There is a musical that is getting a lot of attention recently. How to Dance in Ohio is a show based loosely on a real story about autistic students. What is unique about the show is that the 7 main cast members are actually autistic. This is a great achievement, and it is to be commended. In an interview on Good Morning America recently, one of the cast members was asked what is the most significant message meaning for him personally. His response was, “I am seen.”
We hear a lot about being seen and having representation. Many movies are being recast and refilmed from different and new ethnic points of view (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jun/09/the-little-mermaid-global-backlash-black-ariel). The general defense of this position is that everyone needs to see people like themselves on the big screen. Some trends are pushing for any ethnic character to be played by actors that represent that ethnicity (https://www.mixedlife.net/eveything/2020/7/15/the-mixed-race-casting-debate-who-can-be-cast-in-what-roles).
When social media began to shift allowing for users to show stories, the age of the influencer was born. Influencers are simply social media mavens who have garnered a large following. Just under 4 million videos are uploaded to YouTube every single day! All with the same hopes: to be seen. Everyone wants to be seen.
Modern consensus gentium seems to hold that identifying with a character in a movie that looks, or believes like I do somehow validates my own appearances, experience, or beliefs—even if that character is a figment of someone’s imagination.
Last fall a dear friend of mine passed away suddenly. During his funeral one speaker observed that the deceased always made them feel “seen” and “heard.” This is a great trait to carry. But the reality is, feeling validated in life is not identifying with an illusion cast from a false persona projecting from the silver screen. Validation comes when someone accepts me for what I am, but values me enough to believe I can grow into something more.