The movie industry has come a long way since its beginning in the 1890’s. New developments in equipments have emerged, genres have grown and expanded, and the industry makes billions each year with its films. Many things have been improved, including the portrayal of minority characters on screen.
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Equality with the actors themselves and the characters they have portrayed has been a defining feature. Going away from supporting roles and getting more and more lead parts, black actresses and actors are no longer being overlooked, like they had been in the past. Seeing the evolution in change from Birth of a Nation, to award winning films, like Hidden Figures, it is great to see how the industry has changed for the better. I chose to focus on this area because of a Ethnicity in Film class that I took and it is an area that I really enjoyed learning about. It is sad to think how people were treated in the past, and even with their contributions and accomplishments in movies were still overlooked because of the color of their skin. It is great to see the changes that have been made to allow these actors and actresses to be given the parts they deserved, and parts that are not offensive and are great role models for those who watch it.
Movies have come a long way in history and Hidden Figures is a great example of that. While having three, serious lead roles that portrayed by black actresses, it shows how far the industry has come. In Donald Bogle’s book, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks, he discusses how black women in the 1980’s rarely had a chance to have role of importance. Instead of having any roles of sustenance, they were casted into flashy roles, such as “Tina Turner, in metal-meshed mini dress, as Aunty Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985); [and] the young sex kitten, Lisa Bonet, used as the most exotic of tragic mulattoes in Alan Parker’s Angel Heart (1987)”(Bogle 263). These women were put into the same roles, just different variations for different movies. Any roles that any value to them were given to white actresses. Hidden Figures is a representation of history that did happen and this movie showcases the it. The movie made sure to focus on Katherine, Mary and Dorothy, not sidestepping them to whitewash the movie by focusing on the others involved like Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), or Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons).
There are many communication theories that could explain many aspects of why this racism used to exist in films. Muted Group Theory stood out the most during my research. Muted Group Theory talks about how since “language is man-made women remain reduced and excluded.
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