Earlier, Hollywood’s mainstream movies were far ethnically, racially or culturally sensitive. And that is not even surprising! The main starring roles have long been monopolized by the whites. This is what we call “Whitewashing” of the film industry. Minority characters were always represented as criminal, immoral or used as comedic contrasts to the white protagonists. Even though we’re in the 21st century, it’s shocking to know that it’s still happening.
- There have been egregious discrimination against minorities in movies since the conception of full-length motion pictures came into existence. Birth of a Nation was the first movie that glorified Ku Klux Klan and pixilated African-Americans. Minorities have long been subjected to the full brunt of ‘whitewashing’ of roles.
- The movies of the mid-20th century which we refer to as classics today depicts the racism that prevailed in Hollywood. Though the last depiction of blackface was in Soul Man in 1986, racism still hasn’t stopped haunting the industry. Examples mentioned above show that the entertainment industry shamelessly continues to whitewash.
- If this continues to be in practice, children will develop ill conceptions of racial equality. Not only Hollywood exhibits misrepresentation, but also under representation. In 2007-2012, there were only 12.4% of black actors in the top 500 grossing films.
- Now the question arises, why white actors dominate the top 500 globally successful films? In reality, they only represent a fraction of potential global film audiences. The system of whitewashing is completely and utterly skewed. Even though the movie is about ethnicity, the lead role is always played by whites. Recently, about seven Muslim-American actors shared their encounters with racism in Hollywood. They were forced to play degrading roles throughout their career.
- The director of Exodus, Ridley Scott has explained that the reason behind him choosing an entire white case for the movie is too make it successful. He was bound to do it otherwise the movie would have been a flop. Other directors such as Aloha and Pan made similar claims in 2015 stating that actresses like Rooney Mara and Emma Stone would attract more audience whereas brown-skinned actresses would have led the movie to box office failure.
This trend, which still prevails, is racist, offensive, historically false, harmful, and emotionally unremarkable. Hopefully, the movie industry will realize its mistakes soon and will work towards rectifying the same.