I rented Get Out, and it means I have now seen a whopping one of this year’s Best Picture nominees. If I’m reading things correctly, it is the only one about a person of color. I’m unsure how many of them are about women, but I’m pretty sure it’s more than you usually get, at least. Most years, you’re lucky to get one, even if it appears from a plot description that the movie’s about a woman or a PoC. Odds are pretty good you’re still watching things happen to that woman or that PoC through the eyes of a white guy. At best, you’re probably watching things happen to a PoC through the eyes of a white woman, which is still not great.
I’ve written about this before; there’s this perpetual belief in certain circles that stories about women and PoC are for women and PoC, and stories about white guys are “universal.” In a way, the success of Get Out and Black Panther (which I’m hoping to see this weekend, if I can get a babysitter) gives me some hope, because those are not movies with all their success from black audiences, like the Madea movies. It might finally start convincing Hollywood that there’s an audience for movies about black people.
Though, sigh, we’ll have to do it all over again for movies about women, since Wonder Woman doesn’t seem to have done the job. And we’ll have to do it again someday for movies about Hispanic people and Asian people and so forth, especially because of how very black and white racial issues are seen in Hollywood. Each movie’s success is seen as a fluke, and the lesson is never learned.
And arguably, Wonder Woman‘s success is a fluke—DC movies aren’t all that successful these days! But of course, part of the movie’s success is because it was about a woman. Audiences, in particular female geeky audiences, went to see it even if they weren’t sure they would like it because they wanted to emphasize that a movie like it could be successful. (Fortunately for all of us, it was good.) We didn’t hate-watch it, the way a lot of people I know hate-watched, say, Suicide Squad.
I recently picked up a chapter book for my son, because he’s almost reading well enough to read himself very basic chapter books. And the one I picked out for him is about a girl. (Cam Jansen, for those familiar with the series.) I’m not going to treat it as though there’s anything unusual about reading books about girls. As he gets older, I’ll just present him with Pippi Longstocking and Anne Shirley and Laura Ingalls. I will also present him with The Toothpaste Millionaire, by Jean Merrill, and Farewell to Manzanar, and of course The Egypt Game. I will introduce him to Miles Morales and Jaime Reyes and Kamala Khan. People will expect his sister to read about Ramona Quimby as well as Henry Huggins, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t as well.
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