ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

Now, for many of us, the idea of increasing in movies — superhero-themed or otherwise — isn't an especially controversial one. The historic lack of representation of pretty much everyone who isn't a white, cisgendered dude isn't exactly hidden away, and for all that declares itself to be dealing with issues like , the actual progress that's being shown is fitful at best. For some, though, the whole issue is a fairly abstract one — something that doesn't really affect "real people" since it only really has to do with the gilded, ivory tower-dwelling denizens of Los Angeles' film industry. As such, some critics of the increased push for cinematic diversity ask, why are we all spending so much time and effort on adequately representing people, rather than on just making movies that are good?

Well, there are a whole lot of arguments that can be thrown against that particular line of thinking, but one of the most powerful to emerge in recent years comes from none other than 's Korath, Djimon Hounsou. Y'see...

Djimon Hounsou Just Revealed Exactly Why Diversity In Superhero Movies Matters

[Guardians of the Galaxy/Marvel Studios]
[Guardians of the Galaxy/Marvel Studios]

Speaking with The Guardian recently, Hounsou was asked about the recent arrival in the of black superheroes like and , and his response was both deeply upsetting, and incredibly moving:

"It’s about time! It’s absolutely great news to have a hero that black folks can identify with. Could you imagine my misfortune when my son told me: 'I want to be light-skinned so I can climb the walls like Spider-Man' — just because he has seen Spider-Man and Batman and all these superheroes who were all white. The minute he said it, I was like, damn. My whole self was shattered. I was like, wow, what sort of comeback do you have for this? It’s important to recognize yourself. It’s absolutely important. That’s the value in telling stories. There’s a reason why we create fantasy stories, so we can surpass this life condition."

Now, if you're looking for a reason why diversity matters — in all aspects of life, as well as in superhero movies — and the basic principals of equality, equity and downright decency don't suffice for some reason, then maybe give Hounsou's comments another read. That the cinematic world overwhelmingly favors straight, white men isn't just an abstract political issue, and it isn't a problem that will just go away by itself or gently fade away with time. It's a real problem that adversely affects the lives of millions of people around the world, and it needs to be dealt with through positive, proactive action, right now.

And, as it happens, movies have a unique ability to both enact exactly the sort of change that's needed, and to enable it to have the sort of immediate impact that could make a powerful difference. After all, as Hounsou put it: "It’s important to recognize yourself. It’s absolutely important. That’s the value in telling stories."

"There’s a reason why we create fantasy stories, so we can surpass this life condition."

Now all Hollywood has to do is to actively try to tell everyone's story, and not just those of cisgendered white dudes. Or, better yet, to let a whole lot more people tell their own damn stories. After all, we already have more than enough movies about how straight white dudes see the world around them to tide us over for awhile yet.

What do you think, though? How do we — and Hollywood — need to change to improve diversity in movies, and help fix the problems the lack of it causes? Let us know below!

[The Guardian]


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