Representation of POC and Queer Bodies in Literature and TV

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By Zimbini Zintwana

In society today, we find that with the saturation of media, it’s easy to select a TV show,
movie or book for anyone to enjoy. Creators are emerging with ideas that seek to represent
marginalized groups that previously remained in the shadows and bring them forth.
It is easy for show and movie creators to create art that does this well, and at the same time
very badly. With the representation of people of colour and members of the queer
community, books and TV can create spaces where conversations are had about these
groups, or even create conversations about how badly these groups are represented in TV
and literature.
This is not to say that the inclusion of these groups is always good, as more often than not
they are represented only as an after-thought, a token piece or as something that can be
used to sexualise the group or further make it distinct from everybody else. These can be
seen in J.K Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, where Albus Dumbledore’s
homosexuality is revealed as an after-thought to diversify a book series that was previously
non-representative of different groups, in Billions, where dominant non-binary and black
female characters are added as token pieces to change the scope of the show or in Shonda
Rhimes’ How To Get Away With Murder, where the dominant gay character, Connor, is the
one who is over-sexualised and is seen in many a scene with a sexual partner, using his
sexuality to get what he wants – even to the point where it eventually hurts his character.
As much representation in popular media has grown for people of colour and queer bodies,
we can’t ignore the fact that they still serve as token pieces of diversity in order to push the
popularity of these books and shows in society.

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