3 movies with predominantly black casts have dominated the box office for the last 5 weeks.

For a long time, Hollywood thought it knew the type of characters America wanted to see on screen: white and mostly male.

The cast of "Oceans Eleven." Photo via Raoul Luoar/Flickr.


As recently as last year, the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism compiled data on named or speaking characters in 2014's top 100 movies.

They found that only 27% were non-white. Only 30% were women.

But the 2014-2015 TV season has challenged those assumptions in in a big way.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

"Empire," "Scandal," and "How to Get Away with Murder" — three shows created and/or produced by people of color and featuring non-white leads, powerful, three-dimensional female characters, and diverse casts — were some of the biggest ratings hits of the year.

Still, TV is TV. The bigger question is:

Would that success translate to the movies?

The jury is still out, but there's some really encouraging evidence that it's starting to.

According to a recent New York Times report, three different movies have claimed the #1 Movie in America crown in the last five weeks — and each of them has featured a predominantly black cast.

Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images.

Here's Brooks Barnes, writing for the Times:

"'The Perfect Guy,' a 'Fatal Attraction'-style thriller starring Sanaa Lathan, took in an estimated $26.7 million, or about 50 percent more than analysts had predicted based on pre-release surveys that track audience interest. Screen Gems, a division of Sony Pictures, spent $12 million to make the movie, which received poor reviews. 'Straight Outta Compton' and 'War Room' have recently led the multiplex race."

The fact that these movies are kicking ass — and exceeding expectations — is great news.

Not only are they upending antiquated notions of what heroes and heroines look like, broadening the type of stories that get told, and expanding job prospects for actors of color, they're showing Hollywood:

Diversity = $

Money. Photo via iStock.

"The Perfect Guy" and "War Room" got ... pretty bad reviews, to be sure. And yet, Hollywood has already made approximately 8 bazillion terrible Spider-Man movies. But they keep getting made. Because they make money.

Let's face it. "The right thing to do" and "what's good for art" only get you so far in showbiz. But if more high-powered studio execs start believing that putting non-white, non-male faces on screen is the best way to jump-start renovations on their squash courts, then you better believe Viola Davis is going to get mighty busy mighty quick.

And a busy Viola Davis is great news for America.

It took a long time, but equality, justice, and cold-blooded capitalism are finally starting to align in Hollywood.

More money. Photo via iStock.

And if that's not the most American thing I've ever heard, than I don't know what is.

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

@SubwayCreatures / Twitter

A man who uses a wheelchair fell onto the tracks in a New York City subway station on Wednesday afternoon. A CBS New York writer was at the scene of the incident and says that people rushed to save the man after they heard him "whimpering."

It's unclear why the man fell onto the tracks.

A brave rescuer risked his life by jumping on the tracks to get the man to safety knowing that the train would come barreling in at any second. The footage is even more dramatic because you can hear the station's PA system announce that the train is on its way.

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