Whatever Happened to Multicultural Cinema and Television?
Gone are the glorious days when television programs like: A Different World, New York Undercover, and Living Single graced the airwaves and stimulated the small screen. These TV shows (among many others) reflected broader depictions of humanity for people of color, and expanded visions of the possible for millions of Americans. Since the early 2000s there has been a steep decline in the production and distribution of diverse entertainment in Hollywood overall.
And yet, it is important to note that the removal of multicultural films and television programs from mainstream screens has not removed the necessity for or the insatiable craving for multicultural images and stories from members of diverse communities. Quite the contrary— the desire for diverse content has never been greater!
In fact, Black and Latina/o Americans watch 44% more film and television than other groups. A recent survey conducted by the Harvard University School of Public Health reveals that, African-Americans rank the highest in terms of their dissatisfaction with their current entertainment options. Historian Preston Lauterbach points out “entertainment is good for the soul [and] entertainment hits you the best and hits you the hardest when it’s directed toward you.” Can I get a witness?!? However, for various reasons, dominant media continues to ignore multicultural audience members and this has created a tremendous void for people of color.
Thus, with the support of the NYU CRI, I have officially launched Project Catalyst— an innovative transmedia organization that galvanizes amazing filmmakers, thinkers, and visual artists, to combine creative community building practices with cinema, art, and technology. Our mission is to provide alternative entertainment options for an ever-expanding multicultural population. Throughout my fellowship year, (and beyond) we will diligently work to put forth an exciting new model that unveils positive solutions to this very pressing dilemma.
My aim through Project Catalyst is to cultivate an artistic and cinematic space rooted in the cultural affirmation of diverse communities. A space where culture is produced and knowledge is shared that reflects the multivalent stories, experiences, and images that challenge traditional boundaries of what others conceive as valuable, not only for ourselves, but for the sake of generations of young people growing up in a media culture bereft of reflections of themselves. Project Catalyst is a model for disruptive innovation. A platform that fills the enormous gap in diversity that Hollywood has created. We are providing a culturally expressive communal space that celebrates the spirit and diversity of American life!
Project Catalyst is an organization that serves as a vehicle for filmmakers who are creating works specifically for communities outside of Hollywood’s lamestream. If you desire to reach a multicultural audience, we can help you. If you desire to share a powerful story from a traditionally underrepresented perspective we’re here to serve you. Our goal is to amplify films, filmmakers and artists who create visual culture that possess high quality and strong humanistic voices, in order to transform our collective media invisibility into an undeniably visible cultural and cinematic force.
As always, I real(eyes) great ideas can change the world, but it requires great people to make it happen. That’s why we need your help to share our message of positivity with others. I thank you in advance for your continued support. And I’m honored to take this amazing journey with you—
Check out our website for details on how you can become a CATALYST and spark your GREATNESS!!! www.projectcatalyst.com Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/projectcatalyst and follow us on Twitter: @pjcatalyst
See Shereen Marisol Meraji’s article Black Americans Give Entertainment Options Failing Grades, NPR http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/06/07/189603116/black-americans-give-entertainment-options-failing-grades