Diversity in the media is something that deserves more discussion in today’s political landscape.
Representation means a lot to people, and they want to see themselves represented in the media properly and accurately.
As an openly gay man, I can’t connect to straight actors who are portraying LGBT+ individuals when they are not a member of the LGBT+ community.
In “GLADD’s Where We Were on TV Report 2017” , out of 901 regular characters who were to appear on a broadcast scripted primetime program, 58 (6.4 percent) identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer.
Racial diversity among the LGBT+ community also was a concern in the report. Out of 70 LGBT+ characters counted on streaming originals, 77 percent were white. The report also states that from broadcast, cable and streaming originals they all lacked LGBT+ characters of color.
How can individuals who watch these shows that are LGBT+ feel connected to the characters and compelled to the story? They can’t. This is also not just an LGBT+ issue, however, because minorities also face misrepresentation.
In “Portrayal of Minorities in the Film, Media and Entertainment Industries” from Sanford University, the article states:
“Paramount Pictures, NBC’s, ABC’s and Universal Studio’s of the world that are the propagators of the negative stereotypes and inescapable stigmas that many thoughts were left behind once the shackles of segregation were broken. Unfortunately, they are resurfacing in our sitcoms, newscasts and big screen movies. Historically, the portrayal of minorities in movies and television is less than ideal. Whether it’s appearing in disparaging roles or not appearing at all, minorities are the victim of an industry that relies on old ideas to appeal to the “majority” at the expense of the insignificant minority.”
This quote really does the point justice, because it does seem that the media is catering to individuals of the mass majority to the downside of minorities not having proper representation.
This can lead individuals to question the self-concept theory. This theory can be defined as the fundamental cognitive part of self, and in other words, knowing who you are.
In an article from Open Textbooks for Hong Kong, they state that this theory can be defined as “a knowledge representation that contains knowledge about us, including our beliefs about our personality traits, physical characteristics, abilities, values, goals, and roles, as well as the knowledge that we exist as individuals.”
These forms of self-concept theory can also be seen as social identity, a sense of our self that involves membership in social groups.
This means that the way things are portrayed in the media can sometimes alter how people see themselves.
Media has an impact on our daily life in one way to another– whether it’s streaming services, social media or film products.
We as media consumers have seen–and are expected to see–Caucasian men and women in leading roles, but now is the time for that to change. The world is full of life and different perspectives, and it’s time to bring those to light.
An article from The New York Times says that shows that expose these different perspectives would be “Jane the Virgin,” “Chewing Gum,” “Atlanta,” “Fresh off the Boat” and “American Crime.”
By being able to be exposed to these different shows, individuals can learn about different cultures and customs that they might not have known about otherwise.
Diversity in the media can showcase these different perspectives and it can help not only members of one community, but of many.