Hollywood minorities cast as diversity bait

Throughout history, societies have become more accepting of the various communities within, including different races, sexualities and genders. Although popular culture has, in part, grown with these new standards, there is still much more it can do toward  increasing representation. 

Since its inception, Hollywood has produced movies that idealize unrealistic standards of people’s lives. In recent years, however, it has attempted to expand its categories with the objective of diversifying its content to reflect the lives of all types of people. 

Movies such as “Love, Simon” and “Call Me By Your Name,” touch on topics of self-acceptance and having the courage to come out to others. Such movies have definitely left a positive impact, not only inspiring and encouraging LGBTQ youth to express themselves but also teaching people the importance of acceptance. 

However, even in LGBTQ movies, the main characters are inevitably Caucasian males.

Hollywood has attempted to embrace all communities, as seen in films like “Moonlight,” a story about a young African American named Chiron and his journey through life and adolescence. The movie captured the hearts of many by perfectly balancing the exploration of sexuality and identity, with a person of color as the lead. This film, however, is a single exception as Hollywood remains too general in its approach in diversification.

 Netflix tried to add diversity to their platform by launching “Strong Black Lead,” an advertisement introducing their endeavor to include more African Americans in movies. Originally welcomed by the public, many soon saw the ad as more of a marketing campaign than a call for representation. 

According to an article from Medium, pop culture writer Cate Young said the campaign failed to capture any message they meant to convey other than reminding consumers of their inclusive platform. 

In this instance, I would side with Young. Other than the campaign’s failure to send a message to Netflix’s audience, the timing of its debut blatantly points out the real reason behind the campaign—to cover up for their PR chief’s slip up and make money from the scandal. 

One reason why audiences feel that content is disingenuous correlates to those working behind the camera. Anyone involved in the creation of movies draw their inspiration from personal experiences. It can be difficult to create a narrative that is unfamiliar, especially if a majority of the people working on it are unable to relate. For this reason, it’s imperative that diversity is present among the people working on major productions too.

Hollywood’s grounds for casting so few people of color in their films is due to the fact that many stars do not belong to this community. However, casting up-and-coming stars who are people of color can work to the industry’s advantage. One example is American actress Nora Lum, otherwise known as Awkwafina. Lum starred in the hit 2018 movie “Crazy Rich Asians.” The film was praised for its amount of representation, due to its all-Asian cast. Since the movie’s release, Lum has fashioned a bigger name for herself, making Golden Globe history as the first Asian-American to win best actress.

Although pop culture has expanded its horizon, more can be done. In the film industry, there should be more call auditions and roles designed and executed by people of color. Members of the LGBTQ+ community must have a bigger voice and more representation for their sub-communities. 

Popular culture continues to uphold blatant misrepresentation within the industry; it’s important that we as a society shine a light on this lack of diversity and pursue change.