Posted on May 6, 2024

Now Movies Get Cultural Consultants as Song Producers Call in Experts to Advise on Character in New Ghostbusters Film

Padraic Flanagan, Daily Mail, May 4, 2024

First there were sensitivity readers, advising on whether a book might cause offence.

Then, came intimacy co-ordinators, to ensure sex scenes in films neither outrage audiences nor cause difficulties for the actors involved.

Now the latest innovation in these more sensitive times is the ‘cultural consultant’.

They are being embraced by modern Hollywood to stamp out any insensitivities around ethnicity, faith and race.

Disney/Pixar is keen on them.

To give one example, its animation Soul, the story of a school teacher who dies suddenly while dreaming of achieving his ambition of being a jazz pianist, is reported to have had no fewer than 11 consultants, among them musicians Herbie Hancock and Marcus McLaurine.

Producers at Sony asked Sajid Varda, chief executive of media charity UK Muslim Film, to advise on a Pakistani-American character in new Ghostbusters film Frozen Empire.

A key part of the plot is the discovery of a secret room at his grandmother’s and the selling of an ancient relic. The producers wanted to get the detail of the relationship right.

Mr Varda told The Guardian the key to the job was not censorship but ‘authenticity – not just saying what is wrong with this, but how can we make it better and improve it?’

He said his role is not about censorship. ‘When you’re consulting you present film-makers with, ‘Here is the issue, or the concern’, and ‘This would be the recommendation’ – and then it’s really up to them whether they take it on board.

Sometimes a certain incident or a line of dialogue is for them integral to the story and to change it in a significant way may take the shine off.’