Published: 07th November 2020
Mis-sing out on representation: Why depiction of people and communities is a vital issue
The Coach takes a long look at the impact of representation. Here’s why the depiction of people and communities is a vital issue
The one thing that sometimes irks me even now, is when my cousins abroad surprisingly ask “Oh is this available there in India?”. Irrespective of how much we’ve developed, people who haven’t had an opportunity to travel to our country, develop perceptions based on visual media. Even some of the cartoons I remember watching growing up always showed India filled with deserts and snake charmers. The reason I share this example is to bring your attention to something that we hardly observe but has a HUGE IMPACT on our perception: REPRESENTATION.
Recently I read about how Balram Vishwakarma, a 26-year-old, took five hours of his time to analyse 50 Indian web series that he had watched in a span of six years, from 2014 to 2020 and learnt that 58.47 per cent of the protagonists belonged to upper castes, only 4.2 per cent were from backward castes and 11.02 per cent from minority communities. I don’t really relate to any of this, but the movie Black Panther struck my mind almost instantly and I remembered how EMPOWERING it was for the black community. On the flip side, is this the reason why most Muslims are perceived to be terrorists?
The already fallen: Taking into account Balram’s findings, the one thing that I can read between the lines is that the ALREADY FALLEN are being further TRAMPLED. I often give this example of how the word BLACK itself depicts something negative. BLACKLISTED, BLACK MAGIC, BLACKMAIL, etc. Why aren’t there words with similar meanings that have the words WHITE in it? When customs and usages have already done enough damage, isn’t the lack of representation further cementing the misrepresentations?
The young: I really wanted to be an actor during one phase of my life and gave up that dream simply because I’m not a Khan or Kapoor. I’m talking about an age wherein I couldn’t even spell the word ‘nepotism’. Imagine how many different SUBLIMINAL MESSAGES are being passed on through different mediums and are CLASSICALLY CONDITIONING our young ones. Most adolescent boys today perceive girls and women as an OBJECT OF PLEASURE. Reason? ITEM SONGS!
The restless and the reckless: Representation has another downside, it makes IMPRESSIONABLE MINDS feel that life is a video game, do whatever you want and then hit the RESET button. Though I’m against the portrayal of violence, I feel that the consequences of anti-social behaviour should be depicted in the most efficient manner that results in ensuring that the youngsters fear the law. Take the Faridabad shooting instance, for example. Is it okay for a boy to brandish a weapon to threaten a girl, let alone KILL HER? Whether it’s a LOVE JIHAD case or not, it’s a loss of life!
I may not be on all the other media, but I definitely do my best to REPRESENT the most important aspects of LIFE, but rather than asking the mundane WHY I feel that the need of the hour is to ask WHY NOT and change the trends to bring in equality.