Racial and Ethnic Equality

Consumers of media around the globe influence one another in their social lives. Through the development of political, artistic, and social ideas through the lens, it determines how things are perceived. (Brownell 428). In today's American society, it is clear that the media has shaped how people perceive racism and ethnicity. For a very long time, race and nationality have been major issues in American public life. (Brownell 429). In a recent episode in Charlottesville, many Americans came out to voice their opposition to the removal of a pro-slavery Confederate general from its location, showing how the subject of racism is still divisive in America today. Research indicates that Americans holding the view that racism and ethnicity presents a major problem outweigh those who do not by a 20 to 1 ratio (Brownell 429). Some studies indicate that extreme stereotyping in the lines of race and ethnicity reduced after President Obama was elected (Brownell 429). However, Hollywood has so far revealed that it enhances social and ethnic stereotyping, vices common in the American diverse society, through the lens. This paper seeks to find out whether stereotypes, in the form of ethnicity and racism, are created or enhanced through the Hollywood's camera.

Hollywood Stereotyping Hispanics

Latinos have for a long time been portrayed in movies as immigrants, ‘sexpots’, lovers or maids or all of the mentioned in combination, in a similar manner with how the U.S society views them (Morald 342). Even though Latinos are one of the minority groups in U.S, films should stop enhancing how they have always been stereotyped in the American society. When one views American television shows or films, one realizes that Latinos always play maids or lovers or immigrants that just came into the country illegally, with heavy accents and only minimal knowledge of English. This does not indicate the real picture of Latinos as Morald observes (344).

Before the lens took to Latinos, black Americans used to be placed in roles of the maid (Morald 345). America stereotypes black women as potential maids; Hollywood enhanced this vice. In 1980s, with the change in the society’s view of maids towards Latinos, Hollywood adopted the character at that point. ‘I Married Dora’, a television show in the year 1987, portrayed a Latino illegal immigrant who had to be married by a legal U.S citizen so that she would evade deportation (Morald 350). Hollywood scenes have always portrayed Latino women as maids since then. The scenes enhance this form of stereotyping in the whole world as children grow up viewing Latinos as subordinates. On the other hand, those who are already guilty of the racism vice continue with the ethnic stereotyping.

Typecasting of Black Actors

Typecasting exists in life outside acting. O'Connor observes that in Hollywood, it is elevated to a whole new level (1979). Most films portray the black man as being on the wrong side of the law. Even though blacks achieve success as seen in them winning awards, they are still marginalized in films. The prevalence of the stereotypical roles reveals how blacks struggle to act quality roles in movies. Whenever they act major roles, the blacks will always be criminals (O'Connor 1979). They are seen as the unwanted evil in the society. Movies end ‘successfully’ with the elimination of the bad black man. Whenever they are not playing evil roles, they are pushed aside to minor roles such as that of junior workers, for instance sweepers. A few blacks who have struggled to make it to the top have retaliated as a reactionary move (O'Connor1979). Holding the feeling of a people who have been looked down upon for a long time, they put white people to act subordinate roles in their movies.

Typecasting of black women is more visible than that of black men (O'Connor 1980). Even if a black woman turns out to be the best performers, researchers point out that they are not accorded the best roles. They are normally set in scenes as type C and D characters instead of type A and B (O'Connor 1980). The movie Dear White People has been criticized as stereotyping black women. Normally only light-skinned blacks are awarded major roles, as seen in Dear White People, because they are ‘close to white’. So contagious is the lens-inflicted vice that some blacks have internalized it (O’Connor 1980). O’Connor observes that a number of African-Americans apply skin-lightening chemicals to emulate their white counterparts (1980). Films have portrayed white as superior to the point that icons such as the late Michael Jackson went to any extent to appear white.

‘Devil Wears Prada’ is one of the movies made to coach white racists against stereotyping (O’Connor 1982). Blacks are intentionally given major quality roles to play with the aim of campaigning against ethnic profiling in television and movies. They are depicted as befriending white people and ‘hanging out’ together (O’Connor 1983). One actress known as Tracie Thoms for example, befriends Anne Hathaway to show that blacks and whites can co-exist without a trace of racism in ‘Devil Wears Prada’.

The Whites Save Bad Situations

Yuen points out that while countering ethnicity and racism, Hollywood movies try to ‘disguise’ their sets as those that campaign against terrorism (45). Suburbicon,a John Clooney movie, is one of such films. John Clooney is the character used to fight racism which seems to be the movie’s theme (Yuen 49). However, the movie does not have black people in the frontline. In the long-run, this aspect defeats its anti-racism course. Most Hollywood movies are directed and starred by white people, including those whose theme is anti-racism (Yuen 49). As such, the film, while trying to eliminate ethnic prejudice, actually ends up promoting it by virtue of black consumers seeing themselves as the oppressed.

