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Diversity in TV and films is a necessity, not a luxury

Column by Callum Sutton, a student at King's School

Recently in the media there have been numerous accounts of characters on TV and film being portrayed by people of various ethnic backgrounds, sexuality and gender in replacement of the pre-conceived idea of what we had before.

A female Captain Marvel, a black Ariel in the upcoming live action The Little Mermaid, and recently the title of 007 being given to a black female.

This approach towards casting in TV and film has been met with widespread criticism, claiming that changing a character’s race, sexuality and gender is simply pandering to snowflakes that need a diverse cast in order to simply function normally in day to day life.

Callum Sutton (10893551)
Callum Sutton (10893551)

This is far from the case.

Let’s take the recent casting of Lashana Lynch as 007 in the upcoming 25th instalment of the Bond film series. This has seen many people in uproar claiming that producers giving the title of 007 to a black woman is unneeded, protesting this as virtue signalling, pandering and uncalled for positive discrimination. All claims which don’t deserve the paper they are written on.

The decision to cast such a talented actress as Lashana Lynch is one that was justified and, most importantly, needed.

Imagine being a young black girl growing up 30 years ago, watching princess films and seeing the same image – a white girl with an unnaturally small waist and large eyes being shown in countless films. Or being a black female in their teens who has a keen interest in action films, yet still seeing the same depiction of women – white supermodels as Bond girls.

Or, let’s say, being a young boy growing up struggling with their sexuality, but having no openly gay characters on TV or film to see as a way forward.

Now imagine that same young black girl we talked about earlier in today’s world. Soon she will be able to watch The Little Mermaid and see a black woman playing Ariel. A young boy struggling with their sexuality can watch films such as Beauty and the Beast and see an openly gay Disney character such as Lefou, or turn on the TV to see countless gay characters. All of which serve as an inspiration to these young people.

It is very easy for people to say, ‘It wouldn’t bother me’ or ‘I wouldn’t really care’ if my community wasn’t represented. But the fact is those people have always had their community represented, and have never felt what it’s like to not.

The impact that giving representation to diverse groups has is resounding for the people who need it.

These decisions should only be seen as a positive, and never a negative. The quality of the films will still be the same – it’s just the resounding impact on young people seeking validation and inspiration that has changed.

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