The Representation Paradox | Psychology Today Canada

The Illustration Paradox | Psychology At this time Canada


I lately watched the enjoyable and all-around healthful teen dance film Work It and was struck by one thing fascinating. One of many destructive characters within the movie, Juilliard, performed by Keiynan Lonsdale, was queer. This portrayal of a queer particular person as a villainous character come across an essential paradox relating to significant illustration of minorities in movie, or certainly, any artwork kind. The paradox is just this —for illustration to be significant, it’s important to point out minorities as layered people, flaws and all.

However right here is the place it will get tough—generations of moviegoers recall lazy tropes—a Muslim character, in the event that they existed within the film in any respect, can be a terrorist; a homosexual individual, in the event that they existed within the film in any respect, can be exaggeratedly effeminate and mined for laughs.

After which got here the technology that attempted to appropriate this lack of illustration by doing one thing that was maybe well-intentioned, however equally dangerous. I’ve misplaced depend of the variety of movies I’ve watched that had a token minority character, who was, effectively, simply there to verify a field. Token homosexual greatest good friend—verify. Token Asian character who has simply 5 minutes of display screen time—verify.

Whereas at first look, it’d look like these two generations of filmmaking—stereotyping on the one hand and illustration only for the sake of it on the opposite—would not have a lot in widespread, they really share a really fundamental trait—they’re each lazy.

The focusing phantasm and lazy illustration

I’ve written earlier concerning the focusing phantasm, or the tendency for us to give attention to one distinctive facet of an individual’s situation, primarily lowering them to a uni-dimensional character reasonably than somebody with any depth in any respect. The focusing phantasm is our lazy mind’s means of constructing sense of the world and the folks in it at little to no value to ourselves. Why spend the time attempting to grasp the layers of an individual when defining them by one attribute is simply a lot simpler?

The focusing phantasm is a direct trigger for each varieties of lazy illustration—if filmmakers of yore (which was not that way back) selected to disregard all layers and nuance and outline any brown character as a terrorist, more moderen filmmakers even have the focusing phantasm responsible once they select to outline their token characters just by the group of individuals they’re meant to symbolize.

What’s encouraging is that creators are lastly starting to get illustration proper. One cause why Schitt’s Creek did so effectively is that it was set in a fictional land the place folks’s sexual preferences merely did not matter. The David-Patrick relationship just isn’t outlined by the truth that it’s a homosexual one. It’s merely a relationship between two individuals who love one another, and their relationship comes with the identical sort of baggage {that a} heterosexual couple’s would.

Within the film Work It as effectively, the Juilliard character’s queerness is merely secondary. There isn’t a point out of his sexual preferences as a result of they don’t matter. In the identical vein, his villainy has nothing to do along with his sexuality. He’s merely, like the remainder of us, a posh human being with layers of life expertise, who refuses to be put right into a narrowly outlined field.


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