Freewrite. Make a brief list of your television shows or films that you are familiar with. How diverse are these pop culture products in terms of race, age, culture, religion, sexual orientation, etc?
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Diversity: the condition of having or being composed of differing elements :variety; especially: the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization (Meriam Webster Online Dictionary)
When the word is used to talk about different types of people, there is also a connotation of acceptance of and respect for those differences.
Tokenism: the practice of doing something (such as hiring a person who belongs to a minority group) only to prevent criticism and give the appearance that people are being treated fairly (Meriam Webster Learner’s Dictionary)
Marginalize: to relegate someone or something (or a group) to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group (Meriam Webster Online Dictionary)
What larger conversation is this article responding to? What specific show/event is the article responding to?
In the first section of the essay, the author, Aydrea Walden, uses a strategy described in They Say, I Say. She lists common objections to further inclusion of minority characters (that’s the “they say” part), and then, she offers a counter-argument about why each of those objections doesn’t make sense. (That’s her “I say” part.)
What did you think of the “they say” objections she cites? What did you think of her counter-arguments? Was she convincing?
In “TV Diversity: Whose Job is it Anyway,” Aydrea Walden claims the following:
“The shortest possible answer to ‘does diversity on TV matter?’ is ‘yes.’ Repeatedly showing people images absolutely has an affect on the way they live their lives. It’s the basis for the advertising industry. By regularly marginalizing people of color on screen, it makes it easier for people to marginalize those same populations in real life.”
What does she mean by this? What do you think of this criticism?
This essay is another voice in the “conversation” about race and diversity in Hollywood. This essay responds to a commonly held idea that simply including a character of color (or, by extension, a character from any minority group) in a show or film is enough to “fix” the problem of lack of representation.
Mark Harris’s point of view is that it’s not enough simply to include minorities. Why not?
Mark Harris makes some big claims here. Let’s deal with some of them.
“The first obligation of any ambitions scripted series is to entertain with truth.”
“The point behind race-blind casting is often ‘They’re just like us,’ but the ‘us’ –and the perspective that goes with it—remains as default Caucasian as ever.”
“Often, when a comedy or drama includes non-white characters, their function is to illustrate the principle that race doesn’t matter. But no sane person […] can argue that we’re living in a postracial society.”
Too often, Latinos are depicted as criminals, gardeners, or maids, and little else. This portrayal is problematic because there are many Latinos who do not fit these stereotypes. Producers and writers should make an effort to write characters and storylines that will put forward a more complex portrayal of the people in this community.