Cinema has lived through time in constant evolution. Films open paths to different worlds and incite excitement with the stories they tell. Since cinema is an important part of today’s culture and a source of inspiration for many, the inclusion of diversity is more crucial now than ever.
In recent years, Hollywood released more films featuring casts with minority groups and females. A study by Movio, “The Diversity Demand: Securing the Future of Moviegoing” showed that inclusive films drive more success and bring in an audience that is largely comprised of the represented minority on screen. The movie examples they gave included Us, Crazy Rich Asians, and Black Panther. The first two made over $200 million each worldwide in box office and the third made over $1 billion.
Not only does diversity on the big screen generate money and success for Hollywood, but it also illustrates the importance of representation. What some people may not realize is that growing up without your respective representation on screen often has negative impacts. While everyone cheers for the hero on the big screen, minorities are left wondering why the heroes never look like them. Are we not good enough? This thought is further embedded as Hollywood takes away those job opportunities from minorities that want to pursue an acting career. When these roles are taken from them, especially if the original characters in the story produced are of a minority, that stings. This is why it’s important for Hollywood cinema to evolve. Diversity promotes inclusion, appeals to a larger audience, and gives people a chance to learn about different cultures.
But, even with all the success and benefits of films with diversity, Hollywood is scared. It’s impossible to please everyone, but they often receive more backlash for their bolder choices. Controversy surrounded the new Ghostbusters (2016) that changed its original male cast for a female team. People spread hate with the #NotMyAriel hashtag when Disney announced that Halle Bailey, who didn’t have white skin or red hair, would star as Ariel in The Little Mermaid (1989) remake. There will always be complaints, especially in something as big as the film industry. Although the risks are high, so are the rewards for change.
Hollywood is still in the early stages of change. They’ve realized the importance of diversity. They’ve realized that casting Scarlett Johansson for the role of Asian women wasn’t the greatest choice. However, if Hollywood becomes more diverse, they need to do it right. No adding diversity for the sake of being diverse. No forcing it. The representative content within should be normalized. Whether it’s ethnicity, gender, or sexuality, these identities don’t always need to be the focus of the characters’ stories, but it would be nice to have some depiction for them as it’s a part of who they are.
People are starting to fight for their representation, and if Hollywood doesn’t listen, it’s bound to burn out quickly. The film industry won’t survive if it doesn’t follow a world that is constantly changing, and there will always be people that make this change difficult. But, diversity is what we need. No one said the road to progression would be easy.