Seeing Crazy Rich Asians all over my social media made me determined to go to the cinema, an activity I do about twice a year, and see it for myself. It was a beautiful movie, and it made me realize how much I was fed up with the American film industry. I discovered I had had enough of the food mainstream media has been feeding all of us.
I had been having these feelings of disinterest and dissatisfaction for a while; whenever I was looking (hopelessly) through Netflix for a show to watch, or seeing the shows that reign on social media. My face has been stuffed with the food of shows with storylines about the same peoples in the same places doing the same things and it has gotten tiring. I came to a realization of actually how much I had enough of the mainstream media making the same works with the only new parts being the names.
Mainstream media, through these similar movies and TV shows, don’t only give little representation to certain groups but also overrepresent other lives and lifestyles. There are real people that identify with the standard images we see on the screen and the constant repetition of these images hurt them if they can’t relate fully to the character i.e. being white but not always being the center of attention, or being conventionally beautiful but not having an easy life.
Crazy Rich Asians is a great example of the fact that not every person we watch has to be a white person living a life of all that comes along with being white. There is too much culture and difference out in the world to keep replaying the same old tropes over. Insecure, a show that is “black in a way that doesn’t bother explaining itself”, is currently my favorite show not just because it is a brilliant piece of work but because it feeds me everything I’m starved off by mainstream media. I get lead characters that look like me but also do not because even though they are black/women, they are complex and multifaceted. The writers and creators have left far behind the basic notions of who, in this example, black people are and how they live and the industry needs to catch up. I didn’t get all the jokes in the movie (which I absolutely loved because that was new and stimulating) just like I don’t expect everyone on the planet to get the humor of The Office. I think that that’s not just good but should be a more frequent experience when we engage with entertainment because the world is so much bigger than us and whatever we’re used to.
Mainstream media can be so much more than the dominant joke formats and faces that I’ve been seeing since I was old enough to understand television. There is no point in me consuming the old concepts when I am provided with characters and plots that stimulate and enable me to think about new ways that life can be lived and people can exist. I realize that I am simply unsatisfied with eating up the same flimsy tropes over and over again after getting a taste of what it is like for mainstream movies or series to give me fresh stories.
I can’t be the only one.