It’s been a while since I wrote here. It’s been a little busy lately with changing jobs, life, and other things. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not paying attention to what’s going on in the world. Last night, as I was driving home from school, I was listening to the radio and heard an interview with Dylan Marron, an actor and writer. He has a blog called Every Single Word. This blog examines the role of people of colour in motion pictures, but from a different perspective than usual.
Inspired by his experiences as an actor (both as a child and adult), Marron has examined how many vocal roles people of colour have in major motion pictures. He has done this by watching the movies, reviewing the credits and cast lists, and then producing new edits of them to only include the segments that include the vocal segments of people of colour. The results are startling. For example, take his edit of the entire Lord of the Rings series. That series runs how many hours? Each film is about 3 hours long. His edit? 46 seconds. Oh, and that includes his credits and tops and tails. The entire Harry Potter series. 5 Minutes and 40 seconds out of 1,207 minutes. That’s 0.47% of time devoted to people of colour.
Equally alarming is what else these edits reveal. In most cases these roles for people of colour are monsters, crazies, animated/CGI characters, bit parts, incidentals, or minor roles. Watch some of the edits on his blog here. You’ll find it quite amazing and more than a little thought-provoking. It’s also bang up to date as well as he even examines recent movies such as “Into the Woods” That one runs for 7 seconds. Make sure you watch that one below! On the interview I listened to he talks about how many of these movies can’t even hide behind historical accuracy either as they deal in fantasy and magic, as with the examples I have pulled out here. Race and colour should exist in fantasy and magic, right?
So why am I talking about this in a blog that talks about LGBTQ issues in Visual Culture? Because the same issues occur there. I hadn’t really thought about it before but with the arrival of films like Stonewall we are already seeing issues of colour washing and history re-writing taking place. Dylan mentions this too and it’s an alarming issue. I’d be fascinated to see something similar done with LGBTQ actors and the roles that they get, especially in relations to perceptions of speaking voices.
Thanks, Dylan. Amazing work.