Diversity in acting roles

USA Today, today. “Minority actors earned a record number of tv movies and movie roles in 2000 according to #s by the SAG.”

Overall they increased 7%, and the crowd goes wild. The biggest problem seems to be that women received 38% of the roles despite being over 50% of the population.

I’m wondering how big of a problem this is. Also, if this is a problem, is it one that is being given the correct solution or one that even needs to be solved at all?

Let’s look at something simple, like tv commercials. When there are four models needed it’s very easy for the producer or director to say “we need someone black in here.” And they go out and find a black model, problem solved. After all, what does the model care? It’s a job and he or she is getting paid for it. But the underlying reason for having the job had nothing to do with talent or skill but because someone higher up knew viewers would complain if someone black wasn’t thrown in. So they threw a black person in and the problem went away.
Clearly I’m not expecting the actors to take the “high road” and refuse a job based on this sort of racial pandering. But there is a problem, and it won’t get solved just by throwing more minorities out in the spotlight and then saying “look at the numbers. We’re being good!”

But the bigger problem is that no one seems to be paying attention to the idea that some people aren’t able to play some roles. I didn’t go see “Boomerang” or “Friday” and complain about the lack of white people in the movie. At the same time, I didn’t go see “Snatch” and complain about the lack of females (I think there were two in the whole movie). That’s how the script was written.

So should we start rewriting scripts to encorporate more diversity where diversity doesn’t belong or should the top brass only green light pre-diversified scripts? Must screenwriters start throwing Asians into “Waking Ned Divine” or writing in a few Indians into a movie about Germany in World War II so that SAG can once again say “look, our numbers are up again!”

How far can we take diversity?

That is way too much. I don’t think forced diversity is the way to go about achieving true diversity. Its like taking Advil when you have a headache caused by a brain tumor. The only way we will ever achieve true diversity and respect for other races is through time and EDUCATION, not just by placing people where they need to be to have equal representation.

I think that the underlying problem, and the complaints, are not addressed by numbers and statistics at all. If you added up all the token black guys in shows and counted them as equal to the main characters, I would guess that the television “population” mimicks the real world population pretty well.

However, the complaints are that minorities are being “unsderserved” and are largely being shunted off to the side by the major networks. Most of them don’t want token characters, they want quality shows based on their own cultural uniqueness. I beleive that blacks, for example, would far rather see a quality drama based around “The Color Purple”, than have a goofy-neighbor-who-happens-to-be-black added to the cast of “Friends”.

And UPN just ain’t cutting it.


“My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre, and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes.”