We live in a time where the world is more aware than ever that there are more people in it besides white males over 21 who own land.
There is a high demand for more diverse representation in our media: diversity in race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, etc. There are so many voices that need to be heard, and there is no question that we will suffer as a society until equality for all people is achieved.
However, before we can truly begin to grasp all the ways people differ, I think the world needs to fully embrace the fact that there is more than one gender on the planet. One-half of the population still needs to be represented.
I’m talking about you, ladies. About us and our representation.
Rather than complain about all the ways that people are doing it wrong, I would like to focus on the people who are doing it right. My heroes in the entertainment industry.
First up, of course, is the wonderful Joss Whedon, a brilliant mind in the film industry. Joss is responsible for giving us shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, and Firefly. Joss isn’t afraid to have a female play the leading role in his shows. And in shows where he doesn’t have a female lead, he ensures that his cast is full of female characters. Female characters who don’t all have the same personality. Look at Inara, Kaylee, River, and Zoe. Vastly different characters—all with important roles to play. None of these girls are present to merely be a love interest. Zoe is the one always helping Mal make sure their deals go down smoothly. Kaylee keeps the ship running. Inara uses her contacts and influence to save the crew from more than one tight spot. And River, well, can anyone forget the badass role she plays at the end of Serenity?
Right now, Marvel owns Joss’s brain. He had perhaps the most influential roles to play in The Avengers as both the screenwriter and director. While it’s sad that Black Widow is the only female character in the avengers gang, Joss could only draw from an already set cast in the Marvel comics. But he does pull in Agent Maria Hill as part of the movies, giving us another fantastic female addition to the movie. Where Joss does have a lot of leeway is with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He is responsible for helping write the show. All those fantastic female characters—May, Skye, Simmons—are no doubt his doing. Distinct, important, and awesome. Each and every one of them.
Next up is Shonda Rhimes, who is responsible for giving us fantastic shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, and the newly aired How to Get Away with Murder. Not only does Shonda give us fantastic female characters, she also loves to give us wonderfully diverse characters. Her shows always feature PoC and frequently have LGBTQ characters. How many lawyer shows and medical dramas are out there? SO MANY. Yet Shonda’s shows stand out among others in their genres. Her characters develop beautifully, and the plot arcs are to die for. These shows should not be missed.
Julie Plec, most known for The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, is responsible for my favorite show on television (TVD). This show has the best series arc I’ve ever seen. And talk about a wonderful female cast of characters. Nina Dobrev does a wonderful job playing doppelgangers Elena and Katherine. Their personalities are as different as fire and ice. Elena is the sweet, small town girl while Katherine is the manipulative, only-cares-about-herself type. These two characters alone demonstrate the diversity of female personalities—even when the characters look exactly the same! Then we add Caroline to the mix. Detail-oriented, snarky girl with attitude. Everything is just full of awesome.
Aside from these wonderful TV show producers, there are other people doing exciting things in the industry. I have to give a quick shout out to Peter Jackson for adding a female character to The Hobbit movies that was not present in the book. I gave him a single-person round of applause as soon as I found out. And (*spoilers* for the third hobbit movie are ahead) I just love that part in the The Battle of the Five Armies where the women decide to go out and fight alongside their men. It’s moving and heartwarming in a way that makes you want to cheer on all women. My only complaint about Peter’s addition of Tauriel was that her purpose ultimately came down to being a love interest. She’s distraught after Kili dies, and there’s no mention of what happens to her afterward. If you’re going to create a new character and get us invested in her, the least you can do is let us know what happens to her after the battle.
I also appreciate the show Elementary and its attempt to promote female characters. The show is a modernized, Americanized story of Sherlock Holmes. They decide to change things up by making Watson a girl. I love it. I’m all for remakes and reinterpretations. I only wish they’d taken the time to make Watson’s character more interesting. As it is, she’s really boring. Not much of a personality there. There is no excuse for poor characterization for male or female characters. But it’s especially poor taste to think that having a token woman in a story otherwise filled with men makes her distinct.
Lastly, I would like to recognize Stephenie Meyer. She’s a brilliant mind in the storytelling industry. There’s no denying that she’s influenced teens across the world through her writing. And now she’s focusing her efforts in movie production. Her company, Fickle Fish Films, is providing vast opportunities for females in production, so that more female voices can be heard in Hollywood. And they’re focusing on adapting books for the big screen. How cool is that?
As a concluding note, let’s listen to Joss Whedon’s Equality Now speech. Because it’s full of awesome. (Start about two minutes in if you want to get to the good stuff right away.)