By: Meredith Moon, Copywriter, @cirque_luna
As we move towards a minority majority in the U.S., what we see on screen doesn’t do a great job of reflecting our diverse population. What we do see are often stereotypes that do not portray Hispanic or Black or Asian culture accurately.
But different mediums take different approaches. Below we’ll look at how Hollywood compares to TV and online content. Some call it the Golden Age of TV. Others might say it’s the dark ages of film…for multiculturals at least. But it is definitely the year of online and streaming content.
The Big Screen
The Oscars are coming up this Sunday and a lot of people aren’t very happy about it. One could argue both the nominees and the winners from a critical standpoint, however this year’s discontent has more to do with demographics than with artistry: all of the actors nominated are white. That might not be a big deal in say, Sweden, but here in the US, where almost 13% of the population is black, over 16% is Latino and almost 5% is Asian, you might say that minority populations are underrepresented.
The box office tells a different story. According to this Motion Picture Association of America report from 2013, Hispanics represent 17% of the population but 32% of frequent moviegoers, whereas Caucasians represent 63% of the general population but only 49% go to the movies on a regular basis. Considering that there was only one major studio-produced film from 2014 and only one planned for 2015 that have Latino content as the main theme, there is definitely a gap to be filled. This article discusses “Hollywood’s Latino problem.”
The Small Screen
If we move to the smaller screen, the shows this season prove that multiculturals aren’t completely being ignored. Shows like “Cristela,” “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Black-ish” delve into Hispanic, Asian-American and Black issues, respectively. Gina Rodriguez even won Best Actress at the Golden Globes this year for her portrayal of the protagonist in the series “Jane The Virgin,” which was also nominated for Best TV Series (Musical or Comedy) at the same award show. In fact, according to this piece in the Washington Post, including a line-up of shows focused on diversity has helped turn ABC’s ratings around. Networks are producing the content and people are consuming it.
The Second Screen
Nielsen published a study last year on how social media impacts TV viewers, and guess what? “Social media has the greatest effect on Hispanic TV viewers who show the highest program awareness (32%), television enjoyment (26%) and live TV watching (18%) of all ethnic groups.” No surprise there really, since we already know that the Hispanic demographic overindexes in second screen usage and mobile video consumption. African American and Asian segments are also more engaged than the general public.
The Computer Screen
With many channels and services starting to stream their content online, Hispanics are already a big target audience. In December, DirecTV launched their first over-the-top video service, Yaveo, and it’s aimed at Hispanics. At the CES in January, Dish Network announced the arrival of Sling TV, which will allow you to stream live TV online. What’s great about it is that major networks like CNN and ESPN have signed on. And less than a month later, they signed a deal with Univision to add their wide-ranging Spanish-language content to the package.
Why isn’t Hollywood jumping on the diversity bandwagon? It seems like there is money to be made and a large audience to cater to, so ¿cuál es el problema? They shouldn’t keep stereotyping Hispanic actors and actresses either. It’s true that Sofia Vergara is easy on the eyes, but Hispanic culture and people are more than a sexy woman in a tight dress.
With the boom in content creation, marketers can take advantage of this gap to create culturally relevant and culturally nuanced content, be it documentaries, short films, web series, etc., that connect with multicultural audiences.