Hollywood Whitewashing

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Can you see the similarity between the two photos? It is easy to separate the two. The left picture clearly represents a white man and it is obvious the right photo displays an African American. However, both pictures feature the same person: Laurence Olivier, in the 1965 film Othello. From the beginning of the film making industry, minorities are often underrepresented while the white race is favored in castings. As the white race is continuously seen as dominant, non-whites get the short end of the stick. Hollywood is often fantasized by the younger generation as they are influenced by celebrity roles. In reality, it is the white actors and actresses that are receiving positive feedback.

Celebrities often influence the younger generation through looks and behavior. This creates a problem for minorities especially if a white individual is cast as an Asian. The younger generation may feel ashamed of their origin and hide from their beliefs. Their is an expectation in Hollywood to be blonde, skinny, and white. It is evident that Hollywood producers give less opportunities to non-whites and often stereotype minorities in films. If an Asian is not cast by a white actor, the chances of them representing a character that is consider “smart” is high. This motion creates a dominant figure among white individuals.

The issue of having no “black” nominees during the 2016 Oscar’s caused an uproar within society. Many individuals believe white people often get more opportunities which is without a doubt true. As Chris Rock states, African Americans are only looking for more opportunities in the business. Actors and actresses such as Matt Damon and Jennifer Lawrence are constantly given popular movie roles that enhance their personalities in a positive manner. It sets the expectation that being white gives an individual more advantages and opportunities in life. The competition in the film industry is tough already but only creates more challenges for minorities.

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How would it feel if white characters were portrayed by minorities? It is safe to say that society would not agree with the circumstances. However, when the situation is vice versa and minorities are portrayed by the white population not much is done on the issue. The most recent example is the movie Doctor Strange as Tilda Swinton is cast as “The Ancient One” who is supposedly Asian. White people have always dominated society and in the past felt superior to all other races. This leads to the question of whether their is true equality within society today.

Movies and shows are targeted toward a wide range of individuals from young to old. Watching films is an activity that everyone can enjoy at any given time. The increasing exploitation of minorities in a negative manner can influence the younger generation in making it seem alright. In a bigger picture, this can lead to bullying and harassment.

I have interviewed two JMU freshman students to receive input on their opinion of the situation. Many individuals can see what needs to be changed in order to create a more realistic environment within Hollywood.


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