A few weeks ago, I went to the March for Our Lives rally in Sacramento. You probably heard about it in the news. Spearheaded largely by students, the marches and rallies were held in cities around the country to create a dialog around gun violence and support greater gun control.
First of all, I want to give the biggest of kudos to the high school students who spoke that day. They were freakin’ amazing! So poised, confident, and articulate. It really made me feel hopeful about where this country is headed – in a time when that kind of optimism isn’t always easy to come by.
At the rally, I saw a woman holding the above sign. It’s an excellent reminder of the responsibility we have as creators. Whether in comics, movies, TV, or novels, the stories we tell really have the power to change lives. Our characters can truly shape the way our audiences see one another and the world. And this is especially true for young people.
As creators, we have the privilege of being able to represent the world as we’d like it to be. That’s super significant because these representations often precede changes in the real world. Many people credit Will & Grace, for example, with having played a real, tangible role in helping to promote the legalization of same sex marriage. So when we create, it’s not just for the sake of entertainment (although that’s important too). The stories and characters we put into the world can truly impact the way people think. And that shift in thinking can, in turn, lead to real world changes.
When Wonder Woman and Black Panther catch on fire at the box office, it matters. When Riri Williams takes over for Tony Stark, it matters. And as creators, it would serve us well to keep in mind the real power we have, the responsibilities that come with it.