Diversity in Hollywood, an achievement it claims but still not enough
From an African-American mermaid to a Latino superhero, the Hollywood industry tries to project an image of openness to diversity to minorities that, according to experts, is still far from reality.
This boost is not accidental, from companies such as Disney with the human version of “The Little Mermaid” (“La Sirenita”), or Warner Bros. with the Mexican-American superhero “Blue Beetle”, as studies from the University of California (UCLA) Hollywood Informé de Diversity in 2023 suggests that audiences are more interested in plural content.
According to UCLA research, films released in 2022 with a cast in which at least one in three actors came from a minority were more successful at the box office, while only one-tenth were films with such representation. The worst was considered earning. ,
In addition, black, Latino, and Asian communities account for the majority of national movie ticket sales.
Ana-Cristina Ramón, director of the UCLA Entertainment and Media Research Initiative and co-author of the report, said in a statement to EFE: “Although there has been progress, we have seen that Hollywood always makes the least effort to achieve diversity. “
From his point of view, the diversity criteria set by prestigious film organizations, such as the Hollywood Academy, set standards that are too easy to achieve that do not always meet the true needs of a globalized world.
“There is a misunderstanding on the part of executives about their audiences, especially Latin American audiences. It is also important that there is more diversity not only in front of the screen but also in positions of power.
small wins and big stuff
Progress in inclusion has been more tangible for those in the black community, who account for 12.4% of the US population, who have gained ground on the big screen in 2022 to the point of being over-represented by UCLA’s data.
For Claire Sisko King, professor of communication studies at Vanderbilt University, this disparity in relation to other communities is the result of people’s narrow vision of what diversity really is in the country.
“In the United States, when talking about racial problems, it’s usually reduced to black and white terms and of course it’s important, but we shouldn’t just focus on it, other groups like There are also those who are victims of discrimination (Asians, Latinos, indigenous people, the LGBT+ community, people with disabilities, etc.), he said.
While Ramón appreciates the community’s efforts to create projects of their own, he assures that their achievements will remain on the surface due to lack of relevant victory in leadership positions.
Despite being the largest minority in the United States and accounting for 18% of its population, the representation goals for the Latino community are still far behind: only 5.5% of them were in front of movie screens and 6.6% were “streaming”. While only 1.1% directed a project for cinema and 5% for platforms.
Reluctance to include it has also been experienced by the public, who have criticized the changes to the classic stories in the new audio-visual versions.
The clearest example is the wave of racist and cruel comments that erupted after it was announced that the Little Mermaid Ariel would be played by African-American actress Halle Bailey.
Another similar example is Ismael Cruz Cordova (Puerto Rico) and Sophia Nomwaite (England), actors from the series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”, who were singled out for their skin color on social networks .
“People are tied to representations of what they have seen in the past and have a very narrow view of what diversity is. This is why examples from films that make us rethink the narratives that perpetuate white culture are important,” Sisko he said.
Robert Thompson, a professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Blair Center for Television, believes that physical or plot changes to classic stories are not only valid, but “necessary”.
“One of the ways to keep stories and characters alive is to re-tell them in different contexts so that they remain relevant in the time of their lives,” he said, explaining that when it comes to fiction, the past It is not necessary to reproduce the products. ,
Ultimately, Ramon explained that on-screen representation is “vital” to the development of communities and the identity of those who comprise them.
“Media is the mirror of the world to know how the society sees you and whether you are valued. If a group is not represented, it is a way of telling them that they are not important to society.”