BY CHRIS GOMES
The nation is getting more diverse, yet this increase in diversity is not being reflected within popular culture.
Yet again, the Oscars have reflected this. For the second year in a row, all five directing Oscar nominees are male, and this year, just one person of color is featured. Like many academy awards before it, women and people of color are consistently underrepresented and are far less likely to be nominated for an award. Year after year, the fact simply keeps repeating itself.
Like most things, this disparity doesn’t start at the final result, that being the award shows themselves, but rather, they stem from the creation of these projects. That is, in the writers’ rooms, network studios, the directors’ chair and everywhere an art form is created. Historically, many minorities are ignored for their work and are seen as invisible within Hollywood and the music industry.
However, change is imminent. Parasite, a South Korean film directed by Bong Joon-ho was recently nominated at the Oscars for six awards, four of which the thriller won. Most importantly, however, it won Best Picture. Although this may seem like a great achievement for diversity on paper, it is merely a small break in the traditional infrastructure. Many of the other awards, like traditional academy award fashion, seemed to leave out minorities.
Historically, many minorities are ignored for their work and are seen as invisible within Hollywood and the music industry.
What can be done to spur better efforts of inclusion?
Unfortunately, it’s deeper than what it may seem at the surface. Producers and those that fund movies tend to desire the same, large-scale blockbuster franchise-heavy formula that intends to make large amounts of money in the box office. However, the art form as a whole is deteriorating in this regard, and efforts of inclusion reduce along with it.
Predictable, cookie-cutter movies are exactly what spurs exclusion and the promotion of typical ethnic and gender standards. Risk-taking and innovation are needed to help grow the industry.
Movies like Black Panther in 2018 broke the decades-long standard of assumptions about movies featuring minority characters in lead roles. Black Panther was increasingly doubted to find a global audience but ended up being one of the largest films of 2018, grossing over $700 million dollars domestically and $650 million dollars internationally.
Encouraging innovation, and change from the traditional monotonous blockbuster strategy is one of the many things that can be done to help increase inclusion in movies.
The idea that minority lead characters fitting a small aspect of the audience and can never collect enough money to be profitable, and even become a large-scale successful film, is largely flawed in nature and rooted in old ways of thinking.
In addition, many female directors have historically been excluded from being nominated for academy awards, so much so that actress Natalie Portman chose to wear a cape embroidered with names of snubbed female directors to the latest Oscars.
A similar double standard exists in this realm, as many female directors put in as much effort as their male counterparts, but are often excluded from appearing on the red carpet. Unfortunately, this issue is part of a larger one with the prevalence of the wage gap, and a series of other issues discriminating against females in the workplace.
Although Hollywood may not be as diverse as many would want it to be, considerable efforts have been made. The effort to scapegoat “Hollywood elites” doesn’t achieve anything. Encouraging innovation, and change from the traditional monotonous blockbuster strategy is one of the many things that can be done to help increase inclusion in movies. The inclusion and promotion of diversity are very important within society. After all, everyone wants to see someone that looks like them on the big screen.
Photo courtesy of NPR