Why do we celebrate diversity in books, but are left with whitewashed movie versions?

It’s always a monumental feat when a novel, especially in YA, gets recognized for having a diverse cast of characters, and even more impressive, if it has a diverse lead, and a diverse author writing it. So, what’s the middle man, per se, in getting us from being readers going through page-turners about characters of all types, only to end up with their more cliché, whitewashed, able-bodied counterparts?

  • The way you're using the word "diverse" is problematic. Human beings are not diverse. Populations are. To answer your suggestion, it's important for whoever wants to write this article to realize that films and novels function differently as artistic media. We can read both as narratives, but the audiovisual nature of film is really important towards the ways that directors envision a work. The reasons why movies continue to feature whitewashed casts is because most readers have a tendency to ignore these "diverse" descriptions when they read. The basic template for a human being in the American imagination is a white person, and therefore descriptions which deviate from this are easily ignored or taken with a grain of salt. It tends to be people of color who are disgruntled with whitewashing because it contributes to their historical erasure and because they are the most sensitive to these issues. – X 8 years ago
  • The largest problem with this topic, as mentioned, is that both forms of media have different purposes. Novels have the simple job of entertaining an engaged reader, while film has the complex job of making money. If this topic is explored, the researcher would need to include this as one of the major reasons for the "whitewashing." Since producers and directors mostly care about making money instead of diversifying and representing the correct culture and racial groups, the topic would be unfortunately straightforward, I would think. – Steven Gonzales 8 years ago
  • Like previous commenters have said, money is a big reason, but on the other hand it's audience's reactions to diverse content. In a lot of fandoms if you write a fanfic with a poc character, many fans will say that they can't "imagine" that character being a minority. For instance even though there are plenty of stories featuring your typical white, straight character, if you create one story featuring a minority character, some people will react by saying that you're taking stories away from white characters. – seouljustice 7 years ago
  • To expand on what seouljustice said, I think that diversity is easy to ignore in a good book. Looks are not as important as values and motivations in books, but are much more important in more visual media, including films. Engaging with characters and projecting yourself onto them means finding similarities between yourself and them, while being able to ignore differences. Target audiences for most popular movies have large percentages of white viewers who would then have trouble empathizing with characters of different backgrounds, including (but not limited to) race and sexuality. – C8lin 7 years ago

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