The Representation of Race in Contemporary Cinema

The Representation of Race in Contemporary Cinema

The issue of race has always been a controversial and complex topic in all aspects of society, including cinema. The representation of race in contemporary cinema has been a subject of extensive discussion among critics, filmmakers, and audiences. While cinema has the power to shape and reflect cultural attitudes, it also has the potential to perpetuate stereotypes and bias towards certain ethnic groups. This article will examine the current state of representation of race in contemporary cinema and explore the ways in which filmmakers can create more accurate and authentic portrayals of diverse racial identities.

Historically speaking, the representation of race in cinema has been problematic. During the early 20th century, films depicted people of color as one-dimensional stereotypes, perpetuating harmful and untrue stereotypes. For example, black people were often portrayed as either servile or uncontrollable, while Asians were portrayed as exotic or sinister. Native Americans were often shown as savages or willing to assimilate to European American culture. These depictions were not only damaging in their accuracy but also in their potential to shape views of groups of people.

Despite some progress being made in recent decades, contemporary cinema continues to struggle with representation. Films starring predominantly white actors grossed 24 times more in international box offices than those with a predominately black cast. Only 6% of major Hollywood films feature characters from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups. This lack of diversity can be attributed to factors such as studio executives and financiers’ reluctance to invest in non-white protagonists, the u infrequent engagement of diverse casting directors, and an industry culture that resists change and diversity.

Furthermore, the representation of race in contemporary cinema can be characterized by a few repeated tropes. The "white savior" trope, which entails a white character saving and protecting people of color, is still commonly utilized. The perpetuation of the “Magical Negro” is also problematic as it portrays black characters as people who can magically, and often without agency, solve white people's problems. Asian characters are often portrayed as martial arts experts or other shallow stereotypes. These generalizations are harmful and need to be changed so that audiences can see more accurate representations of diverse people and their experiences.

While Hollywood continues to struggle with diversifying its casting and storylines, independent filmmakers have been creating works that more authentically and accurately represent minorities. Films like “Moonlight” and “Get Out” have demonstrated that it's not only financially feasible but also a creative move to tell more complex and diverse narratives. These films perform exceptionally well both financially and critically, proving that exploring diverse cultural identities can resonate with audiences and increase profits. The recent explosion of streaming services has also been instrumental in making independent films more accessible to the public.

Finally, true representation in films must start on an industry-wide level. Diverse hiring and inclusivity must be incentivized and protected within movie studios and other movie-making workspaces. Causal themes and labor principles that support authentic and complex portrayals of diverse identities should be adopted. Casting directors should also be trained with particular emphasis on finding the right performer using authentic ethnic identification and emphasizing the need for diverse storylines. Additionally, film schools need to foster an atmosphere of inclusive mentorship that supports diverse voices and recruits from underrepresented communities.

In conclusion, contemporary cinema needs to make a sweeping and systematic change to empower more diverse groups to create and represent stories. The "status quo" in regards to representation must die for more nuanced, authentic portrayals of diverse cultures, and experiences to take its place. This would give viewers access to accurate and non-clichéd representations of diverse groups of people, and move towards truly inclusive cinema. It is up to filmmakers and audiences alike to push for change and demand that our media outlets are diverse and represent our contemporary society where we all share equal footing.