"The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude." -Nikola Tesla-
The lack of diversity in Hollywood has been on my mind off and on the last few months. The whole debacle of the “White Oscars” and the unfortunate mistake of naming La La Land as this year’s Best Picture, which I think was an honest mistake in all regards, only fueled the fire.
I watched an episode of Charles Barkley’s American Race that aired on TNT, I think a few weeks ago, but these weeks are all blending together for me. It is almost June, which means summer will fly by, and then it will be fall. Once October rolls around, you might as well pack up the ghost and get out your Christmas tree or Menorah or whatever else you have tucked away in your closets.
Getting back to the topic at hand, the consensus is there isn’t much respect for Barkley doing this docuseries. The few reviews I did read weren’t that positive. I felt a little bit bad for him. It did lend to reinforcing my belief that it is hard for Hollywood to change when the people running the studios are White males between the ages of primarily fifties to seventies. It goes hand in hand that the people in power are usually the ones with strongest voices. They have the most resources. They make the majority of decisions. They are the ones who are heard over all the yelling in the background.
I typed out a list of the greatest screen legends from AFI, male and female, and only one person that I recognized that could be viewed as a minority was Sidney Poitier. This doesn’t take away from the talent of everyone else on this list because they are included for very obvious reasons. Don’t get me started on my admiration for Humphrey Bogart. The thing is I would bet my hands there were equally as talented non-White ethnic actors and actresses during this time. They just weren’t given the chance to shine because Hollywood is hard enough as it is to break into, and when you add race into the mix, it makes it that much harder.
A recent example is the uproar over the James Bond casting on who would replace Daniel Craig. I think pushing the comfort boundaries would do us some good as a whole. It isn’t that White actors wouldn’t fulfill the role properly, but thinking a White actor only needs to replace Craig doesn’t make sense to me. Yes, he’s a British spy, but I highly doubt Britain is only made up of White people. Times have changed, but I also realize people like familiarity.
I think in many cases where it involves a minority character it is damned if you do and damned if you don’t meaning if you are a writer, someone will view your character as a stereotype. If you only cast physically fit or attractive people for your main roles or even extras, then you are somehow fat shaming everyone else. There isn’t an easy solution to making Hollywood more inclusive because on paper it looks simple, but realistically it takes a bit more work.
I find it equally perplexing that movies with some content, where you have to think a little bit, bomb in the box office. I can only chalk it up to people getting used to the remakes and superhero movies made year after year. I’m actually hoping for the next phase to start, and one that incorporates a wider range of subject matter and use of actors/actresses. I give thanks to those who continue to push to push the boundaries, and for making movies I like to watch.