Updated: Mar 16, 2020
In the world of film music, there are a lot of opportunities for creative expression, but the industry is not without its faults.
Is a single word really ruining the film music industry??
Really?... What's this all about???
We'll get there. But first things first...
Thinking Outside the Box
In the artistic world, knowledge and skill are obvious assets, but even greater is the ability to think outside the box. Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.
I remember once talking to a friend about a birthday present she received during a difficult time in her life. The present sat on her coffee table unopened for several weeks.
When I asked her about it, she explained to me that during such a difficult time, her unopened present represented something to look forward to. It represented hope.
I understand how she felt. As long as she had that unopened present, she had something in her possession that symbolized the possibility of something good in her future.
I also understand that while an unopened present can represent hope, it also suppresses the wonder of discovery.
That leads to the word that is ruining the film music industry... stereotype.
The Issue with Stereotyping
Stereotyping is dangerous because it places a limit on unlimited potential. Keeping a group of people locked within a confined space or within a box is dangerous because unless that box is opened and its contents explored, we miss out on a great deal of enormous possibilities.
Stereotyping is so dangerous because it places a limit on unlimited potential.
Facts matter. Here are the facts: According to a study at USC, women composed the music for a mere 1.4% of the highest grossing films during a 12 year period. If you can believe it, the percentage of African American film composers is much worse.
Why does this happen? Why is there a lack of diversity in film music? Because minorities have been placed inside a box. Make no mistake about it, classical music is a white male dominated field; it always has been. And since film music is rooted in classical music, minorities have been almost completely excluded.
The image of a person of color or a woman leading an orchestra is foreign to most because it's an image we so rarely see. That's stereotyping at its core. And that's why it's so dangerous.
...women composers scored a mere 1.4% of the highest grossing films during a 12 year period.
Last year, UCLA did a study on diversity on Hollywood diversity. The results were disappointing, yet predictable. In 2016-2017, minorities were underrepresented in virtually every job in the industry.
You can read the full report here, but perhaps the most notable aspect of the study is that although their research involved 12 areas of employment for minorities in the film business, they did not look at the underrepresentation of film composers.
In reality, you don't need to do much research to come to the realization that substantial change has to occur before there is adequate representation for film composers.
I'll quickly demonstrate...
Wikipedia has a page devoted to a list of African American film composers and at the time of this writing, the list has a grand total of 6 artists. If you remove the ones that are deceased, you're down to 4. While the list is not entirely exhaustive (I personally know of several that have been left off the list), it corroborates the point I'm trying to make.
What Can Be Done???
The film music industry is missing out on some incredible talent because of the perpetuation of stereotypes. I only know of one way to break down stereotypes and that is to expose people to the truth.
Minority composers exist in abundance. They only need one thing - opportunity. The industry needs to open the doors. That's their job. Our job is to open our eyes so that when minorities are given the opportunities they deserve, we can support them.
What Do YOU Think?
There is clearly much progress that needs to be made. We need to do our part while Hollywood is doing theirs. But is it enough? Let me know in the comments section below. What do you think?