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The Spooky World of Tim Burton: Representation & Wednesday Addams

Tim Burton is a well-known American director who is known for his films, “The Corpse Bride,” and “Nightmare before Christmas,” etc. Even though many of his films are iconic for inspiring a new era of distinctive animation with “Tim burton like” characteristics (droopy eye bags, big eyes, sharp eyebrows, hollow cheekbones, pale skin), Tim Burton was recently called out for the lack of representation and diversity in his films after a ‘Tim burton-esque’ TikTok filter went viral and many brown/other POC began to notice that the Tim Burton "aesthetic" was only catered towards white people.


For greater context, all of the characters in his films are presumably white and the only characters that are black/brown are represented as the villains (e.g... "the boogie man"). which tends to reinforce stereotypical ideas of these communities. Is this solely a coincidence? To respond to these claims, Tim Burton asserted that forced diversity is worse than having no diversity, stating in an interview that, "things either call for it or they don't" and that he does not like when shows such as "The Brady Bunch" throw in characters for the sake of diversity. To put it simply, he also says that he does not watch shows full of black people with the intent of wanting to ask for more white representation.


However, while I agree with Tim Burton's claims of token diversity as not ALL representation is GOOD representation (e.g. the reboot of Gossip Girl putting in a diverse cast for the sake of good audience reception, the stereotypical portrayal of Hijabi's in Western media), the need for representation of POC is stronger than ever. My main problem with Tim Burton's statements is that he ignores the fact that white characters and POC characters within the mainstream media do not enjoy the same amount of praise, or recognition. Just think of all your favorite action movies from Marvel to Star Wars to Hunger games: why are most of the main leads white? Tim Burton has also said that when he envisions his stories only white characters come to mind, not only in his creative process but also in his dreams. But isn't there a larger problem with only viewing a white character as the default? (e.g. the amount of backlash of a black Hermoine/Ariel received). If we continue down this pattern of thinking, we will never be able to portray people of color, or worse even begin to imagine them in media. What is your take on this?





This discussion also brings me to the crux of my argument -- the new show adaptation on Netflix "Wednesday" which has been directed by Tim Burton. Unlike his other projects, Wednesday is quite refreshing in the world of Tim Burton as a Latinx family is at the forefront. Wednesday Addams is a revolutionary strong female lead who likes to make decisions on her own and has her love interests following her rather than her following them. For instance, she never pursues Tyler/Xavier, instead, she repeatedly turns them both down in order to accomplish her mission of finding out who is the monster. She also does not fit the stereotypical overly "sexual" or "innocent" Latina character we see on screen due to her dark, mostly modest clothing. However, she still reigns as a probable love interest without her ever having to actually appease the men (though - is the trope of "she's not like the other girls" (e.g. Bianca) being employed here as well as a fantasization of the male gaze?). To see a woman of color being presented on screen and to show her in places of immense power (e.g. winning the Poe Cup/having the whole school scared of her) is really revolutionary. Not to mention, Morticia and Gomez's relationship also breaks down gender roles and Gomez is portrayed as being deeply affectionate and even more feminine than Morticia who is taller and calls the shots in the family-- again breaking down barriers of a typical latinx family.


However, even within these storylines, there is still an emphasis on reverting to traditional archetypes and storylines as a way to appease the audience and make them commodifiable. For example, what is the need for a love triangle and making Wednesday involved with Tyler - when it otherwise goes against her character who strives to be independent and hates the fact that her mother settled down and got married? Why is Netflix not allowing the audience to express their wishes for Wednesday and Edit to get together when they display greater chemistry? Why is Wednesday's skin so pale in comparison to most latina's? Another question that comes to mind revolves around the entire sub-plot of indigenous history being whitewashed and erased through activities like "pilgrim world" in the tvshow which is a step in the right direction, but considering the director is Tim Burton -- are we really to believe his motives behind this project are genuine? And again... as Tim Burton mentions: is Wednesday Addams just another token Latinx character?

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Khadija Salman 25020003
Khadija Salman 25020003
2022年12月02日

Such casting is common place where to give the perception of representation, producers will add brown or POC actors to appease the rising tide where masses ask for more representation. Yet does this representation truly serve it's purpose? This is a question that is often forgotten in the process as we see a diverse cast just for the sake of a diverse cast. An example of this is Bridgerton's newest season where we have an Indian female as the main lead. The character of Kathani Sharma despite being Indian is rarely shown to have any true connection to her Indian heritage rather it is used as a prop to show typical Indian customs and her identity is never truly discussed…

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Iman Ahmad
Iman Ahmad
2022年12月11日
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I agree! even though we can praise these shows for showcasing diverse communities what good do they do when they only end up reinforcing harmful stereotypes of the same people they strive to represent? I think the case of bridgerton is a little different though because the director doesn’t aim to realistically portray the era that it’s set in—it’s a sort of a reimagining of the time period where people of color could never be given royal titles, let alone be the main characters in a regency drama. So, it was the directors way of creatively showing how life would’ve been different with people of color in powerful positions. However, I do agree that Kate’s role as an Indian was…

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I haven’t seen Wednesday yet so I can’t respond to the second half of your post. However, I agree with your first half where you mentioned that Tim Burton has only has white characters. I think what a lot of people don’t realise is that because of society, we have certain thoughts ingrained in our minds. For example, Tim Burton saying that POC wouldn’t fit in as the right characters. He also thinks this way because that's what he has seen around. His has seen that POC are usually evil characters hence the association. While I agree that forced diversity is stupid, some diversity is very very important. It’s important that people are able to relate to characters in shows…

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I recently binge watched this show and absolutely loved it. However, I felt like they did sexualise Wednesday using the goth personality they created for her. A lot of social media culture fetishises goth girls and their outfits, makeup and overall appearance. Wednesday was also portrayed the same way, always in black clothes and dark makeup and I think even if her character was quite strong and independent she did end up conforming to societal expectations of a ‘hot goth mommy’. I understand that this was somewhat necessary for the theme of the show but they further added to it by showing that every guy in the show falls for Wednesday whether it's Xavier or Tyler. The plot would definitely…



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Iman Ahmad
Iman Ahmad
2022年12月11日
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yess!! definitely. In my opinion when you present such a strong female lead and then reduce her to her relationships with other guys, the lead kind of loses the authenticity that she one has to her. I know love triangles, and or even romantic interests are necessary in a lot of television shows though because they are a major selling point for young fans, who love to see romantic ships. Infact, most of the discourse on twitter about the show is mainly about Xavier and Tyler and their relation to Wednesday. It makes me wrong if people are actually watching for plot? Also, this is not to say that female leads cannot have love interests. Infact, rom-com's are my favorite…

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