Why does representation matter?
There are a lot of ways to answer this question, but the essential gist is that every single person deserves to be able to watch a T.V. show or movie or read a book and see a character who looks like them, feels like them, thinks like them and is like them.
In the past few years, the scope of Hollywood movies has slowly been changing to more accurately depict the world we live in and to represent all its viewers. Looking at 2018 alone, six book-to-movie adaptations have emerged that feature characters of marginalized identities and, more importantly, discuss themes centering around these identities.
Movies like Crazy Rich Asians and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before are fluffy romantic comedies that still have importance in how they incorporate the culture of the characters—Crazy Rich Asians incorporates many elements of Chinese culture and discusses positives and negatives of that culture, while To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before subtly includes themes of Korean culture.
Love, Simon is a movie that has changed the course of Hollywood for LGBTQIAP+ media for years to come—it features an adorable romance between two gay teens but is also about the struggles of coming out and the search for acceptance, it manages to celebrate gayness while also being honest about the difficulties of being gay in today’s society.
Two more movies featuring a gay and a lesbian main character respectively are Boy, Erased and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Both of these movies take place in conversion therapy centers and they discuss the still existent harsh realities of being part of the LGBTQIAP+ in an honest and thought-provoking way.
Finally, The Hate U Give is a recently-released movie featuring a black main character and is about the black lives matter movement and police brutality. This movie is based off a book that has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for about two years because of the conversations it has sparked about the importance of this previously mentioned movement.
Every single one of these movies serves a different purpose. Some are light-hearted and fluffy, which allows everyone the chance to see themselves get a happy ending, while others discuss pertinent social issues and this reveals stifled truths and starts necessary discussions.
The movement towards a more diverse and representative Hollywood does need to give the book community some credit. Though Hollywood has made its own improvements, all of these movies are book-to-movie adaptations and the push for diversity and representation has been more outspoken among members of the book community.
When all forms of media work together to provide a more accurate depiction of the real world, we allow all people to see themselves in the shows they watch and the books they read which creates a society where people do not feel as othered and unaccepted.
For far too long, representation has been a privilege given to a select few, but it is slowly becoming what it always should have been—a right given to all people.