I know I’m a bit late to this party but I wanted to take a look and see whether the Oscars was as racist as everyone has been claiming. It was all over the internet that the Oscars would be boycotted in 2016 for it’s lack of diversity but I wanted to dive a little deeper into these allegations and see just how bad it is. Being a young white woman, am I blind to the lack of colour on my screens? It was something I couldn’t not look into.
I choose to use data visualizations to look at the diversity levels of not only the Oscars but also Hollywood and the movie business as a whole. I’m obviously not an expert at this but i am curious to find some answers. I used ‘RAW‘ as the platform for my visualizations as I found it very simple to use and it worked very well with the data I compiled onto Excel. I did take a look at other applications such as Gephi, D3 and Vida.io but none of them felt right for me to work with.
It’s no secret that Hollywood is lacking diversity in a sorority like manner (as a lot of today’s world still is) so I decided to look where anyone with a query of movies would go to: IMDB. From here I compiled my own data from the top 20 movies since 2010 and what I found was worse than I expected. I looked at the ten main actors and actresses of each film and of the top 20 films, only 8 had at least one African-American actor in it. Django Unchained led easily but still only had 4 of those ten main cast members being African-American. My findings are represented on this scatter plot:
Placing the data along a timeline and putting the Oscar nominations on the y-axis, I was able to plot the data easily. The bigger the circle means the more black actors (of the main 10) are in the film. And yes there is supposed to be 20 circles there but as I said, 12 films featured no main actors of colour.
Now I’m not saying that all lead parts should be taken from white actors I’m just saying they should be given the opportunities to earn them. As Chris Rock said in his opening monologue for the Oscar’s this year:
We want opportunity.
We want the black actors to get the same opportunities.
Not everything is about race but the Oscars have to be very mindful of it. There was NO black actors nominated for an Oscar in 2016 and many actors deserved the mention. Tim Gray done a very good piece for Variety in which he mentions the work of Michael B. Jordan who done amazingly in Creed and all the ‘unknowns’ as he put it, from Straight outta Compton. Both brilliant films directed by someone of colour. Now these films are both outstanding and could easily stand beside the likes of the Revenant and Room for their work but they were somehow forgotten.
This graph shows the ratio of black to white nominees for best actor and actresses as well as best supporting actors and actresses.
It is clear to see that there is a major injustice here but lets not forget that people of colour cannot win an Oscar for films they aren’t cast in. And it isn’t just black people, this goes for people of all nationalities. Whether you’re Black, Latino, Asian or any other race. A very good info graphic was made by UCLA showing the minorities and even how females are underrepresented in Hollywood.
It’s very interesting to see that through data visualizations we can see easily just how big of an injustice is being carried out in Hollywood today. By using these graphs, it’s clear to see that something has to be done and in my opinion the solution is to give the same opportunities to all races.