Renowned filmmaker Taika Waititi expressed his frustration with white individuals in Hollywood seeking guidance on improving diversity.
During a “Hollywood Reporter” luncheon dedicated to discussing diversity, Waititi emphasized that the responsibility lies with white Hollywood to rectify the industry’s diversity problem.
Waititi denounced the reliance on underrepresented voices to solve the issue of diversity. He vehemently stated, “Stop asking us what to do, how to fix things,” while addressing attendees at the THR luncheon on Friday.
The esteemed indigenous director further criticized the current approaches adopted by Hollywood to address diversity, highlighting their lack of authenticity.
According to Waititi, the industry’s failure to make genuine progress stems from the absence of initiatives originating from within the white power structure.
Waititi’s comments were made during The Hollywood Reporter’s Raising our Voices luncheon, where he called out the industry for expecting marginalized communities to bear the burden of resolving representation issues.
“I’m so tired of this,” Waititi expressed his weariness. “I’m so tired of the diversity conversation, the inclusivity conversation, all the conversations.
All of us want to be working and not having to come and do panels and speeches in the middle of our day.”
As a person of Maori and Jewish heritage, Waititi acknowledged the importance of discussing the matter but stressed that mere inquiries about how to address the problem are insufficient.
He asserted that white decision-makers in Hollywood must develop their own solutions and relinquish control to those with underrepresented voices.
“Why is there a lack of indigenous content out there?” Waititi questioned. “This is the kind of stuff you have us doing. Making us come and talk about the problem and tell you how to fix it. You fucking broke it — you fix it.”
Employing humor to drive home his point, Waititi compared the current situation to someone invading a home, stealing belongings, and setting the house ablaze, only to suggest a subsequent discussion about the incident.
Instead, Waititi proposed an alternative course of action, declaring, “You build the fucking house. You burnt it down. I’ll come back, and hopefully, you’ll get it right, and if you don’t get it right, we’ll try again.”
Moreover, the acclaimed director asserted that most films and TV shows fail to authentically represent diversity. He criticized the prevailing misconception that each production must include representatives from every race, background, and aspect of the human experience.
“That’s not reality, and it’s not authentic,” Waititi insisted. “I never grew up with a group of friends where there was someone who represented every ethnic group in my group of friends. I don’t know who the hell grew up like that.”
Waititi advocated for the decolonization of the screen, a concept coined by his mentor Merata Mita.
He rejected the notion of tokenism and instead emphasized the necessity for full Polynesian control over the narratives and stories depicted in film and television.
“I don’t want to see one token Polynesian character in your show,” Waititi asserted. “What I want to see is a fully Polynesian-controlled, Polynesian story that’s written by and show run by” a Polynesian individual.
He further urged the industry to abandon the practice of having white showrunners dictate the rules and structure of storytelling, emphasizing the importance of allowing marginalized voices to shape narratives from their own experiences.
In essence, decolonizing the screen means eradicating its predominantly white nature.