It's 2015. But if you're going by our films, it looks like people of color haven't been invented yet.
Dylan Marron (of Welcome to Nightvale and Human Symphony fame) is exposing the staggering lack of diversity in Hollywood, one second at a time. That's not an exaggeration. His film series, 'Every single word spoke by a person of color in x' has footage collected from big-budget Hollywood films. They're exactly what they say they are, and some of them are only 11 seconds long.
(500) Days of Summer- 31 seconds
"Okay but that's kind of an indie movie-"
American Hustle- 54 seconds
"Okay but those are only two-"
Noah- 11 seconds
Okay this is not okay.
The project is ongoing, but you get the picture. Unless you're looking at a movie like Selma, the experiences of people of color are practically invisible in major movies. They're almost never integral to the plot, and characters of color are frequently unmemorable- if they're even named at all. Can you think of a movie where the reverse is true?
There's no acceptable reason for this. It turns out, movies with more diversity do better. The Mary Sue reports:
"...Films with casts that were 30% diverse—meaning that 30% of the cast was comprised of people of color—performed best in worldwide box office numbers, according to THR. In television, where there are often more choices for content with diverse casts by virtue of more choices in general, the preferred percentage of diversity was predictably higher..."
Networking. Risks. Market Saturation.
The further down this whitewashed rabbit hole you go, the more excuses you will hear. People want to work with people they trust, with proven track records. Producers don't want to take the 'risk' of funding a movie for a 'niche' community. Or my least favorite: 'we already have one movie starring a person of color coming out this year, we don't want to make more and end up competing with ourselves'.
Tell that to Marvel, who made five superhero movies starring a white guy named Chris, all of which were box office successes.
Or does it only count when we're talking about someone nonwhite?