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Food for Thought - Diversity on TV
In the light of #oscarssowhite and the emergence of series like Master of None and Orange is the New Black, diversity on TV is more hotly debated than ever. Series and movies are no longer just accessible over free TV broadcasting but also through semi-legal streaming platforms or paid service giants, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. While this lead to a broadening in which themes and types of characters get screen time and more experimental and diverse approaches to series formats, we ascribe to the idea that representation matters, and the question remains: Is this enough?
The fact that men outnumber women two to one on television is not at all funny. Its not funny that black people are only listened to when they talk about the industries’ lack of diversity once they've hit the big screen and become famous. However, all this moaning about racism, sexism, etc etc is not new. People are actually doing something about it. The BBC pledged to increase the number of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people on air by more than 40%. This being said, shows rarely seem to be brilliant when the cast is mainly White people in their 20's pretending to be in high school and act like they’re still 15. The emergence of Master of None has sprung some sparks in people which is quite sad because these are things that are happening all the time and its not new, so why act like we care about it now? What about boycotting the Oscars this year over the failure to nominate a single black actor for the second year running? There also wasn't a single female director nominated! I could rant about these things all day, but instead, I could also recommend shows that are worth watching like Broad City, something like Girls, but actually funny.
What I would like to see, is for series not to be tailored towards one specific demographic. Like, why do some series have to be marketed towards black people or women only? In my opinion, this is only increasing stereotyping and also, sometimes I am hesitant to watch shows that clearly are not meant for me, even though they seem funny or interesting. Of course, that would only be possible if there was equal screen time to begin with!- Zoe Dominique Glowacki
While I’m looking at the development of shows, such as Orange is the New Black and Fresh Off the Boat, with hope I think the question might be posed wrongly. Yes, we all want more diversity and we all recognize the danger in portraying people in stereotypes only. All these shows that are celebrated for showing diversity are received favorably, so obviously there is an audience! Most certainly, it is not hard to understand why it would create resentment if people of color are never main characters, never get their own story and if they have a place at all, are designated cops, drug dealers or “main character’s best friend”. However, the change won’t come if there is not more diversity in the writers’ rooms and in the production companies. Yet, these are the areas that are notoriously hard to get into without knowing someone on the inside or having certain credentials that are, themselves, connected to money and privilege. So, while I will continue watching my shows with well-developed female and non-white characters, I know that there has to be a challenge to the underlying conditions of “who gets to decide what airs and what is developed” for real change to come.- Isabel Schmuck
Recently, I watched Love by Gaspar Noé. The first scene of the film, a sex scene, set the tone. It was shocking at first, but then, my feeling of uneasiness transformed into an admiration for the beauty of the act throughout the movie. I am not saying that it had never been depicted before in cinema (e.g. Blue is the Warmest Colour) but it is still interesting to notice my own reaction in front of a sentimental sex scene which is entirely part of the story, and which is, if we think about it, not such a big deal. It made me reflect on the place that is attributed to sex in our society. I think there is a strange unbalance in what passes tolerance levels to enter a market or not. Those movies are censured or shown with an age limitation, whereas Nicki Minaj or J-Lo's music videos are acceptable on TV in familial timeslots. I feel like sex is only accepted by the larger masses within extremes, either puritan or super trash. We act as if it is something that everybody is now open to talk about, but in my view, those paradoxes show that there is still a long way to go in accepting something that is part of our daily life.- Zoé Numan
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