Thursday, May 23, 2024

Why Hollywood Needs More Diversity.

March 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Weekly Columns

( It’s no secret that Hollywood hasn’t had the best track record for including diverse casts in their films. From the #OscarsSoWhite movement that sparked national controversy to the recent #TimesUp anti-sexual harassment movement, we have a long way to go before Hollywood is a safe space for people of color.

Racist Stereotypes within Entertainment

In addition to neglecting a wide representation of actors from all walks of life, films also tend to exploit cultural stereotypes with the intention of provoking laughter when lack of diversity is no laughing matter. Consider The Great Wall, a film set in China with Matt Damon, a white male, playing the lead. These casting choices are almost nonsensical and become the butt of jokes at awards shows like the Oscars. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel didn’t shy away from using his opening monologue as an opportunity to poke fun at Matt Damon for making a “Chinese ponytail movie.

Another example, dating back to the 60s, is Othello. Laurence Oliver played Othello, a Christian Moor (generally depicted with a dark complexion). Oliver wore black-face during his time for this role. This procedure may have been more widely accepted then, but the white-washing of films is still a prevalent threat to the film industry today.

These casting decisions are disrespectful to minority communities who already don’t have the opportunity to see themselves represented onscreen. Why is this important? Because the next generation is looking to us to set an example for what is acceptable in the media. Representation is critical in empowering youth to believe they can accomplish anything they can dream of. When movies such as The Great Wall and Ghost in the Shell do such a poor job casting accurate persons for their roles, they are doing a disservice to the next class of actors, writers, and film producers in the making.

Progressive Television for People of Color

While mainstream films in Hollywood fail to meet the mark with creating diverse casts, some shows have indicated progress on primetime television. Shows like Fresh Off The Boat, a comedic sitcom following a Chinese family navigating their dual identity as both Americans and Asians. While Asians have finally secured screen time, there are many stereotypes perpetuated within the show itself. During media and press interviews prior to the show’s release, lead actress Constance Wu was questioned whether the show would exhibit more Asian culture such as “chopsticks” or more “Americanized.” This outrageous question prompted a humorous response from lead actor Randall Park, in which he joked that the show’s initial title was supposed to be “Chopsticks.” This blatantly racist question by an audience member is just one of many instances of misrepresentation within the film and entertainment industry.

The important question is, how can we change the lack of diversity in Hollywood for future generations aspiring to careers in entertainment? Acting workshops are an effective way to enable young actors of colors with the skills necessary to thrive in this discriminatory industry. Having a basic foundation is a great way to

Staff Writer; Kelvin Love

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