Diversity becomes mainstream

Madison Muszynski, Advertising Manager

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For years, people ranging from Hollywood actors and actresses to the general public have been asking for more diverse representation when it comes to the media.

On February 16, the movie Black Panther, based off the Marvel comics by the same name, was released. The film created a large and positive response from movie goers of all different types by being the first superhero movie with the majority of the cast being minorities. Famous black personnel such as Octavia Spencer, Travis Scott, and Kendrick Lamar rented out theaters in low class areas allowing kids who may not have seen the movie otherwise to “ensure that all our brown children can see themselves as a superhero”, as Spencer captioned on an Instagram post about the film.

Black Panther itself was full of fantastic actors such as Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira. The two were interviewed on The View and talked about how the film allowed them to openly embrace their diversity.

The two actresses voiced their opinion on the importance of depicting women as strong, independent leaders in the media. With these powerful, reassuring images of women excelling at things such as science or fighting, it will inspire and encourage young girls to seek out things that they enjoy doing rather than feeling as if they are limited to stereotypical activities that are for only women.

Gurira played Okoye, the leader of the all women warrior group called Dora Milaje, breaking the sexist stereotype that men are stronger and better fighters than women. The actors also touched on the fact that Africa, the continent in which Wakanda is based in, is portrayed as lesser than and referred to as “third world,” even though the most of continent was prospering.

But as soon as it began to be colonized by  European imperialists, its wealth decreased. Ever since, the media continuously claims the continent is poor, with kids dying of malnutrition and families of four living in mud huts. While in some areas this is true, it is not the entirety of the continent. According to African Renewal Online, Africa’s combined gross domestic product will be $2.6 trillion by 2020.

But movies are not just diversifying through race but also through sexuality. Love, Simon was released on March 16. Based on the book, Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli, the movie depicted a gay teenage boy by the name of Simon who starts being blackmailed by a stranger at his school, threatening to out him to everyone after chatting with another closeted schoolmate by the pseudonym of ‘Blue’.

For many LGBT+ youth, the struggle of coming out and accepting one’s self is a difficult task. With limited access to advice or guidelines when it comes to things such as crushes or love, closeted teens are left to fend for themselves. The director of Love, Simon, Greg Berlanti, talked to them.com about how mainstreaming movies with gay main characters is helpful to those who are struggling to understand their own feelings.

Berlanti himself is gay and has been married for over 20 years. When he was growing up, there were no movies with gay leads that weren’t about homophobia or the AIDS crisis. With Love, Simon, Berlanti hopes that it becomes the movie that answers questions and helps many queer kids through difficult times.

Keiynan Lonsdale, who played Bram, got the courage to come out during the final filming of Love, Simon. In the same interview with Berlanti and them.com, he talked about how he was playing a character who was very comfortable in his own skin and yet couldn’t be himself off screen with those who would still care for him no matter his sexual orientation.

These two movies are just a few examples of how media is starting to normalize and embrace diversity without it being the main focus. The reason why both Black Panther and Love, Simon are being praised is because of they aren’t only about the diversity. They have great plots and amazing actors, but they allow different types of people to see a positive representation about themselves being embraced not only in Hollywood but within their own communities.