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The Importance of Diversity in Entertainment Media

todayMarch 14, 2017 64

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By Kimberly Garcia
Blog Content Contributor

While out to watch a movie with a friend, a conversation about what bothered us about society and the way it deals with things like movies and social constructs came about. As a true comic book fan, my friend mentioned how he didn’t appreciate the role diversity had taken in some of the classic stories that were being re-imagined on TV. This took me by surprise, as I naively thought that most people understood the importance of having role models in mainstream media for those who were underrepresented and the larger impact those role models made on those groups of people. For those who would rather have the characters created in at a time in which women were in the kitchen and the LGBT+ community was shamed by the masses, this is for you.

According to a new report from UCLA, Hollywood has not made large strides to creating a diverse range of characters on TV. Reports like this can seem clouded when you consider the success of shows like Empire or Scandal, but there is still a broken link when it comes to the population of minorities in society and the race of characters in shows on TV. Shows like How to Get Away with Murder and Scandal give African-American women a positive identity as smart and capable. These characters are important for young African-Americans because it reinforces the mindset of being able to go against the social expectations of becoming a criminal or living off the government. Characters like these empower the minorities they represent to reach for goals that they dream and will achieve.

Aloha Movie Poster
Aloha received a lot of criticism since Emma Stone was cast for the quarter-Chinese character Allison Ng. Although the character was not meant to appear Asian, as that is a obstacle she faces throughout the story, it was not enough for people to accept that Stone was picked for the role.

As society continues to grow and more people of different backgrounds are empowered, it’s important that they are represented on the main stage. A representation on screen equivalent to that of the population so minorities have role models and stereotypes about minorities are broken by the characters on screen. According to a survey conducted in 2012, 400 preteens’ self-esteem and self-worth were directly correlated to how much TV they watched, specifically between girls and non-white children of both genders. So the more TV they watched, the less self-worth and self-esteem they had because they didn’t see main characters that they could relate to. 

Hollywood has a long way to go before it can say that it successfully represents everyone. One alarming statistic I read was that only 3.4% of film directors were women. The most progress the entertainment industry can do in order to ensure a diverse set of characters is to create a diverse group of creators. This could set the stage for a wide range of characters that will be examples for the generations to come. So next time a classic character is modified to reflect the population of that time, rejoice because that is a clear indication that Hollywood is moving towards an inclusive and colorful screen.

Featured image by Joseph Bonney.

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