*It’s not enough for PoC to be included in the narrative. They also have to have character, not just be a character. Also, the more people of color in the narrative the less likely the writers (who are almost always NOT PoC) will resort to stereotypes, or rather the number of PoC in the narrative will help to ameliorate any stereotypes that are present.
It’s also important for PoC to be behind the scenes. It’s hard to create action stars when there aren’t enough PoC as stunt doubles. It’s difficult to have authentic environments of PoC when seen through the lens of white male writers who are too lazy to do the proper research (We’re looking at you Scott Buck!), and even if they did, would never be able to capture all the details and nuances of being a recent Chinese immigrant, a transgender Latina, or a gay Black man. I’m not saying that white people can’t write these characters, but a lot of them either don’t know, or care enough, to get their shit right.
When white women began writing more movies and TV shows, we started to getting more nuanced, authentic, portrayals of white women in movies, and the same thing happens when PoC write and star in their own stories. For example, what makes the Luke Cage series stand out as an iconic depiction of Black life, is that the creators are Black themselves, and are aware of all the tiny details, of Black life, that would be missed by white writers, to whom none of those details would even occur.
One of the reasons Into the Badlands looks as rich as it does is because Asian men are the showrunners and the stunt crew. Now compare this show to Iron Fist, where the white writers didn’t seem to kgive a damn that a show (and character) so steeped in Orientalist culture, about a white man who learns Kung Fu, doesn’t actually feature the Kung Fu very well, or any of the Asian culture on which the character is based, and a showrunner who seemed indifferent to what fight scenes there were. Scott Buck cared so little about the show’s action scenes, that he didn’t give his star, Finn Jones, enough time to practice so he could shine in those scenes. If you have a Martial Arts character named Iron Fist, and you don’t showcase the action, youre gonna get booed. I’m just sayin’.
Even White people ( as much as we hear about the racist ones who seem to hate diversity in media) actually crave different types of stories. I’ve come across the occasional essay by White people lamenting the lack of variety in movies, and TV shows. They want something different from the “bland white guy gets the call to adventure” type of story. They too want to see stories like Hidden Figures, and Moonlight, rather than yet another story of a white man’s growing pains in the Midwest, or another romantic comedy where the spunky, young, white actress of the moment, eventually hooks up with the bland, white guy, she initially hated.
We understand that Hollywood is a business and will keep trying to give us the same product they have successfully sold us many times, but with the studios bottom lines beginning to suffer, it’s time for them to be less conservative, and much more daring. Yes, movies cost a lot of money, and people are loathe to risk not getting a return on their investment, but they’re losing money now, and need to try some new things.
Well, they could at least try making the same old movies, just without the same twenty five White actors we’ve been seeing.
I’m not celebrating or sad. This is emblematic of a huge shift in entertainment media that will progress with or without those who stubbornly adhere to old myopic ways.
They happened upon that wave early and let it wash past them instead of surfing it out of pure hubris, color-blindness, and stubbornness.
Sleepy Hollow came before Hamilton, Queen Sugar, Underground, Insecure, Atlanta, American Gods, Luke Cage, Get Out, Moonlight, and the upcoming, A Wrinkle in Time… Black people and other marginalized groups are increasingly occupying genres and spaces they’ve rare-to-never been leads in, where they are having their perspectives and feelings served, instead of serving a white man’s story, as so many fans have been starved to see.
Such is business that if there is a need that will make money, it will eventually be filled by someone(s) if you choose not to.
That’s what I got out of this debacle.
That and, when you cater to a singular perspective for a long, long, time, no matter how new or “fresh” a spin you think you have on it, it’s probably been done and is trite, boring, and even offensive in its refusal to treat anyone who isn’t a white guy like they matter.
In other words, the exclusion of the other being central to these narratives for so long created this condition where those very narrow white boy dreams are getting staler and staler to audiences.
They aren’t the first white male writers and producers left dumbstruck and scratching their heads wondering what the hell happened after treating everything who isn’t the central white dude like shit and they won’t be the last.
You either evolve or get left behind.
(The show being referenced above is Sleepy Hollow, a show which had been lauded in its first and second seasons, but has just been canceled after its fourth season, after fans learned how the showrunners had been mistreating its female lead, and then unceremoniously, and without warning, killed off her character. All I have left to say about that is: They gon’ learn!)