So just a few days ago, it was announced that Donald Trump had carried the victory in electoral votes for the Presidency of the United States. He will be inaugurated January 20th, and I just wanted to let every nerd or geek of color, every female geek, every LGBT+ geek know that you are loved and that your stories will not be forgotten. But of course, this carries over to Hollywood and to the kind of films and television we see.
Some people have predicted that a Trump presidency will begin a sort of censorship on what’s released to the masses. I think that’s ridiculous, because it’s unconstitutional. There was a movement and push for more diverse content before Trump was elected, and that will continue. And because Trump will be president, this makes it even more crucial that diverse geeks go and support diverse content.
Now, in the case of films like The Birth of a Nation, which had some controversy behind it and wasn’t exactly something many people wanted to support, it’s up to you whether to support it. No one’s asking you to see films or watch shows you don’t feel you can support, or have no interest in. But if there’s a peculiar trailer to something that interests you, promote it on all your social media and try to go and see it in theaters. Try your best to get as many people you know to pay to see it as possible. And here’s why:
Trump being elected President proves what we’ve all known, that a large portion of America still holds racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and xenophobic values. And if that’s the case, that means that portion of America will be working hard to push back against minority groups being more represented in films. They won’t pay to see them, or worse, they may even boycott them.
Remember what happened with Star Wars? The Force Awakens trailer was maligned by hardcore Star Wars “fans” who were upset that the movie seemed to be focusing on a Black man. Racist comments lined the YouTube post for the trailer to such extinct that Disney actually had to delete a lot of the comments. People were upset—just because a Black man dared to be involved with a property that was considered a “white, male thing”.
There’s been a similar backlash to Felicity Jones’s Jyn Erso being the focus of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with no major white male character being featured in a hero role. Now, I have a bit of a problem with white women being surrounded with men of color and that being considered diversity, but for Star Wars, this is a huge deal. Nearly every race is represented—and you can already see the racism trickling into the conversation about that film as well. (The question about women of color being underrepresented in Star Wars is being answered as well—Disney has announced that their upcoming Han Solo film will have a Black female lead.)
If Rogue One doesn’t perform at least half as well as The Force Awakens, Hollywood will consider it a failure (which is absolutely ridiculous, since most of the characters are unknown and it’s a story that’s never been told before). But of course, since people of color are expected to perform and scrutinized far more than white actors, if the film fails, it will be all diversity’s fault. That’s, of course, absurd, but that’s the way Hollywood works. For them, everything revolves around money. If something isn’t financially lucrative, they’ll consider it a failure. If it’s at all remotely different than their typical formula, they’ll attribute it to that difference, rather than the actual quality of the movie.
Say Rogue One does flop at the box office and get bad reviews. (I doubt this will happen, but bear with me.) That failure will be attributed to the diversity of the cast, not the actual quality of the movie. If a movie has a diverse cast, Hollywood thinks it has to be absolutely flawless and have no problems story-wise. Look at Suicide Squad. Many could argue that movie was riddled with clichés and several story problems. But it pulled in nearly $800 million worldwide. Had it failed, Hollywood would have asked itself: “Was the cast too diverse?”
With Trump’s election, this question will become even more important to them. They’ll wonder if they’re moving too fast on the diversity train. They’ll start to backtrack.
And we can’t let that happen.
You may not be that big a Star Wars fan, but if you’re at all interested in Rogue One, go see it. If you’re interested in Moonlight, a film about the intersection of being Black and Queer, go see it. If you’re interested in Hidden Figures, the story of Black female mathematicians who helped NASA develop several important projects, go see it. If these films do well at the box office, it will show Hollywood that Trump being elected president does not mean that underrepresented groups have given up. We still want representation, and now more than ever, it’s extremely important that we get it.