Representations of Racial Minorities in Popular Movies

A Content-Analytic Synergy of Computer Vision and Network Science


  • Musa Inayat Malik University of California Santa Barbara
  • Frederic Rene Hopp
  • Rene Weber


inclusion, film, computer vision, network science, computational communication research


In the Hollywood film industry, racial minorities remain underrepresented. Characters from racially underrepresented groups receive less screen time, fewer central story positions, and frequently inherit plotlines, motivations, and actions that are primarily driven by White characters. Currently, there are no clearly defined, standardized, and scalable metrics for taking stock of racial minorities’ cinematographic representation. In this paper, we combine methodological tools from computer vision and network science to develop a content analytic framework for identifying visual and structural racial biases in film productions. We apply our approach on a set of 89 popular, full-length movies, demonstrating that this method provides a scalable examination of racial inclusion in film production and predicts movie performance. We integrate our method into larger theoretical discussions on audiences’ perception of racial minorities and illuminate future research trajectories towards the computational assessment of racial biases in audiovisual narratives.




How to Cite

Malik, M. I., Hopp, F. R., & Weber, R. (2022). Representations of Racial Minorities in Popular Movies: A Content-Analytic Synergy of Computer Vision and Network Science. Computational Communication Research, 4(1), 208–253. Retrieved from