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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Interview with Condoleezza Rice; Oscars and Race Examined. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired March 04, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:16] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.
ZAKARIA: Today's main event, Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, former National Security adviser. I'll ask for her take on the Trump administration.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think America is just fine. Do I like some of the language that comes out of this White House? No.
ZAKARIA: And we will talk about Russia and the divisions back home in the United States.
And Xi Jinping. Will he be China's president for life? The Chinese National People's Congress looks poised to make that possible. How is that being received in China? What does it mean for the rest of the world? Two top experts will discuss.
Also, we were warned about jihadis returning to America from Syria. So what happened? We have the answer.
Then on the eve of the Academy Awards --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom and Dad, my black boyfriend will be coming up this weekend.
ZAKARIA: Is Hollywood finally changing its ways? We will examine diversity in America's biggest soft power industry. The movies.
ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. Amid the usual Trump reality show in Washington this week, it would be easy to miss what is happening in China. But it is huge and consequential. China is making the most significant change to its political system in 35 years. What impact will this have on China and the world? That's the question every policymaker, business executive, and investor should be asking.
In 1982, the Chinese Communist Party wrote into the country's constitution that its president and vice president could serve no more than two consecutive terms. This made China unique. A dictatorship with term limits.
In most authoritarian regimes, the ruler accumulates power and over the years becomes more arrogant, corrupt, and unaccountable. This wasn't possible in the Chinese system, which limited any individual's power and focused instead on the collective, the party.
China's unique model also produced an economic miracle. The country has had three decades of merit-based selection and promotion within the Communist Party, wise long-range planning, and smart, pro-growth economic policies. Since 1978, China's GDP has grown at an astounding average annual rate of almost 10 percent, which the World Bank calls the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history.
In addition, for decades, China seemed to be getting more institutionalized politically. Deng Xiaoping had ruled as a supreme leader, wielding power more from behind the scenes than from many of the offices he held.
His successor Jiang Zemin held all the key posts when he was in power and after his two terms as president, he did continue to lead the Central Military Commission for two more years and even after that he remained influential informally. Then when Jiang's successor Hu Jintao finished his two terms as president, he simultaneously relinquished the top military position and lost almost all his power at once.
But that trend has now been turned on its head. If term limits are abolished, which is now almost certain, Xi Jinping could stay China's president, general secretary of the Communist Party, and chairman of the Central Military Commission for the rest of his life. China is eliminating perhaps the central restraint in a political system that provides staggering amounts of power to the country's leaders.
What will that do over time to the ambitions and appetites of leaders? "Power tends to corrupt," Lord Acton famously wrote in 1887. "And absolute power corrupts absolutely." Perhaps China will avoid this tendency, but it has been widespread throughout history.
China under Xi has also become more ambitious internationally. It is now the world's second largest economy, the third largest funder of the United Nations and the provider of more peacekeepers than the other four permanent Security Council members combined.
The country has been bulking up its military while it has been devoting significant resources to far-flung cultural arms like Confucius Institute. It has announced loans and investment spending, the Belt and Road Initiative that will around 10 times the size of the Marshall Plan, by some estimates. It is determined to lead the world in fields like solar and wind power, electric cars, and artificial intelligence.
[10:05:03] Chinese scholars say it is now clear that China is entering a new era with a new system. Since the Communist Party took power in 1949, it had roughly 30 years of Mao Zedong's rule. That was followed by roughly 30 years of Deng Xiaoping and his system. It is now clear that we are in the third era, which might be 30 years of Xi Jinping. Is anybody in Washington paying attention?
For more, go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
Let's keep talking about China with two terrific guests. Lizzie Economy is the director of Asia Studies of the Council on Foreign Relations and Evan Osnos has reported on China and from China for eight years. He is now staff writer for the "New Yorker" based in D.C.
Evan, let me start with you. Why now? Why do you think the Chinese government, Xi Jinping, decided to make this move now?
EVAN OSNOS, STAFF WRITER, NEW YORKER: Well, he's sort of got tactical reasons and strategic reasons. The tactical reason is that it removes the question of succession from conversation. Otherwise, it was going to loom over him for the next five years. He was already going to be a lame duck.
