Hidden Truths Within Hollywood
In a world where the media we consume is present within every sphere of our lives, it is important to analyze the implicit biases and messages behind the content that sticks with us. Additionally, as consumers, we have to be conscious of the types of media we choose to consume and what these choices communicate.
For example, since 2020 has been a year that has forced us to consider our own racial biases, many white people have flocked to books, such as How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi or So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeom Oluo, to consider notions of white privilege and racial injustice in our individual lives. While reading books like these two are important steps to take as one examines the implications of race in their lives, black authors should not only be acclaimed for their ability to take white people on spiritual and mental journeys. Black authors are responsible for masterpieces of American literature that do not surround modern conceptions of race.
Similarly, just as pervasive as literature, the film industry is another example of the media we take in that contributes to internalized stereotypes. Whether it is the idea of the “fiery” POC best friend or a plot about a “clash” of black and white neighborhoods, the film industry perpetuates subtle notions of white supremacy.
Many movies with BIPOC characters either have a white protagonist or a plot where race is the main conflict at hand, giving the white characters an equally “important” presence in the film. Perhaps race is simply an easy identifier to make movies about, but this only seems to be the case when the movie is about a person of color.
One example of implicit racism in films is the portrayal of extraordinary members of different races. In movies such as The Hate You Give, the protagonist is portrayed as someone who “escaped” the common outcome of kids where she lives as if the only acceptable narrative of black adolescents is that of the extremely successful. In films and everyday life, white kids and adults that do not meet society’s standard of extraordinary are “just human,” given excuses and second chances. Black people do not seem to ever be awarded this privilege.
As we continue to consume media and watch movies, we must examine how these race-based stereotypes creep into seemingly innocent plotlines. The neglect of the presence of these issues among the modern-day film industry is a sickeningly harmful turning of a blind eye.