Epidemic of Invisibility
Last year, NPR covered a then "newly released" study suggesting diversity in TV and film was so bad, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite should probably have been changed to #HollywoodSoWhite.
They cited an "epidemic of invisibility" noted by researchers at the University of Southern California, who analyzed more than 21,000 characters and behind-the-scenes workers on more than 400 films and TV shows released from September 2014 through August 2015. They tabulated representations of gender, race, ethnicity and sexual status.
"We're seeing that there's not just a diversity problem in Hollywood; there's actually an inclusion crisis," Stacy L. Smith, one of the study's authors and founding director of the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, said in an interview.
One Year Later
Fast forward one year, and we have a movie that could change the tone and style of all feature films moving forward. Hidden Figures is a new book and movie documenting the accomplishments of NASA’s black women “human computers” whose work was at the heart of the country’s greatest battles. Specifically, the film is about three female NASA mathematicians, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson who helped launch John Glenn into space.
Octavia Spencer, who plays Vaughan in the film, was so moved by the true story, she just had to be a part of it. In an interview with The Wrap, she said, "Honestly, I thought it was historical fiction because I had grown up with the narrative of what happened in the space race and we’ve seen so much archival footage, I thought the fact that we never heard of these women, it had to be fiction,” Spencer said. “And then I felt compelled to be part of the story because I feel like these women are unsung heroes."
Pharrell Williams, producer and song writer in the movie, said "There are going to be walls of adversity, no matter who you are,” he said. “If you keep your goals, and you look hard enough, you can see through these adversities like these women did and see that there is a victory.”
Here are just some of the tweets that have exploded all over the internet in support of this beautiful film! Women and girls are being inspired by this amazing story.
Even Nasa is getting in on the action!
These are exactly the types of films America needs to end this #epidemic of invisibility. We need to showcase the accomplishments in media for EVERYONE, not just white men or women. We hope this movie is the beginning of a progressive and necessary Hollywood trend to make movies entertaining and inclusive. Cheers to Fox and The Wrap for producing this incredible film.
“Hidden Figures” is now in limited release, and will open nationwide on Jan. 13.
SHARE with your friends and family to spread the message of this incredibly empowering film