Representation Matters Pt. I

I thought I would make a multi-part post series about representation. Some of you know that it’s an issue that is dear to my heart. Recently, I’ve been having some revelations from likely and unlikely places when it comes to this particular situation.

Let me tell you a personal story and how things correlated to a study I found out about with a video and a separate site.

I’ve always struggled with low self-esteem even to this day. When I was a child, I have to admit that I watched more TV than I should. Sure, I read a lot which certainly helped, but when I wasn’t in school or reading, I’d check out the TV. I watched a lot of cartoons and live action shows. One thing I wondered was that there weren’t many heroes who looked like me. There were a few token characters here and there, but none were really compelling. They were either the token best friend or comic relief. Some characters that I did find very interesting would only be there were only in a few episodes. One I can remember was Bishop from the X-Men cartoon back in the 90s. He was the first black male superhero I ever saw and I thought he was cool with his time traveling ability while also being legitimately tough. I’m sure I had an action figure of him amongst other heroes of different races. Even though I didn’t have cable until I was in high school when my family moved, I still watched the basic TV shows and I saw the cable stuff when I was at my grandparent’s house or at a friend’s place. As someone who would be considered an ethnic minority in America, it was tough finding positive representation in mainstream media. Sure, I have a white dad, but someone like me is obviously not considered Caucasian and I’m not just talking about my skin tone, but I digress. Some idiots have said online “Why don’t you make your own characters?” years ago. Oh wait, I’m a freaking indie author and I’ve made multiethnic casts in my stories. Just saying.

What really caught my eye was a video I saw that had a slideshow as part of it. The featured image is a screenshot from said video that featured statistics from different ethnic groups of children watching TV. I wasn’t surprised about some of the statistics when it came to the ratios despite not thinking about the numbers or hours. What really floored me was the last stat as shown in the picture: “Children’s self-esteem generally decreases as TV watching increases; except for white boys.” The rationale makes perfect sense especially in Western media. Most protagonists are white males where they are the lead characters, the most desirable, most heroic, and the most idealized characters in the show. This surprisingly applies to villains, too. Even they have agency in their stories and they may have some strengths like being legitimately threatening, powerful, smart, etc. The Joker certainly comes to mind among other examples. This is not meant to shame anyone, but the stats can really speak volumes on how impressionable children can get their values or see their own worth (or not) depending on their race or gender. Here’s a bit more information on that issue: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tv-children-self-esteem-black-white_n_1616957.

Anyways, I will be talking about this sporadically (hopefully once a week) about positive representation in the media. I never realized how much of a psychological effect it had on me and I want to share these findings mixed with my own personal experiences.

The screenshot is property of Jabari Osaze from the video “Seven Little White Lies” on YouTube.

16 thoughts on “Representation Matters Pt. I

    • Thanks for checking out this post. Sorry for not responding to your comment earlier since I thought I already did. The villain aspect was intriguing to me and I never thought of it that way especially is the antagonist is stronger than the hero or at the very least a legitimate threat to them. There’s also other outside factors like how some people give villains the “Draco in leather pants” effect or they intentionally root for the “empire” to say the least (makes you wonder why you see Darth Vader on more Star Wars merch compared to Luke Skywalker or Rey).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kreb! I think you might like it. I’ve been finding inspiration from so many places including one very unlikely source especially what people may expect from me. Haha!

      Do you have any experiences where you saw or wished you saw positive representation?

      Liked by 2 people

      • I read about them briefly a few years back (I think it’s been a few years). I know it has something to do with white females in media and non-white main characters in media. I’ll read up on it more when I get a chance.

        Liked by 1 person

      • No problem. The former is about female characterization and dialogue while the latter is totally right about non-white main characters. The Deggans Test is named after a Black film/media critic in case you’re wondering.

        Bechdel Test: For something to pass it must..
        -Have at least two female characters.
        -They have to talk to each other.
        -The conversation(s) have to be about something other than male characters.

        Deggans Test:
        -Must have at least two non-white main characters.
        -The plot is NOT about race.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Hi Curtis, I can’t wait to read the other two parts. We are on similar tracks in our thinking. What we see or experience, particularly on a routine basis, affects us.

    The link mentioned actions parents can take to counteract the negative impact of TV. Watching TV with your children is a simple act that could help counter the adverse effect of lower self-esteem. It’s also an opportunity to start dialogues with your children and see what they see as parents. What better way to help children?

    Sadly, the higher use of TVs in Black homes often reflect the reality of income or access disparities, making the TV a babysitter of sorts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Angela! I know you’ll appreciate my future posts on this matter. Your post about your grandchild watching TV and movies a while ago partially inspired me to give my opinions on this matter. Some recent things added to that inspiration, too.

      That’s right, and I agree even though I’m not a parent. I remember my parents guiding me when I watched something with them during my childhood. That is a great way for media literacy (an underrated subject, I might add), healthy parent/child conversations, and deciphering any kind of stories.

      I can definitely see that as sad as it is. I’ve even seen white families do the same things in passing, too. There’s nothing wrong having children watch TV as long as it’s appropriate (obviously), but it should never substitute parents, guardians, or even babysitters.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I remember you suggested writing a book with him. We started the book and will return to it as we create content from the tales of Brian. At first he was undecided now it’s part of our night routine.
        In many children shows/cartoons, the subliminal message for children of color is to serve or defer to whites. It’s a disturbing message. Taking your suggestion, I created stories with my grandson as the hero. The stories will evolve as he gets older.

        Like

      • That’s right! I’m so happy you two have been working on that book. That’s awesome how you have a routine with the book. You’re totally right about those commercials, shows, and movies. It really does uphold a permanent sense of inferiority when at best a character is the black best friend/sidekick to the hero. I’m so honored that you took my suggestion. I noticed a difference when I had a black leading hero in some of my stories like in more of my recent titles. I hope your stories go well!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Representation Matters Pt. II: “But why don’t you make your own characters?!” | Ospreyshire's Realm

  3. Pingback: Representation Matters Pt. III: My thoughts on anime (How I got into Japanese animation, what I think about it, and how it could be better in regards to representation) | Ospreyshire's Realm

  4. Pingback: Representation Matters Pt. IV: That One Time When I Felt Inspired By an Indie Pro Wrestling Show Of All Things (Yes, Really.) | Ospreyshire's Realm

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