2018 was like any other, with moments of joy, anger, sadness, excitement and more. We saw some historic wins in the Winter Olympics; we felt the drive of the high schoolers who created March For Our Lives. We fought over the pronunciation of the word Laurel; we witnessed the power of young voters in flipping the House. There were also catastrophes - wildfires, hurricanes, deaths of celebrities ranging from Stan Lee to Aretha Franklin. But most of all, 2018 was a pivotal year for diversity in film.
I've never been prouder of the kids.upload.wikimedia.org
I had a great time watching a variety of movies this year. Movies like "A Wrinkle In Time" left me in tears, while "Ocean's 8" left me on the edge of my seat. I watched in quiet horror as the events of "A Quiet Place" unfolded, and laughed so hard I cried during "Tag." But what I most enjoyed about the movies I saw this year was the effort to include diverse characters and plots in these unique stories.
The year opened with the groundbreaking release of "Black Panther," which made over $1 billion worldwide during its 6-month run in theaters. I was super excited to see this movie, because a) I'm a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and b) it was awesome that they had a black director directing an all-black main cast. This was really the first time I had seen a superhero movie where the superheroes themselves weren't white.
(Best sibling relationship in the MCU!)media2.giphy.com
Obviously, this was a step in the right direction regarding black representation in the media, but that doesn't mean it was perfect. Some critics have questioned the stance of "Black Panther," saying that although it references the politics of the Black Panther Party, the plot of T'Challa trying to hold onto his kingship reflects a colonialist idea that contradicts the party's very core. Others say that T'Challa's ultimate decision to open Wakanda to the world was not revolutionary, as it was the expected, whitewashed solution. Even fans agree that even though the movie was important, comparing everything in black history/culture to Wakanda only ignores the actual achievements of black people in the real world.
Similarly, the hype around "Crazy Rich Asians" was well-deserved, because it was the first movie in 25 years to have an all Asian cast and Asian-American lead actors. It was so refreshing to people that looked like me in major roles, and the story incorporated parts of the Asian experience that I hadn't really seen in Hollywood features before. However, although the movie took place in Singapore, it unfairly depicts Singapore as being mainly Chinese or East Asian, when the actual country also has plenty of Malay and Indian citizens as well. Additionally, there is even a type of "Chinese Supremacy" in the state that discriminates against brown people, Muslims, and other Singaporean minorities that exist. "Crazy Rich Asians" was definitely different, and beautifully shot, but it didn't accurately reflect the people it was supposed to be representing.
But how beautiful was this movie, though?media1.giphy.com
I'm not saying we can't enjoy these movies, because I loved them. They were diverse, in terms of having actors of color or telling stories we've never seen before. They were also only the beginning. I have hope that as more people from different backgrounds become writers, producers, and directors, we will start to see an even better representation of our society on screen.