You Don’t Have to Look Like a Character to Relate With Them

Now it’s time for something more controversial. Well, it shouldn’t be controversial, because what I’m about to say is based on individualistic ideals. But in this day and age when everyone is so “politically correct” it seems like it’s considered taboo to see people as individuals instead of simply identifying them by skin color or sexual orientation. But I’m going to say it anyway.

Simply put, I detest this recent idea that people need a fictional character to fit into their demographic in order to relate with them. It serves only to shoehorn characters into media that often have no defining characteristics other than fitting into said demographic, and ultimately only serves for the people who threw the character into the mix to give themselves a pat on the back for how “inclusive” they are.

All this ends up doing is damaging stories and the characters themselves. You can’t simply toss in characters solely for the sake of representing a specific group, and expect there to be anything more to those characters. They just become a token, which is more insulting than anything else.

What I really can’t stand is that media is forcing this idea on people that it’s necessary for movies, games, TV shows, etc. to include such token characters, because if they don’t, then they “aren’t being inclusive” and are “backwards thinking” and crap like that. They insist that entertainment needs these characters in order for people who belong to any given group to relate with them.

That’s a load of BS.

At the end of the day, we’re all people. Things like skin color and sexuality don’t mean a damn thing. We all understand emotion, and any given person can potentially relate to any character, provided there’s an emotional connection to be had.

If you want a good example of what I mean, take a look at Bambi. Bambi is a film where the characters aren’t even human, but it doesn’t stop us from feeling sad when Bambi’s mother is shot by a hunter. It’s a sad moment, one that any human can feel for, even if the characters in question are deer.

These days, you’ll always hear people say how a certain movie or game wasn’t “inclusive” enough, because it didn’t include a character that belonged to X group of people. But why does that matter so much? What should be important are the story and characters themselves (and in terms of games, the gameplay). If you have good enough characters, and are given reasons to care for them, why does it matter what they look like?

Now, I’m not saying anything against the inclusions of such characters, but you can’t just shoehorn them in just to fill a quota. That will only end up hurting the stories they are a part of. They’ll just be empty characters that will exist for the sole purpose of the production crew being able to pat themselves on the back.

It’s entirely shallow to think that someone can only relate with a character if they look similar or have the same lifestyle as themselves, to the point of being insulting.

Going back to using Disney as an example, people are always jumping down Disney’s throat to include more ethnic characters in their animated films (something which Disney has actually continued to do for decades). The great irony here being that you’ll see children of all colors wearing t-shirts with Elsa or Moana on them. Kids don’t give a damn about what color the character is, they (rightfully) just love the characters, and relate with them because of who the character is, not what they look like. And that’s exactly as it should be.

Why do we, as adults, now have this idea that it’s impossible to relate with someone who isn’t like us in appearance? It’s just utter nonsense. If a story is good enough, and the characters compelling enough, anyone can relate to them, because we’re all people. If a movie or game just so happens to not include a character from a certain background, that doesn’t mean that movie or game has anything against people of that background. Stories have to care about stories first. They shouldn’t have to feel the need to mark a checklist of “inclusiveness.”

After all, it would be impossible to manage to squeeze in representation for every existing group of people, and still tell a coherent story with meaningful characters. Should a movie just be an extended clip of people walking in a line, with each person who walks by the screen fitting into a different group? Yeah, that would make for some good entertainment.

Again, it’s incredibly shallow to think someone can’t identify with a character if they don’t fit square peg into the same demographic. People are people, and anyone should be able to relate with a good story and memorable characters. We can all relate to emotion. No one can relate to a token.

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About themancalledscott

Born of cold and winter air and mountain rain combining, the man called Scott is an ancient sorcerer from a long-forgotten realm. He’s more machine now than man, twisted and evil. Or, you know, he could just be some guy who loves video games, animations and cinema who just wanted to write about such things.

One thought on “You Don’t Have to Look Like a Character to Relate With Them

  1. Justacommenter

    I have never hard a problem with the inclusion of characters from different ethnicities or sexualities, but I agree it’s pretty dumb all the fight media seems to have against these not being included. I can understand to an extent in a kids show to include more physically diverse characters as kids can feel more associated with simpler stuff like that, but for an adult, well….you’d think they’d actually find themselves associated through the struggles and actions of a character rather than simply their looks or sexual orientation. I never really cared before for such superficial aspects on a character, but reading criticisms on how something isn’t inclusive always ticks me off when it shouldn’t be the end all be all.
    *Insert how I don’t understand how they feel because I’m a white straight male, although not from North America*

    Liked by 1 person

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