The strategic reason, and this is one that's more worrisome perhaps, is that it also indicates that he's prepared to do really major changes to the country's political and legal landscape in order to protect his position and in order to protect the party against the possibility that would have political turmoil in the future. So he's made the decision now, which was something of a surprise that he would do it as formally as he has.
ZAKARIA: Liz, you have a book coming out in which you talk about these three eras of Chinese history. What do you think this third era or third revolution, I think you call it, what do you think it's going to look like? Do we have a sense as to what the character of Xi's tenure will be?
ELIZABETH ECONOMY, DIRECTOR OF ASIA STUDIES, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think absolutely. And Xi Jinping sort of says what he does and does what he says. And so for the past five years, we've watched him consolidate his power, which is why this move isn't that surprising in some respects. We've seen that the party has begun to penetrate far more deeply into Chinese society and into the economy.
He's really closed off China in new ways through the Internet, through the NGO Law, to try to limit the influences that come from outside in, and I think it's a more ambitious China under Xi Jinping.
ZAKARIA: Liz, stay with that for a moment, the ambition in foreign affairs particularly. Do you regard, you know, the Belt and Road Initiative, the activism on the South China Seas, as the beginning of a new era of expansion? In other words, you know, there are some people who say, look, China has these regional ambitions. That's it. Once it achieves them, it'll be fine. And then there are those who say, well, this is now, five years from now we will see an even more expansive vision of what they should do.
ECONOMY: Yes. I think Xi Jinping has made very clear that his ambitions do not stop with Asia -- the Asia-Pacific region. And in fact, the Belt and Road Initiative extends to 69 countries, not only in Asia, but in Europe and Africa and in the Middle East.
And I think he's looking to remake global order, the rules of the road, in ways that suit China more. I mean, he has said, you know, in one of his speeches back in 2014 that he wants China not only to help write the rules of the game but also to construct the playground on which the games are played.
He has a very ambitious vision for China's role and its centrality in the global system five, 10 years out.
ZAKARIA: And all this, Evan, bumps up against the existing superpower, and you're beginning to see the tensions. You already saw them in the South China Seas under the Obama administration. But now you have a new front, it seems to me, which is going to be trade.
The Trump administration is clearly getting tough on trade, you know, whether or not that's a good idea from even domestic point of view. It clearly is going to be aimed at China. We don't import that much steel from China, but we import a lot of other stuff.
Do you think that this sets us up for a kind of inevitable confrontation with China?
OSNOS: I think what we're seeing is that the president has concluded that really this is a big part of why he was elected and as we get closer to the midterm elections and ultimately to 2020, he is returning in a sense to the things that he believes and the people he believes brought him to power. Some of the hawks on trade, people like Peter Navarro who had been on the sidelines for a while and are now in a more central place.
[10:15:01] China is frankly not surprised. Anybody who's been talking to Chinese officials over the last couple of years knows that they have prepared for the possibility that Donald Trump would pursue a more confrontational approach on trade. They know exactly what they're going to do. They've said as much privately. They would attack American aviation manufacturing, Boeing for instance. They would go after agricultural exports, places like Iowa, which they know are essential to Donald Trump's political base. So this is the beginning of the game. This is by no means the last step.
ZAKARIA: And what about the idea that this will kind of produce a greater erosion of the world trading system and order of, you know, the two main countries. The first and second largest economies in the world enter into some kind of trade war, Liz. Isn't that -- I mean, that doesn't bode well for the open liberal international order.
ECONOMY: No, it certainly doesn't bode well. And I think, you know, the hope will certainly be that, you know, other actors in the United States are going to step in and that President Trump looks at this, as Evan suggested, he is appealing to his base. These are the people -- the steel workers are, you know, one of his core constituencies.
But, you know, these tariffs will have enormous and negative impacts within the American economy as well. Ad so I think that we're going to have a lot of other actors step up to the plate and say, you know, we're not interested in a trade war with China. This is how it's going to hurt the American economy. And so my hope is frankly that this is sending a message to the Chinese that, you know, we're fed.
We want to see more structural reform. We need to see more progress on all of the economic reforms that you have promised over the past, you know, five, 10 years. And that the Chinese will not, in fact, do what Evan has suggested, which I'm afraid they will do, which is to retaliate in kind. But we'll see this as a -- you know, a shot across the bow and as a play for his base and maybe begin to move a little bit on some of the promised reforms.
