Hollywood has a problem

by Paul William Tenny

Jake GyllenhaalI guess people have their panties in a wad over the dearth of divserity in casting for Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. Let me just say three things.

  1. In theoretical defense of a theoretical diversity-challenged film, Hollywood is not overflowing with extremely talented actors of foreign descent (it is not in fact overflowing with extremely talented actors at all). There may be many actors of foreign descent, and some of they may be very talented, but it's not a really deep pool we're talking about here. It's entirely possible -- and even likely -- that in a country where white people are the majority, that the most talented person you see is white. It's simple math. If you could theoretically test 5,000 Asians and 50,000 whites for a role, chances are the most talented person will come from the biggest group.

  2. In support of the argument, Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Aterton probably weren't chosen because of their acting skills.

  3. While I was going to argue that attacking Hollywood in this instance wasn't fair -- because one studio made this movie, not Hollywood as a whole -- I decided not to because Hollywood overall is obviously guilty of this at all levels. The 70s version of Battlestar Galactica and the original Star Trek had a more diverse and progressive cast than Ron Moore's BSG or TNG, Voyager, and Deep Space Nine.

The modern BSG is particularly galling, where two positive role model African American characters were replaced with two traitors to the human race (both were revealed as Cylons) and one was a irresponsible, always-angry and usually drunk white guy.

I don't know what that says about Ron Moore, whom I admire greatly, or anyone else. Casting is not a small issue, people are involved from the director and producers in feature films, and showrunner in TV, up to nearly every level of the studio and even network.

Although I've not looked into at all, I seem to remember hearing similar complaints about M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender.

It's clear that Hollywood as a whole needs to do a better job diversifying casts, and yet you can't snap your fingers and magically create a minority actor out of thin air that's better at the trade than someone else you found who isn't a minority of any kind.

I will say this, though. This is a very important topic that needs to be discussed, and stories like the one that inspired this post are doing it a disservice by reporting it like someone just caught a politician cheating on his wife. It's not going to be addressed by treating it like an entertainment story.

in Film


Related posts:

1 Comment

It's not only minority ethnic actors that Hollywood has a problem with, but also women actors (and women are not a minority), and anyone with a disability.

And it's not only Hollywood with the problem. Canada has the problem as well, although, it does appear [most of the time], that Canada is trying to be more diversified in their casting.

In watching American television, aliens (Earthly and the outer space kind) would think that all Americans are white, skinny, rich; either addicted to drugs, booze, sex or power; having no morality, ethics, or concept of love, honor, respect, duty, redemption and forgiveness.

Leave a comment

View more stories by visiting the archives.

Media Pundit categories