Audiences Want More Diverse Movies & TV Shows, Study Says

Courtesy: ABC
One of the jokes that Neil Patrick Harris landed last Sunday night during the Oscars was when he quipped that they were all gathered to "honor the best and whitest…. Sorry, brightest." It's a joke that would have been appropriate during any awards season, but it's painfully on the nose for 2014's #OscarsSoWhite season.

It's no news to anyone that Hollywood is overwhelmingly white and male, and the general party line has been that the studios are only giving audiences what they want. Heck, the biggest award of the night went to Birdman, a movie that made fun of Hollywood's superhero fetish — and even those movies are making moves toward being more inclusive. The target audience is no longer white dudes fresh out of college; it's just that Hollywood has yet to fully realize it. 

The recent UCLA study "Flipping The Script" is just one of many that make it clear that audiences are seeking out entertainment that more accurately reflects our world. Despite the rather disheartening numbers about the gender and race of studio execs, who's getting the biggest roles, and more, the study concludes that "new evidence suggests that increasingly diverse audiences prefer diverse film and television content."

Movies that feature "relatively diverse casts" make more money on a global scale, both at the box office and for investors. TV shows with more diverse casts and writers have higher ratings among viewers from 18 to 49. According to the study, "What’s new is that business as usual in the Hollywood industry may soon be unsustainable... Diversity sells."

It doesn't even have to be a blatant effort, like when women urged each other to buy tickets to see Bridesmaids opening weekend. Every time we buy a movie ticket or tune in to our favorite TV show, we're telling the industry what we want to see. As the study points out, the industry will have to make a concerted effort from top to bottom to rectify this problem, from networks to talent agencies. But, as long as money talks, Hollywood will listen. [Los Angeles Times]

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