Have you ever read a book and the race of the characters was never mentioned? Oftentimes you’re left to paint a picture in your head as to what the person’s background is. But what happens when that book is made into a television movie? Those race-less characters are suddenly white. Or you read a book and the characters are clearly of a certain ethnicity, but then once that book gets the Hollywood treatment, the characters somehow end up being white?
To many in Hollywood, such things are no surprise. Movies nowadays, unless they’re billed as “black” movies, hardly ever feature diverse casts, and the creator of Every Single Word is making sure people realize just how the lack of diversity would affect movies if all the lines from the white actors were removed and only the lines from the people of color were left.
Dylan Marron’s goal is to expose not only the lack of diversity in movies but also how it affects actors of color in Hollywood, especially since he’s one, too.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Marron explained why he started the project.
“It seems like no matter how far I’ve come, or how much work I have under my belt, this industry still finds a way to tell me what I can and can’t represent,” he told BuzzFeed.
Some of the movies featured on Marron’s Tumblr page include some pretty heavy-hitters. How many people flocked to see the biblical movie Noah? And just how many people of color were in the movie?
See for yourself.
And then there’s one of my recent favorite movies, Her, which stars Joaquin Phoenix. The movie was nominated for and won multiple awards. But what if only the people of color spoke?
“I present these cuts without comment and without embellishment,” Marron said. “As the volume of videos keeps getting bigger, a pattern will emerge. When you lay out patterns in front of people, they speak much louder than any megaphone rant.”
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, one book in particular that was made into a movie was The Fault in Our Stars, a love story between two ethnicity-less characters. There was never any mention of their race in the book. They could have been any race you wanted them to be in your head. But Hollywood, of course, made the main characters white.
“I read The Fault in Our Stars and cried my eyes out,” Marron said. “I love that book. But nowhere in John Green’s exceptional novel was any character’s race ever mentioned. So why is whiteness the default? The story is not about whiteness, it’s about love and loss and mortality. If Hollywood keeps using white actors to tell universal stories, then it is suggesting that people of color don’t fit into the zeitgeist of human emotions.”
Just like Marron, I cried my eyes out when I read the book, and just a tad bit when I saw the movie. But when you take a look at the clip below, the only thing that’s sad now is the fact that once again, Hollywood went Hollywood.
The sad part about Marron’s project is that no matter how loud people scream that they want diversity, it tends to be ignored by Hollywood. Sure, we can rely on the “for us, by us” movies, but that still leaves very few options. Ava DuVernay and other black Hollywood filmmakers are breaking boundaries, little by little, but Hollywood needs to recognize that people live in a diverse world, and movies should reflect that.
Imagine if blind casting were something Hollywood did all the time. Imagine if the teen couple with cancer in The Fault in Our Stars were actors of color. That would have brought an added dynamic to the movie, as well as more dollars in their pockets.
Until Hollywood learns that diversity is a good thing, people have tough choices to make at the box office, and actors of color in Hollywood will have tough choices when it comes to their careers.