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Two topics, one day? Sure, why not. This is going to be semi-bloggy.
So I've seen a fair few articles talking about wanting more diverse representations in media. I think this is a good thing, ya know? Demanding more from our art is how we're going to get varied, more interesting experiences.
So why is NIMH so memorable? It features a mother protagonist trying to save her child. Simple enough, really. We don't get these experiences that often. We treasure the few times we can see something different.
It's gotten me thinking a lot about characters in films and of character stereotypes. When we see the same heroic white male dude a trillion times, it gets old, and we can see the strings on them so to speak. They're written in very similar ways and they go on similar adventures. That's why when people see something like the Transformers movies, most aren't there to remember the experience, most are there to get something familiar and action packed. I don't think this is a bad thing, mind you. Let people enjoy what they want. It's just that if you want your film to be remembered beyond your box office performance, you're going to need to get risky.
If your character is defined mostly as a quirk, chances are you're not defining the character enough for them to be little more than a joke. If your character is based mostly off a template, chances are that we've seen the character before. Characters require depth, we need to see them in different environments.
This is where representation comes in. There are many stories out there because they're many people out there. Many people that have been in different environments and places.
Representation isn't simply about including a black or gay or trans character in a story and pointing it out. It requires much more effort than that. Many people go for stereotypes when trying to be more diverse. These stereotypes, or half truths as I'd like to call them, are the easy way out of writing a character with depth. They're written in such a way as to identify only with the group of people who are outside the demographic being portrayed. They're not written with the full experience of being black, gay, or trans.
How do we solve this? I mean, we're only our own individual. We don't know the experiences of others that may be different from us. This is a complex issue, but one of the main points here is accepting differences. Have the black, gay, or trans character in your story, but don't have that define them and don't have the fact that they're different deter them from being strong in areas. Don't think purely in black or white when writing characters, balance out positive and negative traits in a way that makes the characters unique. And obviously, don't make the fact that they're different stand out as a negative thing.
I could talk for a long time about this, but what are your opinions on diversity in media? I want to have a conversation here! How do you think we can better implement other's stories into our fiction?