Black Representation In Movies Is More Than Problematic

Black representation in the entertainment industry overall has always been somewhat criticizable.

Albeit TV industry not being, media is a driving force in imposing and reinforcing cultural roles.

The role of entertainment in influencing masses’ self-perception is tremendous.

You’d think in 2021, after the strong support that Black Lives Matter movement has received, things would get a little better.

But in the most recent additions to Netflix library, there is still some controversy.

According to McKinsey’s recent report published last month, new research reveals that Black talent in the film and TV industry faces the economic fallout and solutions for creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

For Black professionals trying to build and sustain a career in film and TV, the industry has been, by many of their accounts, a relatively unwelcoming workplace.

The new movie called Moxie by Amy Poehler is getting some arrows drawn in.

Refinery 29 called it “Moxie has a privilege problem.” Vivian becomes a de facto leader in a movement — called the Moxie Club — that includes Lucy, who is Afro-Latinx; Claudia, who is of Chinese descent; a trans student, CJ (Josie Totah); and two Black women: soccer star Kiera (Sydney Park) and her best friend Amaya (Anjelika Washington).

Despite including a wonderfully diverse team, Moxie falls short on telling their stories. The characters played by ethnic are not cared to be developed, unlike the white main roles have been.

“What if the Black girls on the soccer team who become Vivian’s new friends were actually developed into full-fledged characters?”, Chicago Tribune cares to ask, “What if the one trans character and the one character who uses a wheelchair weren’t relegated to roles that feel barely a step above background actors?”

Moxie shows us that the mere concern of improving diversity on the facade in the entertainment through side characters hasn’t improved so much in 2021.

Ginny & Georgia, new Netflix show

Ginny & Georgia is the recent hit TV show. Self-declared as a darker twist to Gilmore Girls, a classic which lasted 7 seasons and which even had a highly anticipated follow up by Netflix called “Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life”, it tells the story of a young single mother, Georgia and her biracial daughter, Ginny. Ginny really struggles with her half-Black identity in a predominantly white neighborhood in Massachusetts. She befriends her white classmates more easily than her rare Black classmates. With her 3 girl friends, they go on to get dressed like Britney Spears’ famous costumes from her music videos- except of course it’s found a little strange by her Black peers that a mixed raced girl will dress up like Ms. Blondie Britney Spears.

On the other hand, McKinsey goes on to say, “We wanted to understand the lived experience of Black professionals along the end-to-end journey of content production and distribution, from applying for an entry-level position or pitching new ideas to shooting on location and distributing a finished product.”

  • By addressing the persistent racial inequities, the entertainment industry could reap an additional $10 billion in annual revenues — about 7 percent more than the assessed baseline of $148 billion.1 Fewer Black-led stories get told, and when they are, these projects have been consistently underfunded and undervalued, despite often earning higher relative returns than other properties.

So, addressing “minorities” stories can also have a high financial return.

In case one needed to be convinced, no, these stories will not perform poorly or be appreciated just for a certain woke audience, unlike the common misconception.

Black talent is underrepresented, especially off-screen.

Although the representation in entertainment of various ethnic and racial descent has been debated for a long time now, so far we have mostly seen an improvement on the facade.

Diversity off-screen in directors, screen writers, costume designers and crew members remain yet to be seen.

McKinsey’s conversations with professionals in the entertainment industry revealed that Black talent often gets shut out of projects unless senior team members are Black.

That’s why it’s super important for Black talent to create other opportunities for Black talent.

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