Video Series Reveals How Rarely People of Color Speak in Popular Films

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Even the dog is white. (Photo: Focus Features)

Mainstream films have a longstanding reputation of being a space for white men, so much so that a phenomenon like The Bechdel Test, which grades movies based on whether two women speak to each other about something other than a man, is necessary. Now there's a similar litmus test regarding race, thanks to Dylan Marron of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. His Tumblr project, Every Single Word, edits down movies to only include the lines spoken by people of color. The results bring Hollywood's diversity problem into sharp relief.

Take Into the Woods, for example:

No, that's not a glitch. The video begins and ends with no real content because, while a magic surrealist landscape can accommodate giants and witches, it can't bend the imagination enough to include a non-white person.

Same goes for Noah. The people from the Bible are from what we now call the Middle East, yet they're played by super white actors like Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson.


Whoopi Goldberg recently drew attention to the lack of diversity in Wes Anderson movies when she jokingly handed her resume to Jason Schwartzman to give to the director. She certainly has a point, as these three throwaway lines from Moonrise Kingdom attest.

Out of the four people of color in Her, only one gets an actual name. The others go by Letter Writer #2, Pizza Vendor and Uncomfortable Waitress.

(500) Days of Summer doesn't fare much better. Another four people of color, again only one with an actual name. And all their lines combined clock in at under 30 seconds. The movie is an hour and 35 minutes long.

You get the picture.

Marron talked to Slate about how his race has limited his career options. His agents once told him he would "never play the romantic male lead and that they weren’t sure how much work is out there for [his] 'type.'" Years later, that continues to be the message Hollywood sends Marron and people like him.

But Marron has a message of his own with these videos, and it's coming in loud and clear. Watch them all at his YouTube page and spread the word.