“If the US media were a person, he’d be an old white guy.”
That’s a line from the beginning of an article on the website Mother Jones called “Hollywood’s White Dude Problem”. In summation, the article lists a bunch of charts that exemplify the ways in which women and people of color get discounted from high profile media exploits. Some notable stats include that only 6.6% of the top-grossing films made between 2007 and 2012 were directed by black directors…and of those 6.6% (or 33 out of 500), only two of them were women. It shouldn’t be shocking then, to read that first line again. Why else do we get so many heroes (and occasionally genuine heroines) who are white? A lot of the films that feature black actors are “black” films, not just films. That is to say, they’re often made with the purpose of telling a story unique to the African American experience. Movies and other media work directed specifically at African Americans isn’t a negative thing in the slightest, but it’s troubling when we have to separate “normal” (i.e. “white”) experiences from something experienced by black people, because those experiences are so distinctively different. The article goes on to display that when in 2013, when films had a black director, over half of the speaking characters were black. When the directors were white? 10%.
These numbers were really troubling to read about…so how can we change these statistics? There needs to be a way of generating movies and TV shows that don’t alienate groups of people. What kind of reaction do you think there would be to more movies and films that featured majority people of color actors? Would there be a major backlash from white communities? Or if enough of those types of films were created, would it just become socialized as the norm?
2 thoughts on ““If the US media were a person, he’d be an old white guy.””
This makes me think about how movies and T.V. shows that have predominantly black casts are usually labeled “black comedies” or “African American” comedies. There are websites titled Blackflix.com and blackclassicmovies.com that discuss news about black actors/actresses and movies that they are in, obviously highlighting the fact that they normally don’t get the credit that white actors/actresses receive.
In regards to the reaction in the white community, I definitely agree with Chris that there would be a wide range of reactions. Those who actively voice their disapprovals of other races will certainly have a negative reactions and may refuse to go see certain movies. It would be believable if some white people started giving excuses to not see these movies, besides the fact that the cast is predominantly black even though that’s probably why they don’t have an interest whether that be implicit or intentional.
In terms of what kind of reaction there would be to more media featuring people of color, I think you would see a mixed reaction. You would probably see a lot of people rolling their eyes about political correctness. I see this all the time in the way some white people respond to commercials that feature, for example, two white children, one hispanic child, and one black child. Not that this somewhat tokenist form of inclusion and diversity is perfect, but I think the white response is telling. White people often view the inclusion of people of color as an intentional way to seem progressive or politically correct. This is another example of the way people view whiteness as normal.
On the other hand, I wonder if the future will see an increased amount of people of color represented due to the changing demographics of our country. Over the next century, the proportion of people of color in the U.S. is set to rise dramatically; in fact, this trend has already begun. Obviously, this trend will be present first in the youth, who are one of the main targets of TV and movies. Perhaps producers and writers will be forced to include more people of color to attract the increasingly diverse audience. While this would be a good step, it could also inhibit further progress. If the white male media decides to cast more people of color, then it may help them maintain their dominance in executive positions in media over people of color and women. Maybe it will be better if the white male media refuses to adapt and forces people to look towards other producers and writers – women and people of color – for TV shows and movies.
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