Diversity for entertainment purposes

If you talk much about how nice it would be to have more diversity in media, you’ve probably noticed a number of people assume it’s not something you have actual feelings about – you’re just a poser trying to look all PC and enlightened. It’s amazing, because even upon realizing you are a member of the Them who is not being portrayed so well, there are these people who still assume you couldn’t possibly really be offended by the status quo. I’m not sure what the logic is, so I won’t hazard a guess. But I do want to disturb this little myth once and for all.

As a kid – and I’m talking ages 7-10 or so – I didn’t realize the -isms were still out in full force. I wasn’t even fully aware of them yet – not even sexism. I saw unfairness everywhere I looked, but I didn’t recognize the systemic nature of it yet. I certainly had no idea of the media’s role in perpetuating and even generating these prejudices.

But I remember TV and movies as this weird place inhabited only by vanilla-faced men. It was just so damn boring. I had nothing against white men and their stories. But couldn’t the same stories happen to women every now and then? Or men of color? Or people from, gasp, Not America? There were brilliant, drop-dead gorgeous actors in all these categories. How on earth could people not just be bored shitless looking at Mr. Honky hundreds of thousands of times?

That was my initial push for diversity. Sheer, untempered boredom with looking at similar people all the time. By the time I was twenty, I hungered for movies with different faces, different skin tones – and of course women. I didn’t rail at our objectification then. I didn’t realize the media was creating an historic record in which women didn’t exist except as decor. It never occurred to me the media thought “women’s stories” were strictly about shoes, man-catching and babies. I just wondered where all the other Ellen Ripleys were.

It was only after I got into the L.A. film community and learned that unfortunately those rednecks in other states force us fabulously enlightened Californians to write stories only about white men and hey where’d that damn Mexican go I need a refill that I realized there were much more serious problems in my culture than people who’d been raised bigoted and knew it and were capable of learning something new. There were also people who had so fully projected their own bigotry onto “rednecks” that there was little or no hope of getting them to realize how unenlightened – and even hate-filled – they actually were.

Now that I think about it, maybe I can understand why some people think all anti-bigots are just posers. If they’ve grown up around bigotry and see it as merely one team competing against another for survival, and then they watch media-makers pat themselves on the back for including some African-American dude as Sidekick #2 in the latest blockbuster, then they would see the media-makers as just another bullshit team competing for its bullshit survival. And a bunch of posers.

Why do you want diversity in entertainment? Because you think you’re supposed to, or because of some genuine feeling?

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve gotten to feeling the same way about books, where the protagonist is often (at least here in the USA) a default white character unless the text explicitly says otherwise one way or another.

  2. says

    Yep. I remember reading the (grown-up) novelization of The Empire Strikes Back when I was 7 or 8. I went to my mom and asked, “Mom, when they introduce Lando, they mention he’s black, but they never mention any of the other characters being white. Why?” She said the author was assuming readers would assume whiteness unless they were told otherwise. I asked, “Then when black people read a book, do they assume everybody’s black unless it says otherwise?” She looked really sad and said no, she doubted they did, and it was all a form of racism even though nothing disparaging had been said or anything so overt.

    That’s my first memory of realizing how insidious bigotry could be. It wasn’t all hate and violence. Sometimes it was just singling out or ignoring someone. Sometimes the person doing something racist even meant well.

    That’s a little more specific than you were getting at – sorry, it just triggered that memory.

