Representation matters, part N of [infinite]

Representation matters, still and always. Leslie Jones tweeted in response (one of a longer thread of tweets) to people complaining that she’s been pigeonholed as the only non-scientist in the upcoming Ghostbusters film.

To be clear — I had some reservations about just that, but most of them were fairly small, especially after seeing Patty in action in the trailer. But then this Twitter thread cropped up on the interwebz. Jones talks about a message she received from  Joanna Briley, writer-performer of SWIPE THIS! MY LIFE IN TRANSIT*, who herself is an MTA token booth clerk; Briley had been asked by a reporter about her thoughts on Jones’s role in the new film.

Once Jones quoted Briley’s message, she herself added:

Jones echoes what I was hoping — that despite the negative implications of casting the only person of color as the character in the “blue-collar” role, there are still important and positive things to say. Not as a sloppy-seconds kind of thing, either; despite my tastes for advanced degrees, I do feel that the societal insistence on university education is often a scam — a way to mire people in debt, a way to force people to conform to a certain way of functioning in society. I’m not talking about the specifics of the coursework someone may or may not take, I’m talking about the overall notion that the only way you have a future is if you have a college degree, and that if you don’t have one, you’re somehow lesser. That a token boof clerk is lesser. That a bus driver or a fast food kitchen staffer is somehow lesser.

This is wrong, it’s destructive, and it’s hugely manipulative. Regular people save the world every day.

I was looking forward to the movie before — I love the original, and some of the things I love in the original I’m seeing in this rendition, too: primarily, the positive, supportive relationships among the primary characters. They have their troubles, they have their misunderstandings, but they respect and support each other through and beyond these things. Though a 2.5 minute trailer is not a whole film, I saw no evidence that any of the scientists looked down on the MTA worker, took her less seriously, or thought lesser of her. And delightfully, the MTA worker didn’t automatically assume personal inferiority in any real way. I hope that this is true for the movie as a whole. Just remember that if anyone asks you if you’re a god, you always say yes.


* Sadly, the show’s run is over — but any readers in the NYC area should keep an eye out as it may get workshopped or performed elsewhere.

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