Increasing Racial Minorities in Starring Roles Hurt Movie Sequel Ratings, but Less So After the Black Lives Matter Movement

Workshop’s Topic: Watching movies is one of the most popular entertainment and cultural activities. How do viewers respond to Hollywoods call for greater representation of racial minority actors when a movie sequel adds racial minority actors to the main cast? On the one hand, such sequels might receive better ratings if viewers appreciate the racially inclusive cast for its moral appeal (the fairness perspective on diversity) and its novel elements (the value-in-diversity perspective). On the other hand, research on consumer discrimination suggests that viewers who harbor biases against racial minorities give lower ratings to sequels with more racial minority actors. Analyzing a novel dataset of 435 movies embedded in 173 series released between 1998 and 2021, we find that increasing the proportion of racial minority actors worsens the movies ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. We also rule out two alternative explanations: (a) viewers dislike cast changes per se; (b) the added racial minority actors have lower credibility. Text analysis of 312,457 movie ratings shows that the negative effect of the increase in racial minorities on movie ratings is mediated by the toxic language in the movie ratings. Importantly, the negative effect of the rise of racial minorities is mitigated by the Black Lives Matter movement. This effect of mitigating prejudice applies to both Black and non-Black minority actors, indicating the power of social movements in promoting equity and inclusion.

Time and Location: 10:00-11:30 AM (GMT+8), Room A723 (School of Management)

Language: Bilingual (Chinese and English)

Introduction of Speakers

Assist. Prof. YANG Shiyu

Texas A&M International University, School of Management

Dr. Yang is an Assistant Professor of Management at Texas A&M International University. She received her Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She earned a master’s degree in Management, a bachelor’s degree in Economics, and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Peking University. Her current research examines how social movements and social structures can address social inequality and lead to meaningful changes in public responses to inclusion initiatives. Dr. Yang’s work has been published in major social science journals and is reviewed in leading economics and psychology journals.