You know that saying: Fake It ‘Til You Make It. Well that’s all fine and dandy for a confidence boost, but when it comes to a film it might not be the best approach.
For a long time the film industry has done a less than admirable job in providing diversity onscreen. Whereby it appears to offer representation while it actually stereotypes, demeans, or otherwise marginalises minority characters.
Here are four ways that movies continue to fake diversity:
One Represents All
Do you remember the one black friend of the main protagonist, or maybe that solo female in an all-male hero cast? Well that my friend is tokenism.
This practice is quite often used as the rule in franchised films, where one or two minority figures are cast to make the film appear more ‘diversified’. More often than not, token characters are used to support the lead or to offer comic relief to the story line. This narrowed representation offers more damage than good and can often have more of a negative affect than having no roles at all!
What You See Isn’t Always What You Get
Certain films experience hyper-tokenism. Whereby, a person of colour will have increased screen time and presence in the promotional stage of filming. But, when it comes to the end production their dramatic agency is nowhere to be seen. This false advertising invites wider audience groups to the film, only to disappoint them with a characters lack of onscreen presence.
Here’s a crazy idea, how about instead of pretending to offer dramatic agency to minority characters, you actually just follow through and give the audience what they want.
Stereotypes and Typecasting
Minority characters are continuously reduced to a one-dimensional role, that offers nothing to their characters value and only comments on their skin. Considering the importance of representation, these stereotypes can have a negative affect on individuals and the way they see themselves.
No Personal Relationships
Another way films ignore race is by portraying minority characters with a less or almost invisible personal life. This offers a damaging representation as it enforces the idea that people of colour only exist in the main character’s world and have no personal relationships beyond the dimensions of the screen. A prime example of this is “NYPD Blue”, when the police detective (Jimmy Smits) died the only people who visited him in hospital were from his work.
Okay, we might be heading past the problem of invisibility, but we unfortunately still have the issue of poor representation.
I’d like us to consider the wise words of Uncle Ben,
Movies are one of the most powerful forms of storytelling. They hold the ability to inspire change and introduce culture. It is imperative that we use this medium to its greatest advantage and stop faking diversity!
What are you thoughts on movies faking diversity? Leave a comment or share this with your friends to have your say.