Courtesy of my minor studies in psychology at the University of Minnesota, I was able to stumble across a few interesting ideas, theories and psychological measuring tools. One of the most interesting and accessible tools I tackled was the Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT operates under the pretense that people tend to hide, consciously or otherwise, their true preference for a given item (e.g. race, sexual orientation, etc.). This especially holds true when a person holds an ideal that’s antagonistic of the perceived norm. Knowing a psychologists’ need to dissect a human’s mind without invasive procedures, the IAT is a rapid fire assessment that forces subjects to pair an attribute with differing categories. An example of this would be applying the concepts of race (e.g. “Euro-Americans” and “African-Americans”) with the attribute of being“friendly”, or any other adjective. There are various steps to the IAT, but the basic idea is that the faster a pairing response is, the stronger the perceived relationship between the two items. So, if a person quickly associated the word “disgusting” with an image of an African-American, the test would view the subject as seeing those two items as being strongly related. Thus, revealing a negative attitude held about African-Americans. Because the test forces its subject to react as fast as possible, it’s believed to elicit a true response without being undermined by bias.
Now, the test itself has come under fire for a variety of reasons, but it’s been substantiated due to its reliability and validity. Nonetheless, I feel the test has now become obsolete. After the release of The Hunger Games two weeks ago, a flood of the book’s fans took to their various social media accounts to put the IAT six feet under. What did these elite few do to prove an implicit cognition tool as a dated measure? They ran their mouths like most idiots and inadvertently created a new tool called the Explicit Asshole Test (patent pending). Outside of their inability for reading comprehension, these fools are disgruntled, dismayed and devastated by the film’s inclusion of African-American characters. Not only where there African-American characters present, but they are seen in a positive light. Quick! Someone unleash the hounds and ratchet up the fire hoses, we got ourselves some out of control negroes! Seriously, that last sentence wouldn’t seem out of place when compared against some of the tweets levied against the casting choices in The Hunger Games. Here’s one example of the foolish behavior:
Well, look at that! The word association within this tweet is beyond reprehensible. In the mood for another?
It ruined the movie? REALLY? You can’t enjoy the movie because it prominently features African-Americans? Part of me would like to see your review of Precious. How bout a collection of tweets that form the patchwork of a quilt made up of vile!?
The most damning one, and one that ironically reaches back to the IAT, is a young lady’s association of “innocence”, or lack thereof, with an African-American girl. In some ways I’m picking low hanging fruit, and rather late to the party on this particular subject, but the fact remains that these idiots have exposed themselves as shallow children. Realistically, especially in the case of The Hunger Games, race is irrelevant. What difference does skin color make when all that matters is characterization and thematic weight? I know I’m trying to promote an idealistic attitude that resides in a perfect world that doesn’t exist, but we shouldn’t settle for this shit. That’s why I think we should aggressively release films that insert minority actors into the soles of memorable characters. How about an African-American Dorothy Gale? Actually, that does exist; I’m sure most of the Twitter idiots are having a hard time holding back their vitriol for The Wiz. How bout we cast a Latin woman taking over Juliet and a man of Asian descent playing Romeo? Based on the idiots above, and by pulling a move such as this, the racist dolts will explicitly reveal themselves. As demonstrated in their many hateful tweets and Facebook posts, any fear emanating from desired social norms is out the window.
By broadcasting their vapid, ridiculous and demonstrative opinions, these goons perpetuate the very stereotypes and hate that limit the opportunities for a minority actor. They’re simply proving the studio system’s implicit idea that no one wants to see anything but a white male at the lead position. What a shame this all is. To rip a quote from The Social Network, the internet is written in ink, and it will be awfully hard for the above tweeters to erase the toxins they spilled. Unfortunately for us, it will be just as hard to wash the bad taste from our mouths.
For more information on the IAT, or to take the test yourself, GO HERE.