The Gilmore Girls Effect

Netflix-promo-Gilmore-Girls

What does minority representation mean in the media?  I was reading through the very scientific comments of Buzzfeed about the revival episodes of Gilmore Girls and someone had asked why there were never any minority characters on the show, and someone else responded that there had in deed been minorities portrayed on the show.  The show itself exists in a vacuum of a Mayberry-esque world, where nothing from the real world affects it, and that is part of the show’s charm, but the idea that it accurately represented minorities is a farce just because they showed minorities.  When you show minorities without any true dialogue about who they are, they just became a stand-in for a white character.  In that sense, you lose who they are as a person.  Not every moment is a teachable moment and not every moment is infused with the minority plight, but if you strip the vernacular, the culture, religion, and habits of a people from a single character, you lose sight of the bigger picture.

Many shows today are striving to be better without really understanding why.  They want to be more progressive and will introduce minority characters where there are none to be more inclusive, but that creates a strange dynamic, where the viewer sees these minorities portrayed in a way where they never comment about their race because that character was written without a race.  As such, the representation of the minority is skewed so that many think they have the same exact quandary as the white characters, when this is false.  This is not true of all minorities everywhere, but as a whole, it does affect them.  Thus, the representation of the minority character is not true to life.  Simply showing a person of color does not dispel any myths about race.  Yes, it allows actors of color more roles, but the roles don’t necessarily accurately depict their lives.  As such, the viewer wonders why race must be discussed because the worlds they always view never do.

If a character can be swapped out for a white character in a movie or a show, their race is meaningless.  If they are not culturally portrayed accurately, they are merely a stand-in for someone white.  And some ask then, shouldn’t this be what we should strive for?  Shouldn’t we be color-blind and never think of race?  That would be ideal, however, that can only exist in a world such as Mayberry or the Gilmore Girls, because race is ever present in our society.  We are defined by who we are in our sex, religion, sexual-orientation, and race.  Simply showing these characters without showing what they have to go through ignores their plight.  It also gives the viewer the impression that there is no plight.  This is quite dangerous, because it mutes the voice of the people they are showing.  It is unintentional and without malice, but it harms society nevertheless, because it lulls them into a false equivalency.

 

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