Fiction Featuring Activists Test
By Juliana Barnet

Activists' lives and adventures are dramatic, fascinating, heroic, not to mention indispensable to planetary survival and any hope of creating a just society. But, vital as they are, how extensively do you see activists portrayed in works of fiction (WoFs) in media and popular culture, and how well?

This Fiction Featuring Activists Test helps evaluate the depiction of activists in works of fiction (WoFs), including movies, television programs, plays, novels, comics, etc. Its purpose is to notice and celebrate WoFs where activists are shown fully and fairly. And to call attention to the ways in which they are not.

For more on what is meant here by Activists, Activism, Activist Community, etc., see Click on front page image to go to the article What is Activist Culture? and on the "Handy Terms" floating box at left. See the Fiction Featuring Activists in JB's Journal at this site ( for more.

The goal is for activists to be FULLY and FAIRLY represented in FICTION. THANKS FOR PARTICIPATING!

Email address *
Name, type of WoF (movie, novel, etc.), creator, year *
Your answer
Part 1. FULLY. How much space do activists get in this WOF?
[Part 1 is QUANTITATIVE. 1a gauges the extent activists are included in the story. 1b asks how much they are shown doing real activist things.

Does at least one activist or activist movement appear in this WoF, in a portrayal or at least a mention? None at all earns a "0" and no need to go further. A 3 might indicate a significant presence of: activist character(s) such as community organizer(s), peace activist(s), etc.; activist movement(s) such as the environmentalist, civil rights, prison reform movements, etc.); and/or activist setting(s): a union office, an anti-pipeline encampment, etc..

Give a 5 if the WoF has activist characters, movements or settings central to the story, and whose conversations, causes, actions, internal monologues, settings, etc. are shown extensively.

1a. Do activist(s) participate in the story? *
No activist ever seen or referenced
Activist characters and context have central role on screen/page/stage
Activist(s) shown doing real activist things (meetings, leafleting, marches, direct actions)?
Activist(s) in story but not doing activism
Activist(s)shown extensively engaged in activism
Note in what ways, and how much, activist(s) appear in the WoF. *
Your answer
Part 2. FAIRLY. Are activist(s) portrayed with humanity and depth?
Parts 2-4 explore the QUALITY of the portrayal. Are activists shown as believable, sympathetic, funny, flawed, multi-faceted, flamboyant, etc. as the other characters, in keeping with the genre of fiction? Do the creators of the WoF lead the reader/viewer to understand, empathize with, root for, become emotionally invested in the activist character(s)? Do the conflicts and story arc ring true? Or are they portrayed carelessly, inaccurately, untruthfully, or with stereotypes?
Activist(s) portrayed fairly? *
Activist character(s) and context stereotyped, without humanity, empathy or depth
Activist character(s) and context shown with depth, humanity and empathy
Describe the depiction of activist character(s) and how accurate and fair it is. *
Your answer
Part 3. Stereotyping of Activists
Stereotyping is substituting stock generalizations about a group of people in place of in-depth exploration of their reality. As with sexism, racism and other oppressions, language and images stereotyping activists in fiction may be unintentional and unnoticed, but are nonetheless harmful and undermining of the global community of people who organize struggles for social justice around the world.

At best stereotypes are lazy and shallow; at worst they lead to dehumanizing and otherizing people who we have a notion are different from us. They contribute to ignorance and fear of "those people" and are key tools used in inciting hatred and violence against social groups, and in getting whole societies to condone or at least ignore such violence. Even positive stereotypes create distance and prevent people from empathizing or feeling kinship with the people stereotyped.

Are activists negatively stereotyped in this WoF? Check all that apply:
Is there negative stereotyping of activists in this WoF? Are there in-depth portrayals that counter stereotypes? Please explain. *
Your answer
Are activists positively stereotyped in this story? Check all that apply:
Is there 'positive' stereotyping of activists in this WoF? Are there in-depth portrayals that counter stereotypes? Please explain. *
Your answer
PART 4. The Bigger Picture
Does the audience come away with accurate, in-depth understanding of the background and context of the movement/issue portrayed in the WoF? *
Your answer
In this WoF... *
Background and context are absent or inaccurate
Background and context are shown realistically and accurately
What is your overall assessment of how well this work of fiction portrays activists, activist culture and activist community?


This work of fiction featuring activists... *
Hurts the goal of full and fair representation of the activist community
Helps the goal of full and fair representation of the activist community
Explain. *
Your answer
Interested in going further:
What WoFs are you interested in reviewing?
Your answer
What WoF are you creating or would like to create?
Your answer
Any other comments or suggestions you'd like to share?
Your answer
Best way/time to contact you to follow up?
Your answer
Thanks very much!! You're the best!
Your answer
A copy of your responses will be emailed to the address you provided.
Never submit passwords through Google Forms.
This content is neither created nor endorsed by Google. Report Abuse - Terms of Service