Is the Film Industry “Narrow Minded”?

Oscar Winners
Photo courtesy of Mashable

A mere 21 days until the 2016 Oscars and people are still riled up about #OscarsSoWhite. The trending hashtag blew up on Twitter as a way to reflect the lack of diversity in this year’s nomination list. Not a single non-white actor was nominated, I repeat none.

George Clooney, not too long ago, spoke out about the racial bias in the film industry but it hasn’t stopped there. In a recent article by BBC Newsbeat, Femi Oguns, a prominent British agent and African American, shared his own commentary on the issue, saying the industry “can be narrow minded.”

Why is this?

Well, it’s because out of the 6,300 people who decide who’s nominated, 94% are white and 77% are male. This obviously impacts the nominations list, but Oguns believes that it’s time for the industry to reflect the world we live in-not the world they live in.

What about other minority groups?

This is more than just a black and white issue. Latinos, Asian and Native American actors aren’t accurately represented either. In fact, only five Latinos and three Asians have ever taken home the little golden statue in the 87 years of Academy Awards’ history.

Academy CEO Dawn Hudson says, “It feels like the industry is almost at a point of crisis.”

What did the academy do?

During an emergency meeting on Jan. 21, the academy made extensive changes to its voting and recruitment rules. A new sponsorship program was installed as well, which will allow current members to help recruit new members “who represent diversity.” The academy also added three new seats to its board in an effort “to double the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.”

The Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs was also strategic in composing a tweet with her own statement on the academy’s lack of inclusion, while providing a hopeful and more diverse future of the academy.

Academy President Statement via Twitter

So where do we go from here?

The image of the Oscars was in real jeopardy, but key messaging and immediate change implemented by the academy helped to diminish further negative outcry. The academy also made it clear that they would not wait for the industry to implement similar changes; they want to be the leaders in advocating for diversity.

I don’t think the academy would have implemented change as quickly as it had if it weren’t for the Twitter backlash. Since information and opinions can be shared so easily nowadays, I think the academy had no choice. The public momentum on social media and support from A-list celebrities, or should I say, the boycott of the event, helped to create awareness about the lack of diversity in the academy and the film industry. Luckily, the academy heard the public’s plea and is establishing more inclusion.

It’s time for people, no matter their race, gender, sexuality, age, or whatever, to have equal opportunities. The academy can only go so far, now it’s time for the film industry to hop on board and create more roles for non-white actors.

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Broadcasting Live From Snapchat

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Photo courtesy of Adam Przezdziek

The Television Revolution

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Photo courtesy of Caribb

“Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men,” “Scandal,” “Breaking Bad,” “House of Cards,” the list goes on and on. Whether these scripted series currently clutter your DVR or Netflix queue, or you’ve merely seen an article about the top T.V. shows to watch this year on social media, I’m going to assume you’ve most likely heard of one of these shows. Why is this?

Well, it’s because of certain cultural shifts that are impacting television storytelling. People are beginning to refer to the current rise in dramatic series as the “new age of television.” We are not just able to watch television on cable and broadcast stations, but now, thanks to streaming services, we can watch as much as we want, whenever we want.

According to Charlie Collier, the President of AMC and Sundance TV, there are four distinct reasons for the cultural shift influencing greater television watching.

First off, technological innovations have drastically improved. We have total control over our television consumption, whether it’s on a computer, tablet, phone or, the traditional route, the television. People didn’t have the luxury to pause or rewind T.V.; they had no other option but to watch whatever program happened to be on the screen. Now, we “watch the shows we like for as long as we like.” Due to streaming services, writers and producers don’t have to be constrained to just one hour segment. They are able to take their time and truly develop a story. Digital video recorders (DVR’s) are yet another piece of technology that gives people more flexibility with when and where they can view their next episode.

As a society, we are also more accepting of individual differences than ever before. Each person has a unique background and television creators are tapping into this to produce meaningful stories. Plots are focusing on sharing stories about gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, and so on in order to reflect our society. Some of our favorite characters like Maura Pfefferman in Transparent or Jamal Lion in Empire portray these themes of race, gender and L.G.B.T.Q. Television series are able to show characters with greater diversity because we are becoming more accepting of individuality.

A move away from institutional religion is yet another cultural shift that affects television viewership. Fewer and fewer people disclose having a religious affiliation, which leads people to watch shows that help them answer unconventional questions. Although the acceptance factor from above plays a role, people are using television as a pathway for their own personal discovery. They are looking for different programming as a way to immerse themselves and seek more informal guidance.

