The N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton earned more than $56 million this weekend, reminding Hollywood yet again of the huge market for films with racially diverse casts.
The film’s box office underscores a point about underrepresentation in film that New York City actor, writer and director Dylan Marron has been illustrating since June with his series of “Every Single Word’’ videos. The videos, collected on his Tumblr, re-edit films to remove all the dialogue by white actors, leaving only the lines spoken by people of color.
Sometimes, as in the case of Wet Hot American Summer, removing the white people’s lines leaves nothing behind. (It may be a case of art imitating life: The 2001 film and the Netflix series it inspired are based in 1981 at a Maine summer camp, probably not the most diverse setting.)
Marrow isn’t so much criticizing specific movies as the aggregate lack of dialogue and roles for non-whites in films ranging from indie comedies to blockbusters. Compton is the rare summer blockbuster with an African-American director and predominantly African-American cast.
“The history of this project is that growing up as a brown kid in this country, you are very aware of your difference and I have always loved movies,’’ Marron, who is Venezuelan-American, told The Washington Post. “We’re talking the whole range, as mainstream as it gets and as independent as running for one weekend at an art house cinema. I love that medium, so I’ve been an avid consumer since I was young and when I was growing up I never really saw my reflection on film. I never saw people who really looked like me and I think when you’re younger, you don’t really have the tools to wonder why, or you don’t think to ask why. You just accept it as truth.’’
Here are Marron’s edits of other Hollywood films with only the lines spoken by non-white actors. If you don’t have much time to watch, don’t worry: They’re depressingly short.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1:
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