After Netflix’s sudden cancellation of its original show, ‘Sense8’ there was a great amount of public outcry. Multiple petitions were drafted, demanding the renewal of the show with one such petition even receiving over half a million signatures.
What was the reason behind such a passionate response from the audience? The main reason was the diversity of the cast of the show. For years, people of colour have been depicted as nothing but stereotypes but ‘Sense8’ depicted a matatu driver from Nairobi, a businesswoman from Seoul, an Indian girl marrying for her family’s happiness, as people and not comic relief. The authentic depiction of different cultures was not only heartwarming but also essential in this time of building walls.
This is great progress when it comes to Hollywood where practices like ‘whitewashing’ are still prevalent. “Whitewashing” is when Caucasian actors are cast to play minority roles. A prime example is Scarlett Johansson being cast to play the role of a Japanese anime character in the upcoming movie “Ghost in the Shell”. This is a system designed to discourage coloured actors and gives a clear indication that Hollywood doesn’t think they are worthy of even being considered for roles.
The love from the audience of ‘Sense8’ was so great that Netflix was forced to renew the show for a 2-hour finale episode. This proves that Hollywood doesn’t have to follow archaic rules such as there can only be one minority in a show or that racist jokes are alright as long as they are made by a coloured actor.
Audiences around the world are evolving and now more than ever representation of more cultures on the screen is imperative. This will help reduce the growing ignorance with regards to the unfamiliar. As people fall in love with characters who come from backgrounds that they can not fathom, they will realize that our differences aren’t really as big as they seem. Hollywood insults the sensibility of Caucasian viewers in assuming that they will not enjoy shows wherein the characters do not have the same skin tone as them.
Furthermore it would be greatly beneficially for young kids to see characters who are just like them achieve great things. They must see to believe and that is what Hollywood should deliver. I hope for a day when characters transcend the skin colour of the actors that play them until then Hollywood has much to achieve.