Have you already had the feeling that you’ve seen it all before?
Anais watched both Gone Girl and Dracula Untold on the same day. What she thought of the movies themselves does not really matter here, but something lingered on her mind when she came out of the theatre. She had the impression that she had just seen something disturbing but couldn’t put her finger on what it was exactly. Then, back in her lair, as she was searching for pictures of the movies, it suddenly hit her. It was so obvious and yet so common that her brain had had some trouble processing it.
See, Gone Girl is a thriller. Dracula Untold is undoubtedly a fantasy. And still, there was something familiar about the main couple in both movies. Something really, really familiar.
You know, whether you are yourself in some kind of relationship or not, you can’t escape couples in entertainment. Entertainment tends to mirror life (or at least it tries to, it’s just not always very good at it) and the search for love is a very big part of life for a lot of people. As a consequence, couples are everywhere. They can be central to the story, or just a background detail, or a side-plot. Couples even have entire genres almost entirely dedicated to the somewhat comedic study of their dynamics. You may like those fictional couples, you may despise them, but it’s rare to find someone who does not have an opinion about couples in entertainment. Plus, there’s lots to say about them. You could talk about the way entertainment represents women, men, women and men together, what kind of actresses play what kind of romantic lead, what guy is always playing an asshole in a romantic comedy… All sorts of stuff. Today, though, we want to ask a very simple question.
Why are most of these couples white?
Of course, this question does not really call for a simple and immediate answer. There are a lot of factors involved. However, the one factor I’m really interested in today is mainstream entertainment’s problem with representation. How big of a problem are we looking at though? To give you an idea, we asked Anais to take a look at a sample of 64 movies from IMDb’s Most Popular Movies list for the year 2013. Originally, she took the first hundred movies out of that list, but we only kept those where we thought couples had some kind of importance.
You’ll notice that this list, despite having a relatively small amount of movies, contains movies from all genres: thrillers, comedies, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, etc. Well, of the 63 movies on that list, 52 have one or several white couples of importance in the story. That’s 83%. Meanwhile, 11 movies out of 63 (17%) have one or more mixed couples. It seems like in some of the most watched movies in North America, people essentially saw white couples. We could even say that they saw white couples where the dude is ruggedly handsome with dark hair and the lady is a blonde ingenue, but we really want to believe that our industry is better than this.
Here at The Plot Bunnies, we support equal representation. We just think it’s obvious that people in film should be of all colours and all horizons. It’s a matter of respecting and embracing diversity, as well as a simple matter of creativity. In a few chosen words, it’s really all about decreasing world suck in every way possible.
So, because we know that the whole industry is watching us, here are some of the diverse couples we love. Take Note. And make more of them.
Nadin turns on her fangirl mode
Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Nick Holly (Matt Barr) from Sleepy Hollow.
Well, they are not a threesome (yet), and technically, they didn’t hook up with one another (yet). But! But we all know that something is coming and something will happen one way or the other. Abbie and Ichabod hit it off instantly in Episode 1, there’s no doubt about that. I mean, you don’t follow just somebody into the nightmares and purgatory itself. And then there’s Nick Holly who is OMG HAVE YOU SEEN HOW HOT HE IS? Season 2 had me at Matt Barr, really. He’s a crook, of course, to spice things up, and he’s got his eyes on Abbie – we all know that. I do absolutely blame Nicole Beharie and her ability to have chemistry even with a chair, but come on! Tell me you don’t want to see how this potential triangle might play out!
Roz thinks a lot about people eating other people
Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) and Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) from The Walking Dead
A little bit, I feel like post-apocalyptic couples, or even science-fiction couples, are cheating for this list, because when there aren’t that many people left… Of course, I love the crap out of Gamora and her numerous flings in space, but I’m staying away from sci-fi. Glenn and Maggie have come a long way from banging in her dad’s barn. They’re legit in love with each other and will do stupid things to reunite. Like walk blindly into dark tunnels sure to be crammed full of zombies. Just. Why. No. Anyhoo. Glenn’s parents were Korean immigrants who moved to Michigan. Just. Why. No. They remind me of another great couple, F.D.A. agent and cibopath Tony Chu and Amelia Mintz from Chew. In both cases, he’s Asian American and it’s no big deal. Because it’s no big deal.
Anais talks animation, because of course she would
Aang and Katara, from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
A lot of people actually don’t realize this, but ATLA and its spin-off Legend of Korra are two pretty diverse shows, representing Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and Inuit people. I could have talked about Korra and Mako, but I’m still waiting to see if they’re going to do something with their little love story that’s not going to make me cringe. So, let’s talk about Aang and Katara instead. He’s 112. She’s 14. He instantly falls in love with her, while her feelings for him grow and change throughout the show. Also, it shall be noted that when Aang chose the worst moment to discuss their relationship with Katara, she kindly told him that his timing was completely off. The writers of those shows may not be the best at writing relationships, but the one between Aang and Katara was always one of the most genuine, at least to me. They were two kids who went through a lot together and found a life companion in each other. It’s sweet. Sometimes, that’s all I ask for.