March 1st is Zero Discrimination Day. Always celebrate inclusion.
This blog has written numerous post about inclusion, diversity and acceptance. Today, I am writing about diversity and representation.
Fostering a greater understanding of people who are different from ourselves is just as important than ever. Unfortunately, television, media and film landscape is still sorely lacking diversity. In the vast majority of cases, leading characters are Caucasian, slender, heterosexual and cisgender.
The majority of racialized characters are created around racist portrayals: street gangs, criminals, slaves, terrorists, etc. These roles are rooted in the spread of systemic oppression, in the sharing of prejudices. Racialized characters need to have more space for real and non-racist representation.
Most characters are thin and fit the beauty standards of society. It is very rare to see body diversity. When this is the case, the roles are often set up to characterize in a denigrating manner a character with unpleasant or wacky traits or the comedic relief. Larger individuals are beautiful and valuable and deserve to be represented on television and the media.
The few transgender characters portrayed on television are almost exclusively played by cisgender actors. It is imperative to give these roles to transgender individuals and stop using their lives and identities as sources of entertainment and/or ridicule.
The same goes for sexual orientation. If the character isn’t heterosexual or cisgender, then the role is usually entirely built around the stereotypical sexual orientation of the character rather than on his/her person, as is the case with heterosexual characters.
Having a strong female figure to look up too and see represented in media is also incredibly important. Women in movies have long been depicted as the love interest, it’s time that changed!
When marginalized groups are pitted against each other in this way, we are ignoring intersectionality, and we all lose. For true liberation, no one can be left behind. A place must be made for everyone both behind the camera and in front for both the employed and the characters represented. It is important for the media, television shows and movies to cease to be predominantly, and almost exclusively, run by cisgender men. It is high time to have an inclusive, fair, respectful and non-oppressive representation of all marginalized people.