September 30, 2006

The Hollywood tribe

Roscoe Pond on stereotypes and reality in Hollywood“We are still considered as a stereotype, 'warriors and princesses,' which Hollywood created 100 years ago. My new documentary is an extension of that exhibit, but in a visual context that is very informative.”

While interviewing Native filmmakers in Hollywood, Pond explored the truths of Indians in film.

“I found we haven't come very far in mainstream Hollywood. Plus, we are only represented by less than 1 percent on TV and in films.

“We're at the bottom and really only subjected to Westerns. At least we are now playing ourselves instead of non-Indians.


Rob said...

If you round off to one digit, 1% is the correct approximation. But naturally it's a bit more complex than that.

First you have to define who's an Indian. From the 2000 Census:

"In Census 2000, 4.3 million people, or 1.5 percent of the total U.S. population, reported that they were American Indian and Alaska Native. This number included 2.4 million people, or 1 percent, who reported only American Indian and Alaska Native as their race."

So if Native actors, strictly defined, got 1% of the roles, you could say they were fairly represented. If they got only 0.5% of the roles, you could say they were underrepresented by half. So small differences in the numbers used make a big difference in the conclusions drawn.

I believe the 0.5% situation is closest to the truth. But you can't tell that from this article. With numbers this small, you have to be more precise. But I'm sure Roscoe Pond didn't expect people like us to be second-guessing his estimate.

Anyway, I keep track of the annual diversity reports at TV Shows Featuring Indians. That's probably your best source for the percentages on Native actors.

Anonymous said...

Interesting points you each make regarding the percentage of natives on film and TV. For the sake of argument, let's assume that natives do receive one percent of the roles.

Okay. Analyzing this further, what kinds of roles are these? That information would be even more revealing, I believe. I don't have the details about this, but I do have some hunches.

Do you have any stats about what kinds of roles natives are getting, Rob?

Such as...are they historical? minor supporting roles? men and/or women? thugs or businesspeople?

I'd love to know the answer...

Rob said...

I don't have any hard data, but you can imagine what the roles are. In the last few years, movies such as Dreamkeeper, the Hillerman mysteries, Into the West, and The New World were probably the biggest employers of Native actors.

Rob said...

Gee, Russ...somehow I've missed all your screen appearances. Sorry!