Lack of Diversity in Relationships

In a world that shuns racism, inter-marriages between white and black people would be a common aspect (Bass 3). Hollywood movies are good as far as depicting inter-marriages is concerned. However, the movies make it look as if black people in relationships with whites are privileged (Bass 5). The movies put whiteness in the frontline and as such, black men having married white women, see themselves as having won themselves a ‘trophy’.

Bad Women

Often, black women come out in Hollywood films as sassy and with attitude and temper disorders, exactly in the same manner the American society stereotypes them (Bass 6). Since Hollywood films are famous, they enhance this stereotype tendency. Television programs, ‘Basketball Wives’ being one of them, are notorious for freshening up the wound. In the series, black wives are seen as those who tend to portray a lot of drama and are unnecessarily loud in addition to being negatively aggressive as observed by Bass (7). Research has found out that such films and television shows truly impact on black women’s lives (Bass 7). Their marriage and carriers are harmed because the stakeholders in their real lives view the stereotyping as true.

Black Men Stereotyped as One-Dimensional Negative Characters

Spunt notes that negation of the wider black life experience is enhanced through one-dimensional negative characters created by Hollywood and other television and film schemes (24). The media is the only way to penetrate into the public domain, right through the televisions in their living rooms. The scenes then influence misperceptions on the general public regarding blacks as thieves or con men. Negative perceptions of black men as such have been utilized to justify racial prejudice incidences which they go through in many places; these range from homicide, high poverty rates and underachievement in education to over-involvement in crime (Spunt 25).

Stereotyping of Asian Americans

The fastest-growing racial group in US, the Asian Americans, has been stereotyped in the American society as enhanced by the media (Yuen 61). Despite their population that is expanding rapidly, they have limited roles in movies; it is often difficult to spot an Asian starring in an American film. Kung fu fighters, geeks, foreigners and prostitutes are some of the aspects Asian Americans are wrongly associated with and which Hollywood enhances through the lens (Yuen 63). Stanley Kubrick’s movie, Full Metal Jacket marked the advent of Asian stereotyping in movies (Yuen 63). Asian women were portrayed as willing to do anything in exchange for sex with white men. Voted one of the most popular war movies of all time, the film sparked more stereotyping and paved way for other Hollywood movies to prejudice against Asians in America.

Secondly, the Asian Americans are portrayed as foreigners (Yuen 64). Despite having lived in the U.S since mid 1800s, Hollywood films view Asian Americans as recent foreigners who have not mastered English language (Yuen 54). As such, they are depicted as heavily accented in a scenario which sparks stereotyping of the highest order.

Countering Stereotyping

Aggressive Activism

To terminate Hollywood and other film companies enhancing stereotyping, I would engage many anti-stereotyping activists. The Rada Film Group as well as Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) are just a few of such bodies. Through partnering with them, I would lobby for active scrutiny of movies before they come out into the limelight. Films as well as television shows found to contain any trace of ethnic and racism stereotyping would not pass regulations test and would have to be edited or, for the good of all, banned.


Directors and movie editors are the main parties to blame for negative content. To curb Hollywood prejudicing, as an activist, I would push for government reforms through readily-willing bodies such as ABFE. Having garnered the resources and support, I would call upon all stakeholders, especially movie actors and directors to attend regular forums. Through these gatherings, I would take the initiative to point out movies that contain ethnic and racial profiling themes. The move would be initiated with the aim of sensitizing the stakeholders to be aware of what type of content is unwanted in films as an anti-racism action. The campaign would occasionally include a few influential members of the public who would influence boycott of watching such immoral movies by the general public.

Offering Subsidies to Moral Movies

I would write to the government through stable non-profit anti-racism organs to enable subsidizing of movies which enhance anti-stereotyping. Films such as 12 Years a Slave would not merit for subsidy. This movie discourages only traditional racism which is in the form of whipping and usage of brutal force (Wood 109). Modern racism uses non-violent means to oppress minorities. Due to the subsidy offered, most film producers would be encouraged to produce movies that discourage ethnic and racial stereotyping.

Works Cited

Bass, Travesheia Rashel. When the Silver Screen Fades to Black: An Analysis of Black Faces in Film. Master’s Thesis, University of Louisville, 2016.

Brownell, Kathryn Cramer. "Stars for Freedom: Hollywood, Black Celebrities, and the Civil Rights Movement by Emilie Raymond." Southern California Quarterly, vol. 97, no. 4, 2015, pp. 427-430.

Morad, Moshe. "Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century US Popular Performance." Ethnomusicology Forum, vol. 26, no. 1, 2017, pp. 342-388.

O'Connor, Constance M. "Dusky Dottyback Actors Avoid Typecasting." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 218, no. 13, 2015, pp. 1979-1983.

Spunt, Barry. Heroin, Acting, and Comedy in New York City. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Wood, Robin. Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan... and Beyond: A Revised and Expanded Edition of the Classic Text. Columbia University Press, 2012.

Yuen, Nancy Wang. Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism. Rutgers University Press, 2016.

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