2014 has been a mixed bag when it comes to representation. By that, I’m talking about the representation of visible minorities and those who have different sexual orientations. I say it’s a mixed bag due to the fact that it hasn’t been exactly the best year for such things.
We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of really good authors, both up and coming and some long time authors, make big strides in writing books and putting characters into them that do represent people of colour, women of colour, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. So we’ve got a good representation there. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
Books, while good, aren’t visual catching. Comic books, Television and movies, on the other hand, are pretty in your face when it comes to representation. And this year has been pretty whitewashed, male, and heterosexual. In other words, the same bland crap we’ve received all the time in the medium. There have been strides, however. The excellent tumblr blog DC Women Kicking Ass has gone out of it’s way to showcase good comics (not just from DC) that not only feature women, but a diverse range of women. Storm came out this year, Ms Marvel had a great run this year, doulby good considering the book is about a Pakistani American teenager. Captain Marvel, and others. Marvel Comics has done well with their stable, but that doesn’t mean there’s still some flaws there. It took them a while to finally announce a female lead movie in Captain Marvel, but the fanbase is still waiting on one for Black Widow. And it hasn’t been sunshine and rainbows for female lead books, there’s been some cancellations, such as the Fearless Defneders, for example.
Meanwhile, the Distinguished Competition hasn’t been doing much better. Trying to follow in Marvel’s footsteps, they’ve announced a great deal of movies that are forthcoming with Wonder Woman being in the mix. How it’s going to turn out is unknown at this point in time. But at the comic book level, things haven’t been doing so well. Female lead books aren’t doing well. One of the best written books is being cancelled after a hack kneed decision of making sure superheroes don’t lead happy lives was announced. Batwoman won’t get married, and to add insult to injury, the current writing team (who replaced the original writing team) decided a kidnapping and rape would have been a great story arch to the series. There’s also the Huntress, both Wayne and Bertinelli. Helena Wayne was essentially stuffed in a refridgerator, and Helena Bertinelli is hardly recognizable as the daughter of a mob boss anymore. One good light is that the Secret Six is back, written by the pre-52 creator Gail Simone.
Outside of the big two, there’s been other promising titles, such as Bitch Planet written by Kelly Sue Deconnick. So, there’s some progress, but it’s painfully slow. Here’s hoping 2015 picks up the pace a bit.
Movies haven’t exactly been great either. The biggest disappointment was Exodus: Gods and Kings, where every character is portrayed by a white person which is strange for a region that is predominantly filled with brown skinned people. And to those who say that white Europeans were traveling around, think again. It was Middle Eastern and South East Asian people (Arabic, North African, Pakistani and East Indian) who developed the Silk Road. The movie didn’t do well at all at the box office, and one comment said it all. For people of colour, don’t think of Exodus: Gods and Kings as a missed opportunity but as a bullet dodged.
It isn’t all bad, though. We’ve had a lot of really great discussions and education with people who have been working hard to turn the old stereotypes on their heads. Laverna Cox and Janet Mock, along with Laura Jane Grace have been really working hard to show that transgender people are just everyday ordinary people. And that there is a huge difference that comes up in interviews with transgender people as opposed to cisgender people. There’s differences in the interviews with gay and lesbian people than there is with hetero people.
And there year did come to a close with a picture perfect ending.
The Nick cartoon, Legend of Korra ended on a bang of a hote, as the finale for Book four showed something incredible. For the first time in a kids cartoon (in recent memory, at least, and completely visible), Korra walked off into the sunset (spirit portal) with Asami, marking a same sex relationship. This was confirmed by series co-creator Bryan Konietzko:
You can celebrate it, embrace it, accept it, get over it, or whatever you feel the need to do, but there is no denying it. That is the official story. We received some wonderful press in the wake of the series finale at the end of last week, and just about every piece I read got it right: Korra and Asami fell in love. Were they friends? Yes, and they still are, but they also grew to have romantic feelings for each other.
The only downside to all of this, is that it’s taken so long. We’re almost at 2015, and we’re still fighting to have proper representation in books, comics, movies, and television. We made some gains, but there was an equal number of failures and fumbled balls. Hopefully, 2015 will see more major wins as far as representation goes.