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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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  • Number of pages: 2

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Willa Madrid

Prof. Salcedo


Title: Why on screen representation matters.

Specific Purpose: Inform peers about the hidden and adverse effects of whitewashed media.

Thesis Statement: Considering the immense power of entertainment media, its representation of minorities matter.


Attention Material: When I was younger, I would watch TV shows and movies and pick which character I wanted to be. Being a child, instead of basing it off of who I was most like, I based it off of who looked the most like me. Sometimes, it was easy. In Lilo and Stitch I was obviously Lilo and in Suite Life of Zack and Cody I was obviously London Tipton. However, most of the time it wasn't so obvious. I'd often find myself at a crossroads when I realized that none of these characters looked like me and I thought: I guess I just can't be in this story. When I got older, I was faced with the same dilemma: none of these characters look like me, so I guess I can't be someone important in this story either. Because of the lack of representation in entertainment media, the question for me then became: is there a story where I can matter?

Thesis Statement: Today I will discuss representation in entertainment media, or rather the lack thereof. Given the strong influence of media on society, diverse representation is essential.

Preview: First, I will examine how prevalent the lack of representation in media really is. Next, I will address the adverse effects of under representation. Lastly, I will explore why representation is important through its benefits.

(Transition: Let's begin with the prevalence of under representation in media.)


Despite the universality of entertainment media, the lack of representation remains prevalent.

Media is capable of spreading widespread messages and stories, impact our beliefs and perceptions, and reflecting America as a whole.

Statistical evidence proves that minorities are under represented in media.

According to the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, a study examining the inequality in 900 popular films from 2007-2016 concluded that women, racial minorities, LGBT, and disabled characters are highly unrepresented in comparison to white males. (Smith, 2018)

[[visual aid]] Looking specifically at the 100 top-grossing movies in 2016, you can see how the percentages of minority groups are unrepresentative of their population in the U.S. (Smith, 2018)

Over the years, little has changed to improve inclusivity in media.

(Transition: Now that I've revealed the prevalence of under representation in media, let's move on to the adverse effects that a lack of representation has.)

The effects of under representation in media.

Inaccurate portrayals of minorities fuel macro-aggressions, racism, and stereotypes.

Certain racial groups are confined to particular genres or archetypes, lacking depth and complexity.

Black characters are criminals or comic relief. Latino/as depicted as less intelligent or over sexualized. Asians follow their “model minority” stereotype, but are often background or side characters. (Mastro, 2017)

According to the Oxford Research Encyclopedias, these shallow portrayals have “the capacity to distort perceptions about these groups as well as provide rationales for why certain groups should be viewed in these ways.” These assumptions often translate to real world settings and public attitudes. (Mastro, 2017)

Under representation limits complete storytelling.

Entertainment media tells stories that reflect America as a whole. Therefore, lack of inclusivity limits whose experiences can be shared and explored.

These contribute to negative feelings of inadequacy and invisibility within minorities.

According to the Center for Media Literacy, minorities acknowledge “that the media influence not only how others view them, but even how they view themselves.” (Cort, 2015)

(Transition: Now that I've covered the unfavorable effects of under representation, let's move on to the benefits of diverse representation in media.)

Diverse representation can benefit individuals as well as society

Representation boosts self esteem and by giving minorities someone they can relate to.

According to Psychology Today, representation is a form of cultural socialization that boosts cultural and ethnic pride, especially for cultures that don't emphasize it. (Nagayama Hall, 2018)

Individuals can feel like they have more of a voice in society by visually seeing their presence reflected in media.

From a marketing standpoint, increased representation can be quite profitable.

According to, “Black Panther” was able to make $192 million and “Crazy Rich Asians” was able to make $34 million, setting records for both genres.

Increasing representation can change the way we see America.

We can showcase a fuller depiction of America multicultural and inclusive.


Summary Statement: In conclusion, we have seen the prevalence in under representation of women, disabled, LGBT, and racial minorities in entertainment media. As a result, certain portrayals influence racism, distorting perception of others as well as perception of self. Lastly, we've explored how representation can not only boost individual mindset, but it can also boost profits and American perception as a whole.

Concluding Remarks: Representation is larger than just what we see on screen. We should push for better representation so individuals will never have to question themselves for who the person they were born as. Everyone should feel like they can not only be an important character to the story, but they are also capable of being the hero.


Cheng, Roger. “Comparisons between Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther Not Quite Fair.” CNET, CNET, 22 Aug. 2018, panther-not-quite-fair/ .

Cort, Carlos. “A Long Way to Go: Minorities and the Media.”, Center for Media Literacy, 2015,

Mastro, Dana. “Race and Ethnicity in U.S. Media Content and Effects.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication, Oxford University Press, 18 Apr. 2018, acrefore-9780190228613-e-122.

Nagayama Hall, Gordon C. “Representation Matters.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, Mar. 2018, representation-matters.

Smith, Stacy L, et al. “Inequality in 900 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race/ Ethnicity, LGBT, and Disability from 2007-2016 .” Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative, Annenberg Foundation, July 2017, Dr_Stacy_L_Smith-Inequality_in_900_Popular_Films.pdf.

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