ZAKARIA: Thank you so much. Fascinating conversation.
Up next, the main event. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joins me to talk about why she doesn't think American civilians need to buy military weapons. She will also offer her take on why Russia is meddling in American politics. We'll be back in a moment.
[10:16:26] ZAKARIA: My guest today, Condoleezza Rice, really needs no introduction. But let me just remind you, she was born in Alabama, which was still under segregation at the time. Grew up to become a scholar of the Soviet Union, teaching at Stanford University, where she was later named provost. She served on George H.W. Bush's National Security Council and then as the younger President Bush's first National Security adviser and his second secretary of State.
Since leaving office, she's returned to Stanford, and she's also a founding partner at the consulting firm Rice, Hadley, Gates. And she is now a filmmaker. She hosts "American Creed," a documentary that delves into what binds together the diverse trends of America. The film premiered on PBS on Tuesday.
RICE: Thank you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: First, tell me why you did the film because it feels as though this is somewhat outside of your foreign policy, you know, vogue (PH), and obviously you were motivated to do this because of something you see in the country.
RICE: That's right. And in fact, we began this project -- David Kennedy, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of America and I began this story some five years ago. So we were already seeing that we are a country divided. We are a country that has lost a sense of common purpose. We've lost a sense of common narrative. And no country can hold together without that, but particularly one like the United States in which we're not united by ethnicity or nationality or religion.
We really are united by this creed, by this aspiration. You can come from humble circumstances and do great things. And so David and I were talking one day. We're both Stanford faculty. And I had looked at America from the outside in as secretary of State. What do people see? He, of course, has studied America from the inside out, deeply immersed in America's history and its challenges and its opportunities. We first said we'll write a book. And then we said, nobody will read the book. So then we thought we'd do a film and it's been a great project with him.
ZAKARIA: But the big challenge it seems to me in America now is we've always had the ethnic challenge. I mean, there have always been people, whether it's immigrants, of course African-Americans, but now it's social class. The division between the elites, you know, the big cities, the people with college education, and that really feels like is pulling us apart. It clearly erupted in this last election.
RICE: I agree. And I think it's different than before. As you said, we've always had tensions because we come from so many backgrounds and there's a kind of cacophony of America. But now something that I don't remember which is that people feel prisoner of their class. The thing that was different was that you weren't prisoner of your class. You could always make it to the top, even if you started in a housing project. Maybe you would be the CEO of a company one day. And there are examples of that.
But I think it goes, Fareed, to the very core of what made that possible. And opportunity, particularly opportunity for high-quality education, made that possible. And when I can look at your zip code and I can tell, are you going to get a good education, can I really say it doesn't matter where you came from, it matters where you're going. And in this film, we try and explore the stories of Americans who have made it their personal responsibility to make sure that nobody is left behind.
ZAKARIA: I got to ask you a few more things that are right in the top of the news. When you look at one more mass shooting, do you think that, you know, frankly what President Trump said recently is the right answer? Universal background checks.
[10:20:05] Why do we need to sell assault-style weapons to people who claim they want it for hunting? What's your thought?
RICE: Well, let me start by saying I am a defender of the Second Amendment. And I come out of a peculiar circumstance wherein Birmingham, Alabama, during segregation, my father and his friends defended the community, the neighborhood, with guns against White Night Riders because you couldn't count on the Birmingham Police to do that for you.
I do think that even if you are a defender of the Second Amendment, we need to take a look and see what combination of things can help us get to the place where we don't have the Parklands that we just had. Some of it may be age restrictions. Some of it may be that we have to really have a conversation about whether civilians should have access to what are essentially military weapons.
We also need to look at law enforcement. And, you know, Fareed, if you'd had as many tips about a terrorist as apparently were there in this case, somebody might have done something about it. So what's the structure of our intelligence on what is about to happen? This is not going to be solved by one solution or one element. We're
going to have to have a conversation about a number of them. But I, for one, do believe that we've got to have a serious conversation about guns and what we want to do about it.
ZAKARIA: When we come back, we're going to ask Condoleezza Rice about her main area of expertise, foreign policy, particularly Russia, the country that she's devoted her life to studying. What to do about it?