Lastly, the easy accessibility of information and its ready availability also helps to shape television. People are able to provide their own opinions on different platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, which has both a negative and positive effect on television. Unruly fan comments or an ill-mannered hashtag has the potential of harming a television show’s popularity. It becomes the job of the PR professional to contain the “backlash.” They must be able to use social media effectively by engaging with followers and maintaining a “buzz.”

The television industry is changing; there is no doubt about it. It has matured and become more inclusive of others. I think television shows will have to find new ways to stand out, especially on social media. But it’s an exciting opportunity for those interested in entertainment PR to help build the brands of some of the most influential shows on television.

Chelsea Handler: Entertainer and Now App Creator

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Photo: Saeed Adyani, courtesy of Netflix

We’ve all been in that awkward or unwarranted situation where we are just hoping and praying someone calls or texts us so we can slyly make up an excuse and leave. Well, who would’ve thought comedian and actress Chelsea Handler would be the one to the rescue?

With her new app, Chelsea Handler: Gotta Go, it allows you to make a fake phone call or text message so you can tell that person you “gotta go.” I downloaded the app to see what it was all about and it genuinely lives up to its title. Simply fill out an excuse or choose a preset one, assign a contact and wait for it to arrive.

The app truly maintains Handler’s image by staying true to her comedic nature, especially when you answer your phone to her voice. But don’t freak out, it’s merely a pre-recorded message with her instructions on how to make your “emergency” convincing.

Handler created the initial idea, but Yeti, an app development company, helped to build and design it. According to Tony Scherba, president and founding partner of Yeti, he said, “We wanted to build something that she could relate to, so we needed to find a problem that was a very Chelsea Handler problem.”

I think the developers hit a goldmine, and did not even realize it. The app is not just relatable to Handler but to everyday consumers. Its simple functionality and clear messaging of getting people out of “sticky situations” has a purpose, a unique one at that.

The strategic messaging and deliberate launch of the app to coincide with her recently streaming Netflix documentary, Chelsea Does, was spot on. The first installment of the show will feature the creation of the app. It will focus on her new business venture and the common public relations tactic known as the pitch. Although, her pitch to the investment firm, Foundation Capital, is said to be a bit unconventional, I think we can learn an awful lot from Handler.

Not only did she effectively cross promote her new app through the episode, but she has also shown us how the entertainment industry is capable of evolving with the incorporation of new technology. Handler, along with other celebrities like Kim Kardashian, realize the impact of social media and technology and harnesses its power into successful apps. So, well done Handler you’ve enhanced your personal brand yet again!

The Academy Receives Backlash with #OscarsSoWhite

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Photo courtesy of Davidlohr Bueso

What’s Entertain Me PR?

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Photo courtesy of Brantley Davidson

As I minimize the tabs on my computer, I see the paused episode of Breaking Bad, an article about the Critics’ Choice Awards 2016 Winners List on Twitter and the latest album of Coldplay playing on Spotify; I realize that my life revolves around entertainment. I am constantly reading current pop culture news on social media or binge watching countless hours of a television show on Netflix just to stay up-to-date. So, I decided to create a blog to highlight the connections between the entertainment industry and my chosen public relations profession, and from there Entertain Me PR was born.

Entertain Me PR is a blog focused on public relations and all things entertainment. This means, I will cover topics including film, television shows, music, technology, popular culture as well as individual and corporate profiles in relation to PR. I want to explain the techniques the entertainment industry uses to effectively communicate with target audiences, especially through social media.

I’m intrigued with the way certain stories shape our culture. Why do I know that it’s the 10 year anniversary of High School Musical? Why is #OscarsSoWhite trending on Twitter? Why do I know that Kanye West wants to make a David Bowie tribute album? Why do I care? These are the types of questions that can be explained by public communications.

I’m entering the blogosphere with a little apprehension, but I hope this blogging experience will strengthen my written communication skills, broaden my knowledge and encourage valuable discussion. I hope to uncover new topics and understand better the dynamics between the entertainment industry and public relations.

“We aren’t in an information age, we are in an entertainment age.”- Tony Robbins

With that said, I hope you enjoy and thank you for taking the time to explore Entertain Me PR. Be sure to check out my posts each week!