It’s the YLWRNGR here, reporting on something that is really close to my heart: diversity in Hollywood. As a first generation Asian American women who grew up in the ’90s, my frame of reference for characters played by other AsianAms was few and far between. When I saw Thuy Trang on TV playing the original Yellow Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, I instantly fell in love. I understood her and related to her on a deep level and idolized that character for her strength and wit. Its why I named my blog/brand after her, for more on that, read this piece.
Needless to say, if you’re reading this you know that when it comes to our people being represented in the media, we have made progress yet still have a long way to go. There have been hits and misses in terms of the right casting of Asian and Asian Am roles. To take it back even further, people of color collectively experience this phenomena of our cultures being praised and respected, as well as negatively appropriated. In a post-Obama America, the voice of people of color has grown increasingly louder and stronger against the system. It’s why we must speak out, not only to call out racist or incorrect portrayals of our people, but to also applaud a job well done. Part of fixing the problem is to identify what’s okay and what’s not. It is here where we must begin on the journey to an all-inclusive, more accurate depiction in Hollywood.
Everyone has that one TV or film character that resonates with them and speaks to their soul. It could be someone as valiant as a superhero, or as cunning as a rebel. If we fight to be accurately depicted and represented on the silver screen, we give those role models to the next generation. I cannot stress how important it is for youth to see the good, bad and ugly when it comes to how we are portrayed on screen. In all walks of life, if you see yourself in someone else you receive instant validation. There is an unspoken, reassuring comfort of seeing that it’s okay to be exactly who you are because you’re not alone.
Whether based in fiction or fact, storytelling in cinema is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to articulating knowledge. The power of documentaries such as Supersize Me or What the Health? has opened the eyes of many Americans on the truth behind food production and and its effect on health across the country. Both films are excellent examples of how a film can alter well-ingrained mindsets and perceptions. If one filmmaker or TV producer decides to give a message a platform, there is almost always an audience out there willing to listen to it. Lighting the spark of thought provocation is a strength we human beings possess and it would be a shame to not exercise that muscle. All of the hard-earned fight that people of color before us put into our general betterment would be futile. You may think, what does civil rights have to do with a TV show/movie? To which I reply, civil rights directly affects those people involved: us! Those same people are our actors, directors, producers and cameramen who contribute to this craft that transforms into that sitcom you watch every week or that blockbuster movie that packs theaters.
The old adage, “knowledge is power,” could not ring truer. When the general public is actively engaged and well-informed, the possibilities are endless. When we open up the minds of the most narrow of thinkers, just think of the amazing progress that can be made. So I say to you, reader, no matter what path in life you are on. If you’re black, white, purple or Martian. Start and continue the conversation on diversity. Change thrives on momentum and the energy you put into it. Switch the narrative from negative to positive. Speak the future you dream of into existence. Stand up for what’s right and humble yourself when you’re wrong. This is a learning process that requires patience and understanding from all parties involved. You have an opinion that is completely unique to you. You have a powerful voice. Now use it.