Actor Dylan Marron’s Every Single Word video series became a hit this summer. His YouTube channel consists of popular movies edited down to the lines spoken by people of color. The project looks at films from all decades and genres, including Jaws, Harry Potter, Wet Hot American Summer, Juno and Midnight in Paris. While the lengths of these clips vary, it is clear that people of color are underrepresented in the film industry. In some cases people of color have about six seconds of speaking time, saying only a single line in the entire film.
Some of the most memorable videos from the project include those of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The entire saga is known for its length; however, when stripped down to the lines spoken by people of color, it becomes only 46 seconds long. Another remarkable aspect of this particular video is that the only people of color in the film play “Orcs,” the villains of the story.
The Harry Potter series fares somewhat better, rounding in at about five minutes and 40 seconds. It should be noted, however, that several of the characters of color are listed in the credits as minor characters; i.e., the centaur “Firenze,” “Shrunken Head,” “Boy 1,” and “Waitress.” There are a few prominent non-white characters such as Cho Chang or Kingsley Shacklebolt, but these names appear very little in the books and even less in the films. On average, each person of color in the Harry Potter series speaks only 28.33 seconds. Compare that to the full running time of the series at 1,207 minutes.
The project has garnered a lot of attention and discussion; Marron’s most popular video has over 262,900 views to date. The Internet is beginning to point out the disparity of the lack of representation of people of color in films, but will the film industry make an effort to alter these trends?