veritas exquirere

Diversity in Hollywood exists

Talent, not skin color, is what's rewarded

In past years, diversity has become something of a controversy in Hollywood. Each year, new movies come out with the great claim of having casts from different countries and backgrounds all over the world.

But a question we should be asking ourselves is: Do we really care?

Films such as “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures” have been financial successes, raking in $27.8 and $169 million respectively, proving that even diverse pieces may be cinematic successes.

In fact, a recent study conducted by the Creative Artists Agency found that movies with what is considered to be a ‘diverse cast’ — 30 percent non-caucasian — consistently had better earnings than those which had primarily caucasian actors.

However, when it comes to incorporating diversity on the silver screen, how far is too far? New British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards have increased their regulations so that all motion pictures and television shows must contain a certain quota of characters which are LGBTQ or come from varying ethnic backgrounds.

Rather than some underlying bias in the Academy Awards selection process, it seems far more likely that these films and actors were chosen due to their prodigious renditions of their respective characters.”

Though this sounds like a progressive move for BAFTA, this move actually sets constraints that make it difficult for universally acclaimed successes that lack sufficient diversity to gain recognition.

Even last year, social media activists launched the #OscarsSoWhite movement to protest the absence of people of color in the nominations. The core argument in this case was that films such as “Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton” were overlooked in favor of those with a caucasian cast.

Yet what proponents of this campaign fail to take into account is that the winners of the top three categories — best picture, best actor and best actress — were “Spotlight,” Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant,” and Brie Larson for “Room.” These films were successes, all garnering Rotten Tomatoes scores above 80 percent.

Rather than some underlying bias in the Academy Awards selection process, it seems far more likely that these films and actors were chosen due to their prodigious renditions of their respective characters.

Period pieces such as “The Crown” have drawn criticism for comprising an entirely caucasian cast, despite the fact that the show takes place in 20th century England.

Then there’s the other extreme: films that comprise casts that are diverse yet are critical failure. Take “Power Rangers,” for example. The picture has African American, Hispanic, Indian and LGBTQ characters, yet it failed commercially.

What Hollywood needs to understand is that a grab-bag of ethnic characters does not necessarily constitute a good movie. “Power Rangers” currently sits with a Metacritic rating of 44, grossing $85 million against a $100 million budget.

Why should the public be forced to sit through C-list garbage in order to fulfill some societal obligation to see films that boast of an ethnically inclusive cast? People should be allowed to form their own opinions, regardless of whether or not any given movie hits some 30 percent ethnic quota.

Diversity is one of the hallmarks of our culture, and we should strive to achieve a reasonable balance of people from different cultural and socioeconomic standpoints. However, forcing every form of film or television into the same diverse mold merely constricts their ability to shine as original mediums of creative thought.

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