Overlooked and underrepresented
Television. Film. Radio. They make us laugh, they make us cry, they make us sit on the edge of our seats waiting for what's next. But as we mindlessly surf through the channels and watch the big screen, diversity is the least thing on everyone's mind.
However, diversity is a factor that the media platforms have much room to improve in.
Last year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences came under fire after, for the second year in a row, all nominations for lead and supporting characters in the Oscars had been white. This last happened in 1988.
After April Reign, activists and editor of the Nu Tribal Magazine, created the twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, the topic of television and its diversity was plunged into the spotlight.
A 2016 USC report entitled the Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity in Entertainment (CARD) took a look at numerous media platforms and their diversity in terms of gender, race and other categories. According to CARD, 23 percent of television shows had no Black speaking characters and 51 percent had no Asian. One can bring up ABC shows like “Blackish” and “Fresh Off the Boat” as proof for modern representation, and while this is true they do little to crunch the numbers. These are striking percentages compared to the 65.7 percent of white speaking characters, but diversity is much more important than just the numbers.
Truth be told, everybody wants to see someone like themselves when we go to watch a movie or TV show. We entertain ourselves with them because we want and do identify with the characters; we feel for them, and relate with them. It’s influence over us is unquestionable as from a young age we base how we dress, how we act and how we view the world around us on entertainment. Not only that, but representation can help expose us to the diverse and underrepresented groups we’ll come in contact with in the
While race seems to be the debate in film and television’s diversity, the truth is there are lots of areas in which they are lacking. CARD found that females fill only 28.7 percent of speaking roles in films and 36.8 percent in broadcast. Of the women depicted in films, 28.4 percent of them are shown in sexually revealing clothing. The report showed the startling reality that while the number of women in media platforms has risen, there is a correlation to higher incidences of sexualization following.
In addition, LGBT speaking characters only made up two percent of movies, television shows and digital series. There's a trend of invisibility when it comes to LGBT representation, with the statistics showing a majority of these characters being white males.
Representation in the media has seen improvement over the years and will continue to. However, there is a vast amount of progress minority representation needs to make. Hopefully, in the near future, the media will be as diverse as the real world, and one can all look up at the screen and see themselves.