Hashtag activism and diversity – is it enough?
The opinions in this piece are that of the author’s and are not reflective of the Tertangala or the University of Wollongong
In an interview at the Screen Actors Guild Award, Viola Davis said, “We have become a society of trending topics. Diversity is not a trending topic. It’s just not.” However, it seems that hashtags are exactly the way people are expressing their desire to see diversity on our screens.
In an interview with UOWTV, Senior Buzzfeed writer Tahlia Pritchard said, “When things are trending and being talked about, and social media campaigns like #GiveElsaAGirlfriend are getting traction, it allows people to feel like they’re involved, like they’re helping make the change and ultimately it’s bringing people together in a way that isn’t seen in traditional media.”
So, whilst many assume hashtag activism is fleeting, it does grab attention. So, from #OscarsSoWhite to #GiveElsaAGirlfriend, take a look at some of the diversity hashtags that have popped up this year:
Yep, people want to give that all American boy a fella. Having one of the biggest symbols for manliness be bisexual (as to not take away from previous romances with Peggy and Sharon) would be a huge representation for the LGBTQIA+ * community. It would break down stereotypes, with bisexuals often being depicted as hypersexual beings or to fulfil the ‘male gaze’. Having Captain Steve Rogers with his undying loyalty be in a committed same-sex relationship would assist in squashing this.
Some argued it would be “shameless pandering”, that Marvel should showcase other LGBTQIA+ characters, but as Kadeen Griffiths wrote for Bustle, “fans have picked up on the idea that, if Bucky were a female character, he and Steve would have gotten together two movies ago. And fans are increasingly less willing to accept “they’re just good friends” as an excuse for this kind of a storyline.”
In any case, diversity in the superhero film industry is desperately needed, and whether they do this with Cap or a canon LGBTQIA+ character, it would just be really good.
This started as a way to combat Hollywood white washing, which we have seen repeatedly.
“I’m tired of hearing from people that they can’t ‘see’ an Asian American actor playing the romantic lead or the hero, so I created #StarringJohnCho to literally show you,” said William Yu, who created the website and campaign.
The Star Trek actor responded to the campaign, telling Yahoo7!, “I loved that it was sparking this discussion that otherwise we wouldn’t be having and it did it in a positive way. It [the campaign] was kind of silly, but then people really did have that discussion, and it did get people thinking about it. I felt like it was me on the poster but it wasn’t really about me. I really dig it.”
A recent film that should have had an Asian lead was Ghost in the Shell, which will be played by Scarlett Johanssen. A female equivalent to the #StarringJohnCho hashtag began as well, with Fresh Off the Boat’s Constance Wu taking centre stage.
Diversity is still desperately needed in the entertainment industry, however, these movements indicate people’s hunger for it – and so let the hashtags continue and make those who make these decisions listen.
Diversity isn’t a hashtag, nor something to think about fleetingly, but will hashtag activism make them listen?
Feature image from wikimedia
*Note 4/6/16 – wording changed