Hollywood has been continuously churning out an obscene amount of sequels and remakes. So far this year, there have been 46 remakes, reboots and sequels, and now there’s the upcoming remake of “Clueless.” Because people consume and internalize entertainment, it’s important to use film to tell stories that are important and impactful. Considering almost all aspects of Hollywood are predominantly white and male, it leaves little room for queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) to make their voices heard when they are not given the opportunity to make an original film and tell stories of their own communities.
Many of the films currently released this year follow familiar and predictable story tropes. Recent Netflix films such as “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” overuse the plot line of the unseen and invisible girl getting with the popular and hot boy. Netflix capitalizes on the teen romantic comedy genre by pumping out films with stale, reused tropes.
Although both of these movies feature women who have been underrepresented in the entertainment industry — Asian and plus-size — many other movies fail to responsibly and consciously represent people who have not been historically represented on screen. Consider the movies “Ocean’s Eight” and “Ghostbusters.” Both were remakes that featured an all-women cast. However, “Ghostbusters” failed to properly represent a racially diverse cast. Even though “Ocean’s Eight” did have a racially diverse cast of women, it was not without problems. Throughout her career, Awkwafina has exploited black culture by using a “blaccent” and playing the stereotypical role of the “sassy black sidekick.” The film monopolized on ideas that were exploitative of black people through Awkwafina’s character and presence.
The root of this problem is the prominent whiteness embedded within Hollywood. In both “Ghostbusters” and “Ocean’s Eight,” the directing and writing crew were mainly white people. It is especially important that more QTPOC be involved in film production in order to promote underrepresented voices in entertainment and authentic storytelling. A 2017 study found that out of the films that year that made a profit of $250,000, 12 percent of directors were women and 10 percent were people of color.
White men are dominating these roles in the entertainment industry and continue to do so because of their historical predominance. In 2016, the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences committed to diversifying the Academy; however, they should have done it earlier. Since white men are in charge of both choosing which stories make it to the screen and which stories satisfy their criteria of a “good film,” it leaves little room for QTPOC to break into the industry. It is essential that the voices of underrepresented groups are heard in order to break this system and tell original and powerful stories.
Hollywood needs to be giving more opportunities and credit to queer and trans people of color. The best example of this is “Moonlight,” a film released in 2016 that told an impactful story about gayness and masculinity within the black community. Although “Moonlight” won the Oscar for Best Picture, the win was overshadowed by the envelope mix-up during the ceremony, rather than showing how meaningful the win was for the black queer community.
Through the success of films like “Black Panther,” consumers have shown the entertainment industry that they want to see more diverse films. “Black Panther” had a majority black cast and crew and broke box office records. These movies portray people of color as more than one-dimensional characters constrained to stereotypical roles. QTPOC deserve to have their voices heard and see themselves represented in entertainment. So Hollywood, do better and diversify the usual narrative.
Mithila Chandra is an undeclared sophomore. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.