It’s been the couture-wearing elephant on the red carpet for a very long time: Hollywood has a diversity problem.
With the Oscars fast approaching, it’s hard to ignore the glaring lack of color in this year’s nominations. When the nominees for the 88th Academy Awards were announced in January, with nary a non-white person in sight, social media lit up with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.
The Best Actress nominees literally all look like the same woman at different stages of her life pic.twitter.com/o7zu8wUf0R— Kendra (@kendrawcandraw) January 14, 2016
Big names joined the conversation, too. Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett-Smith vowed to boycott the awards, Saturday Night Live lampooned the absurdity of the all-white nominations, and Danny DeVito noted that “the entire country is a racist country.”
The New York Times delved into the history of black Oscar nominees and found some disturbing truths about what the Academy seems to value in a black performance: female performers in particular seem to only warrant attention when they are enslaved, impoverished, and abused.
But New York-based comedian and writer Jordan Mendoza noticed a problem well before the nominees were announced. His Tumblr, All White Ppl, illustrates the lack of diversity in award season and beyond.
For more than a year, Mendoza has been digitally altering the advertising for film and television shows featuring all-white casts, replacing the title with variations on the words “white ppl.” The taglines and images remain unaltered; the effect is both hilarious and sobering. As you scroll through several posters, you’ll find yourself laughing harder and harder even while shaking your head.
“I want to give people the feeling of what it feels like to sort of just look at your Netflix queue or walk down the subway and feel that frustration,” Mendoza told the Daily Dot.
Although Mendoza’s most recent posts address the Oscars, the original idea for the project was not inspired by any big media moment. Rather, it came to him on an ordinary day. “I was walking in the subway and I was like, ‘This sucks’—just looking at all the posters, and it’s all white people.”
He added: “And then I was watching Friends—which I love—but then I was like, ‘That’s messed up too.’ It’s kind of racist here and there and it’s just six white people.”
Mendoza, who also creates sketch videos featuring people of color, expressed similar sentiments over the best picture nominees: “The weird thing is I love all those movies. I saw every one of those movies and I really liked every one of them. It’s just so weird that there couldn’t be enough backing for other narratives this year. I guess that’s been the case forever, but it’s sort of bizarre.”
While the project has made many of his friends laugh, Mendoza notes that there is one small obstacle to keeping it going—it’s downright depressing.
“Eventually,” Mendoza added, “I’m hoping, if I don’t get too depressed by the project, to have it look like Netflix, like you go into Netflix and there’s just an overwhelming array of white media for you to peruse.”
Photo via Jordan Mendoza/Tumblr