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The Importance of Representation
A young girl sits in the movie theatre. She is with her parents, and she is getting ready to watch Frozen. Excitement is bursting from her. She had to beg her parents to take her, and finally they said yes. Finally the lights dim and darkness consumes the room.
The movie opens with a man breaking through ice, and I'm sure you know the rest. The movie is almost over now and the little girl watches in wonder as Kristoff races towards Anna across the frozen wasteland of Arendel. Then something happens that this young girl never expected. Anna goes to her sister instead of Kristoff.
"But she's supposed to go to Kristoff! He's the prince," she complains to her mother after the movie.
"Well, girls don't always need a prince. Elsa was a lot more important to Anna," the mother replied. The young girl considers this a moment. This concept is new to her, and as strange as it seemed at the time, slowly she began to understand.
As this girl grows up year by year she finally understand this concept fully. Girls don't always need to be the damsel in distress. She can be just as strong as a man is. This girl was lucky enough to be taught this lesson.
However it was not always this way for young girls. Before there was Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen Hollywood taught us that women as movie leads would not sell. Now today we know that's not true. The Force Awakens was the top grossing movie with a female role. Today young girls are able to grow up believing they are equal to men. We are seeing this not only for women, but for other people as well. Minority groups are being represented a lot more in pop culture. Now of course there are still issues with racism. That won't change, but we can reduce it.
Going back to Star Wars, their past two films do have a lot of diversity. We see Latino characters, Africans, Asians, and two female leads. This is huge for a series that has been predominantly white. I am personally a huge Star Wars fan, and I was speaking to my step-dad about how important diversity is in the series.
Then I realized there was a group missing. The LGBT+ community. Never has this movie series included that group. Sure, there was talk about it being in the new movies, but it wasn't truly there. I mentioned this in our conversation. He said, "I don't really think it's needed though. The movie has never really needed anything like that." I don't think he meant any offense by it, but it got me thinking.
I paid more attention to conversations around me. For example a few weeks ago my aunt was talking about the live action version of Beauty and the Beast and she said this about rumors of a gay couple in the movie, "I don't know if I want to take the kids to see that. I don't want to have to explain that to them."
This threw up a red flag for me. I never thought of the LGBT community as something you wouldn't want people to know about. That was always okay for me, and it still continues to be okay. However a lot of people don't see it that way, for them they're different. To them they are not normal and something to be kept away from our youth.
The exact opposite should be happening. If we can show kids that being gay, bisexual, transgender, etc. is okay and normal we could eliminate an entire generation of hate and prejudice. When huge blockbuster movies like Star Wars shows minorities, children see them as heroes like everyone else in the movie. The African standing next to the white male lead is just as heroic as he is. Today the LGBT community is different. They are outsiders in our world, but there's a difference this time. It doesn't have to be that way. Today we can spread a message a lot easier than we could 50 years ago.
The representation of minorities in media and Hollywood will send shockwaves through America and across the world. We can eliminate so much conflict if we can realize the importance of representation.