Diversity in film and television is a topic that is constantly discussed. In recent years we have seen more diversity on our screens than ever. From marvel’s “Black Panther” and ”Captain America” to Netflix originals, it is clear that inclusion has been a main goal for networks. UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report highlighted that it is still not enough. Despite representation in film improving more than the previous reports, people of colour and women are still underrepresented. Below is an info-graphic detailing the report’s findings.
In order for me to get an audience members’ opinions on the TV and films industry’s progress with diversity, I spoke to Letterboxd user Yumna. Letterboxd is a social network for film lovers and critics to share their opinions on the latest movies.
Do you think there’s more of an effort to have representation in Film compared to TV in recent years?
“I think overall there’s definitely a greater effort to have representation in film and TV. I feel the need for representation has grown tremendously, if not exponentially, over the past few years. Much of this could be attributed to the ‘Netflix generation’ and the huge demand this and other streaming services face due to its majority young/teenage viewers. I would say personally I’ve found greater representation in TV. Due to its longevity, viewers tend to build a greater relationship with characters and identify with some more than others. Series such “On My Block” and it’s BME/Latinx representation as well “One Day At A Time” for its LGBTQ representation are good examples. With film, I feel like there has been a greater urge to create films that represent and that are not made or centered around race such as “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” starring a WOC lead, Lana Condor. Recently, there is conversation around Jordan Peele’s “Us”, and how having a black family as the lead should not be considered a film about race, as opposed to “Get Out”.
Yet, sometimes I actually question the intentions of these producers and the effort to increase representation. Do they really want representation and diversity or is it just so that they don’t get ‘cancelled’? Nevertheless, representation has come a long way. However, I feel like there’s still a way to go and room for improvement for both film and TV.
If you had the chance to talk to film/tv producers, what would you suggest is the best way to include diversity and representation in their products?
“I think the best way to include diversity and representation is to move away from the stereotypes and even caricatures of certain personalities and identities. Too many times I’ve found that, for example, Muslim characters are always at one extreme or the other, quite literally. You have the extremist fundamentalist Muslim girl brought up in a strict family and then you have the liberal on-and-off hijabi who partakes in activities that go against her religion in the name of ‘freedom’. Others include the effeminate gay, the loud/aggressive black woman, the chola Latina woman and more. While it can be can be a form of satire/parody, it can make it difficult to identify with characters who simply don’t represent who we really are.
The best way to ensure diversity and representation is to hire a team that essentially represents the characters. If there were more LGBTQ, BAME, disabled etc. producers, editors, directors and writers, then undoubtedly there would be less of the stereotypes. Representation is not limited to what is portrayed on the screen. This includes the people behind the scenes.”
Whilst diversity is being displayed on the big screens and popular shows, that doesn’t mean it is enough representation. Audiences want to see themselves represented on screens and TV /film creators have a job to fulfill that. Overall Progress has been slow, often signalling people to create their own craft instead of having to relying on TV/film executives to profit from their ideas. Lack of diversity affects opportunity, prompting attentive consumers to demand for more minorities and women on our screens.