Unpacking: My favorite films
Representation matters. We always see infographics and headlines and articles about the lack of X minority groups in the media, film, or certain industries. There is definitely a lack of Latinx, Asian-American, Black and Indigenous presence in Hollywood. Beyond the traditionally awful stereotypes, even the lack of diverse characters can be isolating to a little child watching a princess movie that she cannot see herself in.
Obviously these far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, and princes in disguise, are way beyond the reality we live in. However, one feels a slight comfort in knowing that even though a prince may never come, at least the princess's appearance is familiar. Belle was the character I could most relate to because she had brown hair and liked books. I saw a bit of myself in Jasmine with her long dark hair and olive skin. Despite this, I was not of the ethnicity that princesses had, which was always oddly ambiguous. Seeing Coco and Elena of Avalor was thrilling, although my days of Disney were mainly over (just kidding, I adore Disney). Even Sofia the First was exciting because her name was spelled with an f and not a ph. These slight connections to the unrealistic world of magic made it seem a bit more realistic to me.
Beyond Disney movies, Romantic Comedies also seem to hold these vanilla-esque protagonists close to the cast list. I love Roman Holiday, Dirty Dancing, Pretty in Pink, Say Anything, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Proposal, Easy A and so on (for the purpose of this blog post disregarding some recurring misogynistic, patriarchal, toxic themes). But looking at these movies, I could not see myself in Audrey Hepburn or Molly Ringwald or Julia Stiles or Sandra Bullock or Emma Stone. Oddly enough, I was able to connect more with Lara Jean Covey in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before than with “Princess” Claire from The Breakfast Club, and I am not even Asian American. I could understand Lara Jean’s connection to her culture through her mother and her closeness with her sisters; these themes are absent in the aforementioned RomComs.
More often than not, the fun Latina best friend side character is someone I can laugh along with but not someone permanent in the plot who I see myself in. In real life, there are rarely happy endings and one true love but there are diverse, interesting and beautiful people who have stories that must be showcased on screen to show that a magical love story can happen to anyone.
*cue Jane the Virgin music*