Video series highlights shocking lack of diversity in Hollywood movies

March 27, 2015 – 12:47 pm

AP OSCARS-BEST PICTURE RACE A ENT FILEThis film image released by Sony Pictures shows, from left, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from "American Hustle."(Photo: Francois Duhamel, AP)

Hollywood has a diversity problem. If you disagree, watch Into the Woods — all 8 seconds of it.

Dylan Marron, a 27-year-old actor in New York, asks movie lovers and budget-controlling film execs to take a hard look at white-washed blockbusters in a YouTube series called Every Single Word. The series dramatically cuts critically acclaimed films into seconds-long clips, only highlighting portions where a person of color is speaking.

Oscar winners American Hustle (the clip: 54 seconds long - total), Her (47 seconds) and Black Swan (27 seconds) are among the selected films. The cut-down version of Disney's Into the Woods is the shortest, followed by Noah (11 seconds) and Moonrise Kingdom (11 seconds).

"It all started with Enough Said, and I had no idea it was going to take off in this way, " Marron, who identifies as biracial and was born in Venezuela, tells the USA TODAY Network. "I first saw it on a plane and was astounded how it got approved."

The film, Marron explains, features one person of color — a Latina maid who "serves as the punchline." "She's just a bad maid who has nothing shown through her eyes. It's something we're going to look back on and say, 'Wow, I can't believe this was ever allowed.'"

USA TODAY's Arienne Thompson breaks down Hollywood's well-documented diversity issue in her January cover story, tied to Into the Woods' release.

In it, she cites a study by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism that found that of 100 highest-grossing films of 2013, only about 25% of speaking roles featured non-white actors.

Marron, who's a film buff (and whose voice can be heard on the popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale), said he took the straightforward approach of cutting popular films because they speak for themselves.

"Laying out a pattern in front of people is so much more effective than posting an angry blog post or getting on my metaphorical or literal megaphone, " he explains. "The underlying theme of the variety of films I chose is that they are not about whiteness, " he says.


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