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20 Feb, 2020 17:37

Hollywood will now ‘spellcheck’ its scripts and advertising for lack of diversity

Hollywood will now ‘spellcheck’ its scripts and advertising for lack of diversity

The US film and TV industry’s latest answer to its lack of diversity is ‘Spellcheck for Bias,’ a tool several Hollywood studios plan to use to help increase positive portrayals of Latinos on the big and small screen.

‘Beetlejuice’ actress Geena Davis has partnered with Universal Filmed Entertainment Group to try out the new program, which was developed by Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media and USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. 

The tool supposedly breaks down diversity in material such as scripts and advertising briefs by scanning for mentions of LGBTQ, race, and disabilities, and then identifying how positively such things are portrayed. 

The software is currently being fine-tuned by a group of industry insiders — and once it’s ready, Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, Focus Features and NBC Entertainment will begin using it on their scripts, first with an eye towards increasing roles for the Latino community, which makes up nearly 20 percent of the US population, but less than five percent of characters in film and television.

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Davis said in a statement that Spellcheck for Bias will be “the biggest game changer of all in creating on screen inclusion.” The actress is also working with Disney on implementing her program to police gender roles in scripts.

A lack of diversity in art seems like a relatively simple issue to resolve. If you feel the Latino community is underrepresented, just hire filmmakers from that community to tell their stories and organically make the industry more aware of the possibilities in storytelling. The same can go for gender, disabilities, etc. 

This fix appears to be too simple for the industry, though. Instead of broadening their horizons and opening their gates to more filmmakers and scripts, they’d rather invite in a police-state like tool that feels like a discarded bit from George Orwell’s ‘1984.’ Forced diversity is not diversity at all — we’ve seen how it works out at the box office — and an app developed by people trapped in the very same industry they are trying to fix sounds more like a swing for headlines than real change.

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