Why Can’t We Represent More “People of Color” In American Cinema?

On the heels of my last post, I’ve been contemplating this question. Which has plagued me for years, because as we have broken down color lines in some areas we are exceedingly lacking in this one. For example, when I watch my favorite show on TV, So You Think You Can Dance, I see that many different colors are and have had the spotlight on this show. Latino’s, Asians, Blacks, and White’s. Why? Because the color of a person is secondary to whether they can dance all the genre’s the producers want. I wish the same could be said for what we see in the movie theater.

Also, since I’m a true movie goer I would love to see more of ethnic American culture other than what White culture gives us. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with it. But, it would be lovely to see other American cultures represented. Because, that is truly real life in this country. Especially, in metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, Manhattan, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and others. I know one answer to this question is more people of color have to start writing about their culture and as that happens maybe producers will take notice.

Karl Yune/Image: contactmusic.com
Karl Yune/Image: contactmusic.com

Here’s another question, that I’ve been contemplating. Would it be absolutely unbelievable to see an Asian man in the lead in a movie about Wall Street? Or what about the movie Old Boy? Why couldn’t there have been an American Asian actor playing the title role? Especially since the original movie was made in Korea, with a lead Korean actor. Certainly, someone like John Cho, or Karl Yune could have been just as good and both Korean Americans. I’m sure the movie would have been just as interesting if they had used someone like that in the movie since the Korean movie already was a classic and had a following here in the states. It would have at least been more authentic to the original as it also might have had better box office revenue here in the states. But instead they chose Josh Brolin, a White actor whose father James Brolin, was a leading White actor from years past. And the industries thinking was probably, Brolin would bring in more of an audience than some Asian guy. However, the sentence just before this one is pure speculation on my part. 

Interestingly enough, I don’t think Josh brought in more of an audience. I know I went to see Old Boy, because of Spike Lee directing and because I liked the original. But would rush to see a movie with a Asian American actor in the lead because it’s so rare, no matter what correlation to the original movie, for sure. And what about all the “people of color” that would be pouring in? Statistics show on average, the people going to these movies are “people of color.” So why not give us what we want at the movies?

John Cho
John Cho/Image: deadline.com

I found this quote from actor John Cho on IMDB on his acting career,

“It’s difficult having to hustle for jobs. Not knowing when the next job is coming in. It’s hard. There are not enough roles out there. I try not to get wrapped up in it or I’ll get depressed.” – on being an Asian American actor.

This is a sad commentary on the state of things in American cinema.  A place where American’s spend a lot of time and money since we are entertainment junkies, which I totally include myself. Also, since these are the facts about Americans why can’t we do more to bring all races a little more in focus? Let’s keep it interesting, and give other races an opportunity to showcase their culture to the masses. We all who live in the US are for the most part Americans, but there are little nuances and foibles about each culture that make us unique and interesting that should be shared. Because not only would we come to respect everyone better, but we wouldn’t feel so detached from some. Oh, and in my opinion let’s put all Tyler Perry movies out to pasture, YUCK!!!

11 thoughts on “Why Can’t We Represent More “People of Color” In American Cinema?

  1. What John Cho said is hauntingly true, He’s a great actor and his words? it is a reflection of what Hollywood is starting to look like outside the limelight :O

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    • Yes, I love John Cho too, he’s articulate, funny, cute, and a great actor. I’m telling you the sky is the limit if they start using the Asian American actors they have at their disposal. I really want to see more Asians in movies specifically because so many of my friends aren’t being represented and it’s sad and wrong. And no you weren’t being too blunt a little blunt is good. Thanks for the comment Andy, you’re awesome!!!! 🙂

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      • Thank ‘You’ for sharing this thought 🙂 not sure if you heard of this, but the show Kung Fu? I’m told that they could of used an Asian character but chose not to and had David Carradine instead, when I heard this? boy did it get my blood boiling :S

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      • Oh yes, I do know that show very well, I was a kid when it was on TV. And since I’m black american, I remember my mom always saying, “with all the Asian actors out there why did they have to use someone white to play this character?” And then she would say, “that’s why we don’t watch that show.” Good point Andy.

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      • I stopped watching the moment I found out and I was only half way through the show, what on earth was David thinking agreeing to that role huh?

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      • It was about the money and the prestige I’m sure, it put him on the map. So for him it was probably a good idea at the time but I bet he wouldn’t do it again. I’m pretty sure he was criticized for that.

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      • I believe that back in the day, it was supposed to be played by Bruce Lee, who would have been a far more suitable character, or was it one of his sons? mmm I forget

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      • I just read the Wiki about the show it’s pretty informative, and it does talk about Bruce Lee being a candidate but it wasn’t a sure thing. Read it it’s interesting.

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  2. Hear, hear! It’s good to see the torch being carried. I dropped it long ago because it is so frustrating how WHITE Hollywood is…diversity is a true representation of societies and it would be nice to see someone like me in American movies.

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    • Yes, I was watching a movie on Sunday and the lead actor in the film was Asian, it was so refreshing to see an Asian guy being the main guy and not the buddy that I thought could this be the start of something good??? I was very pleased that this Chinese Canadian was in a leading role and he wasn’t doing martial arts, just BRILLIANT!!! Thanks Lani for the comment as always!!! 🙂

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