Seriously Geeky Sundays: Representation

Heather at Just Geeking By has created wonderful and unique prompts for Sundays! There are a few other sites out there who post weekly prompts, but I have to say Heather’s are by far some of the most unique and imaginative that I’ve read. I’m really excited to make Seriously Geeky Sundays a staple here on the blog! See the prompts here!

I am playing catch up currently so these are past prompts that I wanted to participate in. This prompt is about representation. Heather said “I thought long and hard about including this topic, so please know that these questions have been designed with the utmost respect by someone who understands the need for a respectful approach. As a bisexual disabled woman representation isn’t just important to me personally, it’s something I recognise as being important to other members of the disabled and LGBTQ+ communities, as well as other communities. It’s a topic that I firmly believe needs to be openly discussed not avoided.” Be sure to check out the rest of Heather’s post here.

Let’s start with a broad question; what do you consider representation in pop culture to mean?

 I consider representation in pop culture to be accurate and inclusive of different races, different genders, different sexual orientations, different body types, different family dynamics, etc. I agree wholeheartedly with Heather that accuracy is very important when it comes to representation. Black women are often given traumatic back stories and are forced to be “strong” throughout a story line which isn’t accurate representation. Those with larger bodies are often cast into story lines centered around losing weight or being the funny sidekick. These stereotypes and more still run rampant in popular TV series and movies and are damaging.

What representation existed in fandoms when you were young?

I grew up watching Nickelodeon and Disney cartoons for the most part. Looking back, I can say that a majority of characters in those shows and movies were white and straight presenting. Some TV shows back then that I regularly watched did try to break that mold like Sesame Street and Hey Arnold!. As I got older, I did see attempts to have some accurate representation in movies and TV shows. Some notable favorites were Lilo and Stitch,The Proud Family, That’s So Raven, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Avatar: the Last Airbender, and Star Trek (varying series). From late teens to now, there’s more representation in the media I consume than before like the American Horror Story, Legend of Korra, True Blood, Grey’s Anatomy, Orange is the New Black, Modern Family, and RuPaul’s Drag Race, Sex Education, Law and Order, and This is Us.

Do you feel that representation has improved since then?

It has slightly improved. I wish there was far more representation in the 2020s than what we currently have. I wish it also hadn’t taken this long to get what we have now. Some representation comes off as they are simply appeasing investors by adding in a person of color or an LGBTQ+ person who is a support character. And often their character portrayals fall into harmful stereotypes. We need more representation, and most importantly, we need better representation. As a bisexual woman in a mid-size body and a straight-passing relationship, I am desperate for more body diversity and more LGBTQ+ diversity in different environments and families. I think Heather does a fantastic job of explaining the lack of disabled characters too so please be sure to read her post as well.

Tell us about some of your favorite diverse characters.

  • Lafayette (True Blood)
  • Korra (Legend of Korra)
  • Toph (ATLA)
  • Detective Rosa Diaz (Brooklynn Nine-Nine)
  • Eric Effiong (Sex Education)
  • Raven (That’s So Raven and Raven’s Home)
  • Will Smith (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
  • Calliope Torres (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Randall Pearson (This is Us)

What fandoms do you recommend for diversity?

  • Avatar: the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra
  • This is Us
  • Sex Education
  • The Umbrella Academy
  • The Good Place
  • The Chilling Adventure of Sabrina
  • Star Trek (personal faves: Next Generation & Enterprise)
  • Grace and Frankie
  • Black Mirror
  • American Horror Story

When did you first feel represented in a character?

The first time I ever felt represented in a character was the finale of Legend of Korra when Korra and Asami walked hand in hand through the spirit portal, solidifying that Korra’s bisexuality was canon. Just thinking about it makes me tear up now despite that happening several years ago. I had never experienced an “out” bisexual character before, and I was ecstatic to see Nickelodeon take that epic step (even if the episodes were online only at that point). I still find it very rare to see bisexual characters in media so when I do, it tugs at my heart. Being able to see my sexuality represented on screen is an amazing feeling. I hope that everyone gets that experience, and it becomes the new normal in pop culture.

Please go check out Heather’s geeky Sunday prompts! You can see the introductory post here!

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