  3. ACW says

    Similar to your wanting to see a different face, a different skin tone, a different gender… I want to hear different *stories*. I don’t want to hear for the umpteenth time how some forty-year-old white male character did such-and-such. And I don’t want Them to suddenly slide a woman or POC into that role and call it a day. I don’t care about the white man’s story, no matter who is chosen to portray him!
    Excellent characters each come with his or her personal history, viewpoints, talents, baggage, and traits… some or all of which is influenced by his or her role in society… and some or all of which influences daily decisions and personality.
    While people are ‘equal in the eyes of the law’, they aren’t *interchangeable* — except, apparently, in Hollywood. To think of a story, write a story, draft a screenplay – all with one character in mind, or (worse?) an ambiguous character in mind – only to decide at casting that ‘gee, this movie needs more diversity’ is utter BS. It’s superficial, and the characters fall flat.
    The polar opposite of this is when writers try to write about something they know nothing about – and resort to vile stereotypes.
    I crave diversity from a project’s inception. Give me authors and screenwriters of various backgrounds who can contribute something that they KNOW, rather than that boring white man’s story, or some boring white man trying to tell someone else’s story.
    I don’t want stories or characters to be filtered or watered-down versions of what should have been. I want it raw.

  4. says

    Unfortunately, they think “different stories” means stuff that could not possibly happen to a white man, so we end up with “chick flicks” that revolve around husband-questing and high-heeled shoes (not experiences most white men have) or stories about a man of color and his quest to be taken seriously in a racist society. Which are not automatically bad stories (particularly the latter category) in and of themselves, but when it’s ALL that women and PoC get, and EVERYTHING else is deemed White Man’s Story, that’s no good.

    I wanted a total jumbled mix. I wanted stories where the character could’ve been a white guy, but just didn’t happen to be, and I also wanted stories that were highly unlikely to happen to a white guy and therefore had to feature characters from other demographics. I want it all.

  5. ACW says

    To clarify: I wasn’t trying to imply that a non-white male can’t have the same story/plot/life/experiences as a white male… I just feel all characters are better developed, richer, and more believable when the writer starts with a specific person in mind, and that the specific person in mind should represent something other than the status quo more often.

  6. Megs says

    I’m white and grew up surrounded by mostly black kids, some mixed and hispanics, but white being the minority, and it honestly bugs me when everyone is white in works of fiction. Maybe if it makes sense to the setting, yeah, but I usually go in expecting to see a variety of races and half and half gender too. It’s honest and an expectation built up from my experience, not for any political reasons or to make myself seem any better. I guess I reason that if so many people get movies and books with an all white cast, they can balance it out with maybe a few movies where people are randomly different looking.

    Jennifer, that’s a really sad example, but too true. I do remember reading somewhere that J K Rowling didn’t do that with a character in the Harry Potter books, but the American edition specifically mentioned he was black without calling attention to the race of ANYONE else. Ugh.

  7. The Other Patrick says

    I’m not sure why I think that way, but I am very big on equality and individuality. I simply think diversity is far, far more interesting than everyone being the same. I see Indian, African, Asian characters being turned into white ones in adaptations, or female ones into males, all supposedly for mass market appeal, and I simply don’t buy it. I think, if media representations were more diverse, in the end most people wouldn’t bat an eye.

    I see what’s coming up in film, e.g. “The Vampire’s Assistant”, and think: why couldn’t the exact same role be played by a girl for once, i.e. without turning it into a pure romance story? Why does a non-caucasian actor necessarily mean the film or book needs to be about different cultures? Why do TV show credits usually have a male star at the beginning? Why must it be a male WASP all the time? It’s unfair, and it’s boring and formulaic, and it’s unrealistic, but mostly it’s just unfair. And I say this as a white guy.

    So again, it’s unfair and biased. And it’s a storytelling problem, because it’s always the same.

    Does the Whiteout trailer really have to feature a shower scene from Kate Beckinsale? Why on earth are 20-years-old portrayals of women in Alien and T2 still the cream of the crop? Why do black characters have to be played by rappers for Hollywood films (with a very few exceptions), when The Wire gave us excellent black actors? Why can’t Wolverine be black – suddenly the source is important, when it comes to preserving white male privilege? Where are all the Asians? And why aren’t they allowed to fall in love and kiss a non-Asian character without being the exotic beauty? Why is it always the same?

    And that’s just race and gender. Where are the homosexual or bisexual hero protagonists? The transgendered ones? Where’s the atheist that doesn’t convert at the end? Where’s a non-monogamous relationship, or a relationship that for once doesn’t have to be love forever and ever? Where’s an honest portrayal of sex? Do female action “heroines” always have to wear tight latex?

