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Everything I Know About (True) Diversity I Learned from Watching ‘The Fifth Element’

May 2, 2010

why do I have to get the broken one?

If diversity wonks really want to do something about their lack of diversity – given that demographics matter – they ought to look to 1997 Sci-Fi John Paul Gaultier go go boot extravaganza The Fifth Element, one of the few futuristic films, which seems to have actually read a demographical shift forecast report. Besides Luc Besson, only Spielberg and the late Octavia Butler seem to believe the future will be browner, and chubbier than previously indicated. Diversity aside – if TFE is to be believed – Luke Perry being culturally relevant 250 years in the future is far, far more shocking!

Aziz, LIGHT...

I believe semi-helpful children are the future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.

  • Every moment in this film is mined for untapped diversity potential! Our friend Aziz, while not technically helpful, is certainly an adorable child of some non specific marginalized extraction! And hey, we’re got every right to rest. We’ve worked for FREE for centuries. In the words of Vonnegut’s character Durling Heath: “QUIT. FUCKING. ‘OUNDING. ME!” And oh yeah, hold your own bleeping mirror!

ball of evil, you got knocked the fuck out!

Friday never hesitates.

Am I not a (blue) woman too?

To everyone she meets, she’s a stranger

  • The Diva Plavalaguna, like Julia Child (allegedly) leads a double life: by day she is the body rocking, pop locking, scale sliding operatic singer and by night she’s a spy in the house of love. Here’s hoping futuristic feminists seek to include her lived experiences as Cerulean woman as a part of the larger discourse.

big bada bang

Ain’t no mountain high enough!

  • In the future even the supreme being kicks it at Sally’s Beauty Supply, and sport hair color folks of gothic extraction would call Fire or maybe Pillarbox Red. You’d have to sort it out with them, since the Supreme Being is a little busy wearing ace bandages and saving the universe from Gary Oldman – though in a way, aren’t we always preventing Gary Oldman from ruining something, you’d think we’d be used to it.

speaks only two languages: English and bad English

I bet a black man can get a cab in this version of the future

  • Cabs will still sometimes be driven by guys who look like Bruce Willis – albeit twenty pounds heavier and a lot less patient – so it’s great he’s shown here exactly that way. Most likely they will also be disgraced ex-military who avoid calls from their mothers and aren’t always up for the task of saving the universe.


I swear I’ve never felt this way about a non human before, I swear!

  • And aren’t we relieved the future will bring about the return to bitching air hostess uniforms and gender bending, smack talking lotharios! Not only will the talk smack, they will also be instrumental in saving the universe. I can barely make it across the street in heels and a hobble skirt, much less race off an explosive ridden cruise ship, fly to Egypt and like save the planet.

The Fifth Element inspires me to dream of a future filled with blond bob wigs – which look good on everyone – chubby folks out running everyone in the dash for the lifeboats (without judgment), women ruling all that is holy and nobody making fun of anyone’s anything. Okay, you might say I’m a dreamer, but according to the sheer number of folks who adore this movie and its message of non-cookie seeking diversity, I’m not the only one.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. evmaroon permalink
    May 2, 2010 6:02 pm

    I’m so glad you brought up Octavia Butler! I miss her work so much. She really did have a wonderful alternative vision of the future and of other ways to conceive of society.

    I’ve never watched the Fifth Element, so now perhaps it’s time to put it on my Netflix…

  2. May 2, 2010 7:15 pm

    Oh, you’re in for a treat! This geeky French kid done made himself a science fiction classic. It’s a lot of fun. It’s not really a “Bruce Willis” movie. At least not until the third act.

  3. May 2, 2010 8:56 pm

    I love this movie. The costumes and sets are indeed awesome. I too hope the future looks like that.

  4. May 2, 2010 9:46 pm

    It’s 2010 already. Where’ s my flying car?

  5. Q.V. permalink
    May 3, 2010 1:03 am

    This is the movie that tests my cookie-seeking divequity crush on a white guy. So, he has a plastic thing covering his shiny half-dome and evil goo seeping from his forehead–and I’d still like Gary Oldman to ruin me too. Another movie where the costumes, the really gay-club bubbles-on-the-dance-floor awesomeness of even the most mundane tank top, are worth a dedicated screening.

  6. Heather Flescher permalink
    May 3, 2010 2:24 am

    Mmm. So much to think about. Octavia Butler is awesome. Operatic blue chicks are awesome. Zeus as the President is awesome. Gary Oldman being dangerous is always awesome. But it’s the overall look of the movie that gets me the most. Such a groovy esthetic! It makes me think of another Milla Jovovich film, “Ultraviolet”, which is frankly a pretty stupid flick… but it makes the future look totally cool. As it should be.

  7. May 3, 2010 10:00 am

    Also I must give it up for:

    Tricky (who is HILARIOUS)
    Eve (the beloved bald 90s supermodel)
    Sybil Buck (my septum piercing supermodel inspiration)

    and the late great and taken far too soon Brion James as the tart and cheeky General Munro.

    Munro: Have you checked your mail yet?
    Dallas: No, I’ve had enough “good” news today.

  8. May 3, 2010 2:08 pm

    Boy did I used to get stoned and watch this movie a lot in college. And it still holds up without having to pull my stash out of the soap. One of my fave Bruce movies, for sure.

  9. May 3, 2010 6:12 pm

    Spoon, I go back and forth between this and Die Hard as my favorite Willis flick. Today, the Fifth Element is totally winning.

  10. May 3, 2010 9:06 pm

    He is even more lovable and roguish in 5thE than Die Hard. The cowboy thing is cute and all, but it can only take you so far. Rough and tumble cab driver has way longer legs.

  11. May 3, 2010 9:11 pm

    So true! I very much love that 2/3 of the film is a sci-fi flick then the last act is textbook Willis cinema, right down to the strategically torn shirt and the snarky smirk.

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