A close-up of a screech owl.

Representation

Yesterday we were watching music on YouTube with our sixth-grader. I’ve been playing ukulele every now and then, and there’s this great video of Jake Shimabukuro’s uke cover of “Get Lucky.”. So then we had to watch the original video. And then, so our child who is just becoming somewhat interested in these things could understand who Pharrell Williams was, we watched the music video for “Happy.” Somehow I had never seen it before.

I reproduce that here because the video has fat dancers who get to dance just like everyone else. It’s not played for laughs. There are no prop roast chickens or giant sandwiches. Williams’s video celebrates the diversity of happy people. Fat people included.

That’s really rare. Rare enough that I am always surprised when a fat person gets to be fat on screen without comment.


So just recently a movie opened called Crazy Rich Asians and my social media is filled with people talking about how moving an experience it is to see a major Hollywood movie about people who look like them.

Meanwhile, a lot of my cis white brothers are really bent out of shape that the casts of their favorite fandoms and video games are also becoming more diverse. They are mad not only that heroes don’t look like them anymore, but they are losing a grip on how other types of people are portrayed.

Something similar happened with 2016’s Ghostbusters. Women were front-and-center in a movie that wasn’t a rom-com and boys got bent out of shape.

Cis white boys are not used to feeling out-of-place or being asked to identify with people who look different. Some of us don’t like it. But this is what we have done to everyone else. It’s an opportunity for us to learn some empathy.


I’m sure it seems like a small thing for everyone else, but seeing fat people dance (well!) in “Happy” certainly made me happy. That is a shadow of what the audience of Crazy Rich Asians feels. There are plenty of white male stars, and it’s not a stretch for a fat white man to see himself represented in a skinny white man. But I do get it, at least a little bit.