    I want even my entertainment to be intelligent, or even challenging, and my art even more so. I want it to ask questions, and be different, i.e. diverse. My best friend just bought a “picture” where the artist had nailed a small deer’s skull to a black board and painted its horns in gold. I think it’s bloody awful, but I sure am glad stuff like this exists. Unfortunately, in mass media, stuff like this doesn’t exist. Not as a niche product, even.

    It’s gotten to the point where I don’t know how I am supposed to go about getting the things I want. Should I boycott even the good films and shows and books when they aren’t diverse? Am I supposed to go and consume shitty entertainment just because it’s not about a white guy for once, or does that only lead to more shitty entertainment, not better ones without white guys? I hate Mamma Mia just as much as Transformers: 2, am I supposed to pay money for one only because it’s about women (trying to get the right man)?

    You know what, in the end, I don’t even think the “why” matters all that much. I want diversity, and I’m not getting it, and it’s making me fucking angry.

  8. The Other Patrick says

    Just as another example, I play role-playing games, and I often use pictures to show the other players how I imagine a character to look. Recently, I tried to find an image for a future black character. I didn’t even have a specific character in mind, e.g. “a magician without a beard”, just a black character, male OR female. It was a fricking chore to look for images of that kind. Everything was eurocentric white.

  9. Mel says

    As a woman, I am sick of stories that are all about men. I desperately want stories about women that aren’t about high heels and husband-hunting (there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with those stories, but they’re not ones I’m interested in and they shouldn’t be the only stories available). As a queer person, I want stories with queer people that aren’t solely about them struggling with their sexual orientation/a cruel society.

    I want other kinds of diversity because diversity makes interesting stories, and because I empathize with other people who want to be represented. I believe it’s right to make stories with diverse casts, and that it will make better stories that will benefit us all. But I don’t have the personal need there, so my feelings are probably a bit different, although the result is the same.

  10. says

    Megs, that’s a great observation. When, in real life, do you ever look up and realize there’s no one around but white guys? It’s exceedingly rare. And gah to your JK Rowling story. I’m very often appalled by the things the British feel they need to do to make their fiction palatable to the US market.

    To clarify: I wasn’t trying to imply that a non-white male can’t have the same story/plot/life/experiences as a white male…

    I didn’t think you were – I just wanted to expound on the issue, because it’s like the “strong female character” deal. We wanted delicate women who didn’t swoon and wait for a hero, but instead they gave us delicate women who can inexplicably kick the ass of someone twice their size while waiting for a hero. Do they really not understand what we mean, or are they just reinterpreting like a smart-ass teenager to suit their own preferences? “Hehe, let’s shut those complaining bitches up. Here, another Buffy clone. Oh, god, you’re not going to cast that pig, are you? She looks like she ate this week!”

    Patrick, we can’t really “vote with our dollars” since our watching or not watching something doesn’t tell them WHY we did or didn’t watch it, and they consistently default to the explanations that suit them. It’s very frustrating.

    Mel, I agree that diversity just plain leads to more interesting stories. Additionally, I don’t think we need to “relate” to characters via some demographic similarity to find their stories riveting. I really wonder what sort of people think they do.

  11. says

    Australia’s a lot whiter than America, so it took me a while to learn to notice the lack of diversity in your media (which is the main media I consume :/). Eg I had no problem with Angel until I was told how large the population of Latin@s is in LA (as opposed to the Angel population of 0).

    What DOES bug me is the way non-white/male characters are treated. I tend to identify with lower class side characters, who are often POC, as well as female characters..and they tend to get screwed by the plot. Heroes, which is quite good with diversity, has bitten me with this REPEATEDLY (as for that matter did Angel).

    Being straight I never fully noticed the lack of GLBT characters in mainstream media until I started reading fanfic, but now it’s GLARING, and the coy way shows hint at it annoying.

    Also: while I think this post makes a good points, I think it’s important for those of us who are white not to use it as an excuse to get too smug about how awesomely not-racist we are etc.

