Whenever you see the line-up of main characters for a TV show or film these days, chances are there’s some diversity there, i.e. one or more people who aren’t white. Of course, the world is incredibly diverse, there’s no denying that, and the diversity of people is a great thing. But when it comes to shows and films, it seems that people are determined for every single line-up of characters to be diverse. In other words, if all the main characters are white, there’s no diversity and that, for quite a large number of people, it seems, is a problem. But is it really? Does every line-up have to be diverse or is there really nothing at all wrong with the main characters all having the same skin colour?
An argument for diverse line-ups
The simple argument for diverse line-ups across films and TV shows is that the world is diverse and that should be represented on screen. If all line-ups are exclusively white, not only is that entirely inaccurate, it’s also very unfair to non-white actors looking for work. In some productions, the ethnicity of a character is important and should be represented accurately. Take a film based on real-life events, for example. If it’s a real character, it’s important they’re depicted accurately on screen. For characters whose skin colour really matters, their skin colour should always be accurate. For some characters, their ethnicity isn’t stated or pre-determined by a book the production’s based on, so there’s leeway to be creative with the casting. In other words, why not make this character black to add more variety to the central cast? Why not make them Chinese or Indian? Basically, when there are characters whose ethnicity isn’t all that important, there’s nothing wrong with using that blank canvas to add more diversity to a production’s line-up, especially if the line-up is pretty much all white. Having an all-white cast isn’t a bad thing as such, it’s just that there are so many other ethnicities that having such a cast isn’t really showcasing the diversity and vibrancy of today’s world.
An argument against diverse line-ups
To put it simply, the world’s population is diverse but this doesn’t necessarily need to be represented in every single line-up of people. There’s nothing wrong with a show or film focusing on a particular group of people, even if they all happen to have the same skin colour. A film with an all-black cast shouldn’t be criticised for having such a cast – the same applies for a film with an all-white cast. Sometimes, a story hones in on people of a certain race or background and is therefore not very diverse, but that isn’t a problem. Diversity doesn’t have to be seen everywhere. Films and TV shows should first and foremost be about the story that’s being told. Skin colour is sometimes important, especially when it’s a story that’s specifically about skin colour and what problems/issues that can cause. But overall, there’s no need for every single line-up to be diverse. If each one was, they’d all be the same and where would the diversity be in that? There are various minorities that are calling for more representation on screen, but the industry as a whole is already quite diverse indeed. Surely the bigger picture should be considered rather than individual productions? Surely there’s nothing wrong with a single film or TV show not necessarily being diverse, so long as lots of others are?