What place for mixed couples in Hollywood?

The representation of minorities on screens is crucial. For a long time, we have witnessed, for example, whitewashing, which today is often criticized. If diversity is gradually taking over in cinema, what about the representation of mixed couples?

The question of diversity in Hollywood is more and more debated thanks to a word that is truly free. But if the customs evolve, and so much the better, care must be taken not to bring any minority into boxes. This is undoubtedly where the question arises of the place of mixed couples in the film industry as on the small screen.

For a time, pop culture has represented diverse but not necessarily mixed relationships, no doubt for the sake of somewhat smooth representation of American society and its families. The 90s, for example, have the merit of having brought out sitcoms in which black families were represented. The prince of Bel-Air, the Cosby Show or My family first a little later … Black families like white families on the small screen make American households laugh. But what is the place of diversity in all of this?

Diversity at the center of the narrative challenge

Pop culture has sometimes tried to highlight mixed couples. She made cinema a tool to denounce the lack of consideration of mixed race families and the difficulty for these latter to find their place within society. Because indeed, they did not fit into any prefabricated hut. They did not resemble any stereotype. A heavy legacy that could lead to collective thought that white and black are incompatible. Ashton Kutcher, star of romantic comedies, has formed a mixed couple on screen alongside actress Zoe Saldana. In the movie Black / white, they embody Theresa and Simon, two lovebirds whose relationship surprises the girl's dad. His future stepson is white and he had absolutely no expectation of that. The pitch of the film is clear: diversity is a problem.

Cinema has sometimes denounced society's view of mixed couples. Sometimes even historically. This is the case of Loving, which brought to light Mildred and Richard Loving, the first mixed race couple to have made their marriage legal in the United States. If the film reveals the militant aspect and the social figure that this couple has become, it takes a kind look at them. Loving portrays the story of a ultimately banal couple who never claimed to defend the flouted civil rights of segregationist America in 1958. We discover that, despite themselves, they have become the symbol of the right to s love for all, without distinction of origin. Is the trivialization of mixed couples in the cinema therefore the key to an ideal representation of these relationships?

The mixed couple as unsaid

Certainly, over the past 20 years, we have seen a few films evoking diversity as the main subject, thus highlighting societal works. But Hollywood has also given way to diversity without making it a central subject. The new Spiderman, played by actor Tom Holland, falls in love with a Métis classmate. We then discover the family life of the girl: her mother is therefore black and her father white, interpreted respectively by Garcelle Beauvais and Michael Keaton. At no time is this crossbreeding mentioned, making mixed families as commonplace as the others, never questioning their legitimacy. This diversity was the subject of debate at the end of the film, deplored by some but welcomed by others, delighted to see diversity in a mainstream film.

Would the mixed couple still find it difficult to find their place with the public despite the efforts of the studios? When the success of Friends Ross in full swing, Ross interpreter David Schwimmer was likely fighting for the show to be "less white". In an interview with The Guardian, he recently explained: "I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years for Ross to go out with women of color," he explains. Indeed, her character is in a relationship with Julie in season 2, a young woman of Asian origin, before falling in love with Charlie, an African-American colleague in seasons 9 and 10. A judicious choice of casting when we know that within the narrative, the origins of these young women are never an obstacle to their relationship with Ross.

There are more and more examples of mixed couples in entertainment productions. A new era to be felt. Now, the stake seems such that diversity must be mainly accepted by the public itself as being a banality, without consequences on any narration.

Portrait: who was Madam C.J. Walker?

Video by Clara Poudevigne