Recent Films Signal Encouraging Trend

Amanda Young, Business Editor

Why is it important to see diversity in movies? It’s more than just broadening your horizons by watching socially ‘different’ films.

It’s that seeing yourself in movies can be inspiring.

Historically, diversity in Hollywood has been meager. When there has been, Hollywood has typically perpetuated stereotypes, including “the nerdy Asian math student, the sassy black sidekick, the icy female boss,” as HuffPost accurately described. They are mostly inauthentic and one-dimensional.

In AP European History, we watched a TedTalk titled “The Danger of a Single Story.” In the video, a Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie, warns that hearing just 1 perspective of a story is dangerous because it provides an inaccurate, incomplete view of a population or community. Similarly, Hollywood’s portrayal of minorities in film is often 1-sided. Depicting minorities in the same, demoralizing way time after time sends a problematic message: this is all that they can be. 

Sophomore Amia Bonilla, president of Campolindo’s Black Student Union, noted that seeing Black Panther‘s primarily black cast was empowering. “In Black Panther, since the majority of the crew was black, it showed how far we’ve come from before,” she said. “I know that there are a lot of actors who are black and that they can be lead [roles], but the fact that the whole entire movie was [made up of] black people and that every character was black, it was kind of inspiring.”

Representation matters because it allows people to see other versions of themselves on the big screen. Whether we are aware of it or not, the media has a huge impact on the way people view minorities and the way minorities view themselves.

In Crazy Rich Asians, the Asian population is portrayed as more than just nerds or martial-arts geeks. In To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the main character is seen as an “object of desire (in a non-fetishizing way)” which was “practically unheard of,” said Vanity Fair. Though race does play a minor role in the movie, it is not the main focus, and this was refreshing to see because it showed that Asian-Americans can be part of a Hollywood love story — and that it can be normal.

The importance of diversity in Hollywood is not lost on Campolindo students. “Hollywood is a huge factor of media and a lot of people, especially our age, watch Hollywood movies. It’s part of the American culture,” said sophomore Connie Kim. “It should reflect a lot of diversity because a lot of kids watch it, and especially in towns where a minority doesn’t have a big part, they should learn more about not just their community but the bigger world and view.”

“Watching, especially Crazy Rich Asians, as an Asian-American myself, I was really proud to see that and [was] surprised by the fact that Hollywood took a bigger step in having all of the cast being Asians,” added Kim. 

Personally, Crazy Rich Asians and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before were huge for me. I wasn’t alive when Joy Luck Club was released, meaning Crazy Rich Asians was the very 1st non-period movie I’ve seen with an all-Asian cast. It’s encouraging to see actors and actresses from all over the world who look like me, portraying something other than a nerd or a martial artist.

“We are not supporting roles,” said Constance Wu, the female lead of Crazy Rich Asians. “We are stars on our own journeys.”

Hollywood and the media are undeniably strong influences on the lives of suburban teens. While there is always room for more diversity and growth– and even more inclusivity within specific minority groups– I believe that its latest releases have been an important step forward.