[10:25:26] ZAKARIA: And we are back here on GPS with Condoleezza Rice.
Condi, the most famous statement I would say that President Bush made about foreign policy was his second inaugural. This clarion call to spread democracy around the world. It was almost sounded like the Truman doctrine, and it was the United States is going to support all these efforts everywhere. Many people saw you as being a guiding hand behind it.
The Trump administration seems to have premised its foreign policy on exactly the opposite view, which is, you know, spreading democracy is a fool's errand, that we should never have been involved in it. We should be much more self-interested in a narrow way.
Do you think the country has rejected that view, the --
RICE: Well, I do know that people see it as hard to support democracy. I don't much like the term democracy promotion. It suggests that somehow we're promoting something that people don't want. But I can't believe that there really are people in the world who would rather live in tyranny, who would rather be the secret police knocking at the door, not able to say what they think or worship as they please.
And so I think that what the United States needs to do is continue to support those people, to continue to be a voice for the voiceless. What's interesting about the Trump administration is that sometimes it creeps into their foreign policy. So by what goal or what way can we criticize Maduro in Venezuela if we don't care about the internal politics of Venezuela? And yet we've not just criticized him, we've used sanctions.
I've heard the president talk about Bashar al-Assad in Syria, this murderous dictator. So there is reference to these internal circumstances.
ZAKARIA: But here's the difference, Condi. It seems to me you tried very hard, as did Bush, to be actually quite principled and applied universally.
RICE: Yes. Yes.
ZAKARIA: What Trump is doing is an age-old American tactic. You attack Syria for that, but you give a pass to Egypt, which is repressing its political opposition.
ZAKARIA: And your argument as I saw it was that will produce its own problems.
RICE: It absolutely will. And I stand by that. And I -- anybody who will listen, I will say to them that we're going to be better off if we continue to promote American values because in the long run, our interests are best served by promoting our values.
We learned in the Middle East that for 60 years, we promoted stability rather than democracy, and we didn't get either. Instead, we got a political set of circumstances that created al Qaeda in that political vacuum. You know -- and you know, the politics didn't stop in the Middle East. It went into the radical madrazas and into the radical mosques and it produced the Hamas's and the Hezbollah's and the like.
And so I still believe it's not just an important project from a national security point of view, because democracies don't hire child soldiers, they don't invade their neighbors, they don't harbor terrorists knowingly. Democracies are good citizens. We need to stand for the fact that we want more of them.
ZAKARIA: So let me ask you one act of democracy promotion that seems to have boomeranged. Hillary Clinton gave a speech I think in 2011 where she supported a democracy movement in Russia.
ZAKARIA: Putin watched it and was clearly enraged. There's good intelligence that suggests that that is in part behind the Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Do you buy that line? And do you believe that the Russians did intervene to try to hurt Hillary Clinton and support Donald Trump?
RICE: Well, as you know, the Russians -- the Soviets for many, many years tried to intervene in internal politics in the United States by going to people who were disaffected and creating what they call fifth columns, people who were inside the United States who could be turned against the United States. Social media, the Internet makes it more efficient and makes it easier to do that kind of thing. And we now know they tried to set American populations against one another.
I do believe that some of it was Vladimir Putin. You called my election fraudulent, so now I'm going to show you. I think it was more about his animus for Hillary Clinton than it was for trying to elect any particular person. But I really do believe that now our job has got to be to figure out first of all really how did they do it and shame on them the first time for doing it. Shame on us if they can do it a second time.
And I worry that in all the conversation about what happened in the transition, what happened, we need to know all of that. But I think Bob Mueller will get to the bottom of it, somebody for whom I have enormous respect, by the way. And he's a fair-minded person. But I would hope that we're also spending as much time if not more on figuring out what it is the Russians did and protecting ourselves.
ZAKARIA: One of the dictums that James Baker always has is that no secretary of state can be effective if he does not have the total confidence and trust of the president. You had that. The president happened to be one of your closest friends.
ZAKARIA: What do you make of Rex Tillerson? He does seem to be -- as somebody put it, he's, you know, the only secretary of state who seems to be in a witness protection program.
