Art has always had a way of reaching out to us, of providing a sense of belonging, and often acts as a mirror. Through the centuries, it has evolved and taken the form of dance, paintings, poetry, and today, movies, are one of the major modern-day art forms. Now, many may beg to differ, but good movies are the epitome of art, as they are a way of self-expression that can act as a catalyst for change on a large scale. According to HuffPost, “Movies touch our hearts, and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things,” ;Hollywood director Martin Scorsese once said. “They open doors and minds.”
As appreciating art can be seen as an act of empathy, representation in movies is important so that people from diverse backgrounds can find themselves as the the complex individuals they are, and do not have to become strangling teenagers trying to fit in the narrow media frame– something that is unfortunately still seen in most Indian movies today. Movies can act as instruments in shaping or changing public opinions, leading them to new and diverse perspectives.
In the age of Netflix and unlimited movies, there is a call for inclusion of diversity in character and representation of people of color, non-binary genders, and the LGBTQA community. Here are movies that brought about creative representation, through new ideas or a twist on the old plot-lines.
Directed by Greg Berlanti, with the screenplay by Issac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, the movie started off 2018 in a rather revolutionary way. It revolved around Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), a 17 year old who had not come out to his family and his friends.For the first time, gay teenagers had a teen movie to which they could relate. Though the movie had a hint of the typical teen drama, it focused on accurate LGBT representation, and Everyman teen characters. The movie also moved away from the usual over-sexualised homosexual relationship, and was instead a journey of love, and self-understanding and acceptance.
Crazy Rich Asians
Based on the book Crazy Rich Asians written by Kevin Kwan, this movie swept the entire box office off its feet by crossing the $200 million dollar mark. Directed by John M. Chu, with an almost entirely Asian-American cast, this rom-com was a breath of fresh air from the stereotypical portrayal of Asians in Hollywood. Its major theme focused on cross-cultural differences, and though some critics found it rather repetitive, others loved the movie for the representation that it provided. Set in Singapore, it gives us an insight into the contemporary elite class of Asians. “But why feel guilty around such irresistible fun? And if it’s also a win for representation, so much the better” Peter Travers, The Rolling Stone.
In early 2018, Marvel began a new era with the release of Black Panther. The movie went on to be the third highest grossing movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the superhero film was ninth-largest grossing movie of all time. Black Panther’s characters provided the much needed black representation in the superhero realm. The movie focused on important details like costumes, whose designs were borrowed from Native African tribes. The movie gave us a vision of a wealthy, self sufficient Wakanda, with advanced technology. The movie emphasized on what it means to be black in both Africa and America, and dealt with themes of race and identity.
A comical satire on sexism, patriarchy and double standards present in our society, Stree was directed by Amar Kaushik, and written by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D. K. The movie combined humor and horror to open the minds of the audience, and managed to do so without offending anyone, and amusing everyone. The gender roles and norms which still exist in India were challenged by role reversals, to a point where the men of Chanderi hid at homes, and walked around in sarees. The dialogues written by Sumit Arora, are hilariously eye-opening. The movie focused on themes such as role of women in society, and the stigma and discrimination against sex work. We also get a glimpse of the lives of sex workers earning minimum wage, who lack safe and secure working conditions and are rarely given the respect they deserve.
2018 has left us looking forward to more movies which can help bring about positive gender and cultural representation, while giving people much needed entertainment. We can look forward to the remakes of some of our childhood favorites, like The Lion King, Aladdin, and Dumbo, and thrillers like Us, by Jordan Peele, who wrote and directed Get Out. For LGBTQ representation in India, we have “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga” in store for us.
Picture Credits : foxmovies.com