Dear Media, Stop Casting the Same P.O.C in Your Movies and Shows
As the media continues to venture further into the world of diversity, it is becoming more and more clear that the intent of this journey has more to do with a quick fix rather than a real look at the issue of whitewashing in film. Rather than truly diversify the entertainers of the industry, Hollywood opts to recast the same few visible minorities who have seen success in the film industry.
Although the diversity in the film industry seems to be seeing an increase, the way in which it increases is not what people of colour meant when we said we wanted more representation. Looking at any movie or T.V show currently being played, it is easy to see that the majority of the casts are made up of white people. Should a show or movie have a cast of visible minorities, the aim of it is to defy the stereotypes associated with the specific minority the show is about. The average movie or show, through its attempts at racial diversity, end up implementing tokenism into its contents, using one or two visible minorities to be presented as seemingly “diverse”.
A study done by the University of California in 2014 looked at the 700 top grossing movies from 2007-2014- not including 2011- and found that the majority of actors were white. 73.1% of the actors were white, 12.5% were black, 5.3% were Asian, 4.9% were Hispanic, and 4.2% were other. Nearly three quarters of the actors were white- a staggering, yet not surprising- majority.
With all the white actors being cast in the media, the lack of people of colour becomes a problem that is glaringly obvious. The media’s remedy? Find a few actors of colour that appeal to the general public, and cast them in as many roles for people of colour as possible. There are already few roles for people of colour in movies and shows, but when the same few people of colour are being cast in movies time and time again, it decreases the opportunity for other people of colour to find roles in movies and shows.
At a time when minorities are rallying for a variety of freedoms, the way the media portrays us is significant due to the its power over our society, especially in terms of the way its portrayal of minorities affects the way we are perceived within our societies. The media needs to begin making more opportunities for people of colour to star in movies and shows. Representation is not just including the same two minorities in your movies over and over again. Representation is a humane depiction of the individuality of all sorts of peoples. As a brown girl, I can easily count the number of South Asian actor and actresses I’ve seen make a mark in Hollywood and the general media. As much as I love Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, Priyanka Chopra, Dev Patel and the few others I’ve seen truly shine, I would love to see more South Asians take over Hollywood. Why is it that the people who succeed the most in the media are the ones with lighter skin? The entertainment industry is consistently buzzing with popularity and consumption, constantly growing and expanding, surely it has room for all of us.