Why Representation In The Media Is Needed–In The Right Way

Disney Channel is obviously a very popular entertainment channel for many kids, tweens, and even teens. Apparently, they averaged 1.234 million viewers during any average minute during late 2014 and late 2015. Because of this, it’s exciting to see their newest addition.

Disney Channel has recently announced a new show called Andi Mack which just so happens to be the first to center around a majority Asian-American family. Why is this exciting to me? One word: representation. I’m sure there’s plenty of Asian-American kids that are happy to be say “hey, they’re just like me!” Obviously, these characters won’t be exactly like them but it’s only the start… I hope.

I can’t possibly be the only person of the younger generation to not see a character I can truly relate to in the media. When Disney Channel first announced Stuck In The MiddleI was anxious to see how would they portray a Latino family. Let’s just say it was a bit of a let down. The only time I’ve seen them actually reference their culture was when one of the girls had her quinceñera half way through the show.

Representation is a huge deal for me as much as it is for the rest of our youth. As someone who doesn’t relate to the media’s idea of a 16 year old girl, I want to see myself or at least a part of me represented in some way. Although there are moments where the media tries to represent us, most of the time it results in expanding the stereotypes society has given us. That alone can be pretty dangerous.

For example, Disney’s Bunk’d includes a Chinese-American character who has a strict controlling mother that she tries to hard to please. This character feeds society’s idea that every Asian’s main goal is to succeed academically which makes them feel as they have to fulfill that expectation. This idea does not represent every Chinese-American kid and that’s something the media needs to understand.

Another example can be the hyper-sexualization of queer girls which can be unhealthy for questioning teens. The media tries to represent them but it almost ALWAYS ends up with their relationships being sexualized or used as queer bait. There has been many cases where shows have a gay relationship but almost never end up with their happy ending like the hetero relationships do. Yeah I understand that not everyone gets a happy ending, but it’s important to give these teens the hope that they might, just might, end up with one.

I don’t mean to criticize Disney and it’s shows but I do wish they’d be more open to different types of characters. For example, Disney’s very own Girl Meets World which includes a character named Maya who blamed herself throughout her childhood for her father’s departure. Maya came from an one parent household which is pretty common here in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau,  there were about 12 million single parent families in 2015. These kids got to see a family similar to theirs which most likely helped them deal with their very own situation.

Point is, representation is important. Any type of representation is. Whether it’s in books, movies, tv shows, commercials, music videos, it all matters. We want to see more people of different sexual orientations. More people of different religions. More people of different ethnicities. More people of different family backgrounds. More people of different identities. More people of different anything.

How many more different straight white people am I going to see in the next movie? Trust me media, we’ve seen enough of those.

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