The Entertainment business is a place where filmmakers and writers’ dreams go to die – in a slow painful death. For filmmakers from minority groups, the slow painful death of their dream begins before entering the doors of Hollywood. It’s no secret that Hollywood and TV Land are traditionally white. Since the glamour days of the 1940s, it’s been run and ruled by rich white men. However, as we now enter into the digital world both aspiring and seasoned creatives have found a new home to showcase their work.
Youtube was once home to HBO’s Insecure and was a haven for the new, and more woke version of Lena Dunham – Issa Rae. Dear White People, Netflix’s quick witted and fearless show was also birthed on the internet before becoming a feature film and a TV series on Netflix. The LGBTQ community have also found their place on the internet. For Carmilla fans – a Canadian based web series about a lesbian journalist and her lesbian vampire girlfriend (a better love story than twilight) – has emerged as a cult classic among the queer lady community. The show, which wrapped its third season last year has now been made into a movie. And guess, what? It’s online.
Youtube has now become the underground mecca for new and undiscovered talent. It’s a simple algorithm. Creators will shoot and upload their content onto YouTube. Often with little budget, and a small team behind them. Despite the low quality, if the show and writing is strong enough, people who have access to the internet will watch. When people watch, they share that video with their friends – who share it with their friends, up to the point where a cult following grows. When a show gains social media success, producers from mainstream networks will take notice.
This algorithm has played in favour of creators who are part of a minority group. Anyone can upload to youtube without the need of a producer’s approval. Since anyone can access YouTube, people who are part of that minority group will take notice if they see a content written for and by one of their own. In order for shows to succeed, you need to follow your audience. An audience who isn’t interested in mainstream will find their entertainment elsewhere.
Netflix as an online platform has also grown beyond a streaming service and as a serious production company. Arguably, thanks to diverse shows such as Orange is the New Black, Masters of None, One Day at a Time, and many more. Prior to Netflix’s success, many of the creators behind mega shows like OITNB – which has received 16 nominations and 4 wins, were mostly made up of women, people of colour and members of the LGBT community.
In traditional Hollywood, your big blockbuster idea would have likely been sent to a producer – and unless you have close personal connection to them, it may have ended up in a black hole of scripts and dreams collecting dust. If are a member of a minority group – it would have been 500 times more impossible (if that’s even possible?). It’s fair to say that mainstream shows have added some colour and queerness to their characters, and it’s all due to new and up and coming creatives who were discovered online.