The social theory of the hegemonic male lays claim to the idea that there is a particular type of individual that our culture caters to and strives to be. When looking at the lack of gender and racial-based diversity in the U.S. film industry, I believe that this is a valid claim to make.
The hegemonic male is a white, cisgender, intelligent, handsome, and powerful man who has achieved great economic, political, and/or social status. He is the ideal and standard by which many in our culture aspire to become—for good or for ill. (Think Don Draper.)
According to this theory, everyone is in competition to be the most hegemonic male that one can be. However, it’s difficult for an individual to ever feel as though he has reached this status, as it always feels like more power is possible. Furthermore, it’s impossible for women, people of color, or members of the LGBTQ community to gain any traction in this competition as their race, ethnicity, gender, and/or sexual identification does not line up with the supposed ideal. This competition among members of our culture, while not often articulated, often leaves many individuals feeling unfulfilled. It is virtually impossible to live up to the social norms and expectations set before them.