Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tip#991: Inspiring Movies for Diversity, Part 1 - The Magnificent Seven

One of the enduring benefits of the original Star Trek series from the 60’s are the countless stories of real-people of different racial backgrounds that were inspired by the visible minorities on the show. Astronauts like Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to fly in space, was inspired by the show as a little girl. Scientists, engineers and movie makers like Whoopi Goldberg were also inspired by the groundbreaking vision of equality on this show.

The Star Trek series inspired me as well and because I grew up in the glorious diversity and cultural mosaic/melting pot of Toronto, these were important factors for molding my mind and attitude for inclusion and respect for different people and their cultures. Growing up I was always around friends that were Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern, blacks and white. That’s why it always excites me to see films that demonstrate diversity and inclusion like the 2016 version of The Magnificent Seven.

Nichols Nichols (Lt. Uhura from original Star Trek series) and Astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison who had a cameo role on Star Trek: The Next Generation

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

The western drama, The Magnificent Seven, is a remake of the 1960 version of the same name, which in turn was a remake of the 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai. This gritty, updated story has some great performances by a diverse cast that include Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett and Peter Sarsgaard. And yes you do hear the classic 60’s music theme! See: movie trailer

Inspiring Themes:
• Perseverance
• Resilience
• Strategic Thinking
• Leadership
• Teamwork
• Community

The film has many examples of life and work lessons such as perseverance, resilience, strategic thinking, leadership, teamwork and the strength in community. Where the movie really shines is it’s visible minorities with unique skill sets and the authenticity of its cast. It also has a strong female character. For example…

• Denzel Washington (African American) plays Sam Chisolm, a bounty hunter, licensed lawman and the leader of the Seven
• Vincent D'Onofrio (White American) as Jack Horne, an elderly skilled tracker
• Byung-hun Lee (Asian) as Billy Rocks, a knife-wielding assassin
• Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Mexican) as Vasquez, a Mexican outlaw
• Martin Sensmeier (Native American) as Red Harvest, a Comanche warrior
• Haley Bennett (White American) as Emma Cullen, a strong-willed young woman who hires the Seven

The film’s diverse casting has been featured in the press and there is one article that addresses something I noticed in the movie. With the inclusion of an Asian and an African American in a leadership role there was almost no racial slurs like in a Quentin Tarantino's Western. I was really happy about this and was addressed by the director Antoine Fuqua in an article. It is little touches like this that I believe will help increase respect for other people’s differences through cinema.

Read: Why The Magnificent Seven Doesn't Use Racial Slurs Like Quentin Tarantino's Westerns

There is also a humorous social media campaign called #StarringJohnCho aimed at increasing castings of Asian-American actors. This features actor John Cho’s face being photoshopped into popular Hollywood film posters, like The Martian, The Avengers and as James Bond in Spectre. Cho also made headlines when his character, Lieutenant Sulu of the film Star Trek Beyond, was shown to be gay and with a loving family. It’s initiatives like these that can help increase awareness and change in Hollywood.

I am glad diversity and inclusion are being addressed in the movies, TV shows and even at The Academy Awards because it provides hope that changes will increase for more inspiring role-models for both young and old. I want to live in a world where there is more harmony in my community and workplace. Is this the world you’d like to live in too?

Read More: Emmanuel Lopez: Movies about Diversity and Inclusion – Part 2

Related Tips:
Tip#936: Cultivate Community, Part 12 – Zootopia
Tip#338: Take the Leadership Role – Remember the Titans
Tip#849: Great Teamwork Movies, Part 6 - Invictus
Tip#976: Great Teamwork Movies, Part 12 – Star Trek Beyond
Tip#60: Favourite TV Shows Inspire Careers - Star Trek 

Top Inspiring Women in the Movies:
15 Films for Leadership at Work & in Life
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