Is Hollywood Becoming More Diverse?

Posted on 3 Jan 00:00

 

Hollywood like any other industry in the world today, is subject to change and growth. But that growth may not be as dramatic as imagined. In recent times, many serious movie buffs and prominent figures on the Hollywood movie scene have come out to say that Hollywood has not changed a bit from what it used to be in the Golden Age and silent movie eras when most of the hard to find films were produced. While there have been a few breakthroughs in the Hollywood scene, in recent times, we cannot deny the fact that the Hollywood scene, is dominated by white people. Former lawyer April Reign’s tweet, #OscarSoWhite, on Twitter, attests to this fact.

When Hattie Mcdaniel won an Oscar in 1939 as the first African-American ever to receive the Oscar award: An Award that is popularly touted as a white person’s award, many thought Hattie’s award would open doors and opportunities for people of color in the Hollywood. Perhaps they were right. Despite the fact that we have seen many colored people receive Oscar awards, in recent times, many people still believe that there is more to be achieved with regards to Hollywood’s diversity. So, is Hollywood becoming more diverse (?), or is it the same Hollywood of the silent and Golden Age where most classic movies portray women as weak individuals?

The answer to this question cannot be found in arguments and speculations. Instead, in the recent breakthroughs on the Hollywood scene, and the advent of ethic superheroes and movie protagonists. 

Even though we have seen some unparalleled improvements with regards to the sexual, cultural, and color diversity in the Hollywood industry, a few reports still label Hollywood as bad. While this may contradict the recent successes that we have witnessed in blockbuster movies like Star Wars Universe, Hidden Figures and Moonlight, is also true.

The aforementioned movies are more wide-ranging than most out of print movies and classic films that we have come to love in this time and age. But as it appears, the inclusion portrayed in these movies are only on the surface. It turns out that the diversity rates behind the scenes of most of this era are still as they were decades ago. These small victories are not doing anything to favor the minority representation on the Hollywood scene.

A research conducted by Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California shows that Hollywood is still well behind when it comes to minority representation. The report, which was published in July 2018 scrutinized 1,100 movies, using their cast and crew listing as the basis of the examination. Movies examined by Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, span from 2007 to 2017. And the results are not the best results in the world. Saying that the results are disappointing, may very well be an understatement.

 According to the report, the number of female actors included in the scrutinized movies barely increased, in the space of ten years. It turns out that the percentage of female onscreen characters as of 2007 (approx. 29.9%), only increased by an approximate 1.9%, as of 2017 (31.8%). And of the top 100 movies scrutinized for 2017, only 4 feminist leads were onscreen. The report also attests to the fact that men, who are above 45 years of age, have better chances of featuring in a Hollywood movie, compared to women of the same age.

What do the movies say about Hollywood’s diversity?

After April Reign’s campaign on twitter on the color bias that has plagued Hollywood for so long, there’s been no shortage of black actors, Latina actresses, and female casts in the movie industry. Hollywood has started to pay attention to the color bias in its ranks. Moreover, April Reign, with her 147,000 tweet campaign on #OscarSoWhite, has made Academy of Motion Pictures Arts Science swear to increase the number of people of color and females by 100% before 2020.

Even though the statistics report on Hollywood diversity and inclusion are not the most promising reports that we have seen in recent times, however, the movies tell a different tale. If you ask the movie buffs, they may tell you that the Hollywood film industry has changed greatly from what it used to be in the silent and Golden Age eras. The minority representation, however small, has increased greatly in the past two decades on the Hollywood scene. The following movies give testament to that fact.

  1. Black Panther (2018)

Diversity is good for business, and it seems Hollywood has finally got the message. Hence, the production of this world-renowned action movie. This superhero film portrays the story of an all-black techno-driven society, Wakanda, and its beloved leader Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). This film is rated as the ninth highest-grossing film ever made.

  1. Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse (2018)

As it appears, Brooklyn now has its own friendly neighborhood spider-man, who is an African-American. This computer-animated superhero movie that took 140 super-intelligent animators in the Sony ranks to create is about a teenager, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who is bitten by a radioactive spider. The film also featured Golden Globe award winner, Mahershala Ali (as Aaron Davis) and World-renowned actor, Nicolas Cage (as Spider-man Noir). Needless to say that this computer-generated animation won many awards, including the Best Animated Feature Film Award and an Oscar award.

      3. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Despite the fact that this movie is highly criticized for using biracial casts for its screenplay as opposed to casting local Chinese actors for its screenplay, it shows Hollywood’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Because diversity is good for business, this all-Chinese romantic comedy grossed 238 million dollars worldwide. The movie received a lot of accolades from critics and fans for a job well done. Among the many accolades and nominations that it received, are four 24th Critics Choice Awards nominations.

Conclusion

Even though Hollywood has not reached its peak with regards to color, culture, and gender diversity among its ranks, it is crystal clear that the change is imminent. Is Hollywood becoming more Diverse? Well, yes. Hollywood is becoming more diverse, every day, but at a slow and steady pace, that you probably won't notice judging from a distance. To see how far Hollywood has come with regards to inclusion and diversity among its ranks, check out some of the rare movies produced in the silent age and golden age of Hollywood. You would see that the difference is clear. In this era, female leads and people of color are at the epicenter of many rare movies.

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