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Does Representation Matter In Media? Spoiler Alert! It Doesn't

(AP Photo/ Reed Saxon, File)

I liked the Black Panther movie and for those who haven’t seen it, it’s a Marvel movie featuring a mostly black cast. I even thought the socio-political subjects it tackled were done relatively well. It had its trip-ups a few times, but it never became so bad that I felt the need to toss it into the garbage.

(READ: Black Panther Is a Good Movie With Both Fresh and Tired Political Overtones)

Throughout the movie, I felt a draw to the main character, T’Challa. He became king of his nation, Wakanda, right in the midst of a revolution of thought taking place. Throughout the course of the movie, you see T’Challa wrestle with the question of using his countries technological advancements to help the world or keep his country hidden as it always has, and keep it relatively isolationist. His adversary, Erik Killmonger, is a black supremacist who wants to utilize the country’s wealth and resources to arm all black people around the planet so they can rise up take down the “oppressors,” i.e. white people.

It was a great story filled with great characters. It made me consider the question that was posed and had me putting myself in T’Challa’s shoes to see what my course of action would be in his situation. It also was well written enough that it had me showing empathy to Killmonger at times.

Know what it didn’t make me do?

Wonder why more white people weren’t in it.

I didn’t need to see more white people to connect with the movie. The characters and story were gripping and didn’t require the injection of an entire white presence. There were two white people who played a part in the movie, but their presence never made me feel better about watching it. I never connected with these characters. They were just parts of the story in my eyes.

However, the social justice directives that our mainstream society obeys without question have put forth the narrative that anything and everything has to have enough representation or else it’s canceled. As I’ve covered previously, the Tolkien Society has decided that diversity in Tolkien’s work should supersede Tolkien’s intents and storytelling. They now believe Gondor should be home to many trans individuals, that Saruman was gay and much more.

This is hardly the only thing the left is attacking with this “diversity” police. It was recently announced that the live-action Snow White would be played by a Hispanic girl. They’ve been pushing the idea that James Bond should now be a black woman. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” came under fire for not being diverse enough. Miranda, the guy who made the founding fathers black, was forced to apologize for his movie’s lack of diversity despite it having so much diversity that a scene doesn’t go by without multiple races in it. It still wasn’t enough for the woke brigades.

Oh, and here’s Anne Boleyn now.

All of this race swapping is being done in the name of diversity and “representation.” At some point, the left got it in its head that in order for someone to like something, they have to see their race, gender, or sexuality prominently featured in any piece of art released nowadays, be it a television show, movie, or video game.

That this is a racist line of thinking is a given, but what it is, even more, is a look into the highly shallow thinking the left wants to encourage us to engage in. It wants us to think that if our race isn’t in it then it’s not for us.

Want to like Braveheart? Too bad non-white people. It’s not for you and William Wallace’s quest for freedom cannot apply to you in any way unless they remake the movie and cast Wallace, a Scottish man, as a black guy. A big fan of Friday? Too bad non-black people. You’re going to have to pass on Ice Cube’s near-perfect comedy since your melanin levels aren’t as high as his.

My big problem with the “representation” concept is that it treats the audience as idiots. It’s the perception that we the people are so stupid that we cannot connect with something if it doesn’t look like us. We can’t understand the messages and themes interwoven in any given story unless certain melanin levels are met.

The kicker is that the left constantly pushes this thinking on minorities. So the question has to be asked. Do they think minorities are too stupid to understand a story if the movie is dominated by white people? Do they think gay people have to witness homosexuality on screen or it just won’t appeal to them at all? Do they think children can’t like a character unless that character looks just like them?

Furthermore, why does it only go one way? People cheered over the fact that Disney’s The Little Mermaid would become a black woman. What would happen if they decided to remake Friday for the modern era and Chris Tucker’s character was race swapped with a white man? What if we replace an African Queen in a movie with a white woman.

Would the calls for “representation” be appeased or would there be outrage so loud you could hear it under the ocean?

My long-standing position on characters is that they have to make sense in the story. Shoehorning in a racial character, gender, or sexuality in order to check off boxes makes for a stupid story. People feel the injection of politics and tune out. It takes people away from the world and the narrative and puts them back in the real world they were trying to escape in the first place.

People aren’t stupid. They don’t need to see themselves in every piece of literature in order to appreciate it. If the left is smart, they’ll stop this before society catches up with what they’ve been doing all along.

But they’re not.