You probably know Dylan Marron’s name by now. If you didn’t know it from Welcome to Night Vale, then you certainly know it from his latest project, showing how white Hollywood films are and just how little representation there is for people of color.
Marron’s latest project is the Every Single Word blog, which features videos of feature films re-edited to show every person of color in that particular film. In way too many, some films have no person of color available, and in the ones that do, they’re generally background roles with largely inconsequential lines. Here are a couple of videos:
Marron said to the Washington Post he started the project to show just how tough it is for a person of color in Hollywood. He talked about some of the things he’s heard from agents when it comes to finding roles for him:
…Some are very explicit and some are not. Some are like, “let’s see how much there is out there” or “I don’t know how much there is out there for your type.” It’s funny how many ephemisms there are for that: “Well, I’ll keep my eyes peeled, but you’re very specific.” That’s such a funny way to put it. You’re brown. You’re very “specific.” It feels like no matter how much I’ve done, no matter how much work I have under my belt, no matter how much I have to speak for, the talent just doesn’t matter.
Here are some more quotes from his interview with the website:
To root it in terms of I’m proving why I can’t get work – this isn’t just a cause I’ve struck up for 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…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, moies 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.
…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 out 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.
There’s always evidence of Hollywood’s racist practices, but even more has been shown today, with The Huffington Post‘s article about Zoe Kravitz being told she was “too urban” for a part in The Dark Knight Rises. As she told Nylon Magazine:
“They told me that I couldn’t get an audition for a small role they were casting because they weren’t ‘going urban.’ I was like, ‘What does that have to do with anything?’ I have to play the role like, ‘Yo, what’s up, Batman? What’s going on wit chu?'”
Eventually, Hollywood’s got to learn that these kinds of practices just aren’t going to fly anymore. Thankfully, more and more stars are speaking up about their issues with casting, and Marron’s video project will certainly help open some eyes and, I believe, cause change.
Screencap of Marron in Whatever This Is.