Early last week I ran across an article about racebent Hermione. I had to click on it. Hermione rocks. And racebent Hermione? I was intrigued. I've heard a lot recently about diversity in the entertainment industry – everyone seems to have an opinion about what all our fictional characters should look like.
Before I go much further, let me give you some background to my perspective. I’m about half a foot taller than the average woman. I’ve spent my whole life reading stories about doll-sized, pretty blonde girls who saved the world and fell in love. That makes a lot of stories about girls who could be my friends, but who were not (and never could be) me. There are some out there who say, “Oh, come on, you’re still white; it’s not the same.” No, it’s not exactly the same. But I know what it’s like to be at least partially cut out of the collective imagination. It sucks.
Having a diverse cast in books and movies isn’t just about being politically correct. It’s not about re-imagining the kids from Captain Planet for every cast of characters. It’s about reflecting the people – our family, friends, and neighbors – who live around us.
About halfway through that Buzzfeed article about Hermione, you’ll see this quote (emphasis by your truly):
You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, ‘Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?’ And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.
When I first read that, I sat back and just thought, “Wow. That’s brilliant.” Read it again. That part about denying monsters a reflection hits home every time I read it. It’s so true; when you don’t see yourself in the culture around you, you feel like an outsider. A monster.
No more monsters -- let's reflect the faces of the people around us.
What do you think about racebent Hermione and the call for more diverse characters in entertainment?
Michelle likes green apples, dislikes sun tanning, loves peanut gallery comments, and hates disorganized sock drawers.