Diversity in Hollywood

Tara Dombrowski

At this year’s Academy Awards, diversity was front and center. Chris Rock, the host, didn’t hold back. He pointed out the fact that Hollywood isn’t very diverse, and he ridiculed the Academy and the movie industry as a whole for not doing more to include people of all races. It was a very political move for a night that is usually known for it’s jokes and light hearted nature. However, Rock has a point–Hollywood isn’t diverse.

Chris Rock hosted the 88th Academy Awards (AP photo)
Chris Rock hosted the 88th Academy Awards (AP photo)

Diversity is an issue that has long been disputed. For the second year in a row, the Academy nominated no people of color for Best Actor or Actress.

The question arose: Is the Academy racist, or did those people just perform better than their non-white coworkers? This is a complicated question. And it stems from one that is more difficult to understand: why is diversity important? Many people argue that when they see a character who is similar to themselves, they identify with them more. The other side to this argument is that it shouldn’t matter what race a character is, people should be able to connect with them regardless. However, it is nice to see a character who looks like you, as well as acts in a way where you can connect with them.

If every single character was white, then it seems to send a message that only white people matter. The media plays a large role in how people see themselves, and how society views others. Think of revolutionary characters like Princess Leia from Star Wars, who showed that girls can be strong and that they don’t have to rely on boys to rescue them. Characters in movies and TV shows largely reflect society, and they are meant to take viewers away from their annoying lives. So, it would make sense to include all races in movies so that everyone can have a character who looks like them, which allows them to see themselves in the movie, thus making the experience that much better.

As for the Academy Awards this year, it is true that there were a lot of amazing movies starring black actors, such as Straight Outta Compton and Creed, which were both overlooked by the Academy. However, in order to correct what happened this year, it is important that the movie industry try to make their movies more diverse. If more actors of color were cast in movies, then there would be more opportunities for them as well as more opportunities to get an award. Sure, maybe Matt Damon from The Martian did a better job than Michael B. Jordan from Creed, which is why Damon got the nomination this year. However, it is important for the Academy and other awards to recognize people of color. It sends a message to young minority children that they can grow up and be who ever they want to be. White people have Katniss Everdeen, Princess Leia, and so many others. It only makes sense that people of color have characters that they can identify with and root for.