- Famurewa, J., Maoui, Z., & Johnston, K. (2020, September 02). John Boyega: ‘I’m the only cast member whose experience of Star Wars was based on their race’. Retrieved October 09, 2020, from https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/culture/article/john-boyega-interview-2020
Background: Actor John Boyega recently made headlines with a spontaneous, vulnerable speech at a Black Lives Matter protest in London. Now, he is also speaking out about his experience as a Black man in Star Wars. In 2015, he was marketed and written as a lead character for the first film in the new Star Wars trilogy. However, in the next film, his character was turned into a sideplot, and a white character took his leading spot in the narrative. The third film couldn’t quite give back to him what had been lost. In addition to that, Boyega was sent death threats from hateful fans upon his casting reveal because of his race. People even tried to boycott that first movie because he was in it. As if that weren’t enough, when press tours came around, stylists didn’t want him to dress too ethnically and didn’t know how to style his hair. Perhaps Boyega is expected to smile and say that working on Star Wars was an amazing experience and opportunity, but he is not one to be silenced. These days, he is taking on projects that inspire him, challenge him, and embrace Blackness. He doesn’t stand aside when he sees something is wrong, and there is certainly something wrong in Hollywood. He experienced it firsthand.
How I used it: I used Boyega’s experience as an anecdote to open my discussion about what good representation looks like and means. I directly quoted him from this article’s interview to show how a real actor actually experiences racism in Hollywood and it’s not just a myth made up by “social justice warriors” to “push an agenda.”
- White, A. (2017, August 28). How can TV and movies get representation right? We asked 6 Hollywood diversity consultants. Retrieved October 09, 2020, from https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/8/28/16181026/hollywood-representation-diversity-tv-movies
Background: Six diversity consultants sat down with Vox to discuss what good diversity is. What it really comes down to is characters that are not only diverse but that also have meaning and personal weight in the story. A character may be Black, but does she have her own character arc and have narrative significance separate from a white character? Is that character’s experience written authentically and respectfully, or does it play into stereotypes? Will a white audience gain understanding about another person’s experience and sympathize with it? These are questions that need to be asked when tackling diversity in a story. The people working behind the camera are a huge part of the issue. A white writer or director can talk to a person of color when developing a story in order to write a more accurate non-white character, but there is a significant difference between a white creator respectfully writing a Black character and a Black creator writing a Black character. A writer who writes from experience can add natural authenticity to a story on a level unmatched by someone who doesn’t share that experience, so what really needs to happen is getting more writers and directors of color behind the camera.
How I used it: One of the consultants on this article was Rashad Robinson, who is an executive at racial representation organization Color for Change. I used a direct quote from him from this article to establish one definition of good representation. His job is to encourage good representation in the industry, so I thought he had a trustworthy take on what good representation is. This article also gave me a good foundational understanding of what good representation is both in front of and behind the camera.
- Low, E. (2020, June 30). The Reckoning Over Representation: Black Hollywood Speaks Out, But Is the Industry Listening? Retrieved October 12, 2020, from https://variety.com/2020/biz/features/black-representation-hollywood-inclusion-diversity-entertainment-1234693219/
Background: This article relayed experiences directly from several Black artists working in the TV and film industry. Black actors are often mistreated and feel “disposable” compared to their white counterparts. Black writers and directors even get blocked from telling Black stories in favor of signing a more well-known and accomplished white name onto a project. Since creators of color get less opportunities to build their resume, they can’t build a reputation grand enough to entice producers in need of writers and directors. As far as writing and directing is concerned, there are some inclusion initiatives in the TV industry especially, but they don’t often make real change. Writers and directors of color can get their foot in the door, but are often kept in low-level positions and aren’t kept around for long.
How I used it: There were some very useful ideas here that illuminated diversity-related problems in Hollywood. I referenced the problems of non-white creators getting blocked from telling non-white stories and how attempts at diversity when hiring are often futile in the long run. There were also a lot of Black creators quoted in this article, so I was able to quote people who actually experienced the things I talk about in my essay. It was important to me to use the real words and experiences of creators of color since I’m a white person writing about this topic.
- Umstead, R. (2019, December 07). Diverse Characters Increasing On-Screen, but Viewers Want Better Portrayals. Retrieved October 15, 2020, from https://www.nexttv.com/blog/diverse-images-increasing-screen-viewers-want-more
Background: A Horowitz Research report revealed that TV casts are growing more diverse, but many people of color and white people alike felt offended by the way people of color were portrayed in media. However, premium channels and streaming services have the edge- over half of the people of color surveyed for the report said that premium or streaming content had the best portrayals of people of color.
How I used it: I just wanted the statistics revealed in the Horowitz report, but I couldn’t gain direct access to the report. Their website said that I had to contact the organization to discuss pricing if I wanted a report and it was very confusing. It’s not ideal, but finding another source that quoted the report was my next best option.
- Rajan, A. (2020, August 05). TV watching and online streaming surge during lockdown. Retrieved November 14, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-53637305
Background: According to data collected by the UK’s Office of Communications, streaming services surged during COVID lockdowns. Netflix gained 10 million new subscribers between March and May. Over half of the UK’s new streaming subscribers said they’d keep their subscriptions even after lockdown measures let up. People seem to be realizing the convenience and quality of streaming services because of the pandemic, and if that attitude grows it could lead to streaming overtaking Hollywood.
How I used it: This article had useful statistics from the UK’s office of communications to support my idea of streaming services gaining prominence and possibly growing more favorable than Hollywood. I trust the BBC as a source as well as the government-run Office of Communications.
