During the Oscars last week, Twitter users were out in force, rallying round the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. The reason? If it wasn’t obvious, the lack of racial diversity among the Academy Awards nominees.
Chris Rock, the host of the awards, summed it up in his opening monologue when he said, “Why are we protesting this Oscars? It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this no black nominees thing happened 71 other times.”
— AJ+ (@ajplus) 1 March 2016
This week, a study from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has confirmed that the Twitter backlash was more than just hyperbole.
Titled, ‘Inclusion or Invisibility?’, the study looked at TV shows and movies released between September 2014 and August 2015. During that time period, people of color directed just 13 percent of the 414 films and television shows studied.
While that’s shocking, the numbers for women in the business are even worse. Just 3.4 percent of the 109 films studios released were directed by women. Of that tiny minority, just two were black women: Selma’s Ava DuVernay and Amma Asante, the Ghanaian-British director of Belle.
When you look at those in front of the camera, things are only marginally better. Just 28.3 percent of all speaking characters were from ethnic minorities.
The study’s six authors even went so far as to say, “Hollywood remains a straight, white boys’ club.” Which sounds awfully familiar to how people describe Silicon Valley.
Thankfully there does appear to be a response from film studios and directors alike. J.J Abrams sent a memo to agents and production houses stating that crews and actors should “be at the very least representative of the country we live in.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, there’s been a ‘casting blitz’ since the Oscar nominees were announced.
And it’s not just because of guilt. A recent UCLA study revealed that films and TV shows that reflect the diversity of America on average draw higher ratings and the highest median global box-office receipts.
Twitter-sphere 1, Hollywood, 0.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.