What’s not diverse about The Irishman?by Tom Deignan
Is The Irishman just another white man’s story? No! It's a fascinating tale of American immigrant life, helmed by a man from the wrong side of the tracks.
The Academy Awards are finally behind us so we no longer have to endure the screaming and yelling of folks who hate Hollywood because it’s filled with a bunch of socialist liberal types. They were joined in screaming, this year, by those who hate Hollywood because it is #sowhite and #somale and #sostraight and so many other un-woke things.
This bi-partisan hatred of Hollywood has gone ahead and done something I never thought was possible.
It got me feeling bad for showbiz folk!
And maybe that’s why an irresistibly good Hollywood fantasy story formed in my head.
Read more: Saoirse Ronan misses out at Oscars while her dress gets a good going over
One that’s especially good for a day and age when Hollywood is again and again (and again, and again) dismissed for its stubborn lack of “diversity.” In the run-up to the Oscars on Sunday, The New York Times ran what seemed like a dozen stories slamming the white-male tilt of the Best Picture nominees. The Irishman was featured very prominently in one such story, lamenting the fact that the creators of it and other such movies have used their “historical settings as a shield to deflect diversity critiques.”
So, in the name of diversity, let’s imagine a movie director born into a poor and insular immigrant enclave. He is, unfortunately, male, but he is also bilingual and rubs shoulders with colorful hustlers who are, of course, sadly common in places where poverty and discrimination often force folks to make a living outside of the conventional legal system.
But our fantasy movie director stays on the right side of the law. And he works hard and rises above the constraints of this immigrant enclave. And when he does achieve success, he remembers to tell the stories of his immigrant enclave, in all of its mess and glory.
And wouldn’t such a figure be welcome in today’s Ivory Soap, Wonder Bread white Hollywood?
This fantasy figure, of course, is no fantasy at all. That is Martin Scorsese’s life story.
This is not to say that Hollywood doesn’t have a legitimate bunch of problems related to gender and racial balance.
That being said, what do the diversity warriors at The New York Times and elsewhere really accomplish when they dismiss The Irishman as just another white man’s story? There are at least two consequences to this type of thinking, both deeply troubling.
First, there is what you might call a Fox News response. It is notable for its yelling and screaming about things like “reverse racism,” and arguments that the entertainment business actually seems positively overrun with minority types with none of the class of the good, old days, so, really, what the heck are “you people” complaining about.
There’s not much you can do about folks like that. They are going to be simmering with rage about pretty much anything that appears in The New York Times.
But then there are folks who are, in fact, sympathetic to arguments about diversity. Who actually do want to see stories about people living outside of the American mainstream.
Who, in fact, do believe that The Irishman tells a particularly fascinating tale of American immigrant life.
This is not a story of Harvard and Yale men who involve themselves in murder and mayhem because it makes for a grand old time. These are outsiders who found a whole bunch of side doors and tunnels -- gangs, unions, blue-collar jobs -- which led to a modest spot in the mainstream of American life.
As reflected in The Irishman and so many other Scorsese movies, they were Irish and Italian and Jewish, and many of them were deeply flawed in many, many ways.
But being part of some affluent, smug and privileged elite was not one of those flaws.
And so, folks who believe movies like The Irishman are part of a broader “diversity” problem in Hollywood have -- ironically -- a rather narrow and exclusive definition of diversity.
It’s enough to make people start watching Fox News.
Read more: The Oscars' first female conductor is an Irish woman