The Hollywood Jim CrowThe Racial Politics of the Movie Industry

The Hollywood Jim CrowThe Racial Politics of the Movie Industry

Maryann Erigha

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9781479886647

Publisher: NYU Press

Abstract

The Jim Crow era of outright racism seemingly ended decades ago, yet the major American film industry—Hollywood—is waist deep in racial politics. Jim Crow Hollywood shows how Hollywood insiders consider race when making decisions about moviemaking. Movies by and about white Americans are said to be worthy investments, while movies by and about Black Americans are said to be risky investments. This way of thinking has profound effects on the way movies and people move through the Hollywood system—shaping their production budgets, determining who directs lucrative tent pole blockbuster franchise movies, and creating stigma around race and moviemaking. Quotes from film directors, statistics on over a thousand movies, and emails between Hollywood insiders reveal that race is back in the forefront regarding how decision-makers in American culture institutions rationalize inequality. Except now understandings about race are mixed with talk about economic investments and cultural preferences, making racial inequality more palatable to the everyday observer and further entrenching racial divisions that counteract post-Civil rights narratives of racial progress.