I was really interested in the “Every Single Word” project on Tumblr made by Dylan Marron. What he does is picks popular movies, and trims them to only show the portions where dialogue is spoken by non-white actors or actresses. We watched some of the examples in class, and I was shocked at how 2 hour movies became five minute clips when all of the white characters were cut out. The Harry Potter video was especially interesting for me to watch, because I love Harry Potter and recently took a class in which we examined social issues in the Harry Potter books and movies. Thinking back on class discussions, race/racism was one of the few areas we never really touched upon. We talked extensively about how the Harry Potter books incorporate so many different prevalent concepts from feminism to animal rights and economic disparity. But, we didn’t talk about race. In the movies, there are a handful of non-white characters, the most notable being Harry’s Chinese girlfriend, Cho Chang. Besides these few characters, the overwhelming majority of the cast is white. I have always thought this was a little strange, and seems out of character from J.K. Rowling, the author, because of how well known she is for celebrating diversity in the public sphere. However, her failure to incorporate this viewpoint into her most famous area of influence, her books, was really a missed opportunity, especially considering how widely received they are. Rowling is actually widely criticized, because she has publicized since the books and movies were released hints that Hermione, one of the three main characters, may have been black. But, she never makes this explicitly clear in the books, so a white actress was chosen to portray her. Many people say that it would have been so easy for Rowling to just write Hermione as black, and then Harry Potter would become so much more diverse. If this had been the case, the “Every Single Word” video on it would have been hours long. Because my own race is so frequently represented in media, race isn’t something that I usually think of when I watch movies. But, I should do a better job of being aware of the disparity in representation, and these videos really have made it so much easier to notice how vast the difference is.

Link: https://everysinglewordspoken.tumblr.com/

Advertisements