Researching Visual (notes from readings 2)

Beltran, Mary. Meanigful Diversity: Exploring Questions of Equitable RepresentationFlow 12:07, 2010.

Beltran suggests that there are four main questions we should ask when considering if a representation is meaningful or not.
These are:
  • Are the characters of colour fully realized individuals?
Are the characters of colours within the story adding to the story, or are they simply their to add to the development of the lead white characters’s development.
A way to asses this is to ask questions about who’s home life and inner world being shown?
For example Programs such as ‘Glee’ and ‘Friday Night Lights’ develop stories line with their white charters more than its African American characters. For example within ‘Glee’ a lot of attention is placed upon the character of ‘Rachel Berry’ a white female singer while not expanding upon similar female black characters story lines.
  • Do the writers and producers appear knowledgeable about and interested in the worlds and perspectives of the non-white characters?
The predominantly white-male media industry, means that a lot of the writer of these programs are white. It leads to the question of if there was a more divers team of writers maybe they would have personal knowledge of potential characters and stories that white writers do not.
  • Does the diversity of the cast appear natural?
For example does the white lead in a program have a best friend of colour without realistic explanation? A lot of the time this comes across a unrealistic and gimmicky.
  • Do the series or film producers exploit the natural diversity of a story’s setting or subject matter?
Populating the cast in accordance with the diversity of the region or of the career the characters engage in.
For example a program set in London such as Eastenders has a divers range of cast members, which could be found within London’s natural diversity. However Programs set in a rural setting are less likely to have divers cast members (this dose not mean to say that there is no diversity in rural areas) but the question we have to ask ourselves is does the choice of cast appear to be ‘natural’ do the non white characters appear out of place in the story setting.
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