a fine line, I think — particularly if you box people into a space where that’s all that you think about them.”
Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with “Dear White People” director Justin Simien and star Tessa Thompson here.