“I realized that white people think that people of color only have ethnic experiences and not universal experiences.” — Nikesh Shukla
Researchers at the University of Southern California studied the 700 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2014, excluding 2011, and analyzed the race and ethnicity of more than 30,000 characters to reveal diversity in film. The findings showed that for nearly a decade, filmmakers have made virtually no progress in portraying more characters from non-white racial and ethnic identities.
Of the top 100 films of 2014, nearly three-quarters of all characters were white, the study showed. Only 17 of the top movies that year featured non-white lead or co-lead actors. The numbers are stunning: From 2007 through 2014, women made up only 30.2 percent of all speaking or named characters in the 100 top-grossing fictional films released in the United States.
Of course, the industry is full of superstitions that stories about women can’t be successful, sell or branch into franchises are wrong. The Hunger Games proved that to us and made Jennifer Lawrence the top paid Hollywood actress. Leading to Ghostbusters, Ocean’s Ocho, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: Rogue One and others.A bout damn time. But on the downside, whenever one fails in any aspect (critics, audience, box office expectations or angry misogynist trolls online) it’s immediately blamed on the factor of the protagonist’s gender.
The few times a series or movie has a cast of mostly people of color, with a justified reason that no one expects of a series with only white people, they get called to be cancelled like Marvel’s Luke Cage or pretend it is already unsalvageable like Netflix’s The Get Down. Sometimes as ridiculous as it sound, have white people say they perpetuate stereotypes like ABC’s Black-ish or ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat that had similar issues when it first premiered.
CW’s Jane the Virgin was heavily criticized because people seemed to think a series about a pregnant Latina virgin would be anti-feminist and full of slut shaming, no prejudices there. has actually been one of the most feminist shows on television. Luke Cage was called racist because it lacked white people, even though the show’s location is Harlem… that has a 70% black population and part of the city literally called Spanish Harlem, which means they have been called racist for accurately portraying the population of the location they film in. The Get Down had rumors saying Netflix had already cancelled it with fake statistics before Part 2 has even been released. Black-ish has been praised for how they tackle race issues and Fresh Off the Boat is the first broadcast network sitcom in 20 years to focus on an Asian-American family.
But don’t fear because these shows are indeed popular and well received. Jane the Virgin, Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish are on their third season. And Luke Cage was so popular it may have even temporarily broken Netflix during it’s first week.