This article is spoiler-free for the films that are discussed. Diversity in movies is important and groundbreaking but I don’t like when it’s calculated and politically motivated. Because not every new movie is supposed to be inclusive and include minorities, and creativity is compromised by pandering to a set of standards. The 1970s is often regarded as one of the greatest decades for American cinema and the freedom those filmmakers were given led to amazing work that still holds up today. Of course, there will be those who argue I’m looking at the past uncritically as the 70s also had political movements such as feminists which influenced how films were made and received. Just look at The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) where Bond teams up with a female Russian agent. The character of Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach above) not only addresses the misogyny in the series, the presence of the character also challenges the anti-Soviet tendencies in the Bond universe. Up to a point at least, as many feel the depiction of Amasova is dated by today’s feminist standards.
I understand the Tarantino backlash and he could have given Margot Robbie a few more lines in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), and treated Uma Thurman better on the set of Kill Bill, but it’s ultimately his choice how to write his characters, do we really want Tarantino to change the script to please diversity requirements? That’s not progressive that’s restrictive. I’ve nothing against other races or female driven stories, yet when writer/director Rian Johnson decided to have 10% Asian, 10% black, 50 % females, or whatever the percentages actually are, represented in The Last Jedi (2017), it feels forced and disingenuous, the inclusiveness a distraction to the story. The black storm trooper idea I was fine with albeit I don’t want to watch movies where every race, gender, or miniority has to have a “moment to shine”. This was even more noticeable in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). Worried that the studio might offend someone is not what storytelling is about. Storytelling is about taking chances, interesting characters, and letting the story evolve naturally. You can say something new with a diverse cast, yet doesn’t the story lose a sense of edginess and individuality if you have to please others? I don’t want Star Wars to be a diversity ad. I want Star Wars to be Star Wars.
On one hand, diversity in casting is progress and LBGT in It Chapter 2 (2019) I agree with Stephen King is a good idea and was already implied or present in his novel. On the other hand, when the choice of cast is financially motivated to attract worldwide audiences, that’s abusing the progress. Because not every story needs racially diverse, politically correct casts.
You can make movies with a white cast without being a racist. Sometimes a story would be historically inaccurate if you diversified, such as WW2 war film Dunkirk (2017) which came under fire.
Diversity for the sake of diversity doesn’t work. Story comes first. If blockbusters and Oscar contenders have to follow these guidelines then movies all start looking alike. Diversity is not the same as originality as this funny YouTube video shows.
Representation matters, but to me only when it’s right for the story. Great films don’t follow the rules. If social justice warriors police our filmmakers and yell at them every time they do something daring or non-PC, then Hollywood is heading towards dystopian censorship.
What do you think? As always, comments are welcome