Every Word Spoken- A Look into Racism in Films Through Roles

It’s a pretty well known fact that Hollywood doesn’t care for people of color, even though they won’t admit it. Whether it’s Oscar snubs, rewriting roles for white people, or just plain refusing to hire people of color, Hollywood was made for white people. You may not notice it at first, but in the industry’s biggest movies, nonwhite actors are conspicuously absent in speaking roles. One man has decided to show the disparity by editing together videos of famous films where the only lines featured are lines spoken by people of color. His name is Dylan Marron and he has made it his mission to expose Hollywood’s secret.

Marron is a Venezuelan-American actor, writer, and director. From a young age, he was told that he was never going to play the “romantic lead” because he was a brown, queer man trying to make it in an overwhelming white industry. Despite being repeatedly told that there wasn’t “that much work out there for [him],” Marron hasn’t let that hold him back. Though his career is just beginning, Marron landed a starring role as the voice of Carlos on the popular podcast Welcome to Nightvale. Not only is Carlos a romantic lead, but he is also involved in queer, interracial relationship.

Still, Marron is unsatisfied with representation on the screen so he started the project, Every Word Spoken. He created a Tumblr page and a Youtube page where you can watch his videos. Each video features a mainstream movie with only the lines spoken by a person of color featured. Often, the actors speaking are unnamed characters in subservient positions or token minority characters meant to be the best friend of the white, main character. The actors with all the meaty dialogue seem to be white people while people of color are relegated to secondary or background characters.

It’s completely shocking how brief these videos are, how much these films are reduced. Some of the videos, like Her and the Fault in Our Stars are forty seconds long, while others, like Into the Woods and Noah, only feature the title and silence because all of their actors are white. These two hour movies are being reduced to mere seconds because they feature all white casts and it’s kind of unbelievable. The longest video he’s done—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone—comes to one minute and forty seconds. Marron can’t even be accused of sticking to one genre because all of the movies are vastly different from each other in every way except one. From Oscar winning films, to young adult book adaptations, to musicals, to biblical blockbusters, these movies are whiter than snow. The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy with its over eleven hours worth of film can be edited down to forty-six seconds worth of non white person speaking parts, and all of those lines are spoken by the orcs. Return of the King doesn’t even have any dialogue from a person of color at all.

Marron’s just wants to draw attention to the disparity in casting. It’s a problem that has been happening since the 20s when Hollywood was just getting started. Ultimately, his goal with this project is to start a conversation. He said in a recent interview, “I don’t want to get on a megaphone and start yelling. I don’t want to post a ranty blog series. I feel like I am just highlighting and outlining a pattern that is at play […] Showing patterns and showing them without embellishment, without comment and just placing them on the table is so much more effective than yelling about the problem.

Representation is important. It inspires people like Whoopi Goldberg to become an actress and Mae Jemison to become and astronaut—both who were, amazingly enough, inspired by Nichelle Nichols in her role as Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek series. By having most of its movies with overwhelmingly white casts, Hollywood is sending a message to people of color, telling them that they can’t do the things that white people can. By kick starting the conversation through his videos, Marron wants to draw attention to a flawed system and, hopefully, get the diversity ball rolling.

This article was written by Halley Dewey, a writer for dusk magazine. 

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