Tokenism in Hollywood and the World

Apparently, I am yet again bringing the lulz for my response about Joss Whedon and feminism, racism, and LGBT issues. So, I am going to try to write it without the tendency to fangirl. I will, instead, refer to Hollywood and society in general.

Being upset at one particular writer over perceived or actual tendency to sexualize one gender over another, to stick to white-majority or whites-only casts, or to stick to stereotypes of certain groups isn’t exactly fair since it is common for almost every writer to stick to some ignorant schtick. That doesn’t make it right or fair or good or anything. It just means that we, as a society, need to demand that everyone change instead of focusing on an individual.

There is a problem on television shows and in movies when it comes to stereotypes. Women are often weaklings and are pretty much always treated like sex objects. The gay and lesbian characters that are becoming more commonplace are still typical stereotypes. Characters of other races are almost always a stock character. Yes, all of this needs to change, but change won’t take place if we focus on individuals over society as a whole.

Women are still earning less, even after laws have been passed and protests have been lodged. Different races are still looked over in favor of whites when it comes to jobs, education, and even political office. Religious groups are still scorned if they aren’t considered to fall exactly in line with the societal tendency to love Protestants and (sometimes) other Christian denominations above all others. The LGBT community is still denied equal rights when it comes to marriage, adoption, and full protection from discrimination, among other things.

I have a feeling that in order to see a more multicultural and multidimensional portrayal of society on television and in movies and in literature, we have got to change the societal tendency to let unequal access slide. We have to target the unjust laws. We have to remind politicians that minorities matter. We have to stand up for ourselves and for others. We can’t just expect to see differences because that’s what we as individuals want. We have to demand it from our society before we can truly expect it from the world.

Do I hate that there aren’t many strong female characters out there? Definitely. Do I hate seeing the same ideologies from earlier decades and centuries being revisited now? Yeah. But I don’t blame one person. I blame everyone. We haven’t gotten loud enough for businesses and companies to understand that this world deserves more than just the recycled crap of old. And we need to change that.

We live in a world ruled by pundits who promote agendas of intolerance and reality shows that make their money off of gross stereotyping of certain ethnic groups, so is it really any surprise that the majority of lead characters in the entertainment industry are white men, and occasionally, white women? Is it really any surprise that the only time that there are significant roles for people of color that they fit these nice little molds made years ago?

Personally, I want to scream to every time I see a schizophrenic or a bipolar character who, without drugs or any inciting action, is prone to some horrible act of violence. I hate seeing these very complex diseases get turned into gimmicks for crime dramas, but I don’t blame the writers of the episodes for that. I blame every person who is okay with perpetrating that myth in the real world because those are the people who are making it okay for ignorance and tokenism to continue. Those are the people who are doing the real damage.

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About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.