Hollywood and its lack of racial diversity has earned never-ending criticism, especially after last year’s #Oscarssowhite movement gained popular support. Over the past two years, significant efforts have been made to increase racial diversity in the media. On Sept. 30, Marvel’s new television series “Luke Cage” aired on Netflix, taking another step toward ethnic diversity.
First released in 1972, the original comic book was the first Marvel comic book to feature an African American as the main superhero. Like many of the other superheroes, Luke Cage starts off as an ordinary man trying to pay off his rent while working at a barbershop. But over the series, he eventually becomes a superhero with impervious skin, eventually rising to become the champion of Harlem.
The first step one must take is to understand why such homogeneity exists. According to Anthony Loveday, social studies teacher, there are two reasons to lack of racial diversity: personal economics and implicit bias.
“Studios are very conservative in the willingness to take risks,” Mr. Loveday said. “They believe that if they were to produce a film that is seen in any way controversial or not reflective of white mainstream audience values or interest, they would lose money. After all, the number one goal of a business is to earn money. The second thing is an element of implicit bias, basically an unconscious level of bias that just about everybody and every color engages in without knowledge because we are all subject to media.”
According to Indiewire, Hollywood has, over the past two years, tried to increase racial diversity by remaking many of its superhero series. Yet it seems as though many fans are not yet satisfied, especially regarding how accurately the characters are portrayed.
“There is a chance that it might get in the way of character portrayal,” said James Park (10), comic series enthusiast. “For example, Captain America is supposed to be the stereotypical blond. But on the other hand with racial diversity, it gives minorities more chances to be represented in media.”
Racial diversity, especially in the media, gives minority groups a chance to attain public attention and representation. But many productions choose to cast Caucasian actors and actresses to play ethnic characters. For “Luke Cage,” in which the main character was originally written to be a minority, the casting reflects the characters in the series.
“Luke Cage” takes a bold step toward more racial diversity within Hollywood. Hopefully, such casting will point the way for future projects.