I walked into this panel a little late, but early enough that they hadn’t quite sorted out the video presentation. I am so glad the video didn’t start before I got there. It featured a Utah women in film teaching an acting class to a group of people of different races. The group was handed scripts from shows like Law and Order and CSI and asked to read the lines as their “true selves.” One Asian girl reads like she’s fresh off the boat and a Hispanic man reads like he’s just learned English, even though they both grew up in Connecticut and have generations of family in the United States. The clip was a great introduction to the theme of the panel.
The panel, which aimed to discuss women and diversity, veered directly into diversity for the majority of the discussion and dabbled in gender issues. Why is there less diversity in the media and pop culture? Panelist Charan Prabhakar discussed why he is cast as the one Indian guy in most Utah production—because he thinks he is the only one there. Ashley Turner noted that she has been cast before because she is “ethnically ambiguous,” even though she’s full-blooded Mexican. Voice actress Yolanda Strange has even been told she doesn’t “sound black enough,” never mind the fact she’s African-American. Turner made a great argument that TV shows focused on minority families are not funny, but actually stereotypical and offensive.
The discussion slowly moved to gender issues, and how recognizing boy books vs. girl books can be harmful to young children. Education starts at home, and being aware of how children are taught that some toys are strictly for girls and some strictly for boys is the first step to addressing the problem. Parent’s goals should be to prevent the great divide. This panel, in comparison to others, was the most diverse I have seen. I hope to see more panels like this in the future, especially on topics like TV and comic books.
Check out our photo gallery for more photos from Fan Xperience 2015!