It seems like such a small thing, but I think everyone wants to see someone like them on tv and in films. It really does matter. It makes you feel less alone, especially when you are the minority. When your culture, religion, orientation, nationality, or even your language are shared with the world, it can really be something. And it isn’t just worthwhile for you, it can benefit everyone.
Think about the big picture. Other people will see it and learn a little about your beliefs or things that you’ve experienced. It can open up people to a new understanding of others in the world. Maybe before it was something or a group that they were unaware of. Or even maybe afraid of. And because it is “entertainment,” others are more open to what they see or the message within it. Maybe you don’t understand your neighbor’s weird culture or their strange food. But then you watch a tv show that has a family with the same beliefs as your neighbor, and then everything makes sense. It might seem less weird. Or you find some common ground – it turns out they aren’t so different from you. Maybe that will give you the courage to approach them and wish them a happy holiday even if you yourself don’t celebrate it. You get it now.
And while it is great to learn about others, sometimes you just want to see your own people speaking your own language or doing the things you are familiar with. When you practice a minority faith, you want to see people celebrating your holidays and acting out your customs even if it is just one time in all the movies you ever see. You want to see your crazy auntie or your devout grandma in the characters on the screen. I think that’s why people create entertainment in the first place: they create the world they know. It can be funny to see or it can be comforting. It can just make you happy. It’s a good feeling and one everyone deserves to experience.
It can be especially important with kids. Especially with special or powerful people. Think about it. Kids want to see a superhero that looks like them. They want to believe they are capable of that kind of greatness. It’s just fun to think you can do that stuff. Who wouldn’t want to be a superhero? Seriously! Think about it right now, what superpower would you have? Is there a superhero that looks like you in mainstream comics or on tv? It is a good feeling, right?
Indian cinema has tried to deal with cultural diversity in the past. Maybe none have been more obvious in recent history than Bajirao Mastani – a romance between a Hindu and a Muslim. Wow, right?!? Muslims, Pakistani, Hindus all existing and interacting together as regular people is something we all need to see more of. Check out Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Firaaq, Mani Ratnam’s Bombay, Garm Hava, and Dharmputra to see more of what I am speaking of here.