So after watching this TEDx talk, I may or may not have had a thought:
What if someone made a movie, using a young poc man as the eyes and ears of the audience, as the lens with which we discover the world – and he ends up working with some kickass modern version of the amazonian warriors, or among a society that is unquestionably, powerfully matriarchal. He’d only be permitted to be a part of their ranks because he knows the outside world better than they do/his sister is one of them, of course – so he’s merely a consultant, a passive participant in their crusade. Sure he’ll contribute as much as he can, but the final glory goes to the leaders and warriors and brilliant women in the tribes.
Because why do we even need the camera’s perspective to be the centrepoint of the plot development? Why not portray a revolution or upheaval from a perspective that doesn’t get to see everything?
Why do all the major plot points need to be of Great and Dire Importance – why can’t there be small victories and ordinary life? Because life is important.
Every story is important, your life and mine, don’t you think the adventures of your life, even if you’re never the true centre of a major event, deserves telling? Not everything has to be on a grand scale, not everything has to be world-changing pivotal choices and dramatic music
Character development exists everywhere, we all believe our own existence is significant – we’re not reactive beings, we’re proactive. (Well, mostly) This guy in my movie-idea-thing, he could be fascinated with their culture and way of life, he could spend weeks, months even, getting to know and finally earn the trust of the women who have stood proud beyond the shadows of men, as he is used to in his western/other world. He can be a fully fleshed out character, admirable and determined and human and intricate. He can lust and love even, why not a world where a man used to being alpha is suddenly navigating a social system that do not merit his importance merely by his genes?
And the women, they would be independent and interesting and strong in so many different ways. There’d be the thinkers and the planners, the fighters and the hotheads, the women who just wanted to stay home and look after the little ones, and they’d all be considered important. Because battle strategy requires finesse and intelligence, and the fiery eagerness of the warriors would be quelled by those that valued life and stability, and that matters.
With our guy all amid that! His preconceived notions would all be questioned. And he would challenge their preconceived notions too.
And of course, there would be some sort of battle or climax of development -but he wouldn’t be a major player in it all. Why would he be? He’s a man unfamiliar with their ways. James Cameron’s Avatar was flawed in that respect – making the newcomer the biggest and most important endgame player? And allowing the endgame player to supersede all previously established amazingly skilled participants whom he had learnt from?
Give me vivid characters who don’t fall to their feet at the arrival of a strange and unfamiliar alpha male, please.
Let him be special because he earnt their trust and respect, by trusting and respecting and learning from them. Let his story be one of a human, a man who sings, who misses his home and shares the stories of his childhood with women who his old world would have labelled as barbarians and sluts. Let his perspective change, let him change the the opinions of theirs.
Let that be the pivotal point of this movie’s plot.
Not the battle. Not the conquest.
Of course he helps where he can with that. But that’s not the point of this story. The point of this story is to highlight a journey, and when the journey ends he is not a legend or a superhero or a battle-scarred victor, but a man, still a man.
And in being so, he will be so much more human, so much more relatable and admirable and real.
Let these kinds of films, shows, stories, be the ones we are nurturing, so that we can rekindle and nurture this way of thinking and living for our entire society. Our values and our gender roles are laid out as clear as day, in the cinematography and scripts of our consumed media. What does that say about us, and how we expect the world to work.
And more importantly, how can we use the platforms to reshape these ideas, towards something better?