Sony Emails About President Obama Reveal Hollywood’s Problem With Race


The big Sony Pictures hack revealed a lot of sensitive information about the company. But one of the biggest potential problems for Sony may be in the emails that reveal jokes about what movies President Obama might like. Those emails reveal some disturbing stereotypes about race.

Buzzfeed reports that Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal attended a breakfast with the president that was hosted by Dreamworks boss, and Democratic contributor, Jeffrey Katzenberg. Before that breakfast, she emailed her friend, producer Scott Rudin, to ask him what he thought she should ask President Obama.

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Rudin replied that Pascal should ask if the president would like to finance some movies. Pascal said that she doubted the president would do that, and wondered if she should ask if he liked “Django [Unchained].” That was the start of an exchange between the two discussing what movies President Obama might like. Every movie each mentioned was one featuring black stars.

In response to Pascal’s suggestion of “Django,” Rudin replies, “12 Years [A Slave].”

Pascal: “Or The Butler? Or Think Like A Man?”

Rudin: “Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”

While we can’t know for sure, it is highly unlikely that Pascal and Rudin wondered whether George W. Bush liked cinematic gems like “Talladega Nights,” or maybe a classic like “North Dallas Forty.” Does this make it look like Hollywood still has issues with race? In the words of Sarah Palin, “You betcha.”

The Sony emails reveal what some have been saying about Hollywood and race.

Nia-Malika Henderson, writing in the Washington Postsays,

Get it? The first black president must like movies about black people and starring black people because he’s black. Is anyone really surprised that high-level Hollywood executives would make racist — yep, racist — jokes?

Henderson comments that the email exchange between Sony’s Pascal and Rudin gives credence to Chris Rock’s statement that Hollywood is a “white industry.” Rock, who penned a story about Hollywood and race for The Hollywood Reportersays,

It’s a white industry. Just as the NBA is a black industry. I’m not even saying it’s a bad thing. It just is.

Should we be shocked that even Hollywood, that supposed bastion of liberalism, still has a problem with race? It’s hard to say “yes,” when recent events – from Ferguson, to New York City, and other places – say that America, for all our claims to the contrary, is still a nation where all too often assumptions are made based on race. Oh, the president is black? Of course he likes movies centered around black characters! Why wouldn’t he?

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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