Hollywood, it seems, can’t stay out of politics. It’s a wonder the celebrity elite have any time to make movies when they’re so busy insulting the president, screaming #MeToo, or yammering about climate control. In this ever-progressive society of suddenly woke individuals who find themselves being offended by almost every utterance, the film industry has stepped in with a program to make sure the right number of people and nationalities are represented in their movies.
Spellcheck for Bias is an artificial intelligence program designed to increase the presence in and positive portrayals of Latinos and the LGBQT community in the movie world. Actress Geena Davis is behind this not-so-needed invention. The software tool was developed at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering. Its purpose is to evaluate the characters in film and advertising scripts to check for such things as how many are Latino, people of color, LGBQT, female, or have disabilities, and then determine if the roles will show these characterizations in a positive manner.
Disney is already using this inclusive software and now Universal Filmed Entertainment Group has partnered with Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media to also give it a test run. But here’s the million-dollar question: Is it really needed?
Liberty Nation’s Jeff Charles wrote about last year’s Academy Awards and how the left went absolutely nuts over the Green Book movie and racism:
“It’s hard to remember when progressives didn’t become upset because of the Academy Awards. Whether they are complaining about a lack of minority representation or a lack of female influence, they typically find something problematic about the affair. This time was no different. As with previous years, the awards were again turned into a political event.”
This year, the award show honored for the first time ever a movie made in a language other than English: South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho ended up with four Oscars for his film Parasite. Taika Waititi won Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit which made him the first Indigenous person to be nominated and win in this category.
Is Hollyweird truly a white privilege organization where no one else is invited or welcomed? At one time, maybe, but today it is hard to think this is true. Companies such as Netflix and Hulu have gone to great lengths to make all-inclusive original movies and series. As LN Managing Editor Mark Angelides opined, it’s as if there is a checklist and all boxes needed to be checked off for inclusivity before a movie, series, or ad can be approved.
This newest push is to make sure the Latino community is well represented in movieland. Davis’ company did a study on representation of the nationality in the film industry and found that “while Latinx accounts for 18.3% of the U.S. population (according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau), only 4.7% of all characters were Latinx in the top 100 popular films of 2019, compared with the 66.2% who were white characters.”
Davis is proud of her pilot program and expects it will change the industry:
“I’m so thrilled that NBCUniversal has committed to working with us on this pilot program. Their support will be extremely valuable in developing the tool to address the sparse and underdeveloped portrayals of the Latinx community which our upcoming study underscores. I believe our Spellcheck for Bias is going to be the biggest game-changer of all in creating onscreen inclusion and will help NBCUniversal and other studios identify opportunities to dramatically increase Latinx representations in their content, to counteract the conscious and unconscious bias in all of us.”
Are Latinos deliberately being shunned from Hollywood? Doubtful. Perhaps instead of trying to change all scripts to become so inclusive, producers should seek out Latino script writers and produce more “authentic” films. Injecting Latinos into every script just to meet a quota isn’t going to fix the perceived problem.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.