Non-White Ethnic Groups Dangerously Under/Misepresented in Hollywood

A study has found that non-white ethnic groups were severely underrepresented in Hollywood in 2013, indicating deep-seated issues regarding inclusion and equality at the heart of the movie industry.

12 Years a Slave'12 Years a Slave' - an Oscar winner with a predominantly black cast. But Hollywood is still far, far behind

The study found that, while America’s population includes a large Hispanic population – more than 16% - only 4.9% played speaking parts in blockbuster movies from 2013. Black actors were cast in 14.1% of roles and 17% of films had no black speaking characters.

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Overall, just over a quarter (25.9%) of the 3,932 speaking characters evaluated were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. And, perhaps the most startling finding from the report: there were only 1.1% more black characters on the big screen than in 2007, showing Hollywood’s lack of progression when it comes to the representation of a modern, multi-cultural America. 

Despite the changing demographics of the US population, "films still portray a homogenised picture of the world", the report said. "In fact, nearly half of children under age five in the US are not white," it continued, "which means that both the current and future audience for films is far more diverse than what is shown on screen."

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The report was particularly damming for the Hispanic community; not only were they underrepresented in the movies, but the movies with Hispanic characters showed women in "sexualised" portrayals more than any other ethnic group - more than 37% of Hispanic female characters were shown either naked or partially naked.

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According to the report, this "illustrates how existing cultural stereotypes may still govern how characters from different backgrounds are shown on screen". And it’s difficult to argue differently. “In conclusion,” reads the report, “top-grossing films do not fully represent the audiences they target. Stories and storytellers should reflect viewers who hail from different cultural backgrounds. The increasing  diversity in the U.S. population means that diversity is not a question for the past—it is a challenge and a hallmark of the future.”


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