“Representation” is a buzz word in publishing and other entertainment media that bothers me and I will explain why.

In other contexts it has different meaning. If someone said, “Do you have representation?” What do you think they mean? Maybe a lawyer? Maybe an agent?

But in publishing “representation” is an odd duck. It sort of means that a person has characters in the book or movie who are like them in some way. Share an identity. Sort of. But not quite.

It doesn’t actually mean that a person has a character in a book or movie they can identify with and enjoy. It truly means, “Are you represented?

“And because of that “representation” is a prescription and limitation on how those representational characters can be written or described. It limits what they can think and how they behave.

In real life people can be anything. No matter your identity you can be serious or funny or good or bad or suave or a dork. You can have an opinion that not a single other person *like you* has.

But do you want a villain representing you? Do you want someone with an odd opinion representing you? Do you want someone with a unique experience quite unlike yours leading people to think that the fictional experience represents and defines your real one?

All fiction is improved by including characters that readers or watchers can identify with in some aspect. But a character that “represents” you, is something else. And it’s bad for creators to chase it.

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