What is fairness? A question of representation

After looking at the way many different and diverse people are portrayed in media, it is clear that there is discontent with the way people of color, women, and members of the LGBT community are portrayed. We have discussed the persistent stereotypes and reductive tropes in representations of minorities. In class, the question was raised whether The L Word would be worth anyone’s time if it was written by straight men.

Can we not write about things we haven’t lived personally? How can we fairly represent everyone?

Lena Dunham, creator of the show Girls, was recently criticized for not including any major characters of color. She responded by saying that she was only writing from what she knows. We seem to attack writers for not being fair in their inclusiveness, but also for not being genuine when they try to be inclusive. 

It is tricky territory, because having minority characters would be more inclusive and diverse, but runs the risk of falling back on tropes and not being “genuine,” as we saw with the lesbian portrayals in The L Word. However, doing what Dunham did while trying to avoid creating a normative character seems to alienate a lot of people. People want to be represented; it’s a validation of our way of life. But will we ever be satisfied by the reduced characters we see? Is it fair to attack the writer for their choice to include or not include a certain type of character?

Samuel Chambers is probably correct in focusing on a politics of norms rather than representation, because we will ever agree on what is fair representation. 

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