Academy Award Winning: Lack of diversity and misrepresentation

Iman Allie

In recent years the film industry and television industry have definitely started to progress, but there is no denying the fact that they still have a long way to go before they are in the clear. Because they make up such a large part of our lives, some of us have become accustomed or even blind to these issues. Two of the major issues within the film industry and television industry are the lack of diversity and misrepresentation.

There are many more harmful stereotypes such as portraying religious people (regardless of their religion) as boring and old fashioned. Muslim people in particular are portrayed as either terrorists or oppressed. One stereotype we, as South Africans know all too is well is that all third world countries are ‘uncivilised’ and not modern at all.

One other example of misrepresentation that I believe everyone can agree on is teenagers in movies and television programmes. Teenage characters are often oversexualised and their lifestyle, behaviour, speech and personalities do not seem like that of the real teenager. I’m sure most of us teenagers cannot help, but “cringe” when thinking about how we are portrayed in movies and television programmes.

The fact that these teenagers are most of the time, played by grown adults adds to the unrealism. These adult-teenagers rarely have acne, body hair, stretch marks and typical body shapes.  They simply do not look like real teenagers and are creating unrealistic beauty standards for teenagers.

There are however some notable television programmes and movies that have better representation and are more diverse. These include: “Never Have I Ever”, “ON MY BLOCK”, “BLACK-ISH”, ‘Crazy Rich Asians” and “Black Panther”.

How the film industry and television industry can improve:

  1. Cast actual teenage actors as teenagers.
  2. Cast people with different body types.
  3. Do not cover or hide acne, scars or any other “imperfections” of actors.
  4. Cast more actors that are part of minority groups such as people of colour.
  5. Do not rely on stereotypes when creating characters, do your research if needed, but do not perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

The film industry and television industry still have many changes to make before they are in the clear, but there’s no denying the fact that progress was made. They’ve come a long way from classic, but problematic “Old Hollywood” and I have no doubt that the progressive youth of today will rectify these issues.