By Savannah Elahian
As kids, we grew up watching cartoon characters bring hilarity and magic into our lives. From Ariel to Shrek we had role models to aspire to, dream of and laugh with. Industries like Disney and DreamWorks brought us joy through a screen, but it’s so much more than that.
The animated stories we saw as children laid the stepping stones to how we viewed society. So the more representative and identifiable animation becomes, the better it is for kids in the long run. With more representation of minorities in animated features, kids see the diversity in culture that reflects accurately on society. It is essential for the next generation to be raised with an understanding of equality regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. Thus, animated films with minorities as leading roles are vital for society to become more accepting of other races.
DreamWorks is currently producing a movie called “Home” with its first African American protagonist. It’s about a young girl named Tip racing around Earth with an alien for an adventure of a lifetime. This movie will be the first 3-D animated film starring an African American character.
Vesta Partovi, the production assistant of Suzanne Buirgy, said, “This movie is going to be big, I think; and it’s great that it shows someone [that people] in the audience can actually relate to. People who don’t always see themselves represented in movies actually have a chance to do that in this movie.”
When we see characters that resemble ourselves in media it’s empowering. Seeing equality before our eyes speaks volumes versus just hearing that it exists in theory; we can ratify that we deserve to be heard and seen.
Partovi elaborates, “Hollywood doesn’t make representation a priority…[and] a lot of cultures feel marginalized by Hollywood.”
Tip’s role is important not only because she’s the protagonist, but also because in this film she is a young black girl, showing what she’s capable of. It’s an affirmation to finally see representation that has long been overdue not only for the African American community, but for all neglected minorities.
After “Home” releases, similar films are on the way; Disney is already working to release a Polynesian princess. Coming out in 2018, Moana Waialiki will be a young sea-voyager set out on a journey to save her family.
As we continue to fight for representation there is still a lot of ground to cover to make a difference in society’s eyes. But with these movies we are headed towards a bright future.
Partovi notes, “I have never seen a movie, an animated movie, that featured anyone that looks like me.” And that’s the goal.