March 07, 2015

White males still dominate Hollywood

After the whitest Oscar nominations in years, several articles on Hollywood's lack of diversity appeared:

Dear White Male People: You Still Dominate HollywoodA little over a week ago, Best First Screenplay Spirit Award winner Justin Simien told the revelers at the ceremony that he started writing Dear White People “as an impulse because I didn’t really see my story out there in the culture.” Simien went on to encourage other young filmmakers, “If you don’t see yourself in the culture, please put yourself there, because we need you. We need to see the world from your eyes.”

A few days later, when the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA released its Diversity Report, it proved just how desperate and urgent Simien’s plea really is.

In the exhaustive report—which examined the top theatrical film releases in 2012 and 2013 and all broadcast, cable and digital platform TV programs from the 2012-13 season—the news for artists and executives of color went from bad to worse then horrific.

When you read the highlights­—and by that we mean low points—below, keep in mind that minorities constitute nearly 40% of the US population. Women make up half the population in the country.

Minorities are getting shut out of lead film roles
Of 174 films examined for 2013, minorities got less than 17% of lead roles.
Women and minorities' share of TV writing jobs lower, guild says

By Ryan FaughnderThe 2013-14 TV season showed no progress in the hiring of female and minority writers, according to the Writers Guild of America, West.

In fact, women and minority groups have recently lost ground compared with their white counterparts, the trade group said.

In a new report, the guild said women writers' share of TV staff jobs was 29% in the most recent season, down from 30.5% in the previous season. Meanwhile, minorities accounted for 13.7% of employment, compared with 15.6% during the 2011-12 season.

The WGA report, released Tuesday, covered about 3,000 writers working on about 300 shows on 36 networks. The declines in the most recent season follow slow gains over the last decade.
WGA Study: Most Jobs Go To White Guys in Their 40s

By David RobbThis lack of diversity at the beginning of the hiring process almost assures a lack of diversity at the end of it, the report’s author told Deadline. “The funnel is pretty narrow at the beginning of the phase in terms of project pitching, so it’s pretty much guaranteed that it’s going to be even narrower at the end of the pipeline,” said Dr. Darnell Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. “The pitching process needs to be more diverse. The higher payoff is diversifying the process at the very early stages.”And:“Blame is rightfully shared,” Hunt told Deadline, noting that showrunners, networks, studios, production companies and talent agencies that package the deals all need to do a better job of diversifying their writing staffs if audiences are going to continue to tune in to their shows. “Studies show that audiences do prefer more diverse programming,” he said. “I just don’t see how the industry is going to be viable if they don’t give increasingly diverse audiences what they want.”

But he said the chances of that happening on its own are not good. “The market by itself is not going to fix it; there are too many obstacles,” Hunt said. “It’s not going to correct itself. Something else is going to have to happen.”
Hollywood's Diversity Problem Starts At The Top, UCLA Report Finds

By Carolina MorenoHollywood’s diversity problem is far from shocking. Over the past few years, studies have highlighted the profitability of diverse casting and the lack of minority representation both in film and television. But a new study, released by UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, goes one step further to pinpoint the root of the problem.

Overwhelming white and male executives coupled with predominantly white rosters in the industry’s top three talent agencies are mainly to blame for the lack of diversity Hollywood, according to the university’s “2015 Hollywood Diversity Report.”
And:“Because of the high risk associated with the typical project—most new television shows fail, most films underperform—individual stakeholders in the industry (typically white and male) look to surround themselves with other individuals with whom they feel comfortable, with whom they feel they have the best prospects for producing a successful project,” the authors wrote. “These latter individuals, of course, tend to think and look like the former, thereby reproducing an industry culture that routinely devalues the talent of minorities and women.”

When the study looked into film studios’ executive ranks in 2013, 94 percent of CEOs and/or chairs and 92 percent of senior management were white. Television executives didn’t prove significantly more diverse either. The report found that 96 percent of chairs and/or CEOs and 93 percent of senior management were white.
HBO Is Determined To Tackle Its Diversity Problem

By Sasha BronnerOn Wednesday, the network that currently has hit shows "Game of Thrones," "Girls," "True Detective" and "Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver," declared that they will seek "emerging writers from diverse backgrounds" and that those selected will participate in a week of master classes, focusing on things like story development and how to pitch their work, before embarking upon an eight-month writing journey paired with an HBO development executive.

In the past, HBO has come under fire for the general whiteness of its programming--particularly "Girls"--and while many may feel that its unfair to pin all diversity requirements on one half-hour program, critics like The New York Times' Jon Caramanica proclaimed: "Television is nowhere near diverse enough--not in its actors, its writers or its show runners. The problems identified by critics of 'Girls' are systemic, traceable to network executives who greenlight shows and shoot down plenty of others. It’s at that level that diversity stands or falls."

Bustle wrote an article titled "Why HBO and Other Networks Need to Pay Attention to Diversity," and used HuffPost infographics to make their point.

For example, between 1975 and 2014, 38 individuals created hour-long dramas at HBO. Of the 38, 33 of these people were white men. Three were women and only one was a non-white man.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Race at the 2015 Oscars and Hollywood Still White in 2015.

Below:  The white stars of HBO's Girls.

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