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Entertainment & Media

A Lack of Representation

By Alain Deen

Volume 1 Issue 4

January 20, 2021

A Lack of Representation

Image provided by the European Broadcasting Union

For centuries, the film and media industry has faced a lack of diversity, most often due to internalized prejudice and misrepresentation among their big budget productions. This concept has become normalized in recent times to the point where seeing a talented ensemble of black performers comes as a shock to critics.  These instances of discrimination stem from a long history of blatant racism in these industries becoming increasingly subtle over the years.

The film and media industry are arguably the most dominant forms of storytelling, whether through captivating news stories or feature films. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that biased views are spread through these outlets, influencing audiences across the globe. For example, award-winning journalist Elizabeth Llorente argues that there is “improper and little to no representation among people of color in journalism”. The same can be said for the film industry as well. For instance, the release of Marvel’s 2018 smash hit, “Black Panther” was met with either dubious or celebratory reviews for the very fact there was a black superhero lead. Again, this is due to the normalization of excluding colored actors in major feature films.

In recent decades, films have developed a stereotype for Black males, portraying them as violent, aggressive, criminal, and/or uneducated. These tropes provide a myopic view of black life, shedding a perpetually negative light. This concept translates into real life as well. African Americans have experienced exclusion, aggressive discrimination, and police brutality which continues to plague society. These stereotypes also create cynical working environments for African Americans, and not just in the film industry.

Therefore, it’s necessary that the film and media industry indulge in new projects with open-mindedness, unbiased opinions, and acceptance and encouragement of diversity. In terms of future generations, audience members of all colors can see someone on the big screen that happens to look like them, and actors can see themselves getting more work.

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