Kyle Bean Takes on Diversity for Variety
The last couple years have seen some legitimate unrest in the American population as we come to terms with some of the more important issues that are built into the core of our society. Reckoning with inequality has been a theme of recent times, and one of the most robust debates has been on about inequality in Hollywood. When the nominees for this year’s Oscars were announced many were shocked by the lack of diversity, quickly spawning the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, but this month Variety magazine is shedding light on a lack of diversity in an area that’s often overlooked: behind the camera. The magazine asked Kyle Bean to help them visualize this problem for the cover and story.
When everyone starts to look the same we call that a “cookie cutter,” as if one person is copied and pasted over and over. To visualize this idea, Kyle created a series of cutouts, like the garland people one cuts out as a kid, and assembled them together as a crew. As the figures line up one after another, they become a caustic parade, they create an impenetrable mass of white bodies that make it impossible to break into. It is a visual metaphor of the difficulty employees of color face when trying to break into the industry, but more than a metaphor the imagery communicates the feeling. It’s overwhelming to see this mass of similarity whose presence equally demands and rejects variation.
Let’s not get confused: diversity is crucial both in front and behind the camera. In front of the camera diversity is important to encourage representation so that everyone in our community sees positive and/or complex faces of all stripes. These stories are American stories and all of them deserve to be told. But experiences can be singular. A white American who grew up in a middle income suburban home is not going to fully understand the story of a first generation Chinese immigrant who arrived in San Francisco, or the life of a black Chicago youth growing up in public housing. At the same time, a latino Silicon Valley executive isn’t going to understand or be able to properly represent the story of an unemployed father in the Rust Belt. We need many voices in front and behind the cameras so we as a community can understand each other’s stories and learn from them. Only then can we grow together.