Your web-browser is very outdated, and as such, this website may not display properly. Please consider upgrading to a modern, faster and more secure browser. Click here to do so.
You always seem to be able to explain my thoughts better than I ever could. There's the notion that a movie or anything with a WOC as the main lead wouldn't sell. How would you debunk that notion?
You know what? I was going to write a much longer, more pretentious essay on this topic, but I’ve decided to do this simply. Let’s look at a list of the highest-grossing movies of all time.
You see what the VERY top movie is? #1, most successful, biggest earnings of all time?
James Cameron’s Avatar.
You know what the lead characters in Avatar looked like? For the majority of the movie, they looked like this:
Amazing. The highest-grossing movie of all time features characters with a skin color that not one person in the audience could possibly have possessed.
Not. One. Person.
And yet somehow, the fact that these characters were blue didn’t stop people from responding to their story and going to the theater to enthusiastically spend money on watching it again and again.
So why should it matter so much exactly what shade of brownish-beige the character is? If there’s on thing Avatar's success proves, it's that audiences don't just respond to stories about people who are the same color that they are. And it's much the same with men vs. women. Even if for some reason you want to decide that your target audience is only men (even though alienating half the population doesn't seem like a smart business move to me, but what do I know), the bottom line is that the most important thing is NOT that the character look like the audience. It’s that the character resemble the audience in deeper, more internal ways.
Simply put, people respond to well-written characters and good stories. If you give your characters personality traits that will endear them to the audience, and their struggles strike the right emotional chords, then you’ll have a successful lead character.
There’s a large element of self-fulfilling prophecy when people argue that these sorts of things “Won’t sell”. The fact is, they haven’t tried. And more often than not when they do try - surprise! - race and gender turn out to be far less relevant thank you’d think. People argued for a long time that an action franchise could never be lead successfully by a woman. The Hunger Games pretty definitively proved that wrong. But if people keep insisting that these things WON’T sell and it isn’t even worth trying, they’ll never get a shot.