Reality Check

It happened again. Actually it happens every time a new Hollywood movie is released, especially if it is a science fiction or fantasy piece. My friends, who I care for dearly, go into a frenzy on two main subjects: 1). Where are the black people, (2) Why does the brother have to die?. Notice that I didn’t mention my sisters. This is because seeing a sister in any of these movies in a prominent role is as rare as frog’s hair (That’s a country saying). The conversations continue about how Hollywood should realize that their audience is diverse and they should take the time to represent everyone fairly and equally.

I agree with them, but I’m not holding my breath. The major entities that make up the concept we call Hollywood are corporations. Corporations exist to make profit for the owners of the corporation and to operate in a manner that will continue the growth of the corporation. These companies thrive on a process that has taken them decades to develop and sharpen. There is little room for deviation, for change could mean failure, which leads to lost of profit, which can lead to the death of the corporation. In other words, Hollywood has a business model that works. That model was developed during a time when catering to minorities was not necessary for profitability. And it still works.

The truth is that despite the unfair representation we still go to the movies.  We may grumble in our seats and complain with our cohorts afterwards but the only thing that matters to ‘Hollywood’ is that we were in those seats.  And the truth is that most of us will still fill those seats even if Hollywood never makes one change toward doing what’s ‘right.’ Doing what’s profitable is the priority, and the ‘general audience’ is not affected by what we complain about. Corporations only change when they are at risk of failure, as we observed during the peak of the recession. Change is painful. A company will only change when the pain of changing outweighs the pain of staying the same.

So what’s the answer? Boycott ‘Hollywood?’ I don’t think so. Besides, I don’t think it would happen. If the notion was batted about the corporations would respond with a few efforts to placate the disgruntled long enough for them to get back to the real business of making money. Also, Hollywood is not the only entertainment structure guilty of complacency. Nollywood and Bollywood have their own formulas that work for them and although they may expand on their themes they won’t tip the cart, either.

I’m not blasting corporations for what they do. As a previous business owner and hard-working employee/manager of a couple of Fortune 500 companies I know exactly why Hollywood does what it does. I don’t like it, but I understand. There’s only one way I can see to answer the question of diversity in entertainment, and there are a bunch of folks that are working on it right now. Be patient and keep on the lookout. A change is gonna come.