Over the last 2 months 3 of my favourite shows have used a sad cliche/trope and I want to share my feelings, share where my heads at. This isn’t the first post on this blog where I’ve talked about this issue and by the looks of it, it won’t be the last.
The issue? The cliche/trope I’m talking about is the use of a facial difference to signify to an audience that a particular character is evil, or “the bad guy”. In the last two months alone there have been not one, not two, but three instances of my favourite shows using this as catalyst to tell their stories. These are shows where I’m a fan, where I’ve watched every episode, where I’m invested in both the characters and the stories. But watching these episodes left me angry, sad, and confused.
I’ve been told that I should just suck it up, that I shouldn’t take it personally, I need to get over it. I would love to, nothing would make me happier than to just watch my favourite movies and shows and just get lost in story. I’m writing this because I’m trying to help kids who have and will be born like me. Kids who will already face a life time of struggles I know all too well. I want kids with facial differences to be able to turn on the tv, open a magazine, and watch a movie, and see themselves. I have ZERO clue what’s that’s like. For 99% of you who read this you will not get what I’m talking about because all that is portrayed are versions of yourself. Are all minorities positively represented as much as they should? Of course not, society needs to do a lot better for a lot of people. There are so many injustices I wish I could fix, but this one that I’m talking about today is personal. I’m not going to “get over it” and I assure you this is t simply “butt hurt” it’s an actual problem of systemic, institutionalized discrimination and I’m tired of it. As a society we’ve determined that blackface is wrong, that white washing is wrong, yet somehow I’m just supposed to accept that using prosthetics to mark up an actors face so that they can appear to be “ugly” thus evil is not a slight against me. That is ok that the only time there is a facial difference on screen it’s a big red arrow showing that this character that they see is absolutely the bad guy, not a hero, not someone to invest your time in, not someone that should be loved, just a throw away character, someone for the hero’s to kill.
I get that most of you who read this don’t have a facial difference and some of you won’t be able to wrap your brain around the message I’m trying to convey. Honestly if that’s the case please tell me what part of my discussion is unclear? Tell me please, without using the justification “it’s just a story” or “it’s just made up” how wrong I am.
Earlier I mentioned three shows in the last two months that have made me cry, make me think there is zero hope for the future regarding this concern.
November 8th, 2017 I was catching up on an episode of Hawaii Five-0, it was their Halloween episode and they made up a character, a girl who’s backstory states had been kidnaped, brutally beaten and held captive only to be tied to a tree where her half her face was pretty much eaten off by some wild animal. The writers than saw fit to use this as the reason why she turned into this evil monster hell bent on killing people. Here is my Twitter rant I went on that night so you can get a a sense as to where my head was at when watching it. Hawaii Five-0
November 11th, 2017 I was catching up on an episode of Blindspot and the bad guy had a giant scar down his face.
Last night I was catching up on an episode of Frankie Drake Mysteries, you’d be forgiven if you’ve never heard or seen the show. It airs here in Canada on CBC (and I think a few other countries not sure where or what networks). It’s a great show set in Toronto in the 1920’s and follows a forward thinking group of amazingly badass women solving what cases land on their door step. The episode titled Ghosts sees a few guys murdered and off they go to gather clues. As soon as I seen the main character pick up a “mask” that had a partial face drawn on it, I knew. I hoped I’d be proven oh so wrong, but I knew I wouldn’t be. The “bad guy”was killing those responsible for his facial difference.
In each of these three instances (there are more) I’ve tired to use social media to engage the writers, show runners etc. In each case there has been crickets in return. It’s frustrating because no one responsible is willing to engage. I’m not unreasonable I want the opportunity to have that conversation to see what their thought process was.
As exhausted, angry, and sad I am, despite the fact that some days I want to give up on this whole advocacy thing, I can’t. Even if it’s me against the world I will continue to call this BS out every time I see it. I’m not the villain, and I refuse to accept that this the only way I “see”myself in media.
Please watch my Vlog