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New Favorite Tumblr: Every Single Word

Every Single Word is a new project powerfully documenting an age-old problem: the erasure and silencing of non-white characters in film. The tumblr’s creator, Dylan Marron, edits movies to remove all dialogue spoken by white people. The result is deafening silence.

And much shorter movies.

You can watch all of the (2 hour 18 minute) film American Hustle in under 53 seconds.

And (2 hour 6 minute) Her in only 40.

(1 hour 37 minute) 500 Days of Summer is 30 seconds.

And (2 hour 5 minute) Into the Woods? It has not a single speaking person of color.

Some commenters have drawn comparisons between Every Single Word and the Bechdel Test, which documents gender disparities in film. In some ways, it’s an apt comparison: both point out (gender or race) inequities in media representation.

But let’s not miss the fact that in Every Single Word, the (already impossibly low) bar has been lowered even further. The Bechdel Test measures not simply women’s presence in film but also how substantive it is: a movie must have at least two women in it, who talk to each other, about something other than a man. Marron is looking at mere presence alone, at just whether films have speaking non-white characters at all.

And films are failing miserably.

In an interview with BuzzFeed, Marron highlights the stakes of such pervasive erasure:

I read The Fault in Our Stars and cried my eyes out…. I love that book. But nowhere in John Green’s exceptional novel was any character’s race ever mentioned. So why is whiteness the default? The story is not about whiteness, it’s about love and loss and mortality. If Hollywood keeps using white actors to tell universal stories then it is suggesting that people of colour don’t fit in to the zeitgeist of human emotions…. Casting choices are contributing to a racist system that projects whiteness as ‘normal’ and erases people of colour…. I feel like as a society we’re so intent on calling out racist people, but we have such difficulty identifying racist systems.

Check out Every Single Word here and read the rest of the interview with Marron here.

New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at @danabolger.

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and a student at Yale Law School.

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