Behind the Scenes: Hollywood’s Inclusivity Issue
If Hollywood’s inclusivity problem followed the typical three-act arc of a film or TV show, the resolution would be a world that has achieved a status where entertainment is representative of today’s societal context, issues, and demographic whilst delivering its full, intended purpose — to entertain. In reality, however, we are far from it. Continuing on with this filmic metaphor, Hollywood’s inclusivity problem has reached its climax. Everything is colliding and the characters (Hollywood’s big-players) are trying to figure out this organized chaos, while tip-toeing around the hard-at-home issue of rampant discrimination and under-representation of minorities in the industry. They keep on falling, falling, falling in action but there doesn’t seem to be a reasonable resolution at the end of this downfall that everyone can agree on. So what happens next?
I don’t know. I don’t know what the practical, feasible, doable, etc. solutions are that break free from the traditionally discriminatory model of Hollywood movie-making without completely restructuring the system that has been so monetarily successful since its inception. It is important to mention that I, an Asian American female, have hopes of “making it” in Hollywood — meaning that I strive to be acknowledged, respected, and appreciated for the work that I do — regardless of my gender and my skin color. I have exposed myself to the behind-the-scenes of Hollywood and the film industry through years of entertainment experience as an intern for major studios and entertainment agencies to bear witness to the subtle biases and discriminations against minorities. So in an industry where hard-work and talent is only sometimes definitive of success, what can minorities do differently — what can I do differently, to ensure that we are given the opportunities — whether it may be through roles, director positions, or even an executive position?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The real question is this. What can studio executives and filmmakers, as well as the public, demand from themselves and others to ensure that the material being developed, financed, and marketed promotes diversity and inclusion to the utmost, whilst being damn-good storytelling that makes great money? In addition, how can Hollywood underscore equal representation throughout the entire movie-making process so that diverse voices are heard from inception to exhibition? No “we cast a token minority character so we fill the diversity quota” bullshit, but well-rounded, genuine characters that have a purpose of being there. And no. Not so the studio has a plug to promote their film on BET. We want substance. It also turns out that people of color also have colorful stories to tell — just give them a chance.
No one sums up this issue better than Matt Damon, a.k.a. the guy casted as the token white guy in a movie about The Great Wall of China. He once stated that the issue of Hollywood’s diversity lies within casting the characters, NOT casting the showrunners. I can tell you in my entire three-years of entertainment experience as an intern that this is false. C’mon Matt Damon. You played a genius in Good Will Hunting — you should know better.
Until we can find a resolution that embraces diversity, not for the sake of “embracing diversity,” but for the sake of being inclusive and striving to portray the world in more than just white and whiter, this story will continue to plateau at the climax. As a minority in an industry overly saturated with one-type of person (the white male), I do hope someone finds a happy ending, fast. Moving forward, I will be devoting my blog posts to discussing the inclusivity problem in Hollywood and how if effects more than just entertainment, but also the socio-political implications of our world today.
To be continued…