I apologize in advance if this gets a little rambly. It’s very much a stream of consciousness styled post, but it’s something that I have been thinking about recently a great deal.
I want to take a moment to talk about something that bothers me. I am unsure how to put this into words, precisely, because frankly it’s not an issue that affects me directly. But it does affect people around me, people who matter to me, people who deserve to be seen and to be represented in media.
Representation matters. More than you might think.
More and more we see companies and people embracing this. We see Blizzard making sure they have gay characters in their game Overwatch (Soldier 76 being the latest at the time of writing this), we see movies with black or hispanic leads. Crazy Rich Asians was a hugely popular movie with a cast full of, until now, unrepresented people. And throughout it all we get the usual screaming from groups about how this is ruining things. About how having openly gay characters is pointless, or damaging in some fashion to the media that they are a part of, about how removing white people from roles and replacing them with actors who better fit the identity of the character is somehow “white genocide” and other insanity. Just thinking about the Call of Duty WW2 Female Soldier debacle hurts my brain. It really truly does.
Here is the deal: Not a single bit of this actually hurts you in any meaningful way. Having an equal amount of each race or sexuality in media is not damaging to you in the slightest. It doesn’t affect your job. It doesn’t affect your life. It doesn’t mean that you are not going to get a raise or lose access to something or anything.
These people exist, and they deserve, just as much as anyone else, to have their turn to shine. They deserve to have their heroes, to have their media, to have their voice in the world as much as anyone else. Trying to shut them down serves no purpose and is in fact actively harmful. Trans people have a right to exist and be seen and have people who are like them in the spotlight, same as anyone else. Gays, Blacks, Latinx, Native Americans, ect. Every single group deserves to be represented because we all make up the Human Race. Our differences are what make us unique, not uniformity.
And yea, it’s scary, especially for the older generation. Change and growth always is scary. They don’t see why this is needed. They don’t understand why having openly gay character in a movie or video game or tabletop RPG is a big deal but here (in my eyes at least) is the reason: It normalizes things.
The more things become normal, or regular, or ordinary, the less we start to fear each other. The more we start to realize that in the end, we are all functionally the same. We all get outta bed and go to work, and we all deal with the same pressures of everyday life, of stress from our jobs and our families, of being sick and fighting against an ever rising tide of madness. We need, as a people, as a human race, to understand that we are all equal and we all deserve a chance to succeed.
Personally, I have always held the simple belief that if who you are and what are doing is causing no one else any actual damage or harm, then you are fine. A person being gay doesn’t affect me for example. A lesbian is not going to suddenly invalidate my marriage. A black person is not going to suddenly destroy the job I hold. A latinx is not going to suddenly make a game I am playing unplayable. They are not going to steal my medication, or my money, or suddenly cause widespread death and panic just by their mere existence.
And here is probably the biggest thing about all this: I don’t need to understand why it’s such a big deal! I don’t need to have a reason or even an understanding as to why representation matters to accept it as something important to someone else. Nor do you. You may not get why Soldier 76 being gay is such a big deal to some folks, but guess what? Him being gay doesn’t change a single thing about his function in the game. He still shoots people dead. He still has the same design and characterization. We are all still Soldiers alongside him. But for some, the fact that he is gay will mean the world to them. And that is important. That is good. That is welcome.
And we need more of it. We need equality, true equality. Where people are treated based on WHO they are not WHAT they are. But the first step in getting there it, again, to normalize the differences so people stop being so hateful towards each other. I for one welcome female leads in gaming and movies and media! Gay leads, trans leads, black leads, latinx and native American and so on. Bring it on. More diversity, more inclusion, MORE REPRESENTATION. It only makes things better, and shows the world that we are all really the same at the end of the day.
Embrace differences. Embrace diversity. Embrace life. I promise you, it will not hurt ya at all.