RICE: Well, no, I think Rex Tillerson -- he was just at Stanford a little while ago and spoke on Syria. And he -- he is doing the -- the work of diplomacy daily. You know, I do think they're making some progress, for instance, on isolation of North Korea. I think a lot of that is the work of Rex Tillerson. I think he is the only thing keeping the Russia relationship alive. I mean, he's spending time on the diplomacy.
And the relationship with the president, it's -- it's hard. But I think what's hard is to get up every day and not know what the president said at 3:00 in the morning.
That would be exceedingly difficult. But I think that Rex Tillerson, in an unusual administration with an unusual president who has never been in government before, is really doing a very good job on the diplomacy and just putting his head down and going about that work. And under these circumstances, I think that's the best thing to do.
ZAKARIA: You're a person for whom character matters a lot. You're very disciplined yourself. Could you serve Donald Trump in any high capacity, given what you know about him as a person?
RICE: Well, I'm never going back to serve any president. So...
ZAKARIA: That's a separate issue, right?
RICE: So we don't need to worry about that. He's the president of the United States, right? And I think people know that he wasn't my choice to be president of the United States, but I respect the office. I respect those who choose to serve. A lot of my friends have chosen to serve and I'm glad that they have because, whatever you think about the inhabitant of the White House at any given time -- and the founding fathers understood that it couldn't be about one person. It had to be about something called the presidency.
They also had a healthy dislike for executive power. And so they gave us two houses of Congress; they gave us a court system. They gave us governors, now 50 of them, with state legislatures. And so I think America is just fine. Do I like some of the language that comes out of this White House? No. I do recognize that it's a different circumstance, with social media and a president who's never been in government before. Sometimes it makes me uncomfortable, what I see and hear. But we as Americans have to also respect our system, and I think our system is working quite well.
ZAKARIA: Condoleezza Rice, always a pleasure.
RICE: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," when ISIS was picking up steam in Iraq and Syria, pundits issued dire warnings about the handful of Americans who went over to fight with the terrorists instead of against them. The worry was what would happen when these trained terrorists returned to America. But it turns out they weren't the ones we should have been worried about in the first place. I'll explain when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. By now, I would hope that we all realize that school shootings like last month's horrific attack in Florida are a tragic but too common feature of American life. They are far, far more frequent, say, than Islamist terror attacks in this country.
I'll give you the numbers. Since 2015, there have been at least 158 school shootings alone. By comparison, in the last seven years combined, there have been 22 jihadist attacks. We fear Islamic terrorists so much perhaps because we are so far removed from the motivations behind such violence. But there's now fascinating new research that helps to put that fear in perspective.
A new report out by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University studied American jihadists who traveled to Syria and Iraq since 2011. Most American fighters were duds, failing to actually see combat, wrote The New Yorker's Robin Wright. Moreover, the study reports few of them tried to come back, and none ever successfully carried out an attack at home in the U.S.
So fears about a massive influx of returning ISIS fighters, which was stoked by pundits far and wide during the group's rise, turned out to be totally overblown. But that doesn't mean that America has nothing to fear. Research shows that it is the homegrown extremists who are the much bigger problem. These are the people who carry out ISIS- inspired attacks in the U.S.
Now, what makes them do it? It turns out it is the tech-savvy methods rather than some ancient theology. As numerous studies detail, ISIS has used its online presence to exploit American vulnerabilities and target specific populations that include many alienated young people looking for guidance.
Take the example of converts. Jihad has a high proportion of converts in its ranks in the West, partly because some are isolated from their families and look elsewhere for support, as one expert told The Economist. In America, converts make up nearly one-quarter of the Muslim population, according to the Pew Research Center. By contrast, one 2010 estimate says converts make up less than 4 percent of the Muslim population in Britain.
ISIS has specifically reached out to the pool of converts in North America. In 2014, the group release of recruitment video featuring a new kind of hero, a Canadian recruit. In the video, he pitches the life of a mujahid as a normal one, before he dies in the supposed glory of battle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): You know, mujahideen are regular people, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: This is the kind of hero narrative that works well in so many movies and television shows, especially when targeted at young, alienated men searching for meaning and purpose in their lives, says a Robert Pape, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago.
It seems to be working. According to a report last year by the University of Chicago's Project on Security and Threats, ISIS was much more successful in recruiting Americans than Al Qaida. America needs a strategy to counter radicalization, monitor cyberspace and learn how to find and catch online recruiting, as well as make better contacts and communication with Muslim communities and leaders throughout the country.
