Let’s Talk: Diversity in Books/Movies

Let’s Talk: Diversity in Books/Movies

So this one is going to be fun because I wasn’t even planning on having something like this on my blog. What came from this is an article that came across my Facebook Feed about Twilight Author Stephanie Meyer. The title of the article is very, very misleading, and some mentioned that it was total clickbait. In fact, the title of the article (and if you click it, it leads to the article) is as follows:

“Twilight” Author Would Only Agree to Casting Black Actor if He Played a Villain

Now here’s where it gets sticky, and why some people saw this as a personal attack on Stephanie Meyer and other reasons that would not give it credibility.

For one, an author is entitled to whatever vision they have for their book. It’s their freaking book – that only makes sense! They are the ones that have to create this world from the ground up (especially if it’s a fantasy novel) and even if it’s not, they are responsible for creating something that they want to share with the world. I’m not saying that Meyer was not allowed this basic right to her book. Not at all.

I don’t dictate that kind of thing.

However, when it came time to make the movie (I’m not going to debate on whether the franchise was good or not) apparently the only way that the director was able to add diverse actors to the cast was from Meyer allowing the villain Laurent to be played by a POC.

Excuse the picture of my Chromebook, because I have yet to learn how to Print Screen on here.

Now, reading those two paragraphs, after already reading that Meyer could not see any of the Cullens as anything other than white due to their “pale glistening skin” – notice that white was not included in that statement – the director had to resort to saying that “There are Black olives out there!” that made Meyer agree to the casting of Edi Gathegi as Laurent. Since Meyer herself described Laurent as having olive skin, that should count as diversity, right?

So while having some diversity on the cast – minor characters – may have seemed like a huge step, was it really? Was it just a “check in the box” to say that “Hey, Twilight isn’t all white people”? I mean, if that’s how Meyer saw her book – with the exception of Laurent and the werewolves – should that be okay? Should the lack of diversity in a novel be okay in this day and age?

This was already a very heated discussion on Facebook after I shared it in a few book groups I’m in. Some people said I was twisting the title to make it seem like Meyer is racist. Some people said I was causing drama just to cause drama. Some people said “black people don’t have to be in everything.” Guess what, they aren’t.

But the majority of people could understand that diversity isn’t a check mark. It isn’t just something you do half-assed so that you can say you did it. And that would be my point. Don’t try to make your book or movie diverse if that’s not your intention, but own up to your decision and be sure you can back it up when people call you out on it.

Diversity isn’t just race. I know we know that, but sometimes it needs to be repeated for those that think it’s only about the color of your skin.

So what do you guys think? Do you think just including someone that isn’t your “regular” character a good attempt at diversity? Do you think it’s important to have diverse characters? Let me know!

And remember, everyone is entitled to your own opinion. No fights, no insults towards one another. Just healthy discussions.

6 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: Diversity in Books/Movies

  1. This is such a good discussion starter and I’m really glad that you decided to feature this. I’d love to see you do this as a series with other books and film/TV adaptions, as well!

    I agree wholeheartedly with your position on the topic. We can’t force authors to include people of color in their books, but if they decide to write a book that excludes POC, then as readers, we get to hold them accountable. We get to say, “Hey, your book isn’t inclusive and it’s the world you created and want to present to readers and that’s fine, but we are choosing not to read it”. Our world is SO diverse, and it’s literally not hard at all to include black characters in books, movies, TV shows, etc, yet these authors and creators keep coming out with these excuses like, “Oh, that’s just not what I pictured for it when I wrote it”. OK, that’s fine, but as consumers we’re allowed to respond to that. I don’t think you were “Starting drama” at ALL… you were sharing an article that talked about something important. People are so caught up in the political drama in our country right now (which, granted, we are screwed in the US as far as progress goes) that they are always so on edge or ready to feel attacked. You, a woman of color who LOVES to read, should be allowed to talk about the lack of diversity in a series without it being “dramatic”. Sorry for the rant, but that just kind of blows my mind that people responded that way.

    Sidenote: If your computer is Windows (I have no idea if Chromebook is Windows or not), you can screenshot with the little windows icon (bottom left of your keyboard after the ctrl and fn buttons) and the “prt sc” button on the right top of your keyboard! Press them at the same time and you should get a screenshot!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know what? I didn’t even think to do a series about it! Huh. I’ll have to work on that! Thank you so much for that idea!

      I appreciate that so much. Some people like to say stuff like “did you even read it” and whatever because of the title, and I’ve lost my energy to explain over and over that “yeah, I read it and explained my thoughts here.” so I’ve let the comments go without looking at them lol. But in all honesty, I totally agree with you! And this is so correct! Just like they have the right to make their books their way, we have the right to opt out of supporting that particular book or multiple books if there’s a trend. We shouldn’t have to settle for only reading about the “default” character. That’s all I was trying to say lol.

      I didn’t see a Prt SC button on my keyboard when I last checked, but I’ll look again! Thank you so much! I feel like a newbie with my chromebook trying to be cost efficient.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome! I think it’d be a great series!!

        Exactly. We obviously cannot control authors and force them to include diversity in their books… but we shouldn’t HAVE to. They should aim to represent as many voices as possible, and if they don’t, that’s OK. but you are allowed to opt out of reading or supporting it! I’d continue to ignore the Facebook fiasco. You’re entitled to your thoughts on the subject. I’m proud of you for not backing down. ♥

        The Chromebook may not feature that button! I’m not sure. That’s just the method my HP desktop & laptop use, so I figured I’d mention it in case it worked for you! If not, Google can usually tell you how!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Those books were set in Forks, Washington, right? That place was very white, especially back in the day.

    Diversity can be pretty tricky. Even when you have the best of intentions, people sometimes get upset if you do have a diverse cast and people don’t like what happens to one of the minorities (i.e. Blood Heir). And then if you’re not #ownvoices, people might not think you’re qualified to write a specific character.

    I guess we can only just try to make this world better. The fact that people are talking about it is a good thing. Hopefully at some point in the future diversity will be a normal thing and it won’t matter if a specific book here or there lacks a certain race of characters, because there will be plenty of books out there that already represent who you are and it won’t matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You bring up a good point about matching the demographics of the area of a book. Like Forks, WA (especially since it’s a place that exists), it wouldn’t make sense to have a group of people with varying degrees of diversity when it doesn’t match the real life population. Or you take the opposite effect of having a bunch of white people in Hawaii, when Hawaii has a lot more diversity already there (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, HAWAIIAN, etc.) So I definitely appreciate that point!

      I haven’t read Blood Heir but I feel like something bad happened to a character that was a minority? I’ll have to look it up. I also think that’s a good point of well. Don’t have a diverse character with the intention of making them a plot device, rather than their own character. I think The Belles had this issue as well.

      Thank you so much for commenting your thoughts! I love the discussion that stems from topics like this, especially when done in a way that doesn’t attack one person over another, or one group of people over another.

      Like

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