Most everyone watches TV shows and movies regularly these days. Whether you do so to be entertained, to learn, to pass the time, to relax, or because they’re an escape from reality, there is one thing you should do whenever you watch something—pay attention when it matters.
I’m talking about when these shows and movies tackle racism, sexism, homophobia, and other social justice issues. While the depth of representation within film media still needs improvement, it has slowly progressed, including explicitly covering these difficult topics in A and B plots. If you find yourself watching something that addresses a sensitive issue, pay close attention. Don’t fast forward, don’t write it off as fiction, and don’t watch it only within the show’s context. Listen, and see how it might apply to your life.
Is it addressing an injustice you’ve witnessed in your everyday life? Is it something you thought was a myth? Is it something you should be doing? Is it something you should stop doing?
These discussions aren’t one-and-done. They’re ongoing, thorough, and challenging, but they need to be had. I, for one, am so glad that the media I consume is addressing these issues instead of ignoring them. Specifically, I’m thinking about the current storylines of racism in Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19, and even Marvel’s Falcon and the Winter Soldier, along with the struggles of the transgender superhero Nia Nal (played by transgender actress Nicole Maines) in Supergirl.
It is so important to look at these issues and really think about them. Hold yourself accountable, and next time they pop up when you’re watching something, don’t change the channel. Get comfy, and pay attention.