“Diversity is another way of saying specificity, and specificity is just more entertaining. The less homogenous TV is, the less boring it is.”
An article posted in the New York Times following the whiteness associated with the 2016 Oscars nominations details the significance and importance of representation within the media, including examples of pieces found on the television each week. Representation within the media has been a debate for decades. From the start of television where representation was nonexistent to the 1999 N.A.A.C.P. network boycott, many have begun to stand up for what is necessary and what is right: diversity within the media.
Many networks have taken the initiative to recast and hire behind-the-scenes individuals who will contribute to the diversity of the media produced, but is this enough? Many shows on television such as “Blackish” and “Fresh Off the Boat” have come into the spotlight under the direction and production of people of color. These shows exemplify the diversity that should be entertaining audiences across every spectrum. The New York Times mentions the uprising of different ethnicities, religions, and sexualities being displayed in the television shows that are crossing our screens each day. The popularization of these shows contributes to the belief that representation is important to an audience.
I would argue for this cause to my grave because I am very passionate about inclusivity across every spectrum especially when it comes to the media. Although I possess the privilege of my race, religion, and sexuality in this society, I think it is crucial for all individuals to be able to look up to and relate to someone in a television show. Whether that be a fictional series or nonfictional series, it allows audience members to relate to certain situations. Being able to relate to a situation displayed throughout the media outlets allows an individual to validate what they are feeling because someone “famous” is experiencing the same feelings. Regardless of how popular a show may be, it is important to address what occurs in the real world and NOT what occurs in the minds of close-minded producers and so forth.
The #OscarsSoWhite campaign that took off following the 2016 ordeal sparked curiosity among many critics as to how diversity exactly appeared so suddenly; the answer is money. The purity of the TV executives who wish to increase diversity is essentially nonexistent. “We recognized pretty quickly this was not about social good, this was about good commerce,” says the co-chairman of the Fox Television Group. The money is in targeting underserved audiences.
This does not sit well with anyone who cares about the significance of representation within the media more so than the profits of representation within the media. It is important for children to look into the eyes of the characters on the screen and see that they look alike. It is important for children to believe that it is okay to practice something they believe in, even if it makes them fall victim to stereotypes and make them feel as if they are a “terrorist” because they wear a hijab. It is important for children to see that it is okay to love who you love. Representation shapes the future generations to come and balances out the generations already here.
I believe in inclusivity, and I can say that many of the shows I enjoy watching do just that: include representation. It is time to stop writing about what is wrong and act upon it.
For more discussion of diversity within the media (television), visit these two websites:
Prompts for discussion:
Do you believe that representation within the media, especially in television, is driven solely by the profit that will be created off of underserved audiences?
Should all television programs include diversity among race, sexual orientation, and/ or religion?