ATM sits down with actor Tyson Wagner as he discusses a few bias views exhibited within the film industry and examines the progression on how social classes influences the film narratives.
ATM: How would you say the aristocratic and the proletariat are depicted in American film?
Tyson: In the large and big-budget productions they don’t usually seem to accurately reflect the working class as well because I don’t think they are as in touch with the type of person they try to portray.
But when the actors do their jobs correctly it does not usually matter the class of citizens they are playing. This is because of its emotionally driven stories that are so out of normal it all blends together in a big fictional world that the general audience would not usually relate to. Generally, I would say they try to make the working class more relatable, and the rich are usually the antagonists to many stories.
ATM: Why do you think the aristocrat take on the portrayal more?
Tyson: The general audience viewer or target demographic would usually be the working class, it makes sense financially and they can relate to it as a protagonist.
ATM: So, if an aristocratic was the protagonist how would this influence how the general public who is of the proletariat depict the movie?
Tyson: The Marvel franchise has Iron Man as a protagonist, but since the stories are so out of this world it would still draw in crowds to see these movies.
ATM: If aristocratic characters started to play protagonists, then how will this change the film standard?
Tyson: In many of the stories the rich need to learn how to be humble as a character arch, it’s been played out many times. I do not think if audiences can relate to the stories they would be as inclined to go out and pay to see the new movies.
ATM: Why should American aristocrats of today be humbled? Wouldn’t this show them assimilating to the proletariat’s feelings and emotions?
Tyson: Generally, they aren’t depicted as the caring or sincere type in the beginning of a movie and when they become humble it’s usually their character development coming full circle, it is usually to convey that they are also human and capable of the full spectrum of emotions everyone else is.
ATM: Why can’t black, white, Hispanic, and Asian aristocratic people be as humbled as black, white, Hispanics, and Asian proletariats?
Tyson: They are viewed to be the silver spoon type who have everything handed to them. The audience has to see them go through the type of learning experience to see their full potential.
ATM: Could this be exploiting the aristocrats?
Tyson: I would not say exploiting. Most films are produced and made by the rich, who then profits from those movies. It is their own class who they’re trying to portray in most cases. I would not say it is an accurate depiction. Many of the upper class I have met have been quite down to earth. I would say it is a production tactic but not exploiting.
ATM: Do you like the term “rich” or “aristocrats?”
Tyson: Aristocrats isn’t a common term used by most people but depending the placement both can fit. Saying someone is an aristocrat sounds nobler than just being rich, like they hold more power with that title.
ATM: It’s the same term as what is classified as the word “celebrity.” Those are not celebrities, they are black and white aristocrats! They have been conditioned to live by the term. They are entertainment aristocrats. This use to be the norm for people in their field. Those are aristocrats. The term “celebrity” is a diminishing term. Black people and other marginalized groups are grand enough to have such a nobler term reflect their hard work along with the white race in their field.
Tyson: Yes, I have seen “celebrity” be used as a scandalous title in an article. Especially if it is reflecting anything negative about a person its being written about. Also, putting those word together (celebrity + scandal is what typically sells.
ATM: They are aristocrats! Well, entertainment aristocrats.
Tyson: I also don’t know if I can talk much about race in Hollywood though. As I am not from a marginalized group, and not part of the “celebrity” group either, so I would not have a perspective from either side. I will however agree that they definitely need to work harder to gain and maintain that status being from a marginalized group because in any industry it would be difficult.
ATM: I am not a modern-day aristocrat either. You are an actor. Money or a ‘celebrity” status should not reflect your passion or your identity. Stay away trying to obtain titles. Titles do not mean anything. See society makes some nonmarginalized groups feel they cannot relate to the current marginalization. They can. You can. We can. We may not the same race, but we do drink the same water. We breath the same air. We walk the same. We might have different sizes, but we all it all the same. Why? Because we are human.
Tyson: Most people look down on my career choice when I don’t have that status to back up my passion, and my work that I do get is overlooked or ignored by most since it doesn’t have anyone of the status in it. It eats away at my self-identity, self-worth by not achieving that yet.
And yes, being human is definitely something that every race shares, but that doesn’t mean equality unfortunately, hopefully soon though. I can hear and understand these struggles but not witness them firsthand, that’s why I’m hesitant to speak on the matter, but I will give you my perspective.
ATM: The same feeling you are expressing is how black people have felt for decades. White people’s culture, customs, lifestyle have been our history. It was sneakily forced on us. We complied but we did not understand it at first. It didn’t represent what we felt.
Tyson: And I can empathize and relate through my own past and present struggles. I don’t know if anyone not from the democratic can ever fully understand the hurdles marginalized groups need to overcome. But having the conversation is a great way to help start to understand for most people.
ATM: I know. There is a deep social disconnect. This is why they cannot understand. No matter how much we protest and try to establish equality. Its oblivious to most white people. It is not them not wanting to help or understand, but it’s the oblivion. We have lived in a society so long that misses the things and the next generation picks it up and calls it history.
Tyson: I believe that its like holding up a mirror to show a face they are not familiar with because they have not seen anything from that perspective. Unfortunately, change only happens through choice as well and not enough people are willing to change.
ATM: They are not willing because of the social disconnect. It is similar to an airborne disease that his scoped our nation, culture, and education. Education is just history relay to us.
Tyson: I want to thank you. I have never had an opportunity where someone wanted to hear my thoughts on any subject and share it. This has been an enjoyable experience.