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Diversity in the Movie Business

akelly's picture

                I had an interesting conversation with my mother this past week about the different nominations for the Oscars and the winners/nominees of the Golden Globes.  She had been listening to NPR and they were talking about the total lack of diversity this year, that the majority of those up for awards were white males.  What we were discussing was whether the movie and entertainment industry is still dominated by this presence.  In my mind, I think of actors as trying to be good public figures, of generally speaking out against oppression and urging people to celebrate their differences.  As my mom pointed out, though, the committee that decides who deserves recognition are people who have earned respect throughout their lives and as such they are the older generation, which consisted mostly of white males.  I guess the issue this brought up for me was the distinction between those in charge and the general population of the industry.  We talked in class about the best way to change an administration, and it was proposed that the best way to do that was from the bottom up, yet it seems in this case that that is not working.  I think this is an especially interesting place to look at this issue because the entertainment industry is so public, and seeing certain types of people ignored for their contributions has consequences for those who look up to actors/directors etc. as role models.

                After this conversation, I noticed a few articles that also spoke about this problem in a different light.  One for example was an article that spoke about the cover of the Vanity Fair’s Hollywood edition (this isn’t the exact article, but you get the idea  The problem with the cover is that there are only two people of color on the cover, and both are ushered to the side or hidden in the back.  In addition, both are under the flap, not on the true cover.  Looking back through the years, hiding the actors of color under the flap has been a constant pattern, and in the years when there have been fewer white people highlighted for their work, the sales have gone down.  How does this affect self-image for consumers and how can we change what’s happening, especially if the magazine is using an economic reason for placing the actors in certain places?