You want to know a quick way to make me not take you seriously in a conversation about cinematic representation?

Tell me “Businesses exist to make money.”

Basketball player James Harden rolls his eyes hard at a reporter and slides away from the camera
Houston Rockets/James Harden

Do you know the difference between an ophthalmologist, optometrist, and optician? I do. Because I roll my eyes so hard every time I hear that tired mess I have to phone a friend to get me to the relevant one and correct the issue. I’ve practically seen my own brain.

Basically the argument is that formulaic shows and films with formulaic stars front and center are the only way for studios to make money. And when you narrow that down to animated media, you know, the type that shape us as children and so forth, the formula grinds down even more. But as far as the viewers, hype, and dollar dollar bills are concerned, the so-called conventional wisdom gets exposed as a hot bucket of carp.

A cooler full of freshly caught carp awaiting their fate
iStock/aydinmutlu

Originally the metaphor was what you’d think it’d be, but in this heat my typo seemed even more appropriate.

Let’s take a look at the “Hair Love” Kickstarter Campaign as an example. NFL wide receiver turned writer/director/producer/filmmaker/cinematic badass, Matthew Cherry isn’t exactly a newcomer in the movie scene. His career in the entertainment industry has been rising since his retirement from the League in 2007—he started out working as a production assistant, went on to music videos after the first year of his new line of work, debuted feature length films at SXSW, and now? He’s capturing a dad doing his daughter’s gorgeous and abundant afro-textured hair for the first time. And people are loving it!

A cartoon father with locs grabs his small daughter
Matthew A. Cherry/ Hair Love

Obviously, as a Kickstarter, there’s no budget for YouTube ads, posters, Hulu spots, etc. And yet this adorable looking, super simple concept:  a dad making his initial foray into styling his daughter, has smashed its original goal of $75,000 by over sixty percent. As of writing, the campaign is only one third of the way through. To break it down, that’s $129,175 raised in ten days on (mostly) black media outlets and word of mouth ALONE. That’s some serious dubloons being thrown down.

And it all goes to show what I’m sure most all of us know already, but seems to bear repeating:  Diverse experiences MAKE. MONEY. Lead characters of any historically/currently marginalized identities like women, people of color, anyone in the LGBTQIA umbrella, plus size folks, the list goes on (for like a MILE) always garner attention. The fact that so many big studios refuse capitalize on that buzz, keep marketing going, keep investing, etc? Kills me.

But on a more positive note, I’m always thrilled to see projects like this highlighting girls with big black hair and their nurturing dads (yes men can be nurturing too, we have proof) getting the attention and funding they deserve! I can’t wait to see ‘Hair Love’, and I’m excited for more projects from more voices in the future.

Here’s a few pictures of dads and their little coily cuties to round us out with some good vibes.

A black dad and his two small daughters play basketball in the sun
iStock/kate_sept2004
A black dad with coily hair and his small daughter with a large afro play with building blocks
iStock/Weekend Images Inc.
A black father with close cropped hair leans in to help his daughter in elaborate braids and beads with her homework
iStock/FatCamera
A black father in military dress hugs his daughter who is wearing Bantu knots and a big smile
iStock/DanielBendjy
A black father with a shaved head lifts his curly headed little girl up in the air and swings her around on the beach
iStock/PeopleImages

Ahhhhhhhh...that’s good stuff.

Are you loving this as much as I am? How much money are you willing to throw at coil-centric cartoons? Do you want to argue the carp metaphor is actually a simile because the word ‘as’ is in the sentence? Let’s discuss!