Discussion: Representation in Media Wrongly Done

2:54 PM

Representation is great. Having diverse characters or a diverse cast is superb. But what isn't so amazing is throwing in a token gay or black friend because of the assumption that reducing an entire community or race to a stereotyped side character is representation. A character who serves the purpose of comic relief is not appropriate representation.

No black or asian or any non-white child will ever read a book or watch a show or movie with this kind of inaccurate and vaguely offensive representation and think: "Wow. I want to grow up to be Comic Relief. I want to be the butt of the joke".

Even if these 'diverse' characters are present and not a joke, it happens more often than not they are flat and static, making it seem, once again, as if they're just being thrown in the bundle simply for their race and not because they'll be of any use to the plot.

True, there are movies and books that don't have a dominantly white cast. But the problem is that you have to make an effort to find them. You're not going to hear about these movies on award shows and they won't be shown on television. People might think that there is no way there is such a lack of representation in 2016. A quick look at this year's Oscar winners nominees will prove this notion otherwise.
Non-white actors in :
The Big Short
Adepero Oduye - played Kathy Tao, a Morgan Stanley Executive
Byron Mann - played Mr. Chau, runs business in synthetic security
Marcus Lyle Brown - played Merrill Lynch Rep
Coletter Divine - B of A Lobby security

Bridge of Spies


Mad Max

The Martian
Donald Glover - played Rich Purnell, a NASA staff member
Chiwetel Ejiofor - played Vincent Kapoor, director of Mars mission
Shu Chen - played Zhu Tao, Deputy Chief Scientist of the CNSA
Eddy Ko - played Guo Ming, director of pro

The Revenant
Chesley Wilson - played Arikara Elder

Zarrin Darnell-Martin - played attending doctor
Cas Anvar - played Dr. Mittal
Jee-Yun Lee - played a news anchor

Elena Juatco - played a guest list woman
Zarrin Darnell-Martin - played Wanda, an intern
Janet  Pinnick - played a receptionist

(please correct me if I'm wrong about any of these actors or if I left any out)

The argument for some of these movies would be that adding more diverse characters would have made the movie unrealistic or that it would not be true to the book (in The Big Short's case). In director McKay's words“If I was making ‘All The President’s Men,’ would you want me to have Nixon’s cabinet be really diverse? Because, like, you’re right. Part of the point of the movie is this is a white, male-dominated world, and maybe it shouldn’t be,”. He continued, "So it felt, I just felt like no way, I’m not going to put women in these positions when a system was collapsing and they weren’t really in those positions.

Do you buy it?

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