Arts and Culture

The Importance of Representation: Why Seeing Minorities in the Media Matters

CECILE SMITH

Staff Writer

 

“Media representation,” the act of including characters belonging to minorities in television shows, movies, books, games, and other forms of media, puts everyone on the big screen and gives us the ability to see ourselves in the media we consume.

Freshman Momei Fang, who is half-Chinese, struggled to think of personally significant half-Chinese or even Asian characters in the media. She commented on seeing representation

in Mulan.

“She kills an entire army with an avalanche, and it’s so cool,” Fang said

excitedly.

Positive representation in the media is also in short supply for anyone with a body type that isn’t considered in line with the ideal.

A Pinewood student who wished to remain anonymous sees herself in the character Glimmer from “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.”

“[Glimmer] is a princess, and usually princesses are depicted as tall, skinny, and so beautiful every man falls on his knees. [Glimmer] is very beautiful, but she’s short and not skinny. She’s strong, and they don’t make fun of her for her weight,” the source said. The source also talked about Lance from “Voltron: Legendary Defender” as someone they look up to because of their ADHD.

“Just looking at his character, that this is a character they depicted, it kind of makes you feel like you’re not alone,” the source said.

Sophomore Tasha Epstein has been similarly affected by the character of Iron Man.

“He is shown to have anxiety throughout the series of the Iron Man movies and “Avengers: Infinity War,” and he’s dealt with PTSD,” Epstein said.

But not all representation is favorable. Epstein mentioned Howard Wolowitz from “The Big Bang Theory” – the only prominent Jewish character she could think of – as someone who plays into negative Jewish stereotypes.

“He always talks about his mother’s matzo ball soup, how fat she is, and how much she likes to feed people – it’s very stereotyped, even at points if it’s true,” she said.

Personally, I first found unexpected representation when I watched “Parks and Recreation,” the only story I’ve ever encountered that featured a three-legged dog. I was overjoyed when Champion walked onto the screen, because my dog has three legs. I had never before seen that on TV, nor did I ever expect to see it. Rick Riordan’s series “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” is meaningful to me too, because it taught me what ADHD was even before my parents told me that I probably had it and had me tested, at age ten.

Percy has ADHD, but he’s not a stereotype, and he has other personality traits in addition to it. Instead of being scared to learn I had it, I was excited because it made me like him.

Representation is important not just because of political movements, but because it helps individuals see themselves in the characters they look up to.

It shows that  just because they’re different from most people on the big screen, that doesn’t mean they can’t crush an army with an avalanche.

 

Leave a Comment