Representation in Hollywood

A major issue in Hollywood is representation. Because the entertainment industry is a major way that people learn about different cultures and demographics, it is important that a large number of groups of people and cultures are 1) represented in the media and 2) represented correctly. These are two very different things. The first has been happening for a long time. Minority groups like African Americans and people with disabilities have long been present in movies and television. However, the question of whether their representation is accurate is an entirely different one. For example, if one looks at the earliest depictions of African Americans in entertainment, one will find numerous examples of blackface. In this case, representation exists; however, it is incorrect representation that isn’t allowing the group in question to tell an authentic story. The same is true of countless minority groups. People with disabilities have been in countless films; however, they are generally portrayed by able-bodied actors who cannot truly represent the complex experience of being a person with disabilities. For this reason, Hollywood needs continue representing diverse groups of people and stories; however, it must also do a better job of casting the correct members of the demographics they are representing. The quote that very accurately depicts this idea was explained to us in our USC School of Cinematic Arts Diversity seminar: “If it’s about us, don’t make it without us.”

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