Social Injustice and Racism in the Film Industry

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As racial inequality and injustice prevail throughout American culture, the lack of and far too often, misrepresentation of people of color (PoC) and other minority groups, is perpetuated in American cinema. Studies have observed such lack of color across popular American films and TV shows, the Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg (IDEA) found out of 109 American films, 18 percent had no black characters, with a whole 50 percent with no Asian characters. We strongly believe this to be a social injustice in that American cinema is failing to properly depict the diversity of America and is thus further perpetuating racial stereotypes and violence.

According to the authors of Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Implications for Clinical Practice, microaggression is often small acts of hostility and racism that is often committed unintentionally by the perpetrator towards a person of color or minority. As discussed in class, the effects of continuous microaggressions may have life long traumatic effects.

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The lack of exposure and proper representation of people of color in American media and cinema work to further perpetuate stereotyping and damaging microaggression against people of color.  We as a group decided that we were going to choose the movie, Get Out, directed and written by Jordan Peele. Get Out portrays how some people in our society still frown upon interracial couples.  The movie features an African American male (Chris) as the main character with a caucasian woman (Rose) as his love interest.

The two have been dating for a while and have gotten to the stage of meeting the parents, so Rose takes Chris home with her for the weekend. Upon meeting her parents, they are overly accommodating and nice, making Chris think that there is a possibility that they’re just nervous about their daughter dating an African American.

As the film goes on, Chris begins to uncover more about the truth of their family (African American members had gone missing, pictures of Rose’s previous African American boyfriends), which are doing some sinister things behind closed doors. The movie gets to a breaking point in which the sinister things stop happening to other characters in the film, and the possibility of them happening to Chris becomes a reality when he’s pulled into hypnosis and finds out they are planning on switching his brain with a rich white man.

The situation turns to a fight to get out of the house and away from the family to safety. Chris begins to kill off each member of the family until he is finally in an end battle against Rose when the police show up. Though it isn’t the police, it’s Rod, his best friend, who takes Chris away to safety.

The film in and of itself has a direct realistic nature in how racism exists in our society. When the movie was directed, Peele decided to end the movie with a less depressing ending which can be good for the people who would like to have a ‘good ending’. Though he did to decide to include an alternate ending in those who purchased the movie when it came out on DVD, showing a more realistic ending to the film. On the way up to the house of Rose’s parents, they hit a deer and call the police because their mirror and headlight were broke. The police officer talks with Rose about the incident, and then turns to Chris, asking for his ID. There was no point, he wasn’t the one driving, so the officer shouldn’t have to see his ID.

The parents of Rose, Dean and Missy, both have two African Americans who are ‘help’ in their home. Despite claiming to be anti-racist (they mention how many times they’ve voted for Obama), they keep making actions and remarks to make Chris uncomfortable, though as any good person would, he rubs it off and continues on.There becomes a moment in the film however, where things turn to be a bit exaggerated and not realistic. The sinister acts of the family changing their brain structure and switching them out with others, would not be something that would currently happen in our society.

There is an instance in the movie of where one of the male caucasian characters mentions that being black is being in style – which in our society, is not how it is at all. In our society, being African American is seen as a negative. They are a minority. African Americans are treated wrongly and punished for things that they do that caucasian people don’t get punished for. In the United States, there is 6 caucasian people for every African American person, and there is only one area in the United States that has more African Americans than caucasians (District of Columbia).

Considering these critiques as well as the information provided about microaggression and the devastating effects it may have on PoC, we suggest a call to action to combat such social injustices. We encourage Americans to negatively review or boycott films that fail to represent diversity, in hopes to decrease the American film industry from further profiting off of racial discrimination. We also recommend Americans to try different movie genres than those presented in popular American cinema, such as foreign or independent films.

This is an enjoyable way to become more culturally aware and familiar with leading roles played by people of color. We strongly encourage American viewers to venture outside mainstream American movie genres and into different, more diverse realms of cinema. Shah Rukh Khan, an actor possibly unheard of by many Americans, is actually one of the highest paid actors in the world. Usually playing the hero in popular Bollywood films, Shah Rukh Khan is considered a legend throughout Asia and parts of the Muslim world.

We would encourage Americans to give one of his movies a try, to experience a strong Asian and Muslim role in film, often underrepresented in American media. Shah Rukh Khan’s role inMy Name is Khan is particularly significant for American viewers, as he portrays an Indian Muslim man in America.

Not only does the production include a racially and ethnically diverse cast, it depicts different racial, religious, and class discrimination in the United States post 9-11. After a hate crime resulting in the death of his son Sam, Khan is asked by his wife to meet with the current president of the United States, George Bush, to tell the rest of the country that he, nor was their innocent son, a terrorist. During his journey, Khan lands in a poor black community, later becoming the setting of a devastating hurricane that the government failed to aid.

In these scenes the movie highlights both racial and class discrimination during natural disasters and emergency response, despite most of the families in this poor community having sons who died in the current war on terror overseas. Another film we strongly recommend to those who are interested in exploring their mindset in films that well represent minorities, is The Secret Life of Bees (Smith, Donner Shuler, Lassiter, Pichirallo, & Prince-Bythewood, 2008).

The film is about a young girl who is abused at home and runs away to South Carolina where she meets three african american sisters. These sisters provide her love, companionship, knowledge, and truth. This film well represents african american women. Depicting them as lovable and kind whereas in most media they are depicted as cold, “urban”, and abrasive. Having this as one of the main forms of media that african american women are depicted in, it leaves everyday women who are different feel less than, it also provides a stereotype to everyone else.

This film also depicts a beautiful relationship between two races that are usually expressed as having major problems between them, african americans and caucasians. This is very important in modern day society, there has been more conflict between races that are pointed out instead of resolve and peace. This film being semi-recent has the opportunity to influence some change.In America, minorities are underrepresented and depicted in false ways in American cinema. It is an injustice that is prevalent in society today and has effect on those who are viewing the media and even the people who are not, because it perpetuates violence and stereotypes.

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Social Injustice and Racism in the Film Industry. (2022, Dec 29). Retrieved from

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