Pop Culture Fix: Hollywood’s Straight White Men Are Crushing It and Other Uplifting Stories

Welcome to your weekly pop culture fix, where I keep you up-to-date on recent advances in solar power and the whereabouts of Alex Mack.

The Hollywood Diversity Problem

+ There’s been a lot of talk about diversity in Hollywood leading up to our Big White Oscars Ceremony taking place Sunday night, and The New York Times in particular has debuted some really good stuff, including today’s “What It’s Like To Work in Hollywood (if you’re not a straight white man).” It includes testimonies from 27 “industry players” including Kimberly Pierce, Queen Latifah, Mindy Kaling, Jussie Smolett and Hari Nef, presented as a collaborative oral history.

Screenshot 2016-02-24 11.36.19

The problem, as we all already know, extends far beyond the Oscars, and a new USC study has some bleak statistics about it. Looking at 109 movies and 305 broadcast, cable, and digital TV series released in 2014, they found an obnoxious lack of diversity across the board:

Men far outnumber women as directors, writers and industry executives. Minorities are drastically underrepresented in acting roles. Lesbian, gay and transgender characters are almost nonexistent. This is the portrait of an “epidemic of invisibility” in Hollywood described by researchers in a study released on Monday of more than 400 movies and scripted television series from 2014 and 2015.

study via USC Annenberg

study via USC Annenberg

+ And then there’s this: “In the history of the Oscars, 10 black women have been nominated for best actress, and nine of them played characters who are homeless or might soon become so. (The exception is Viola Davis, for the 2011 drama “The Help.”)”

Nico Lang in Salon: “While actresses like Hilary Swank and Felicity Huffman have both earned kudos for transgender roles, those who live the experiences they portray on screen aren’t nearly as lucky.”

+ Sasheer Zamata in Elle: “You are not diversifying your cast if the only people of color in the project fit stereotypical casting descriptions like: sassy, thuggish, urban, street, hood, spicy, fiery, flamboyant, fierce, etc. Not to say that POC shouldn’t embody these types of roles, but if you can’t imagine white people in these same roles, OR if you can’t imagine POC playing any of the roles you’ve cast with white actors, you should reevaluate your script.”

+ Oh, and let’s not forget about this gem from a”brutally honest” Oscar voter at The Hollywood Reporter, who justly skewers The Revenant... and also Carol. He says Cate Blanchett’s role was “more about decor and what everyone wears than anything of substance,” and of the film itself, declares, “Carol gets on my nerves because people who are revolutionary usually don’t think of themselves as very revolutionary, and besides, I’m not especially interested in or sympathetic to the problems of a rich white woman.” He also picked The Danish Girl for best makeup because “I could really see Eddie Redmayne as a woman, and I think that’s an extraordinary accomplishment.”

Queer as Pop Culture

+ Lesbian comedian and future A-Camp guest Cameron Esposito is gonna star in an FX single-camera sitcom based on her own life, “poised to explore the spectrum of gender, sexuality, options and mistakes that exist in 2016.”

+ Christine & The Queens: “I feel like I have a queer fan base, and lots of young girls at my shows, and it feels really good when one of them is saying, “You made me just want to be my own boss.” That’s cool.”

+ What a headline! Welcome back to All Saints, the band that made me the lesbian I am today.

+ Your girlfriend Lena Waithe takes Out Magazine on a tour through Hipster LA.

+ A Village Voice film critic says The Oscars made her gay.

+ Kate McKinnon was on Ellen this morning, during which time she did her Ellen DeGeneres imitation and talked about it and also about Hillary Clinton and also about Ghostbusters.


+ Ava DuVernay has signed on to direct an adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time.

+ SNL’s Aidy Bryant talks to Elle about her new short.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3179 articles for us.


  1. “He also picked The Danish Girl for best makeup because “I could really see Eddie Redmayne as a woman, and I think that’s an extraordinary accomplishment.””

    I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. I know Eddie’s just an actor, but IN ORDER TO SEE PEOPLE AS THE GENDER THEY ARE, CHANGE YOUR BRAIN, DON’T MAKE THEM WEAR LIPSTICK

  2. That What it’s Like in Hollywood… Piece made me so furious and disgusted. But also it definitely had me crying through the whole “victories to savor” section

  3. Also, for real though, when that oscars voter said “I could really see Eddie Redmayne as a woman, and I think that’s an extraordinary accomplishment.” what he meant is that he was turned on by Eddie Redmayne in drag, right? Like, how much you wanna bet he started looking online for a new type of porn after he watched that movie.

    • And like, obviously there’s no shame in thinking trans women (or men) are sexy, none at all. I want more people to admit to finding us sexy. I’m making fun of the guy for being afraid to just say “I voted for the Danish girl bc Eddie Redmayne gave me a boner in it”

  4. The first time I had ever heard of Kate McKinnon was right here on Autostraddle! Back when you used to profile comedians and she had been on the Big Gay Sketch Show, before she had even started SNL. And now she’s about to be this big movie star!

    Aww, how much she has grown- and this website has grown- and, heck, I guess, even how much I’ve grown! We were all such babies back then.

  5. Christine & The Queens! I love her music so much and she gives me so much suit envy.

    I used to teach in the same English dept. her father teaches in, so I haven’t lost hope that one day I’ll come across them both in a café and I can be all, “Hey there, remember me, we passed in the photocopy room a lot?” and then he’ll introduce me to his daughter and we’ll become BFFs.

