For the most part I agree. The most important part of any film is the story that it tells, and more frequently than not, stories do not come with the thought that every race must be represented in their telling. However, it is one thing to make a film where all the characters with speaking roles are white, and it is another to build a world where people of colour simply do not exist.
This is the case in Hail Caesar. It is set in the 1950s in Hollywood. If the world they depicted is to be believed, the only people who were not white in Hollywood at the time were two Asians who worked in a Chinese restaurant.
I was slow to come to this conclusion. I had gone through about three quarters of the film before I realised that there was no one that looked like me in it. It would not have bothered me if the film was one of those dramas with only four characters and one location, but this was not the case. Of the 231 people that were featured in the film, only two did not appear to be white.
When people argue for diversity in film, there are always some quick to warn against the dangers of tokenism. Some skip the tokenism argument in its entirety and say, "well we looked, and we didn't find any that were suitable." If we were to consider these points as reasons why films aren't diverse then we would have to consider the following.
- There were no people of colour in Hollywood in the 1950s.
- There were no extras of colour available at the time.
This is one of the weird ones without any conclusion because I'm still stunned that I didn't see a single black face in two hours. Usually, there's a pimp, a prostitute, a drug dealer, a waiter, or a corrupt African junta from a fictional African country with a South African accent even when we know that the fictional country is somewhere between Gambia and Cameroon. So today I thank the Coen brothers for teaching me that there is something worse than being typecast and misrepresented and that's not being represented at all.