This was a moment that happened on my Twitter timeline during E3 last year that I loved. I remembered that I took a screenshot of it at the time but I think I deleted it so I went to great lengths to find it again in the same order it happened on my timeline.
It’s a little thing but to see three women (who I think are awesome) on my timeline tweet about E3 and gaming in succession made me feel happy. As a female, I have never felt like I didn’t have the right to play video games but this still felt validating in a way.
To me, this is why representation is important. To see someone like you do something you want to do can do a whole lot to your self esteem. Even when it’s a little thing like this.
We all have people or characters that we wish we could be. I remember watching shows like Totally Spies as a kid and thinking ‘I want to be a spy’. I came out of Wonder Woman the other day wanting to be as badass as her and, on top of that, the movie also made me feel like I could be. We all have people we want to strive to be but for females, the number of people we can choose from is a lot less than what men have. That’s why there are people out there fighting for more women directors, more women-centric stories that are diverse and different from what we’ve got today. We’re getting there but it’s slow-going.
The new all-female Ghostbusters made my life and it was a good step forward for female rep in movies but all you have to do is look at the amount of backlash and amount of hatred it got and look at how much of that was simply because it was all-female to see that we’ve still got a long way to go. I agree that a remake or a reboot or whatever that was of Ghostbusters was unnecessary but to hate on it just for its female cast is not okay.
Representation is important. I just want people to understand that. We’re all capable of playing video games and being as badass as Wonder Woman without anyone or anything telling us that we can but there’s something about the media we interact with that sometimes pushes us a lot more than we can ourselves. I don’t know the psychology of it but I know it’s there. I know because seeing the Amazonians on screen for the first time and gave me chills, I know because Beth Johanssen’s character in The Martian made me feel like I could be an astronaut if I wanted to. Maybe it’s that fact that by seeing it we can emulate it or the fact that it serves as a point of reference for what we want to be but it’s definitely easier to strive for something when you’ve seen other people like you do it too.
I am empowered by characters who are different to me but it’s a very different feeling being empowered by characters who share the same characteristics as you. I understand why so many women said Wonder Woman made them cry. If Marvel made a movie with a Filipino girl as the main protagonist, I think I would cry too. In the same way I cried during La La Land because it felt like they took my hopes and dreams and made a movie out of it, I would cry because they took who I am – my gender, my nationality – and turned it into something awesome. There are a few movies out there that I can say with absolute certainty have changed who I am as a human being but in their case it was the thematic elements of the film that affected me. If there was a film out there with a character I could relate to on multiple levels, I think it would change my world.
I saw the above tweet and I laughed but man I want to know what it feels like to be constantly empowered by movies. I bet it feels amazing. That’s why I want to fight for not only female representation but also Asian representation and, to get more specific, Filipino representation in mainstream media. I want people like me to be able to have a diverse range characters that they can relate to and feel empowered by.