In her recent takedown of the Black Widow problem in Avengers: Age of Ultron, a writer at The Daily Beast quoted Joss Whedon, who quoted Junot Díaz in a talk about the lack of superhero women in Hollywood:
“If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.”
As we’ve seen, talking about equality, and then enforcing and creating it are two different things, but the message from Díaz remains intact: the social, political, and artistic significance of visibility for any one group of people cannot be underestimated. And artists, critics and audiences should not be satisfied with a visibility that isn’t as complex, varied and nuanced as the people it’s meant to represent. Oscar-nominated Selma director Ava DuVernay knows this all too well, and she’s asking the countless people who cried out for more visibility and representation of people of color around this year’s Oscars to join her in changing the demographic of the film world with her grassroots collective, AFFRM.
AFFRM released a video (featuring founding AFFRM Rebels David Oyelowo, Anika Noni-Rose and others), along with the May 4 announcement:
Today marks the launch of the campaign that is closest to [Ava’s] heart: the second annual membership drive for her grassroots film collective, AFFRM.
Back in January, there was much talk about the lack of diversity in the film industry. That issue hasn’t gone away?. Many artists and advocates, like Ava, are doing something about it and there’s where AFFRM comes in. Ava founded the organization in 2011, and since then the collective has released eight feature films, created a robust membership base and provided resources and guidance to the diverse filmmaking community.
DuVernay has also been taking to Twitter for her cause:
The auteur, and Paste’s 2014 Film Person of the Year, invites you to join her community of film artists, film advocates and film lovers who want to experience true diversity both in front of and behind the camera.
You can go here to learn more. AFFRM Rebel memberships start at just $40.
Shannon M. Houston is Assistant TV Editor & a film critic at Paste, and a writer for Pink is the New Blog and Heart&Soul. This New York-based freelancer probably has more babies than you, but that’s okay; you can still be friends. She welcomes all follows (and un-follows) on Twitter.