Instead, the administration has stoked fears of outsiders and advocated for immigration restrictions, a bogus solution to the wrong problem in a country that already has tight screening of immigrants and takes in a handful of refugees. In other words, we need a strategy as sophisticated as that of ISIS, not one that plays into its hands.
Up next, it's Hollywood's biggest weekend, culminating in Sunday night's Academy Awards. Recently, the ceremony has been mired in controversy for being, well, so very white. I'm not talking about the color of the dresses or the tuxedo shirts. Diversity in Hollywood is what we will discuss when we come back.
ZAKARIA: "Oscars So White." That is the hashtag that has bedeviled the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for many years. In 2015 and 2016, all of the actors and actresses nominated were, you guessed it, white. Contrast this with the runaway success today of "Black Panther," the superhero film helmed by an African-American, starring mostly African-Americans.
So it was a fitting week, perhaps, for a new report on diversity in Hollywood. I wanted to learn the findings of the report and to talk about whether "Black Panther" has changed things.
Joining me now is Darnell Hunt, the report's lead author and the dean of Social Sciences at UCLA. And Linda Obst is a return guest on "GPS." She's the producer of hits like "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Contact." She's also the author of a terrific book, "Sleepless in Hollywood."
Let me start with you, Darnell. So tell us what the bottom line is. You say, looking back over the last five years, and obviously it doesn't include the -- the "Black Panther," the story is one of progress but missed opportunities.
HUNT: Yeah, I mean, you know, it's a -- it's a longitudinal project because we want to chart the trends over time. And unfortunately, what we're seeing in film is slow progress, at best, in a few areas. Obviously, we had a breakout year in 2013 with "Twelve Years a Slave," "The Butler." "Moonlight," of course, won best picture last year. And "Black Panther" is just breaking all the -- the records here, in terms of its recent release.
But when you look behind the scenes at directors, women aren't doing very well. People of color are more or less stagnant. In terms of lead roles, if you look at all the films, again, a few bright spots but nothing that suggests that we're about to see a major sea change in what's happening in Hollywood.
ZAKARIA: Linda, so that's the sort of look -- that's the big picture, aggregate numbers. It's also looking backward. You're living this world. What is the snapshot of the reality today that you feel?
OBST: Well, I think that it's -- it is, in fact, a sea change that I'm experiencing anecdotally and I think we can look forward to, both in terms of the hiring of women directors. This year I tried to hire a woman director for a pilot and every single one that I knew was unavailable.
Additionally, let's discuss "Get Out" first because "Black Panther" is such a gigantic deal. "Get Out" is probably the industry's favorite movie this year. First of all, it is -- it reinvented a genre. It is a horror satire that gave the point of view of African-Americans in the suburbs in a way that I think I'll probably never experience the suburbs where I grew up again.
It was also hilarious. It was also terrifying. There are probably 10 more "Get Outs" being created right now, in one way or another. It took an actor that nobody knew and turned him into a movie star and showed that you could make a movie for a price; you could open it, and it could become a domestic hit, with a director you didn't know and a star you didn't know, and it didn't matter...
ZAKARIA: Let me ask...
OBST: ... and a genre that didn't exist.
ZAKARIA: ... about "Black Panther." Let me ask Darnell about "Black Panther." Because I can see where you're going.
So I think that the argument, you know, many people in the industry make is, look, there's no -- you can't find a bunch of more liberal people than in Hollywood. HUNT: Yeah, yeah.
ZAKARIA: This is not some deep, perversive racism. It's just people didn't think this would work commercially.
ZAKARIA: And the minute they see something work commercially, boom, it's gonna -- you're going to see things explode?
HUNT: Yeah, I mean, I think there's -- there's some truth to that, for sure. And, you know -- and I think that, you know, there are differences between television and film. We're seeing a lot more progress in television right now. In fact, you know, in terms of the progress we referred to in a subtitle of our report, much of that progress is actually in television, which I argue is, sort of, like, you know, a preview of what's to come in film.
Because, demographically, the handwriting's on the wall. This has got to change, because people of color are already 40 percent of the population. Their share is increasing about a half a percent per year. And last year they bought more than half the tickets for half of the top 10 films. So clearly, the market power is there.
