Dylan Marron has generated 12 videos that prove one shocking fact: how severely under represented minorities are in mainstream Hollywood and Independent films.
The series is called "Every Single Word Spoken By a Person of Color".
The facts speak for themselves. Of the close to 23 hours of screen time presented between the 12 films only a little short of 6 minutes is devoted to minority characters with any dialogue. That is less than a 1/2 percent of all screen time.
Clearly some things need to change, especially with audiences expressing a preference for more films with minority characters according to a study done by The Hollywood Reporter.
The most egregious offenders on the list- Into the Woods and Noah with no minorities at all. Zero dialogue. Zero screen time. Zilch. Nada.
Another offender is American Hustle. Its ABSCAM based plot promises a wealth of minority roles. Still, only 54 seconds of its close to 2 hour 18 minute running time has any dialogue delivered by a minority. Clearly a film that does not want to show the diversity it promises.
Marron who is a Venzuelan American has experienced being turned down for a role because he is the wrong type for the lead role.
To root it just in terms of I’m proving why I can’t get work — Marron notes in a Washington Post piece-- this isn’t just a cause I’ve struck up for the labor issues. This is a systemic problem I’ve noticed since I was a kid. I’m telling you all of these things about the meetings with agents because it’s a way I’ve confronted it directly. But it’s just a problem I’ve been noticing for a really long time. I’m part of this industry. I want to keep working in this industry. I want to tell stories in this industry. I want to tell stories through this medium and I want to be in stories in this medium. But there is a real problem going on with the lack of representation.
You want a conversation to start from the work you make. My goal in this — I don’t want to get on a megaphone and start yelling. I don’t want to post a ranty blog series. I feel like I am just highlighting and outlining a pattern that is at play … characters without names, movies that feature people of color and they speak for less than a minute. Showing patterns and showing them without embellishment, without comment and just placing them on the table is so much more effective than yelling about the problem.
In the same piece, Marron explains at some length about the genesis of the video series.
There’s a big variety of movies, but they do have one thing in common: all of these movies are not about whiteness. They are not about white people. They are not about the experience of being white and they are not historical dramas that are just about white people. They’re not about whiteness. They are about really universal and very human themes. They’re about love and they’re about loss. For example, “The Fault in Our Stars” is an incredible book. I love that book so much. John Green, I think, is a wonderful writer. I’m a huge fan of his. But nowhere in his book was anyone’s race ever mentioned.
So my question with these videos is why are we using white people to tell these universal stories? And what is that saying? I think it’s saying something really dangerous and the message it gives to people of color — and I can say this as a person of color who grew up watching these stories that I related to thematically and didn’t see reflections of myself in them — what it tells you is you don’t really have a place in this world. And this is your place. Your place are these specific speaking roles and you’re mostly credited as your job, like “busdriver” or “waitress no. 2″ or “hostess.” I think what is so insidious about this is that it just creeps in.
We as a society are so, so well-trained at calling out racist people. We’re really great at ganging up on them on Twitter, pointing at racist people, and evicting them from the social sphere so that we feel really, really good about ourselves. But we really don’t have the tools to talk about systemic racism. I’m not saying that any of these films are racist. I’m not saying that any of these filmmakers are racist. I’m saying that the system that they’re contributing has some deeply racist practices.
Here are the videos with run time and minority screen time presented: