Culture

Hollywood Should Focus Less On Surface-Level Diversity And More On Creativity

By Julia Song··  6 min read
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Disney

The silver screen used to be a place we could turn to in order to escape reality. In fiction, behind the screens, we could be anyone, anywhere. Anything we wanted. We could escape the nightmares and troubles of everyday life. 

Well, not anymore.

Nowadays, the movies will nag us to no end about a thousand different issues and a million social justice causes. 

You can’t escape reality, become inspired, travel to a faraway fantasy land while being constantly reminded of the terrible human being you are because you were born somewhere or look a certain way.

Of course, the most recent example of this is Amazon's adaptation of stories from Middle Earth, which has received a fair amount of backlash for adding diversity into Tolkien's world. Before Amazon got its hands on Middle Earth, studio executives had their way with The Hobbit franchise, in which they felt the need to add a whole plot line surrounding a female elf because the original story didn’t feature any “strong female characters.” The botched writing wasn’t done by the original writer, and it left many plot holes and questions in the end.

Bad Writing Never Takes the Blame

If the movies or series get bad ratings, however, the producers blame it on racism or bigotry. The truth, though, is that no one can connect to a perfect character. People like to see human flaws. To stick to the historical context of things in order to make it more believable and to allow you to get immersed into the story.

Remember the all-female remake of Ghostbusters? You probably don't because the movie was not funny and was entirely forgettable. But you should remember how news outlets were quick to blame it's less-than-stellar performance, not on bad writing or lame jokes, but on sexism. Apparently, sexist people just don't think women can be funny.

If the movie gets bad ratings, however, the producers blame it on racism or bigotry.

The examples are many, and it goes beyond what happens on our screens. It can be seen in cartoons (Superman's son is into guys now), in music, in books, and everywhere else. Writers and content makers who don't abide by these diversity quotas will likely not be published or have their art seen by the world. 

Drop the Virtue Signaling and Get Back to Creativity

These days, watching TV or consuming entertainment feels like a chore. Comedy routines do not sound funny, movies and stories do not feel inspiring, songs are not moving. The content produced nowadays lacks creativity and is filled with faux righteousness and nagging which, to be honest, gets old really fast.

Hollywood needs to stop acting like a hall-monitor with no common sense or sense of humor.

If Hollywood wants to continue to provide people with a break from reality and an escape from the real world, it must stop criticizing its viewers and acting like hall-monitors with zero common sense or sense of humor. It must stop alienating the audience and begin to provide us with actually relatable content that we can immerse ourselves in. 

Focus on Universal Truths Rather Than Surface Level Diversity

The fundamental issue with Hollywood's quest for diversity is that it ends up making the audience feel more disconnected from movies than drawn in by seeing themselves "represented" onscreen. Because rather than focusing on universal truths and experiences that connect all people together and would allow the audience to connect with the characters, writers are laser-focused on only what makes the characters different.

Movies have the power to unite viewers from all walks of life and to tell stories that explore challenges that we can all relate to on one level or another. But that requires that the writers believe in universal truths and be able to write compelling stories of characters wrestling with those truths.

We need writers who believe in universal truths and write compelling stories of characters wrestling with those truths.

Sadly, what we see today is the reign of relativism. There are no universal truths, no pure good and evil. An evil character is only evil if they fill a certain stereotype. Otherwise, their behavior is blamed on tragic circumstances or an unfair world. But without evil or temptation to fight against, what are we cheering on our heroes for triumphing over?

It's rare to see a character struggle with an internal conflict anymore. (Remember internal versus external conflicts? We might be the last generation who learned about those in English class.) Instead, the social justice mentality of all difficulty resulting from "oppression" or "injustice" has made for a litany of Mary-Sue characters who experience a little conflict from a random villain before ultimately triumphing with little effort.

As an example, let's compare Rey, the heroine of the new Star Wars trilogy, to Luke Skywalker. Luke may rightfully deserve his reputation as a whiny loser – at least for the first two films. But finding out his true identity as Darth Vader's son and his humiliating defeat with the loss of his hand changes Luke fundamentally. When he returns in the sixth film, he has learned humility and sacrifice. It's his acceptance of his own failings and the legacy of his family that allows him to finally defeat and redeem his father.

But Rey never has to be broken down or defeated to learn who she truly is. Every task she is set against, she easily defeats with the minimum of effort. She doesn't even have a real "reason" to be fighting at all, except that, apparently, she's just randomly super powerful and wants to. But Rey is the product of social justice mentality: women are better than men. Good people are better than bad people. Good people never struggle with temptation or bad thoughts, that makes them bad people.

As long as Hollywood is enthralled by relativism and hitting arbitrary diversity quotas, it's unlikely we'll see any great films coming into theaters. The studios can blame streaming services or sexism for their films' lack of success, but we all know the truth. They're just making bad movies.

Closing Thoughts

There’s enough division going on in the world right now, and I don’t need to be lectured about it in my house, by my TV. Nobody does, or wants to be.

I hope Hollywood learns this lesson, before their industry collapses and the money fountain runs dry.

We are the customers. You listen to our needs, or you go out of business. That’s the way of the free world.

For now, at least.

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