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On Representation in the Media

Yes, I know, Y’all may be thinking “oh, this is definitely turning into a social justice blog, I’m going to ignore it” but hear me out. This blog, first and foremost is written for myself, to practice my writing skills and get myself out there (read this), and also to talk about things that matter to me.

And one of those things  happen to be representation in the media.
Before getting involved with stereotypically ‘white male dominated’ communities (see this post here), representation didn’t really matter to me. I knew there was a problem with it, but it honestly didn’t affect me because, hey, what is one girl going to do about it? But now that I am a part of those groups I honestly see the importance of it.
Representation let’s people know they are not alone. It gives them a character they can root for and be like “hey, they’re like me, if they can do all that great stuff, so can I.” It involves them in the community and fosters an environment where people feel safe to be themselves.
But honestly, the reason I believe we need better representation in the media, particularly pop culture, is because of the children. Think of the children. When kids seem characters like themselves on TV or in movies, it gives them role models they can relate to. Having representation teaches them that they don’t have to conform to the stereotypes of their race/gender/religion etc, and that they can be whomever they want to be, because there are so many different examples of different people with the same qualities they have. And that lesson become more and more emphasised with more representation.
Just imagine in – a young child sees Falcon (Sam Wilson, played by the amazing Anthony Mackie) for the first time a superhero that has the same colour skin as he does, in a slew of white super heroes. And what does that little boy think? “A black man can be a superhero? That means I can be a superhero!” And who would want totaled that away from him? Imagine a little girl’s smile when she finds out that her favorite superhero, hawkeye also has hearing aids? Why would someone – particularly the people that are already over represented in the media (cough straight white males) feel so attacked when a character doesn’t turn out to be like them, when they have millions of others that are. And I mean, being a race other than white, or a different sexuality, or disabled shouldn’t stop you from liking them,  unless you’re a dick.
So, when you think about it this way, you honestly need to consider why people still have such a problem with representation, even though they have ample amounts of it. There are so many good arguments for better representation, but in the end it comes down to “there are more people in the world than straight white dudes, why don’t we show them?” And I honestly can’t think of a logical reasoning why not.
Paola Bacigalupi: I’m struck by how much kids long to see themselves in stories. To see their identities and perspectives—their avatars—on the page. Not as issues to be addressed or as icons for social commentary, but simply as people who get to do cool things in amazing worlds.
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