Representation Propels Growth and Highlights Shortcomings

Minority representation in the Media is a valuable tool for analyzing society

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  A few of the most critically acclaimed films this year have been renowned for their minority inclusion in casting and representation of often silenced experiences.

“Black Panther,” which premiered February 16, 2018, is Marvel’s first black superhero film, and the first non-white superhero leading their own movie. To much of white Hollywood’s surprise, “Black Panther” has become the highest grossing superhero film, surpassing “The Avengers”, after just one month of screening in theaters.

  Soon after the movie’s initial premiere, the hashtag #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe went viral on twitter, with the creator of the hashtag, Kayla Sutton, noting “Finally seeing Africa depicted in a powerful and positive light, free from the effects of colonialism, with characters that look like me having motivations beyond the portrayal of “black pain” on screen #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe.”

  Another user wrote, “Also, as an actor, seeing roles that aren’t just ‘the black sidekick,’ ‘the maid,’ ‘the sassy black friend,’ give me hope for my career. And as a nerd, I finally feel validated as a nerd of color. This is every childhood trauma finally being vindicated #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe.”

  This goes to exemplify the needed authentic perspective of African culture on the big screen, demystifying the frequent and inaccurate illustration of Africa and people of color as less than or  as a supplement to the stories and experiences of white characters.

  Similarly, another highly anticipated queer film, “Love, Simon” (based on best seller coming-of-age novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli,) hit theaters on March 16, 2018. Widespread audiences quickly recognized the importance of a coming-out movie in today’s culture, with Dave Holmes writing on Twitter about his experience seeing the movie with his mother, “The movie ended, and she was floored by it. And it was like: OH. This is the kind of formulaic family fare gay people and their families have never had access to. As we left the cine, my mom asked ‘Dave, when you told me,’ a full quarter of a century ago, ‘was I horrible?’ And, you know, between us, the short answer is kinda. But she was doing the best she could, and she’s learned since, and so was I and so have I, and now in 2018 she gets to see the idealized version of the role played by Jennifer Garner.”

  On the contrary, some viewers criticized the actions of Simon’s friends following his coming-out, ridiculing their insensitivity to his life-long internal battle and repeated ostracization at school. It seems as though the primary goal of the representation in “Love, Simon” is to depict the ideal reaction to a loved one coming out as portrayed by Jennifer Garner’s character, Simon’s mother and to simultaneously recognize the reality that many queer individuals are still met with varying levels of acceptance and rejection from those in their lives.

  The reason that minority representation in media is important these days is because it not only informs our culture authentically of the experiences of those silenced by society, but it enables our culture to recognize the areas in which progress is still necessary.

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Representation Propels Growth and Highlights Shortcomings