There’s a constant conversation surrounding representation among women of color in the media going on throughout the Interwebs. This conversation is not a new one but it has been newly resurrected. One can assume it’s thanks to the Olympics in Rio. You see there’s:
• Lia Neal and Simone Manuel dominating swimming.
• Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez and Gabby Douglas lighting up in gymnastics.
• Michelle Carter winning gold for track and field shot put
• Tori Bowie winning silver for track and field 100m
• Venus Williams winning silver for tennis mixed doubles.
• Allyson Felix awarded silver for track and field women’s 400m
• Ibtihaj Muhammad becomes the first US athlete to compete in a hijab.
These young women (just to name a few) have displayed excellence! Some have even made history, set records and showcased talents on par with that of a superhero. If one were to look they’d find quite a lot of posts throughout social platforms expressing how amazing these ladies are. This type of superheroism has yet to be brought to the big or small screen in leading role capacity. Curious, I quickly did a search and found next to nothing. There has never been a decent superhero film made where the main character (starring role) was a woman of color. How can that be? That can’t be right. It’s very sad. Aye (can you tell pirate speak has rubbed off?) but it’s true.
So why haven’t women of color-in particularly black women- gotten at least one decent superhero film where they are starring? If you even think to bring up Catwoman you can go as far away from this post as possible because 1. that movie was GARBAGE and 2. Catwoman is NOT a superhero! If you’re a certain kind of guy you probably aren’t getting my point in the first place and if you’re a female disagreeing–WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? We deserve so much better than the crap we’re given.
You could argue I should include Foxy Brown but if I were to agree and include it as such a superhero movie I’ll still point out that that’s one movie! Sure there’s Vixen–the animated CW web series made up of 6 episodes, totaling 30 minutes–but 1. It was animated and 2. It wasn’t even included in the CW’s mainstream network.
You could argue that there are plenty of women of color in TV and film that are worthy of being called superheroes but I’d ask, Who are they? Where are they? Who’s calling them superheroes? Some people may even ask, Why do I care? Why does any of this matter?
It matters because if you go through life without media representation whether it be books (comic books included), TV or film it can be very damaging to one’s perspective and understanding of the world around. Since so much media is consumed it easily shapes how we see ourselves, others and ideologies.
One could ask, You have real life heroes why do we need fictional representations too? I’d reply, There’s room for both. Yes, little girls-especially those of color-can look up to each Olympian but having them portrayed in a fictional arena can be an extension of excellence.
I could create a super long post discussing in detail of the problems and suggestions on how to fix them but instead this may very will become a series. I’ve decided to call it: The Representation Matters series.
So what are your thoughts on media representation? What would you like to see done?
Added note: Prior to posting this entry actress, Zendaya is trending due to the announcement she will be playing the role of Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming Spider-Man film. As I wrote this post before the buzz I’ll examine and try to include my thoughts on the matter because I’m certain that’s a whole other kind of post.
As always, thanks so much for reading! If you like this post or any others feel free to share them. It’s greatly appreciated!