• Jackson C Garton

The Importance of Media Representation

Updated: Feb 27, 2019

Last night, much of the world watched the Oscars in great anticipation, as performers were nominated for awards in costume design, acting, and music scores, just to name a few. It was a big night for many actors, directors, and designers. Ruth E. Carter, Hannah Beachler, and Spike Lee were among the various artists to take home a much deserved Academy Award. When I saw a Guardian Tweet that Spike Lee had finally won an Oscar for BlacKkKlansman, the tears flowed freely and immediately. There were also wins from actors who portrayed characters who were LGTBQ+: Olivia Colman won an Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Anne in The Favourite, and Rami Malek won an Oscar for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Raphsody, yet Coleman and Malek are not openly-LGBT+.

Should a person's sexuality or perceived gender factor into choosing an actor for a role? Does this matter to the LGBT+ community?

It matters to me, but I speak only for myself.

Lady Gaga won an Oscar for her song "Shallow" in A Star is Born, but that song isn't about her character's sexuality. Lady Gaga is openly bisexual, and for those of us who are bisexual, her win was a welcomed one. During his acceptance speech, Rami Malek erroneously announced that Freddie Mercury was a gay man, when in fact, Farrokh Bulsara (Freddie Mercury's birth name) was bisexual. Unfortunately, this is not a surprising mistake coming from someone who is both straight and cisgender. Do I think Lady Gaga would make that mistake if she had accepted an award for her portrayal of someone who is bisexual? I honestly don't think so.

What do you think? Do you think it matters? Do you think a character who is a trans man should be played by a cis woman? Do you think a cis woman should be played by a trans woman? Is identity really that important when it comes to media representation?

These are difficult questions we should be asking ourselves as we move toward 2020.

Freddy Mercury performing at Wembley Stadium, 1986

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