Full Stop: Tropes We Need to Leave Behind

Sharai
5 min readJun 30, 2021

I’m a nerd. I consume a ton of media regularly. This includes watching a lot of movies, shows, and theatre (pre-COVID), and I’m always confused why certain problematic choices are still seen in most of them. It’s 2021 and we’re still seeing a ton of blatant biases in the media. So I decided to write another list to keep most of the more frequent ones in one handy dandy article.

  1. Black people can exist in fictional worlds without experiencing racial trauma. Please retire anything you were planning that involved a plantation, racial violence, or verbal racism. I’m tired of hitting play and seeing that we’re only superheroes because of racism, or that this space station is haunted because of racism, or that this rom-com has a meet-cute because of racism. Not only is it tired, and triggering, but it also still serves to center white characters in these narratives too.
  2. We need to end the Black characters sacrificing themselves for the white leads. The Alien franchise is still doing this every installment, Annabelle threw THE Alfre Woodard off of a balcony for a family she barely even knew, and the list goes on and on. Who is this trope for and why do we keep letting it happen? It’s bad enough that there seems to be this refusal to cast BIPOC actors in leading roles (even though sometimes they’re the stronger actor(s) in the movie) but to then sacrifice them in nonsensical ways adds so much insult to this injury.
  3. Not every Black and Brown person needs to be magical. This is a universal trope that I legitimately never understood. Y’all will yeet a magical BIPOC person into any genre just because you can and it’s confusing as an audience member, reader, and human being. I think it goes back to the issue of only seeing us as being there to serve white leads and we needed to leave that energy right where we found it the first time. Please stop doing this.
  4. If the only BIPOC characters you have are the villains then you need to shut that down. If your workaround for the other problems on this list is to move that lone POC character to the villain role then that’s not a fix. It’s a different problematic behavior and you need to go back to the drawing board again. We don’t need any story, or interpretation of a story, where the only POC character is the villain traumatizing a bunch of white folx. No one asked for this.
  5. Stop inviting BIPOC people for the tiniest roles possible. We notice when you talk about how diverse and inclusive…

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Sharai

Playwright/Dramaturg/Freelancer. Queen of the nerds. Lover of mediocre cheese and cheap drinks. Recovering coffee addict. Habitually tweets about TV. (she/hers)