The United States Department of Justice “contended that equal employment opportunity in the broadcast industry could ‘contribute significantly toward reducing . . . discrimination in other industries’ because of the ‘enormous impact . . . television . . . [has] upon American life.’” Courts have also recognized that “communities . . . ’[must] take an active interest in the . . . quality of [television programming because television] has a vast impact on their lives and the lives of their children.’” Unfortunately, Hollywood continues to promote an insular culture that excludes minorities from influential behind-the-camera and on-screen positions.
Although the government established agencies, such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to ensure that networks and stations operate in the public’s interest, my research revealed that minorities are still vastly underrepresented in the film industry. My research study confirmed that minority representation remained nearly stagnant between 2010 and 2014 and that the white majority continued to dominate as directors, casting directors, screenwriters, actors, and actresses. These results suggest that America’s existing regulatory schemes are unable to break the cycle of bias among film creators and that the lack of diverse perspectives in Hollywood minimizes the number of casting calls seeking non-white talent and perpetuates the inaccurate, stereotypical portrayal of minorities. As a result, society’s members develop negative implicit biases about minorities that strengthen the bamboo ceiling in the film industry and prevented people of color from succeeding as professional artists. The courts believe that “communities throughout the . . . country . . . must bear [the] final responsibility for the quality and adequacy of television service” and that members of the “public [should not] feel . . . [that] they are unduly interfering in the private business affairs of others” because the public has a direct interest in television programming. However, recent decisions, such as Claybrooks v. ABC and Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, suggest that courts sometimes fail to recognize the public’s desire to promote antidiscrimination in employment and diversity, especially when these interests conflict with an individual’s freedom of expression. This article urges the public to hold Congress and the judiciary responsible for ensuring children are exposed to a diverse portrayal of minority experiences on screen and providing minorities with the equal opportunity to earn a reasonable living in entertainment—
America’s most influential industry. Our judges need more direction from Congress to establish a precedent that properly balances our country’s First Amendment and antidiscrimination values because, currently, the courts are failing to stop discrimination in Hollywood despite Congress’s passage of Title VII and § 1981. Entertainment leaders also need congressional guidance because the industry has not eliminated its improper practices through self-regulation. Thus, this article presents a legislative solution that can reduce the film industry’s prejudicial actions without interfering with artists’ right to express their views.
Christina S. Chong,
Back to the Drawing Board! Legislating Hollywood,
Ga. St. U. L. Rev.
Available at: https://readingroom.law.gsu.edu/gsulr/vol35/iss3/2