Diversity in the Media by Amina Elmi

14010047_10209116700507288_1086472829_nWe live in a multi-cultural society with rich cultural heritage that is not being reflected on-screen. This needs to change. There is no excuse good or enough reason to justify the lack of representation in the media in this day and age.

Representation matters to people like me. People who want positive role models that we could relate to. That’s why when I was younger, I was hooked into any show where I saw a black female character. No matter the quality of the show or how it was written. This was because it was such a rarity to see this. Unfortunately for me, writers would try to pander to their audience by feeding them stereotypes of sassy angry black women. The negative stereotypes are not just a problem for black viewers. Minorities are consistently forced into stereotypical roles that society perceives them to be. These characters would be less important, predictable and ultimately unnecessary. One reason for this is the lack of diversity behind the scenes. How can straight white writers relate to the experiences of minorities?

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Even when minorities are cast they are faced with prejudiced voices speaking up to raise their objections. Some may remember when John Boyega was cast as a Stormtrooper in Star Wars. The global outcry of racists exclaimed “White Genocide” and that the film studio was conforming to the “PC Agenda” Boyega was bombarded to with hatred fuelled racist tweets. Does their imagination not stretch enough for other ethnicities or is it limited at intergalactic wars?

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Cast member Kristen Wiig at the LA Premiere of Ghostbusters.

Another example of fury when Diversity is applied was the all-female Ghostbusters reboot. “They’re ruining my childhood” cried familiar prejudiced voices. Their childhood is over and has been for quite a while now. What they are neglecting to notice is that this movie has provided a younger generation with strong female role models. It seems that whenever diversity is enforced there is backlash. How can change be implemented if we are met by defiance at every turn?

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Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange

Ridiculously, ethnic minorities are even unable to get cast in non-white roles. This is called Whitewashing and it occurs when a white actor is cast in the role of a non-white character. It is not uncommon for this to happen. A recent example of this is the upcoming Marvel Movie Doctor Strange. Tilda Swinton plays an Asian character in this film. Essentially the film will be a “white woman teaching a white man Asian culture.” There is no debate on the capabilities of Swinton. She is a talented actress but she is simply unsuitable for this role. If people of colour are losing non-white roles to white actors, then what hope do they really have?

An argument against diversity is that it is too much of risk to cast minorities. Studios fear losing viewers and money. However diverse televisions shows and films are advantageous to studios and have a track record of being successful. Television shows that have a diverse cast have higher ratings. Examples of this include ‘Scandal’, ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ and ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’. Films coincide with this. Those with diverse casts make notably more money. For example, the extremely popular ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise. The summer blockbuster ‘Suicide Squad’ saw found that 39% of its ticket buyers were Black and Hispanic. The movie boasted a diverse and multi-cultural cast.

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The cast of Suicide Squad

We know that diversity does work and that it is not a risk. So why does Hollywood remain white?

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