Within the current globalization process, the whole world strives for tolerance. People try their best to convey and support the idea that any cultural, ethnical, or gender discrepancies must not influence the perception of a person in society. This policy obviously has good intentions, but there will always be a group of people who will not agree that all people are the same. Stereotypes of such a kind are not easily erased from the collective unconscious, and that is why they continue to thrive in every product of the human mind. The most typical example is Hollywood cinematography, which is can be fairly be associated with the spread of stereotypes. Filmmakers are very aware of national identity, and watchers are taught to notice any breach of racial rules.
America, the country of immigrants, though traditionally considered so called melting pot, has nowadays largely transcended from these outdated characteristics. People may acquire citizenship, but deep down, on some molecular level, they will still be foreigners. Richard Rodriguez, a writer of Mexican decency, remembers his childhood as “socially disadvantaged” because of the language and cultural barriers (Scott). It proves that ethnical minorities, in terms of political correctness, which are treated as equal, are in reality very distinguished. Latin American, Native American, Afro-American, or Asian American – these are all artificial categories, for every transition from one category to another is not perceived as natural. Hollywood supports this limitation: non-white actors are shown as full-fledged citizens, yet their ethnic identity is emphasized on every occasion.
More importantly, due to such representation in cinema and culture in general, people find themselves confused. Now an adult, Rodriguez maintains that he is fully assimilated, but his interviewer reveals that due to assimilation and acquiring of American way of life, his fellow-countrymen treat him as a traitor. In the same way, a Native American poet Sherman Alexie maintains that he is “a mixed-up, odd, not traditional Indian” (Lincoln). My own appearance discloses my Arabic decency, and it would be unreasonable to deny it. When people meet me for the first time, despite the increased ethnic tolerance, they still automatically perceive me as a foreigner, although I believe that American culture has enrooted in me as deeply as my native one. It proves that opposition to assimilation is alive and present.
Hollywood became less biased in ethnical and racial terms. The outcomes of civil-rights movement secured the equality for everybody. However, this equality has not substituted identity. 1980’s revealed a cinematographic tendency which was never observed before – these years witnessed a wave of “biracial buddy films” (Miller). Three decades later, little has changed: every race is presented in cinematography, but there is always a strong adherence to manifesting the diversities between the races. Non-white members of the cast remain a peculiar category and a convenient tool of producing the desirable effect on the audience. It means that African American actor is an ambassador of his racial identity with the whole complex of stereotypes attached to it. A niche occupied by such an actor cannot be under any circumstances intruded by a Caucasian. The audience will simply refuse to perceive such a substitution. It is a reflection of opposition of diversification still existing in the society in spite of all efforts of ethnic-blind America.
Producers are the ones who calculate the audience’s response to cinematographic product. Their aim, therefore, is to sell the film. Practice shows that it is easier to sell those movies which maintain the prevailing thought of the society. Orienting on still ethnic-sensitive society, they encourage the directors to follow the existing stereotypes. As Everett suggests, filmmakers only emphasize the racial attitudes that, unfortunately, are still enrooted in the society at all its levels. Moreover, during the casting process, workers of modern cinematographic industry learn how to use the race of the actors to their narrative purposes. They have skillfully adopted the idea that with Caucasian actors serving as an indispensable and neutral background, all the other races can modify the content and impression of the depicted events. It also proves that the movie industry is largely white-oriented, leaving the endeavors of ethnically marked filmmakers at the margins. In some way, this attitude is even more racist than previous limitations existing in cinema.
Non-white actors in Hollywood are always more than just people of a certain occupation. Due to their vivid ethnical identity, they inevitably convey a racial message whatever role they have. In House, M.D., for instance, this idea transcends to the level of social mockery. Although it is not a movie but a TV show, the jocular warning which it exerts is rather strong due to the large audience which it embraces. Unfortunately, the roles in movies are still largely based on racial archetypes; some of them are “meant” for Caucasian actors, others are “designed” for non-Caucasian ones. Therefore, placing a white actor to play a vividly non-white character with a serious purpose will produce, in the best-case scenario, a humorous effect. However, it is more likely that such a decision will result in misunderstanding and rejection.
Some people (like Rodriguez) strive for assimilation. The others (like Alexie) find themselves in between the inborn and required culture. The society at a whole with cinema, being one of its viewpoint expression outlets, proves to be closer to the opposite pole maintaining that full assimilation is not possible as long as there are racial, ethnical, and other discrepancies between people.