So, yeah, "Black Panther" is showing what's possible.
OBST: Well, I just...
ZAKARIA: Yeah, let me ask you this, because it relates to something you've written about. You've written very persuasively that the big shift that has taken place in Hollywood that most of us don't realize is that the death of the DVD business took away the big, fat profits for Hollywood and the new profits were all in overseas markets.
And that meant you had to make big, spectacular movies with not a lot of dialogue and not a lot of character development. You know, some of us wish it were otherwise. But the point is that might seem an ideal opportunity to have a, kind of, diverse cast because you're trying to sell into China and India and Latin America and Africa. Are directors and producers recognizing that?
OBST: Well, what's interesting is that that was what kept African- American actors out of blockbusters for the longest time.
OBST: ... because, in the absence of evidence that black stars worked internationally, they were by and large marginalized in blockbusters. However, the interesting thing is that blockbusters create stars.
HUNT: That's correct. OBST: It's the idea that's the star, so that Chris Pratt was a television star and now he's a movie star that can green-light a movie. And now you can imagine not only is the "Black Panther" going to get more spin-offs but each of these characters are going to get more spin-offs. And we can imagine a world in which Lupita Nyong'o, Letitia Wright and Octavia Spencer are going to have an all-girls movie. We can imagine a world in which all of these combinations of actors who we'd never heard of are now going to be green-lighting movies.
However, it takes three to five years to create movies, and sometimes longer. So the progress to create the phenomenon that's going to occur in the wake of "Black Panther" and "Get Out" -- it's going to cycle much more quickly now, but we're going to see a quantum change in the wake of the past year, and that past year is still the result of "Oscars So White," the reaction to "Oscars So White."
ZAKARIA: All right. We will have to leave it at that hopeful note. But I'm sure Darnell will do another study in five years and we'll figure out whether it did, in fact, happen.
Thank you both very much.
HUNT: Thank you, thank you.
ZAKARIA: As the world reacted this week to new rules expected to allow Xi Jinping to rule China indefinitely, the reaction inside China was muffled, by the sensors, of course. It brings me to my question. Social media posts about which cartoon character were widely blocked in China: Tweety Bird, Fred Flintstone, Betty Boop or Winnie the Pooh? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
My book of the week is "How to Think" by Alan Jacobs. "We suffer from a settled determination not to think," writes the author. But he is determined to rouse us out of our intellectual laziness and brilliantly and wisely shows us why and how to think well. This book is a revelation and a pleasure. It is one of the most original books I have encountered in a long while. Run, don't walk, to get it.
And now for the last look. Santa Claus is enjoying some balmy weather this month. Temperatures in the earth's northernmost reaches have been above freezing much more than expected, despite complete darkness during winter months. A scientist at U.C. Irvine took to Twitter to explain just why this was remarkable, with this graphic. The red line is 2018. The blue is average temperatures for the Arctic region. You can see how far it is above normal.
Why do we care about wacky weather where no one lives? Because what happens up there affects us down here, as we have seen with extreme cold across Europe this week. You see, usually a giant low-pressure zone of freezing air called the polar vortex sits above the Arctic Circle, held in place by strong circulating winds. When warm air moved towards the Arctic in the past, it would pass over a vast shield of sea ice, which cooled and weakened the warm-air system to the point it had no noticeable effect on the polar vortex.
But after decades of global warming, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that Arctic sea ice covers the smallest area ever at this time of year. Warm air systems hit the polar vortex without cooling as much. That pushed icy Arctic air into North America and Europe. And with sea ice coverage on a downward trend, we can expect more of the same in the future.
So despite President Trump's tweet that cold weather meant we could use a bit of global warming, we've already got it, and ironically, it's making us all quite chilly.
The answer to the "GPS" challenge question is D, Winnie the Pooh. In China's online community, Winnie the Pooh has become a stand-in for the Chinese leader ever since he met with President Obama in 2013. And as the meme has spread, the censors have taken notice. After the announcement that presidential term limits would be abolished, people shared pictures of Pooh with captions like "Find the thing you love and stick with it," only to find the post taken down or blocked, according to censorship watchdog China Digital Times. The censorship was just one more reason Chinese supporters of democratization were left feeling like Eeyore this week.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.