Movies So White:
WHY DO NANCY MEYERS MOVIES STILL GET MADE?!
Like most of us these days, living “InShelter” has led me to way too much exploration through mindless YouTube videos and scrolling through the endless supply of movies on all the usual portals. As such, I bumped into the Nancy Meyers “film” collection, reminding me how much I hate her movies, am offended by her style, and shocked how she manages to get A list actors and still get her projects green lit. Well, it’s probably because she gets A list actors that she also able to get funding. Let’s face it, if you have the likes of Robert DiNero, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton and Anne Hathaway attached to your films, the producers and money will follow.
But back to my issues and offense: For one thing, her writing is over simplistic and predictable … and I don’t mean in an artistic nuanced way, a la Luca Guadaginino (“I am Love,” “Call Me By Your Name”). I mean like simple and boring. Secondly, her sets look like Pottery Barn exploded all over them. Absolutely, her locations and sets, which are always with rich people in mind, are beautiful. In fact, it’s kind of become her trademark- gorgeous brownstones in Brooklyn Heights, sprawling estates in the Hamptons or a middle aged divorced empty nester’s 5-bedroom Spanish revival in Santa Barbara. For the latter, the character portrayed by Streep, hired a contractor to give her a bigger kitchen, etc. although she lived alone. Yes, as design aficionado, I like drooling over some of her sets, and I like Pottery Barn as much as the next person. I even have a few items from there, but having everything from one somewhat expensive furniture store, is overkill and unrealistic.
Thirdly, and most importantly, she creates the whitest movies on the planet … or at least west of Scandinavia! The cast are always portraying accomplished, upper middle class white America. A lack of diversity is fine, probably not even noticeable, if you’ve only made one or two films, but she’s directed almost ten films and has been the head writer on almost double that. And all the ones she has been the writer/director on are all white. Of those that she is credited with writing, one had a black person among the cast, actually in the lead. When I say her movies are white, I don’t just mean themes pertaining to white people’s issues or predominately cast or the leads are white. I mean even the supporting cast and extras are all white. I cannot speak to her crews behind the scenes, but I can go out on a limb and guess the landscape there is probably equally uniformity. Also, there was a black waiter in the opening scene of “It’s Complicated,” so I’m not being entirely fair, but you get where I’m going with this. Some of her films were made during the Obama presidential era and post era. Did having the first black president with the most diverse cabinet in the history of the United States not inspire broader themes and casting for Ms. Meyers? No. On one hand, I get it. I’m not expecting Meyers to branch out and direct the “Black Panther” sequels or Lin Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights.” She’s found a formula that works for her- capturing rom coms to the white affluent middle age and older set. Does that formula completely negate any inclusion of people of color?
Maybe the bigger issue here isn’t Meyers’ comfort zone of portraying a restricted demographic, but that her A list cast, producers and studio execs enable her short-sightedness. Overall, although I’m an advocate for diversity and inclusion, personally and professionally, I don’t think Nancy Meyers and her projects are worth watching (although clearly I have despite my disdain), boycotting or expending much energy on. We can be grateful that they have not and never will be award contenders. I do, however, think they’re worth critiquing, discontinuing funding for or at the very least, being the punchline of a comedians joke. Come on, Kathy Griffin, help me out here.