10 Extremely Problematic Realities About Latinos In Hollywood (And Some Hope)
The Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative (MDSCI)'s six-year study reveals some less-than-stellar statistics.
1. Latino characters were the most underrepresented group in film.
Among the racial and ethnic groups studied in the the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative's report, released August 2014, Latinos made up only 4.9% of movie characters across 100 of 2013's top-grossing films. The images above, for example, show three leads from the top three grossing movies from last year.
How does that compare with reality?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's estimates, there are roughly 52 million Latinos in the U.S. as of July 1, 2011, or just over 16% of the current U.S. population. That number is on track to reach 132.8 million — or about 30% of the U.S. population — by July 1, 2050.
2. And while we're tackling casting issues, the idea of whitewashing came into focus this past year.
It's worth nothing that two of the three top-grossing movies from 2013 inspired debate about representation with the casting of their most prominent characters.
The Hunger Games' heroine Katniss, for instance, is described as having black hair, olive skin, and gray eyes and is molded and fueled by the oppression she faces within the books' segregated dystopian setting. That she is played by a light-skinned, naturally blonde Jennifer Lawrence inspired much debate about Hollywood casting in general and the impact of whitewashing Katniss in particular.
Meanwhile, the story that inspired Disney's animated film Frozen has origins among Scandinavia's indigenous Sámi population. While the Sámi can indeed be fair-skinned, the depiction of the film's characters inspired discussion about diversity in film and its depiction of Sámi culture and clothing, perhaps most prominently by the Tumblr This Could Have Been Frozen, which discussed depictions of diversity on screen and encouraged readers to submit their own versions of Frozen-inspired character art.
Which all means...what exactly? Well, for one, there are people who consume and enjoy the stories being portrayed on film, and who are vocally stating their desire to see these stories represented accurately and with attention to detail. It also points to the reality that stories about Latinos and/or other underrepresented groups are out there — they just aren't being portrayed as such on the big screen.
3. As such, Latinos are "almost invisible" on the big screen.
4. And Latinas that are depicted in top-grossing movies are mostly naked.
While the study does note that "Hispanic females (37.3%) were more likely to be featured in popular films than were white females (29.6%) or Asian females (32%)," Latinas are also more likely than females among any of the other groups studied (37.5%, to be precise) to be shown partially dressed or nude on the big screen.