Diversity in American Cinema

Our generation has been known to be some of the most avid movie watchers of all time, and I am no different. I, like any other college student, spend a decent amount of time watching movies and TV shows on Netflix, Hulu, or other “sites” (wink wink).

Overall, most blockbuster Hollywood movies have been noticeably lacking in diversity. Remember the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite? Well, it’s still here, and some people think it should be changed to #HollywoodSoWhite.

I read an article the other day about a recent “epidemic of invisibility” study conducted by researchers in California that analyzed more than 21,000 characters and behind-the-scenes workers on over 400 films and TV shows. They kept track of representations of gender, race, ethnicity and sexual status within each work.

The study discovered that only one-third of speaking characters were female. Did you know that females make up just over half the population of the United States? Something isn’t adding up here.

Additionally, only 28 percent of characters with dialogue were from non-white racial/ethnic groups, which make up 40 percent of the U.S. population.

Just a little over 3 percent of film directors were female, with only 7 percent being ethnically balanced. In broadcast TV, 17 percent of directors were female, and 19 percent of the programs were ethnically balanced.

In the end, the study discovered that, within the films selected for analysis, there were no Asian characters with dialogue. One-fifth of them did not have any black characters who spoke, and only 2 percent of speaking characters were identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, etc.

While Hollywood is one of the biggest industries in America, it is also one of our worst representations. The United States is becoming more diverse than we realize— Caucasians are quickly becoming the minority, but nobody is brave enough to point this out in our film industry.

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4 thoughts on “Diversity in American Cinema”

  1. This is very sad indeed. Since I am white I didn’t realize the lack of diversity in Hollywood until it became a popular topic a few years ago. Once you realize it though, it’s hard to ignore. It is so important that people see themselves represented in media since I know that personally, a lot the of the strength and confidence I have was inspired by characters I identify with. Movies and shows will be a lot more interesting with more diversity too, since there will be a wider variety of topics for them to be about.

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  2. I agree that this is a tremendous issue in the United States. I find it interesting that despite the lack of diversity in Hollywood, this past year’s most acclaimed pieces of work in film have come from black people. Mahershala Ali, Viola Davis, and Moonlight all grabbed Oscars in 2017. While I think that Ali and Davis’ performance warranted awards, and Moonlight deserved the best picture, I wonder if these awards were a bit reactionary to #oscarssowhite. I hate that as a fan of cinema, I am forced to wonder if the people of Hollywood are attempting to include diversity as a reaction, rather than as a norm.

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  3. I think this post is very informing. Never would I have known the diversity that is included in Hollywood. I think most people just think because it is so famous, that diversity is automatically included. But until you actually look at the numbers, you do see how different it is. I think another challenge in today’s society is that there is an equal balance of people wanting to see more diversity in shows/movies, but there is also the other side that like to hate on some movies that include different sorts of diversity. I think there will never be the right balance to make everyone happy.

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  4. The lack of diversity within hollywood is clearly something that needs fixing as laid out within this post. With the statistic on female directors, obviously there is a problem there but does this problem exist because of how many females are attempting to become directors or studios not selecting them as directors? And does the solution to this problem come with either making studios select more female directors or to create a culture that increases the amount of female directors so that they can be more fairly represented? Overall good examination of the misrepresentation within Hollywood.

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