Higher standards for diverse stories


Emma Wiese, Reporter

Whenever a new movie starring a woman or a minority comes out, there is sure to be slew of a certain kind of article to follow. Articles with titles like, ‘So-and-So Could Be the Movie Hollywood needs,’ or ‘What Blah-Blah Means for the Future of Diverse Films.’ As if the diversity problems in Hollywood need only one, magic film to be produced and released for everything to be better.

Articles like this came out after “The Hunger Games” (E!), “Wonder Woman” (New York Times) and most recently, “Atomic Blonde” (Indiewire). Each article was about how this movie was finally the movie that would really change things. Each of these movies was Hollywood’s own personal Jesus.

If each of these movies should have saved Hollywood, then we should not still have a Hollywood that is still almost exclusively white, male and straight. The problem doesn’t lie with them, or with the movies themselves. The problem lies with the public’s perception of movies with a diverse cast. Each new movie that is made with a diverse cast is either praised as the key to equality in Hollywood or cast aside as trashy and not worth the price of admission. There is no in between, no middle ground.

This isn’t a new thing. When  “Bridesmaids” came out, everyone was ecstatic, praising the humor and the performances. People began to call it the key to bringing mainstream success to a women-led comedy. Kristen Wiig was the top-billed star in the movie. The next top-billed role she had in a film, in “Hateship Loveship,” was a bomb. According to IMDB, it had a budget of 5 million, and only made $50,000. That’s a deficit of 4.95 million dollars. Allowing for the fact that no one has ever heard of this movie, that is still an incredible loss. The claims that Hollywood could be saved for female comedy doesn’t hold up under that failure. The audience failed Kristen Wiig by not keeping their own word that things could be different, that diversity could be successful.

It is no longer as bad as it once was. This year has been a very good year for diverse casts, with movies like “Wonder Woman,” “Spider-man: Homecoming” and “Get Out” at the forefront of both critical reviews and the box office. However, this doesn’t solve the problem. These movies, though amazing, are still being put on a pedestal. Other movies won’t be able to pass the high bar these movies have given us, as the audience. That isn’t a completely bad thing, but if we truly want to make Hollywood a more diverse place, we can’t just shun every mediocre movie that comes out. We have to go out, and support every diverse movie that comes along, to show Hollywood producers that we aren’t just interested in the Jesus movies, we want diverse stories to be the norm.

We are waiting for a time where diverse stories are allowed to be amazing and awful and mediocre. Waiting for a time where diverse stories will be told not just as an exception to the norm, and not just as movies that are perfect in every way. I can’t wait until mediocre diversity is just normal.