Hollywood's Race Problem Of Racism In Film

Words: 1767
Pages: 8

Sarah Wilczek
Saoussen Cheddadi
AMS 100: Introduction to American Studies
10 March 2017
Hollywood’s Race Problem Popular culture today consists of many things but, probably one of the largest influencers of our culture is Hollywood and the films it produces (Sellnow). While everyone loves movies and the stories they tell, we often ignore the inherent whitewashing that is portrayed (Sanders). It is our love of these films that causes us to be oblivious to this huge flaw in Hollywood’s film festival. Racism is a prominent feature in Hollywood, and has been since films began, and yet our popular culture keeps us coming back to the theatre every time something new and interesting hits the big screen. Since racism was a notable issue during the
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The most obvious use of popular culture where racial tension is evident is the film industry (Smith). Racism has been an issue in Hollywood since the beginning of film. The first movies were released about 60 years before the Civil Rights movement began in the United States (Scherker). Throughout this time, not many comments were made towards the racist agenda in films. White actors who portrayed characters of color would often wear blackface or yellowface, and would even assume exaggerated accents and movements to fully change their appearances …show more content…
“When musicals weren’t openly mocking people of color, they were fitting them in in the least obtrusive way possible” (Mirkinson) One of the most famous examples of this is Lena Horne, who was a very iconic black jazz singer in the 20th century. She appeared in many musicals throughout the 1940s, but only in small scenes that were often snipped out of the films why they played in the South. Similarly, the Nicholas Brothers, a black dance duo who performed some of the most dazzling numbers in film history were a huge feature in many 1940s musicals but were never actual characters. They would show up and do their part, then leave the white people to make sure the plot was carried forward (Mirkinson). Films in Hollywood are reflections of the times in which they are made, whereby the racial representation that the audience often sees will likewise reflect the racial order of the given moment (Smith). However, these offensive casting decisions increasingly began to meet criticism in 1960 (Scherker). This means that while racism has been an issue in film since films were first created, it has been a known and recognized issue for almost 60 years. So why is it still