In 2015, the annual Academy Awards proved highly controversial due to all twenty actors nominated for best lead and supporting roles being white. The popular news cycle following this was branded #OscarsSoWhite on social media, with a wide range of prominent actors, directors and journalists calling for greater on-screen diversity in Hollywood. Following on from these calls for diversity, this thesis aims to use this time period of 2015 - 2019 as a frame to analyze the critical reception of films released in the years after #OscarsSoWhiteexamining the language of film critics to gain some understanding of how they discuss race in their reviews. In recent years, the United States has seen a high degree of political and social turbulence, with a regime change and ideological polarization, combined with a renewed intensity of debate surround the country’s racial discourse following numerous cases of racial violence and ensuing civil unrest. This contextual backdrop makes research into the relationship between popular culture and the United States’ racial discourse societally relevant and necessary for sociological study. Using theory on Blackness, Whiteness and cultural criticism as the theoretical basis for this research, this thesis uses a critical discourse analysis of reviews written on a range of different films that have differing levels of diversity in the cast and crew made since 2015. Aiming to highlight the ways that critics discuss race, this thesis asks- how are Blackness and Whiteness discussed in criticism of Hollywood films since #OscarsSoWhite? The data analyzed comes from a wide range of both mainstream media and more specific online sources, with a concerted effort being made to include African-American publications and writers due to the lack of diversity amongst critics- the majority of them being White and male. Results show that White and Black critics talk about race in very different ways, with a key distinction being in the way that the influence of their personal experience of racial discourse shapes their perspective. Critics also unanimously recognize Hollywood’s historic lack of diversity, and criticize films that exhibit racial stereotypes and common narrative tropes. Analysis also shows the dominant position of Whiteness, which is also reflected through the lack of diversity amongst critics. This thesis concludes that whilst critical attitudes seem positive about a wider range of cultural perspectives being represented on-screen in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, the lack of diversity amongst cultural mediators- the critics themselves- reifies the perspective of Whiteness in Hollywood criticism.

Additional Metadata
Keywords kunstwetenschappen, cultuurwetenschappen, Blackness, Whiteness, Film Criticism, Colourblind Racism, Film, Diversity
Thesis Advisor P. Berkers
Persistent URL
Series Master Arts, Culture & Society
A. Norstrom. (2019, June 14). 'Who Is You, Man?' - How are Blackness and Whiteness discussed in criticism of Hollywood films since #OscarsSoWhite?. Master Arts, Culture & Society. Retrieved from