At a time in which American society is increasingly diverse, it is necessary for our entertainment products to reflect the changes in meaningful and nuanced ways for reasons that extend past representation. At UCLA, Darnell Hunt, the dean of Social Sciences, and Ana-Christina Ramon, the director of Research and Civic Engagement for the Social Sciences, have found an added incentive for Hollywood to get its act together when it comes to diversity, both on and behind the screens: it’s quite simply more profitable.
Hunt and Ramon have put out an annual report titled “Old Start, New Beginning” for the past six years. In it they focus on matters of representation in the nation’s entertainment capital and, according to their research, since 2014 when their project began, “Hollywood’s getting better, it’s getting worse.”
“We found that people really do want to see the real world reflected on screen,” Ramon tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer in the latest edition of Scheer Intelligence. “On a per capita basis, people of color really are a driving force in terms of the purchasing power that they have in the industry. And I think for a long time, Hollywood has ignored that.”
The three also talk about the film “Green Book” and what its controversial Oscar win says about Hollywood and American society at large with regards to how we view race.
“It’s hard to tell historical stories,” says Hunt, “and it’s much easier to revise history and to kind of oversimplify things into these conflicts between individuals. Because that lets kind of our culture off the hook; it sort of conveniently sanitizes the culpability the nation as a whole may have for certain types of things. And it’s more of a feel-good proposition for people who don’t want to face those types of issues.”
Listen to their discussion to learn more about what Hollywood is getting both right and wrong about what Americans want to see on their screens.