Fiction Featuring Activists Review Guide
By Juliana Barnet, Protect Our Activists

Activists' lives and work are dramatic, fascinating, heroic, not to mention indispensable to planetary survival and efforts to create a just society. But how extensively do you see activists portrayed in mainstream (and even progressive) fiction and popular culture--and how well?

This Fiction Featuring Activists Guide 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 ways in which they are not.

THANKS FOR PARTICIPATING in our effort to see activists FULLY and FAIRLY represented in FICTION. (Note: "fully and fairly" does NOT mean preachy. It means showing activists with as much respect, attention, truth and style as the other characters in the same work, regardless of its genre, tone or level.)

Sharing your thoughts on this form may take 10 to 20 minutes, not counting time you spent reading or watching the WoF you're evaluating, or time you might go back to revisit and retrieve quotes from it. Your form becomes part of our Fiction Featuring Activist participatory research study, about which you'll receive occasional updates. Mention whether you feel your entry deserves consideration for the 10 Best Works of Fiction Featuring Activists Award...or the 10 MINOI (Most In Need of Improvement) Award!

Submitting a completed form entitles you to a FREE GIFT from Protect Our Activists ( , plus our profound appreciation for your participation!
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Email *
Your name *
Name and type of WoF (movie, novel, etc.), author or creator, year made *
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.

First, ask yourself if at least one activist or activist movement appears at all 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, settings central to the story, and these characters' conversations, causes, actions, internal monologues, environments, 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
1b. Are activist(s) shown engaged in realistic activities like meetings, discussions, leafleting, marches, direct actions?
Activist(s) in story but not doing activism
Activist(s)shown extensively engaged in activism
Clear selection
Specify ways and extent activist(s) appear in the WoF. *
Part 2. FAIRLY. Are activist(s) portrayed with truth, humanity and depth?
Parts 2-4 explore the QUALITY of the portrayal. Are activists shown as believable, sympathetic, funny, flawed in human ways, multi-faceted, complex, etc. on a par with 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, with stereotypes?
Activist(s) portrayed fairly? *
Activist character(s) and context portrayed without truth, humanity, empathy or depth
Activist character(s) and context shown with depth, truth, humanity and empathy
Describe the depiction of activist character(s) and how accurate and fair it is. *
Please reference quote(s) or scene(s) showing the portrayals you're referring to. *
Part 3. Stereotyping of Activists
Stereotyping is substituting stock generalizations about a group of people in place of in-depth exploration of their reality.
At best stereotypes are lazy and shallow; at worst they lead to dehumanizing and otherizing people as different and separate 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 participate in, condone, or at least ignore, oppression. Even positive stereotypes create distance and prevent people from empathizing or feeling kinship with the people stereotyped.

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 activists.
Are activists negatively stereotyped in this WoF, shown as...(check all that apply):
Please share details of stereotyped characters. Also, note any in-depth portrayals that counter stereotypes.
Include quote(s) or page(s) showing the portrayals you're referring to.
Are activists positively stereotyped in this story? Check all that apply:
Please share details of stereotyped characters. Also, note any in-depth portrayals that counter stereotypes.
Include quote(s) or page(s) showing the portrayals you're referring to.
PART 4. The Bigger Picture
Does the audience come away with accurate understanding of the background and context of the movement/issue portrayed in the WoF? *
In this WoF... *
Background and context are absent or inaccurate
Background and context are shown truthfully, with real details
What is your overall assessment of how well this work of fiction portrays activists, activist culture and activist community?

NOTE: THIS TEST AND SCORE REFER ONLY TO THE MANNER IN WHICH ACTIVISTS ARE REPRESENTED. Other aspects of these works may be perfectly wonderful.
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. *
Interested in going further? YES! I would like to...
What WoFs are you interested in reviewing?
What WoF are you creating or would like to create?
Any other comments or suggestions you'd like to share?
Best way/time to contact you to follow up?
Thanks very much!! You're the best!
A copy of your responses will be emailed to the address you provided.
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