Movies and I have a complex relationship. We started out okay, then we passionately fell in love and they even helped save my life, then I started understanding the world and just like that it was over. Hollywood does not shy away from bringing all forms of systemic oppression into their movies both overtly and covertly. Sure, we've come a long way from the days of Uncle Tom's Cabin and Disney Princesses, but we're still struggling. I've spoken about this before, you can read more about it here. Normally I'd tell you everything wrong with a movie, systemic oppression wise, but today, I want to try something new, I want to highlight a few conversations that you can have after watching the movie. Let's be proactive and instead of avoiding movies entirely let's have conversations with our families, friends, ourselves, and everyone else.
Two weeks ago, I went and watched the new Beauty and the Beast movie with my younger sisters. Obviously I was expecting a few specific forms of systemic oppression, but overall I think it's a movie that sets the stage really well for a few different conversations. Here are some conversations that you can have depending on your awareness level.
1) Sexual Harassment and Assault are a big deal
Have a conversation about 'NO'. This can be for any age group. It is never okay to continue bothering someone after they turn you down.
Consent. You can talk about previous representations of fairy tales historically and how Sexual Assault and Harrasment have been used as an okay thing in movies.
Sexual Assault is an epidemic on a global scale. Unfortunately, a lot of our Sexual Assault prevention work is not Intersectional and focuses on a single demographic. It's time we start being intersectional in this work, and all work.
2) Education for Women
It's easy to forget that 50% of women still do not have access to education.
Education and Career stigma for certain field for women.
Gender Justice within our Education system
3) Being a Prosocial Bystander
It is always a good thing to stand up for what's right. Discuss how the villagers did not do this.
"If you pay attention to the media they will make you think that the bad guys are the good and the good are the bad" Malcolm X
Discuss the difference between being a Pro-Social Bystander and a Passive Bystander. Discuss risks to standing up, and tools available to us to always be Pro-Social bystanders. Discuss the things that influenced the villagers in being bystanders.
Discuss Intersectionality in being a Pro-Social Bystander
4) Love comes in all shapes and sizes
Talk to your children about the 'first' gay character in a Disney Movie.
Discuss the out lash for having this character vs. the out lash that comes from sexist portrayals in movies.
Discuss LGBTQIA rights and current events that are impacting them.
These are some conversations that you can have after watching the movie, and unfortunately, after many movies. The same themes play out in many films these days.
Have you seen the movie? If so, let know what you thought in the comments? Also, let us know if you had any of these conversations or others below?
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Founder and Executive Director of Life in My Days, Inc. He is the co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, and a Novelist. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.