Half-way through the week – woot! Hope you’re all having a fun and productive one 🙂 I was umming a little over what to talk about today, so while this might not be purely writing related, it’s certainly applicable so I hope you’ll let me off!
This is a meme that I’ve seen doing the rounds on the internet this week – and yes, it has been causing some debate.
While I don’t think there are many people who would disagree that a film with a female and a minority lead becoming a blockbuster is well overdue, there is of course the argument of whether that was the actual reason for its blockbuster status. It’s Star Wars many people would say, it doesn’t matter who the main protaganists were, it would have still been the highest grossing film on the franchise name alone.
Those people probably have a point, but that’s why I think it’s such a great thing that the film did have those leads. Surely one of the positive things about having such a huge name franchise, such a strong brand (and especially when you combine with the might of Disney) is that you have the chance to affect change? To try and create better representation in film industry for these types of characters? It’s a little sad in this day and age that it still needs to be done, but those are the facts and pretending it might be otherwise won’t change them.
I won’t give away any spoilers for the film, but one of the things I did really like about it was the representation of women. Not just in the lead character of Rey, but in the universe as a whole. There were women in authority positions on both sides, as pilots, on the command desks, in the soldier ranks and all without the need to focus on the fact or make an issue of it. They were simply there, it was the norm, and it was great 🙂 No doubt the film-makers were told they would be taking a risk – but it has paid off. So, I guess we have to ask ourselves, is there really an issue with these kind of leads? Hollywood studios seem convinced they won’t be successful, but is that their view or the audience’s? Would a less known franchise have been able to make a success of these characters, or does it need something with the power of Star Wars to start off something like that?
It’s an issue that follows through into writing. Genres like LGBT are becoming more and more popular in the indie market, yet I don’t see many of the big publishers going for them. While strong females leads are becoming more common, there’s still slow progress in certain genres. If we look at best-seller lists, how many of those books have minority lead characters? While the indie market is getting more and more diverse the big hitters, the ‘Hollywood’ of the book world still seem to be slow to follow. Are they right to think the audience won’t follow something like that, or does it just need a big name like Star Wars to lead the way?
I don’t have answers for these questions, but surely with a much more diverse audience out there, surely the big industries – whether that’s Hollywood or the big publishing houses – will eventually need to start reflecting this. I’d love to hear your thoughts x