The International Slavery Museum’s Young Ambassadors team have been working in partnership with Scalarama Liverpool (https://scalarama.com/liverpool/) to explore issues of representation in the film industry and what can be done to challenge this. We invited our Ambassadors group to host their own film event in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr building including a post film discussion. Here, ISM Ambassador Rebecca Crossland talks about what visitors can expect at the event.
We as the Young Ambassador Team at the International Slavery Museum are screening Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning film Get Out as an example of a positive and progressive representation of people of colour (POC)/Black and minority ethnic characters (BAME) in film. This representation is often lacking, or realised in a way which reinforces the stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream media.
The film is about Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya), who is apprehensive when visiting his girlfriend’s parents for the first time due to their interracial relationship and as the weekend progresses disturbing discoveries and problems faced reveal a more impending and worrying truth.
As a team of young people who have been consistently exposed to social media and the film industry since our pre-teen years, we have noticed the clear under-representation of people of colour in these industries, as well as the reinforcement of stereotypes from POC/BAME characters. I think that it is important that as young people we recognise our responsibility to challenge this misrepresentation as much as we can.
We believe that it is absolutely necessary that POC are represented properly in all forms of media as misrepresentation can result in prejudice and discrimination in real life. This misrepresentation also runs the risk that viewers formulate media stereotypes into their own personal opinion and behaviour.
Another reason why the representation of people of colour is crucial is the importance of young people growing up seeing themselves in the media and in film.
During our Young Ambassadors sessions, I have been particularly intrigued by the work of young activists campaigning for change such as a recent campaign by ‘Legally Black’ (@legallyblackuk). ‘Legally Black’ campaign against misrepresentation and underrepresentation of Black people in the media, highlighting the importance of young people seeing themselves in mainstream media campaigns, and also demonstrating the lack of diversity in these campaigns, which ultimately needs to change.
We chose to create a film event for us to develop new film programming skills with the help of Scalarama, and talk about representation in the media, which is important to all of us. In particular we wanted to display examples of representation in film that shows POC in a positive light without perpetuating negative stereotypes. We also wanted to choose a film where POC are undertaking central roles and a genre (horror) where they have been historically marginalised. Positive representation matters to me because I believe that everyone in society should be represented in all industries, whether that be business, politics, media or film; a fairer society that benefits everyone stems from the positive and proportionate involvement of a diverse range of people.
We came to a decision to screen Get Out for a variety of reasons. We believe that the writing highlights issues for POC in society and explores interracial relations in the USA. . The film also makes reference to other issues faced by POC, such as targeted police behaviour. We think that Get Out is special, and stands out as a progressive film due to the fact that it highlights more serious issues in the attention-grabbing genre of a horror film, which really emphasises the fear and danger still faced by many people of colour on an everyday basis.
As well as viewing this film, there will be an opportunity to see artefacts from the museum’s Civil Rights and Transatlantic Slavery collections, you can also collect a free unique film poster, listen to a brief introduction to the film and get involved in a post-film discussion.
Please come along if you are 15 or older! Tickets can be booked online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/get-out-tickets-46648079662
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