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My Thoughts on Cultural and Racial Representation in Hollywood

By Moya Zhao

Dear David Desujason,

After reading your article, I have many thoughts of my own. I think you wrote it very well with suiting tones of voice, interesting use of vocabulary and insightful information written throughout the entire passage. However, I also have a few disagreements and opinions.

Starting off with Space Jam, I personally agree whole-heartedly. It’s like a breath of fresh air to see black celebrities getting the spotlight, especially in a movie that is as influential as Space Jam. Both Michael Jordan and LeBron James are very prominent figures in the world of basketball, and I was very happy to see that they weren't replaced with someone else.

As for Aladdin, I have a few disagreements. As a massive Disney fan, I was actually quite disappointed with Aladdin and its depiction of Arabic culture. I didn’t think much about historical accuracy considering that it’s a Disney movie incorporating many aspects of fantasy, though I did have a major problem with Jasmine’s outfit and her character in general. First off, her entire character was incredibly sexualized, and in many parts of the film, it seems like the only reason for her existence in the plot is for her to be both eye-candy and the love interest. She was a very interesting character though I think the way she was depicted was like a slap in the face to the actual, real life culture.

Sadly, I haven’t been able to watch Raya and the Last Dragon, though after seeing compiled clips and reading summaries of the film, I agree with you completely. I think the concept of different cultures is seen through the scope of absolute creativity. It was interesting to see scenes showcasing the beauty of Southeast Asia, and I think the characters, plot, etc. haven’t done anything bad towards the culture it is representing.

I have watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, albeit when barely awake and I think this was another great example of racial representation done right. The media has shown black characters as simply background characters so I was incredibly excited to see that the main character was indeed a person of color. The movie itself was a fun watch and the characters were interesting and had amazing depth. In short, I agree that this was a big leap in Hollywood.

My last opinion is simply regarding some of the problems I still have with it all together. I believe that if the character is indigenous, the voice actor should be too. It doesn’t seem right to show such a spectacular movie with representation when the voice acting is simply the same, with these only becoming more harmful if the voice actor is acting a certain accent, though I believe things are beginning to get better.

I think Hollywood has a lot of work to do, but I really appreciate this article and the new things that I have learned from it. I usually don’t think about the positives and this was a very insightful reminder that there is still a change happening, even if there is a lot of room for improvement. This was an amazing read, so thank you for writing this.


Moya Zhao





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