- Molina-Guzmán, I. (2016). OscarsSoWhite: how Stuart Hall explains why nothing changes in Hollywood and everything is changing. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 33(5), 438–454. https://doi.org/10.1080/15295036.2016.1227864
Background: This article talked about the slow progress of diversity in Hollywood. One reason for the slow progress is that the narrative archetypes and conventions established in old movies still influence movies today. Another reason is that journalism praises even minimal attempts at diversity and celebrates individual successes of creators and actors of color, thus pushing the struggle prejudice faced by such artists under the rug. Streaming services appear to be a solution. They are less restricted and regulated than conventional Hollywood and therefore have an easier time with pushing boundaries and telling authentic, diverse stories.
How I used it: This article was really useful background information for me. It gave me an understanding of how racism is ingrained in Hollywood’s structure, and it also helped me to see how and why streaming services are better at diversity than Hollywood. The article gave me information that supported multiple parts of my hypothesis, so it was a helpful resource to read early on in my research.
- Burroughs, B. (2018). House of Netflix: Streaming media and digital lore. Popular Communication, 17(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/15405702.2017.1343948
Background: The emergence of the streaming industry challenges the long-held practices of Hollywood. As services like Netflix gain cultural impact, things like cable subscriptions lose their appeal. Younger people are leaning towards relying on streaming. With a streaming service, a person can access content from the past or present, at any time he wants, on several different devices, and also get recommendations on what to watch based on an algorithm. That on-demand capability is more appealing to many than, say, network television. The theory of “industry lore” is the knowledge of what kinds of media are possible and attractive, often looked at as what is possible and attractive in the eyes of industry executives. Since streaming has completely changed what kind of media is possible, industry lore has to adapt.
How I used it: This article had some great quotes from a book that I used in my essay. I wouldn’t have been able to find those quotes otherwise because I really didn’t have the time to read an entire book just to find a couple quotes to use in my essay. It was also useful in showing me how streaming services can overtake Hollywood in a way unrelated to diversity, and I applied what I learned in this article to the topic of diversity.
- Hunt, D., & Ramón, A. (2020, October 22). Hollywood Diversity Report 2020. Retrieved November 14, 2020, from https://socialsciences.ucla.edu/hollywood-diversity-report-2020/
Background: This study covers 286 theatrical releases in 2018 and 2019, and it proves that diverse films perform well worldwide. Films with 21-51% minority casts performed the best overseas. Even on the extreme ends, diverse films performed better. Films with over 50% minority casts did better overseas than films with less than 11% minority casts. It’s a bit confusing that Hollywood studios still struggle to embrace diversity given these facts, but a look at the people in power makes the picture clearer. The overwhelming majority of studio executives and CEOs are white.
How I used it: This report gave me strong statistical evidence to prove that diversity is marketable not only domestically but also internationally. It was important to me to have statistical facts supporting my claims since they’re hard to dispute.
- Erigha, M. (2015). Race, Gender, Hollywood: Representation in Cultural Production and Digital Media’s Potential for Change. Sociology Compass, 9(1), 78–89.
Background: Hollywood has played an integral role in shaping popular culture and the minds of the general public, but the most prominent of Hollywood’s stories are told by white men in an overwhelming majority. Non-white creators are underrepresented even today, despite a push from activists and general audiences for more diversity. Numerical representation is a part of the battle. Minorities in entertainment are represented at a lower percentage than their share of the U.S population. Quality is another important aspect of representation. Characters of color who are multi-faceted and have fully realized arcs separate from a white counterpart are accepted as “good representation” as well as creators of color getting opportunities to tell stories across a plethora of genres with as much creative control as possible. Another facet of diversity is about minorities having access to the core of Hollywood production. Currently, minorities struggle to gain access to positions of power at major studios or get signed to major talent agencies in comparison to their white counterparts. Streaming services are a light at the end of the tunnel, though. Since it’s a new medium, creators of color can take advantage of it with less resistance than they face in Hollywood.
How I used it: There were useful ideas and definitions presented in this article that I quoted in my essay. It gave me a really solid handle on why diversity is important, what Hollywood is doing wrong, and how streaming services open the door for better diversity, all topics that make up the foundation of my hypothesis/argument.
- Kay, J. (2020). Streaming is transforming hollywood’s outdated ideas about inclusion, says TIFF panel. Screen International, Retrieved from http://ezproxy.rowan.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.proquest.com%2Fdocview%2F2441876992%3Faccountid%3D13605
Background: Streaming services are challenging the long-held entertainment industry belief that minorities don’t sell, according to Stephanie Allain, the producer of Netflix’s Dear White People. One of her movies, featuring a black female lead and streamed on Netflix, found success in Brazil. The movie likely wouldn’t have gotten the backing to be produced theatrically, and therefore wouldn’t have been seen by a Brazilian audience. Netflix gives creators of color and stories about characters of color the chance to not only be made but reach audiences around the world, offering many more opportunities for success. Theatrically released diverse movies face scrutiny that they don’t always face in streaming. If a movie is unsuccessful theatrically, people point to the minorities in it as the reason. In reality, there are many reasons for a movie to not land unrelated to gender or race. Then, when a movie is successful and has a diverse cast, it is often considered an isolated incident.
How I used it: This article was very useful to me as background information. It informed me on how streaming services promote diversity in a way that Hollywood cannot with the information coming right from a creator of color who experienced it firsthand.