A recent blog entry on chopsentials raised some very valid points on the job of the media in particular with the portrayal of diverse characters in Hollywood movies. It should come as no surprise that a majority of the characters in Hollywood productions are white.
You can turn on the TV right now, flip the channels, and eight times out of ten fail to spot a person of color starring as the main character or in a lead role.
Go to any movie theater and count the numbers of times you see someone who’s not white as the main actor or actress. Odds are you won’t need more than one hand for that calculation.
If you were to walk the streets of any main city in the U.S. you’ll find that people look a little different from your average TV or movie stars. They may talk different, gesture different and even live different lifestyles. Yes it’s true!
There’s no one generic brand of an American that represents solely all the physical attributes of every one of us. In the blog entry entitled “Of Hollywood The American People: How Status Quo is Maintained”. It’s implied that the reason for such lack of diversity in media and pop culture is due in part to the producers.
The producers are the ones who mold the films and shows. Therefore if the producers who market and fund the productions are mostly white themselves then they may be more reluctant to change the racial makeup in their productions.
Just think, without a variety of people to input their different perspectives you’re getting cheated out of a lot of your money. There needs to be more variation in the views of producers in order to see the bigger picture with a different lens of focus.
In some cases even if the producers aren’t white, most of them all assume that the films that exclude minority involvement in main roles are more preferable, after all that’s what’s worked in the past. So it’s fair to say this will work again right?
Wrong! This is ultimately where producers make the biggest mistake. They assume that the American public is not interested in different, complex and diverse movie themes and characters. The success of movies like Slumdog Millionaire and Crash then seem to come as a surprise to many of these producers.
It’s as if they can’t believe that a movie in which the main characters are brown and living in an urban environment would take so many peoples’ breath away.
Yes Hollywood it is time to wake up! The plots are getting all too similar, and the actors needless to say are becoming quite washed up. It’s definitely time to kick it up a notch.
I mean let’s be honest there’s a lot more interracial dating now than there was a few decades ago, not everyone comes from an exclusively suburban rich town, and people of color do not always act out stereotypical behaviors in their everyday life.
Why can’t any of these facts be portrayed accurately in the media? One problem we see is that the shows and movies that do feature people of color in the lead often ostracize and poke fun at their culture, instead of being informative and reflecting the positive values of diversity.
Indian actor Kal Penn from Harold and Kumar gave a lecture about diversity at Syracuse University about two years ago. He addressed some issues he faced when deciding to play Kumar’s character. Kal even said he received some distasteful letters from Asians who were offended by his role in the movie. Kal admitted that sometimes it’s frustrating that the media wants to display simply the stereotypical view of minorities in Hollywood.
As if it isn’t bad enough that the rest of the world labels us as ignorant and uncultured, we have to just go and prove them right by making movies that show just that. What’s worse is thinking that American producers believe we can’t even handle diversity in the films they produce.
They take the easy way out, cheap thrills, explosions, racist jokes, stereotypical roles, and then just hope we find it entertaining. Sure once in a while it may do the trick, but now we’re just seeing recycled themes, and relived characters hidden by a different name.
It’s a domino effect, just think if you were able to portray positive themes of diversity, interesting plots and throw in a little educational yet interesting facts here and there, you might be able to change society’s outlook for the better. Hollywood could seriously do some good with the money they make.
It’s definitely possible, and we’re slowly seeing examples of this. The show Heroes was genius for its complex incorporation of diverse characters, settings and phenomenon. Hopefully more producers will start to journey on this path, and explore the unexpected, dangerous, and intriguing.
Refuse The Silence, Intern