No platform can capture a feeling, emote a story, or make a statement better than a well-crafted film. Whether it be the reality of ‘perfect suburbia’ (American Beauty, 1999), the corruption of government (V For Vendetta, 2006) or the impact of prejudice (Zootopia, 2016); the world of movies offer’s a reflection on society and the way we operate.
Film by nature is communicative; we see ourselves in the stories, we relate to the characters and feel understood by their representation on screen. For the most part, this has been true for me, but sadly this is not the reality for a significant portion of society.
People of colour and the LGBTQI community have time and time again suffered from under-representation in the media. Instead of using the power of storytelling to write a better narrative for the world, a large sector of the film industry continue to enforce out-dated stereotypes and present inadequate representations on screen. Personally, I see this as taking the easy way out. I mean, sure you can strip away a character’s dimensions and reduce them to one qualifying factor. But who does this help? The film? No. The audience? Definitely not.
When we don’t represent people on screens, we can make them feel invisible and misunderstood. And when a platform like film has the potential to offer this representation but continually fails to do so, I start to question the motives of the industry.
Our country is home to one of the most culturally diverse populations in the world, with at least 32% coming from non-Anglo-Celtic backgrounds. Further, more than 1 in 10 Australians now identify with diverse sexual orientation or gender identity (Screen Australia, 2016). Despite the reality, our screens are still not reflecting a true version of Australia. The location is the same, but the multicultural, diverse country we know and love is nowhere to be seen.
To be fair, there are a few television shows and films that are creating unique content that normalises minority groups (i.e., Josh Thomas’s, Please Like Me; Benjamin Law’s, The Family Law). But unfortunately, they remain a minority themselves.
The ‘Reel Stories’ blog is determined to open a conversation on this issue and discuss the ‘Reel Stories’ that are not being represented onscreen. It is time to install a moral code in the film industry. Let’s inspire our future screenwriters, directors, and producers to treat our reality as a normality and depict more accurate and enriching stories of the real Australia!