What are you missing in Sci-Fi/fantasy films? DIVERSITY

By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly

Many moviegoers will be enjoying their share of summer movies, but according to a recent study, they will be missing something.  Diversity. The lack of people of color and women in science fiction and fantasy are especially stunning.  

As of 2014, based on the top 100 domestic Sci-Fi and fantasy movies, there are not that many movies involving people of color.  According to the study, only 8% of the films have a person of color as the lead protagonist, with Will Smith in six of those films and a cartoon character, Aladdin, in another.  Only 14% of the movies had a lead female character.  There were no Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual or Queer main characters and only 3% had movies with a villain of color.

Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ did extremely well in its first weekend of wide release.

The movie, based on the comic book about an intergalactic band of rebels, drew $94 million in its first weekend.  Initial estimates projected that the movie would draw between $50 million and $75 million in North America.  Notably, Guardians of the Galaxy has Dave Bautista in a co-starring role.  Batista, a pro wrestler in his spare time, is half Filipino and half Greek.   But, based upon the statistics drawn from the survey, the musclebound Batista is a rarity in this movie genre.

“The statistics are certainly striking, especially since Sci-Fi and fantasy belongs to a genre that prides itself on creativity and imagination,” explained Marissa Lee, co-founder of Racebending.com.  Lee’s website advocates for underrepresented groups in entertainment media.

Imran Siddiquee, director of communications for the Representation Project believes that America would support a diverse main character in a big, blockbuster Sci-Fi/fantasy movie.  “I think an important thing to understand about Hollywood blockbusters is that they are almost never flukes, they were preordained,” stated Siddiquee.  Siddiquee’s organization uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness toward change.  Siddiquee explains that most big movies need financial backing.  However, he points out that not one single film has been released in 2014 starring a person of color with a budget of more than $50 million.

It is worthy to point out that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson starred in the $100 million budget film, “Hercules,” which opened in July.  Johnson is part black and part Samoan.

Still, Johnson may be the exception.  He was given a chance in part due to his former profession, which ironically was Bautista’s former job, as a professional wrestler.  The issue is that Hollywood tends not to take chances on actors or characters that they perceive as risks explained Lee.   “We are seeing more diversity in television, particularly in children’s television, as well as in online content,” Lee added, “the establishment will change when someone influential in Hollywood decides to take the risk and make an effort to diversify their film offerings.  Hollywood needs to believe that diversity can be profitable.” (end)

Jason Cruz can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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