Video series edits movies down to lines spoken by people who aren't white

Ever wonder what most major Hollywood movies would look like if they were edited to include nothing but the words spoken by people who aren't white? The answer is: really short.

Project aims to make a point about the lack of diversity in Hollywood

If you just use the lines by characters played by people who aren't white, Wes Anderson's film Moonrise Kingdom runs 10 seconds. (Niko Tavernise/Focus Features/Associated Press)

Ever wonder what most major Hollywood movies would look like if they were edited to include nothing but the words spoken by people who aren't white? 

A new YouTube project from actor and playwright Dylan Marron aims to answer that very question. And the answer is: really short. 

Marron has tackled 12 films so far and none run longer than 55 seconds in their abbreviated form. Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom clocks in at just 10 seconds. The full movie is 94 minutes long. 

Several films, such as Noah or Into the Woods, don't have a single line from what he calls people of colour. The clips for those films simply fade to black after a short introduction. 

"You're asking me to believe that a giant is chasing you through the woods, but I can't believe a person of colour is in the woods?" Marron explained to The Guardian.

The 27-year-old Venezuelan-American is known online for playing Carlos on the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. In conversations with agents, Marron says he found that he had a much harder time getting cast in films because of his race. 

"It feels like no matter how much I've done, no matter how much work I have under my belt, no matter how much I have to speak for, the talent just doesn't matter," he told the Washington Post. "I find the big roadblock is being a person of colour."

Marron also noted that the roles they do land are often side characters, like the physical therapist in Black Swan or the uncomfortable waitress in Her

"I'm not picking these films because I don't like them. On the contrary, I actually really enjoy them," Marron said in an interview with Public Radio International. He explained that he enjoyed the book The Fault in Our Stars, but didn't see why the movie couldn't have a more diverse cast. 

"Nowhere in John Green's exceptional novel was any character's race ever mentioned. Why is whiteness the default? The story is not about whiteness, it's about love and loss and mortality."

The videos evoke the Bechdel Test, a popular measure for determining sexism within a film. For a film to pass, a woman has to talk to another woman about something other than a man. 

Kaitlyn Tiffany of The Verge noted that neither of these are perfect measures. Some movies, such as Frances Ha, intentionally discriminate in casting to make a point about the characters. 

In 2013, the University of Southern California's Annenberg School For Communication and Journalism released a study examining the 500 top-grossing films in the United States between 2007 and 2012. The study found that roughly three quarters of all speaking roles were given to white actors. 


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