This brilliant Tumblr perfectly nails Hollywood's major diversity problem
It’s no secret that Hollywood has a major diversity problem. According to a study from USC’s Annenberg School For Communication & Journalism, less than 25% of speaking characters in 2013’s top-grossing films were people of color — a statistic that becomes even more abysmal when compared to the percentage of non-white movie goers (41%) and the percentage of non-white people in the U.S. overall (37%).
As a woman of color, the disparity is incredibly disappointing, if not particularly surprising. And now, a new Tumblr is helping to make Hollywood’s diversity statistics a little bit more visual.
The “Every Single Word Spoken by a Person of Color” Tumblr is the brilliant brainchild of writer, performer, and video editor Dylan Marron. As the name suggests, it edits down popular films into short videos composed of all the lines spoken by people of color. So far, not a single video has passed the 1-minute mark. In fact, for a few of them — Noah, Into The Woods — there are no lines spoken by people of color at all.
As Marron explained in an email interview with Slate, the videos were inspired by his own experiences working as an actor and constantly being told that audiences would never identify with him as a lead protagonist. Obviously, this is a lazy, closed-minded way of thinking — and we’re glad Marron chose to tackle it with such a creative response. The video series has already garnered a ton of attention, and is even being compared to a kind of Bechdel Test for race. (I can’t help but wonder: How does a film pass? Making it to the 5-minute mark? The 10-minute mark?)
“It seems like no matter how far I’ve come, how much work I have under my belt, this industry still finds a way to tell me what I can and can’t represent,” Marron tells Slate. “This series is a way of highlighting why I keep being told that there isn’t much work out there for me. And why so many other talented and hard-working actors of color are being told the same thing.”
Diverse representation of all kinds remains as essential as ever, and nowhere does it have the potential for a tremendous impact as it does in popular media. Everyone deserves to feel represented on the screen, and to have their stories told. When we consistently only tell one narrative, it perpetuates the idea that it is the only acceptable one — and that is something we need to challenge. “Every Single Word Spoken by a Person of Color” helps to further the discussion.
And, as Marron himself points out, just because these films aren’t very diverse doesn’t mean we have to shun them. (I’ve admitted before that I have a major soft spot for Frances Ha — which happens to be one of the films Marron has made a video for.) In fact, our love for these films only further highlights just how important it is that we diversify them.
“I’m not picking these films because I don’t like them,” he tells Slate. “On the contrary, I actually really enjoy them . . . But if we can’t see our reflection in films as harmless as well-made indie rom coms, then we’re suggesting that our stories don’t exist. Or, at the very best, they don’t matter that much.”
We couldn’t agree more. Check out a couple of the videos below, and the rest at “Every Single Word Spoken by a Person of Color” right here.
[Image via video]