From Joe Hicks, at USA Today:
On the heels of a threatened boycott of this year’s Academy Awards by black film figures comes a well-timed report on diversity in the film and television industries. This report from the aptly named Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at University of Southern California-Annenberg's School for Communication and Journalism argues that these industries have “… an inclusion crisis.”Keep reading.
Is there really a crisis in Hollywood? The report’s lead claim, among a number of loaded assertions, appears to be that “only 28%” of all speaking characters across 414 films, television and digital episodes in 2014-15 were from “underrepresented” racial/ethnic groups. However, this is only 9.6% below the U.S. population norm of 37.9% for those minorities, hardly a crisis.
The report’s major argument about racial bias in Hollywood should raise eyebrows. This community of creative artists and film magnates is perhaps the best-known liberal spot in the nation. The rare conservative who works in this milieu mostly keeps his politics in the closet.
Despite this, the writers of the USC report argue that women, ethnic minorities and even gay, lesbian and transgender people were “excluded,” causing an “epidemic of invisibility.” Tell that to the casts and investors in this year’s films “Carol,” and the “Danish Girl” — both up for Oscars and openly involving Lesbian and Transgender issues.
Responding to the #OscarsSoWhite meme, Jada Pinkett Smith (married to actor Will Smith who starred in Concussion and was shut-out of the nominations) announced that she would not attend the awards ceremonies, with others following suit.
Despite all of this angst, if every Oscar awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences went to a black film artist, would the life of any working-class black person be changed one iota?
Will Smith seems to think so. In announcing that he too would be joining his wife in boycotting, Smith said “… This is so deeply not about me. This is about children that are going to sit down, and they’re going to watch a show, and they’re not going to see themselves represented.”
Is all of this simply a political pitch for racial preferences (often called “affirmative action”) in filmmaking? Should film companies be forced to adopt “diversity goals” and/or “suggested” racial quotas when casting actors and funding projects? TV production executives already meet frequently with representatives of minority group advocates to assess whom they hire, whom they depict and what more they can do...