This Tumblr Is Exposing Hollywood’s Problem With People Of Colour
Dylan Marron is making videos of every single word spoken by a person of colour in Hollywood movies. Spoiler: The clips are pretty short.
In the Biblical epic Noah, for example, there are no speaking roles at all for people of colour.
Marron is an actor, writer, and director. He's best known for voicing Carlos on the popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale. Yet despite his talent and experience he is frequently told by agents that he won't be able to play certain leading roles because as a person of colour there aren't many parts for his "type".
"It seems like no matter how far I've come, or how much work I have under my belt, this industry still finds a way to tell me what I can and can't represent," he told BuzzFeed.
In Spike Jonze's 2014 Her, there are only four people of colour with speaking roles: the character Tatiana, Letter Writer No.2, Pizza Vender, and Uncomfortable Waitress.
The Every Single Word series urges people to question why movies with such universal themes so frequently feature white protagonists.
Marron wants the audience to come up with their own conclusions about the lack of diversity in Hollywood after watching the clips.
"I present these cuts without comment and without embellishment," he said. "As the volume of videos keeps getting bigger, a pattern will emerge. When you lay out patterns in front of people, they speak much louder than any megaphone rant."
In David O. Russell's crime comedy-drama American Hustle, speaking parts for people of colour make up 40 seconds of the entire movie.
"I read The Fault in Our Stars and cried my eyes out," he said. "I love that book. But nowhere in John Green's exceptional novel was any character's race ever mentioned. So why is whiteness the default? The story is not about whiteness, it's about love and loss and mortality. If Hollywood keeps using white actors to tell universal stories then it is suggesting that people of colour don't fit in to the zeitgeist of human emotions."
The only person of colour with a speaking role in Josh Boone's The Fault In Our Stars, is the character Dr. Maria.
Marron has mostly received positive reactions to his project, especially from actors who have "given up" or feel discouraged by the lack of roles available for POC in the film industry.
In Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha there are just four speaking roles for people of colour, totalling to less than 30 seconds of footage.
Although Marron's idea is simple and straightforward, he still receives negative criticism toward the project, mostly from YouTube commenters.
"It's interesting to see people get so defensive when the work they're attacking is simply presented facts," Marron said.
In Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said, the only lines spoken by a person of colour were by the character Cathy, a maid.
He describes his feelings toward the success of the project as "bittersweet".
"I would much rather be telling stories than exposing this systemic problem with how mainstream stories are told," he said. "I wish I didn't even have to make these videos."
Will Gluck's rom-com Friends With Benefits would be less than a minute long with only non-white speaking characters.
"Casting choices are contributing to a racist system that projects whiteness as 'normal' and erases people of colour," says Marron. "I feel like as a society we're so intent on calling out racist people, but we have such difficultly identifying racist systems."
If only people of colour spoke in Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, the film would consist of just one scene.
The speaking roles for people of colour in Marc Webb's (500) Days Of Summer make up less than 30 seconds of the entire film.
Overall, Marron hopes that this project will encourage filmmakers to take more of an interest in their casting choices. And he is glad Every Single Word is creating important conversations about the representation of people of colour in Hollywood.