Back when I was in primary school, watching those princesses and superhero movies used to be the best part of my day! I used to dream of saving the world like them, but how could I? The Indian character, if there was one, was always the socially awkward sidekick. I just couldn't relate to the white, and often male, characters who would always be the brave heroes.
And that's why representation in movies and media matters a lot! The look of sheer excitement and joy on a child's face when they see someone who looks like them as the superhero. For some kids, that moment came when "Black Panther" was released. This movie, with a predominantly black cast, marked the first time we saw a person of color as the main superhero of an extremely successful and loved franchise such as marvel. This is, although, just a beginning.
Even while it may be stated that movies frequently depict reality, some representations of society might not be totally accurate. It is important to note that representation in movies often depicts a world that both endorses and rejects particular ideas rather than the world as it is. Just like how the Indian student is always the geeky brainiac, or an adult working in a call center. This gives rise to social stereotypes and prejudices. And not just children, stories can have an impact on all aspects of life- how individuals consider themselves, live their lives, and perceive others. Being able to see oneself on television is essential since society is not one entity, but rather has many facets. Unquestionably, the voices of underprivileged groups are ignored by filmmakers; as a result, these choices result in misrepresentation. Numerous individuals in each of these groups ultimately begin to internalize the lies and accept the false reality. They feel inferior. The representation of gender, color, ethnicity, and class in movies holds the immense power to both transform society and uphold the intended social structure. Representation, if executed well, can even change someone's life.
This, in my opinion, is a severely unpopular topic and should be brought more into the discussion. Even though the scenario is noticeably evolving for the better (an example is 'black panther'!), some groups of people continue to be shown in a stereotypical light. These instances need to be spotlighted and called out for their lack of sensitivity. For, when people see their reflections on screens, they feel validated and valuable. And these reflections need to be more diverse, in order to make everyone in this world feel like a part of it and not inferior to others.
The entertainment and media sectors must do more to incorporate diverse filmmakers, directors, performers, and executives. Marginalized groups must have access to and a voice in influencing culture in order to break the cycle of exclusion, inclusion, and misrepresentation. I look forward to the day when we have an Indian superhero for every kid who was like me. That will be a motivation for every South Asian out there who was ever made to feel inferior and invalidated.