Hollywood's Summer Blockbusters Mostly Have White Stars

May 28th, 2010 3:50 PM

As media members continue to accuse the Tea Party of being racist due to the supposed lack of minority members, there is a conspicuous absence of diversity in blockbuster movies coming out of Hollywood this summer.

"With the notable exception of 'Karate Kid,' headlined by Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, most of the big-budget films hitting over the next few months star Caucasian actors," wrote Brent Lang of TheWrap Wednesday.

The article surprisingly continued (h/t Big Hollywood):

Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts and Leonardo DiCaprio will all trot out new offerings. Their minority counterparts like Denzel Washington and Will Smith?


Ironically, the lack of diversity seems to have gone unnoticed amid the uproar over the casting of "The Prince of Persia" and "The Last Airbender," which cast white actors in roles where the source material featured characters of a different ethnicity.

"It seems out of step with where we are as a culture," Craig Detweiler, professor of film history at Pepperdine University, told TheWrap. "We have the first African American president, and yet there are a shortage of African American, Asian and Latino stars. For all Hollywood's progressive politics, its casting decisions look remarkably retrograde."

Though tentpole season has rarely brought with it a rainbow coalition of actors, this season is looking particularly monochromatic.

Apparently, non-white actors are a bigger financial risk for studios than their Caucasian counterparts:

But the dearth of films with African American, Asian or Latino leads isn't just a case of institutional racism. It's also about a growing lack of bankable actors of color. Smith is irrefutably one of the biggest stars in the world, but other non-white stars have a spottier record at the box office of late, Hartigan said.

Washington's films consistently gross around $90 million domestically -- but that's been standard for the past decade, during which time ticket prices have increased. That means his audience is actually shrinking.

Beyond Washington, the record is checkered.

Halle Berry struck out in her tentpole bid with "Catwoman," Tucker failed to capitalize on his "Rush Hour" popularity by making other films, his co-star Chan has had a difficult time in non-franchise fare such as "Around the World in 80 Days" and Jamie Foxx's audience-pleasing attempts with "Miami Vice" and "The Kingdom" have hardly been bleachers-clearing hits.

But Hollywood's race problem is even bigger:

Aggravating the problem, at least for this summer, is the casting of white actors in roles intended for minorities. In particular, M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender" -- based on a popular Nickelodeon series about a group of Inuit and Asian martial artists -- has drawn a lot of fire.

For the movie version, many of the key parts were re-imagined with white actors such as "Twilight's" Jackson Rathbone and young newbie Noah Ringer. [...]

Then there's the casting of Jake Gyllenhaal as Iranian royalty -- with an English accent to boot -- and surrounding him with a cast of non-Persian actors such as Gemma Arterton and Alfred Molina.

Apparently, non-white actors are having more success getting parts on television:

Witness the multicultural cast of "Lost" or the decision by Forest Whitaker to return to the small screen in a "Criminal Minds" spinoff just a few years after his Oscar win.

"Television is taking a risk on black actors in a way that film isn't," said an African American screenwriter who declined to be named because she feared it could jeopardize her relationships with studios. "In Hollywood it's 'show me the money,' and there's a perception that films with minorities don't make money. It's too hard to make a living in features these days."

The hypocrisy here is quite staggering, isn't it?

After all, Hollywood is filled with liberal elites that supposedly are more concerned about social issues than the rest of the nation.

Folks like DiCaprio and Roberts are always involved in left-leaning causes as they support ultra-liberal political candidates.

So what are they doing to help minorities get employed in their own industry?

More importantly, where is the media outrage concerning the lack of diversity in this year's summer blockbusters, or is this just another example of racial inequality only being a problem if a conservative can be blamed?