Expanding the Connection of Our World Through Media
In the 1989 movie Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner, a voice whispers to him saying, “If you build it, he will come.” “He” refers to the first baseball player that shows up to the baseball field Costner’s character Ray builds in the middle of his cornfield. The phrase then morphs: “If you build it, they will come.” Not long after, more players began showing up. Since the movie, this saying has been used in business for years, insinuating that when you create something for people to consume, eventually they will come. You just have to build it!
We have seen this demonstrated in our current media and entertainment space. Television and film have created decades of media showing us their version of characters that has shaped the lens we see everyone through. In recent years, technology has introduced internet-based platforms like Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, etc., as alternatives to traditional cable television — bringing with them access to different creative content by newcomers and varying viewpoints. Additionally, we have an opportunity to reach younger audiences who look to their mobile devices for entertainment and new avenues in which to see ourselves in others via content from all over the world. Still, we have work to do in building the way forward.
Challenge yourself. What do you think diversity in media should look like today? To answer this, we must first consider the question: What is diversity? Quite simply, diversity means to show variety and to be different. Although media itself exists in various forms (from print books and magazines to radio, TV, and the internet), we are still lacking in the diverse representation of people, new thoughts, and fresh ideas in our media product. Quite frankly, this is what is needed to move us forward: the inclusion of all thoughts, people, and things reflecting the true diversity present in our world portrayed in our media as the norm.
When thinking of diversity, I also think of my love for ice cream. Yes, ice cream! This delicious treat with various flavors, textures, colors, and different brands putting their own twist on the classic dessert. There are my favorites like cookies ‘n cream, butter pecan, Heath crunch, caramel-infused concoctions, pistachio, sherbet, sorbet…you get what I’m saying. (Are you hungry yet??) And let’s not forget the hundreds (or maybe thousands) of flavors I haven’t named. That doesn’t mean those flavors are not any good — I’m just not aware of them or haven’t tried them YET!
There are so many talented and varied flavors of people holding tight to their ideas and stories, just waiting for someone in media to choose them as their favorite flavor. We must challenge ourselves to be open to the discovery of what’s new and the change that comes with it. When I discover new flavors of ice cream — whether I like them or not — it’s important to realize there are billions of people in this world with different taste buds than mine. These flavors could be someone else’s top choice, so they still deserve a chance to be chosen.
Change is necessary. Consider that I, an American hailing from New Orleans, now live in Houston. Houston is the fourth largest city, and will likely soon be the third. With about 2.2 million people, more than 145 languages spoken , and all types of diverse backgrounds and cultures, Houston easily provides a little slice of home for many.
So shouldn’t our media reflect the ever-growing global community, both here and abroad? iF Magazine understands the importance of supporting the larger global community — they’ve highlighted our trade partners from all over the world and the unique contributions of each country. From the 93 Consul Generals, Ambassadors, and Prime Ministers to foreign dignitaries and business leaders all over the globe, we get to see the benefits of relationships under the International Trade Development Council and how diversity and inclusion strengthen us.
The same can be said for media in its entirety. Media’s landscape is absolutely varied in type, yet we seem to only highlight a small portion of the world as it truly is. People exist both dressed up or in plain clothes; I want my media to reflect this range. And the humans I see in my media should never all look the same — that’s not a true representation of the beautiful world we live in, nor has it ever been.
Social media like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have given us a peek into how important individuality, fresh perspectives, and new narratives are to the ways we connect and consume media. We now see the emergence of “influencers” who have gained popularity on these platforms simply for allowing their true selves to be seen; giving us all a newer and truer lens into their lives. These influencers (not celebrities) have opened our world as we realize we do have more choices in our media than ever before. And more are coming. It just took a few brave souls to show us!
Choice matters. So, does our media landscape output authentically match our global spectrum of people, ideas, cultures, backgrounds, and thoughts? I would venture to say NOT as much as it should! Can we do better? Yes, WE can!
Wouldn’t it be amazing to have all cultures represented in media the way they envision? By this I mean, without the bias that’s almost universally present when we water-down messages and present themes simplistically for the sake of being entertained (instead of truly learning). It’s not just about being social with our media. What better way to create shows, films, commercials, and more than to allow authentic expression to lead the way.
There’s no better place to start than right here in the Houston area, led by our Mayor Sylvester Turner. Our leadership must reflect the courage it takes to embrace the diversity in people, thought, actions, and ideas in order for observers to choose change. We make these choices by helping provide infrastructure and outlets where those who are underrepresented can thrive uncompromised — including women, entrepreneurs, and other content creators with lower visibility than they deserve.
Courage is a must. In an ever-growing climate of diversity, inclusion, wellbeing, and becoming better in what we do daily, shouldn’t our media provide content that helps us see the true, distinct, new, and different?
So how do we get there? We get there by remaining open and inclusive to various narratives shared in media — narratives that challenge the norms created for us in the past through the depiction of people, places, and things that we ourselves have not personally experienced. Instead, as consumers and creators, we must take charge to both discover and display with intentional accuracy the human spectrum in media.
Charge forward! We know that right now, we’re all just scratching the surface as we display on screen the diversity encompassed within the world we inhabit. There is some hesitation — as humans, our exposure is limited, and our lens blurred by the images already clouding our vision of what everyone else should look like and act like. It only takes one person to introduce the concept of truly original thought and content for it to become what’s expected from all sorts of creatives as they share their unique perspectives in film, television, and music. We are building it, and they are coming!
It’s time for the next level in media — it’s time to go global and reach further.
This has been a Media Moment written by: Centrell Reed, Founder and Co-CEO of CReed Global Media & Production.