    But I would like for the writer to explain to me their understanding of the word “remote” when they write “remote western French city of Nantes”. Maybe the writer is British and their sense of scale is just that different from mine/my GF’s, but we had a good laugh at that description.

  6. Just gonna put this out there: in the history of the Oscars, there has only been two Native actors nominated (neither of them won): Chief Dan George in 1970, and Graham Greene in 1990. For the record, both of them are Canadian. And Graham Greene literally plays every Native person in every film ever.
    BUT plenty of actors have received countless accolades for playing Native characters without actually being Native. And their comments about have been total bullshit. Looking at you, Rooney Mara and Johnny Depp. You’re both full of it.
    Hate that this keeps being left out of conversations about the lack of diversity in Oscar nominations/wins. But then, we’re left out of conversations about marginalization as a whole…police brutality, poverty, sexual assault, domestic violence, housing situations, the water situation (Flint’s got nothing on some reservations, nevermind the water situation in native communities in Alaska).

      • No worries. It’s just interesting to me, the pervasiveness of leaving this out of these conversations (not just on AS, but in general). Like, if you’re going to devote lots of time/attention to the fact that male actors are playing trans women or that only a certain number of people of color were nominated the last few years, it’s kind of shitty to completely ignore the very real, very lengthy history of redface and of completely ignoring the existence of Native people. So much so that no one really even blinks when yet another not-native person portrays a Native character. It’s just sort of lumped in with “people of color” in these conversations but honestly the history is very different. I mean, people are flipping shit about that white guy playing Michael Jackson in that upcoming movie (which…I mean…what the ever living fuck were the casting directors thinking), but that’s par for the course in terms of Native characters both real and fictional.
        And, it’s not an exaggeration to say that only a handful of indigenous actors play all the Native parts (those that aren’t played by non-Natives, anyway): Graham Greene, Adam Beach, Irene Bedard (though not much anymore), Q’orianka Kilcher, Jason Momoa, and Keisha Castle-Hughes. Two of those are Canadian, one is indigenous from South America, one is a New Zealander. Bedard and Momoa are the only indigenous Usians (hey hey Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian), and Bedard hardly gets roles anymore.
        The reality is that the only movies that portray Native people in an accurate, decent light and cast Native actors in those roles are directed, produced, and written by Native people. Smoke Signals, Drunktown’s Finest, The Cherokee Word for Water…but in terms of big budget, or stuff that gets a lot of press? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

          • USians. Americans. I didn’t want to say Americans because technically, Canadians are also North Americans, and Peruvians are South Americans…idk.
            I should mention that Q’orianka Kilcher is American, but not indigenous American. Her indigenous heritage is from Peru.

        • I was about to mention Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner but that was Canadian and I think it was not allowed release or something the US because animals were killed in the making of the film. Didn’t matter that all the parts of said animals got used in Inuit fashion.

          Um I have no idea if it’s out of place or not to grip about where is the big action movie/manly Oscar bait on Joe Medicine Crow, last surviving War Chief of the Crow?

          To earn the title of War chief 4 feats are required

          1) leading a successful war party on a raid
          2) capturing an enemy’s weapon
          3) touching an enemy without killing them
          4) stealing an enemy’s horse.

          which he did, even the horse stealing during WORLD WAR TWO.


          Not only that he’s a founding member of the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders & Youth, still alive at 102 and still writing/lecturing. He served in the 103rd Infantry and will turn 103 this October which is probably why I’ve been on it about “where is the movie on this hero” lately other than the lack of diversity in Hollywood thing.

          Did I mention he got master’s in anthropology from USC in 1939 and has to date 3 honorary doctorates from his alma mater and 2 other colleges?

          His war record could make for a kickass movie and his life the best damn conclusion paragraph/plate thingy before, after or during the credits.

          And this is just a confirmable real life person, all the tales and heroes in Native American history and lore…Remind me why Hollywood gotta go mess up Egyptian mythology?

    • The point my brain was trying to make before an anecdote of this time someone asked me if indigenous people survived here in the States was there are plenty of Oscar worthy Native stories out there where they aren’t props (like in Revenant) but leads.
      The reason that question was asked of me is what you’re talking about being left out and not represented.
      Not represented to the point someone who had to take a citizenship test assumed that you were all wiped out because the information she was given and received from the world around her suggested that. In comparison to Latin America where indigenous languages get to be listed as one of the official languages of a country. Not saying the treatment is superior but the representation/exposure exists.

  7. I appreciate it when people move away from using the term people of colour to discuss racial diversity as the term has come to create such dissonance in me.

    Because when people talk about PoC, what they’re really talking about is minorities. Now, I’m Asian, so in the discussions about racial diversity which are usually focused to the situations in the States, I would of course be considered a WoC. However, since it’s really about oppression and power structure, in my own country, I’m not a WoC. I would be considered “white” by the power structure here.

    It’s a very strange sensation to think of myself as a PoC in discussions about American pop culture but at the same time living as a “white” person in real life.

    • Also because I lived in a predominantly white country for 4 years and has actually experienced some racial discrimination as an outsider, though obviously it can’t really be compared to people who live their whole lives as minorities in their own country.

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