  12. says

    Oh! And having become disabled I am now suddenly noticing the terrible terrible way disabled characters are portrayed in fiction, if we’re there at all. Ick.

    And since I became disabled, without making any deliberate effort to do so, I ended up writing a number of disabled characters, because it felt like a natural thing to do. (Which it hadn’t before because I suck at this stuff as much as anyone else)

  13. says

    The only solution is DIY, to go out and tell the stories you want to hear instead of waiting for everyone to come around. While I share everyone’s frustration…I can’t stand being in a homogeneous environment (my workplace finally, finally hired a second woman in an office with 16 men), “complaining” about the problem doesn’t change anything. As Jennifier points out, “they” don’t know why we watch or don’t watch something. If we tell good stories that are unconventional by vanilla standards, they just might catch on and show the PTBs that “hey, it’s not just about Guy Whitey anymore.” And if they don’t, well, there was a time when people entertained themselves, families, and friends without a mass media to broadcast it to the whole world 24/7.

  14. Mantelli says

    I guess I’m really not the best person to be commenting here, because I don’t watch much TV. I watch a little bit of TV on network websites if it catches my eye, and will rent discs of TV seasons if they seem to be good, but that’s it. My TV’s an obsolete paperweight, to be honest.

    However, I might watch more TV if shows were more diverse, both because of the fairness issue and because they would indeed be more interesting to me. That white-bread landscape is just ho-hum. I’d rather find an interesting book to read, and yes, before you ask, my reading’s much more diverse than TV is these days.

  15. Ravyn says

    I want diversity because my interest in stories is as much to learn and to observe as to entertain myself. And there’s no way I’m going to get everything I need from just me, or just people like me, and I’m certainly not going to get any more from people who are ‘supposed’ to be not like me but are mostly just hollow stereotypes of what people like me think people not like me are going to be like.

    Frederik, DIY is an answer, but it’s not going to be enough on its own. I can think of three book-into-visual media off the top of my head where the diversity was eliminated or at least reduced in the changeover, and given that people are brazen enough to do it when it’s visual media into other visual media, or even in different iterations of the same series (as the comics fans will cheerfully tell you)–well, it can’t just be DIY. We need to apply other forms of pressure on top of that.

  16. says

    Sqbr said Also: while I think this post makes a good points, I think it’s important for those of us who are white not to use it as an excuse to get too smug about how awesomely not-racist we are etc.

    Absolutely.

    Oh! And having become disabled I am now suddenly noticing the terrible terrible way disabled characters are portrayed in fiction, if we’re there at all. Ick.

    Interestingly, I’ve been thinking about how many disabled characters I saw in the 80s compared to now. It wasn’t great, but it was actually better than it is now. Very frustrating.

    The only solution is DIY, to go out and tell the stories you want to hear instead of waiting for everyone to come around.

    It’s already been done, at least in the case of women. Ridley Scott and James Cameron proved you can put women in White Guy blockbuster roles and still make insane money. First Wives Club proved – well, don’t listen to me; check out William Goldman on it.

    If these movies didn’t get the old guard to realize oh, look at all that money we’re leaving on the table due to our outdated ideas, how many indie films do you suppose we’ll have to make before they get it?

    Additionally, THERE IS NO WAY TO DIY A TV SHOW – WITH ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY. While people have DIY’d movies – at huge expense, calling on resources *I* certainly don’t have, dunno about you (?) – you can’t just broadcast your own TV series on some equivalent to ham radio, now, can you? You need a network to air the show. The convincing would still need to be done before the fact.

    And even leaving out all that, DIY simply isn’t enough on its own, as Ravyn points out. There’s still plenty of room for them to misinterpret our choices of stories to produce just as they’ve misinterpreted our choices of stories to watch.

    That’s why I set up this site. It’s in the About page. We need a giant, international dialog in addition to any other measures such as DIY.

    Mantelli,, you ARE the right sort of person to be responding here. Why you choose NOT to watch TV is as revealing as why someone else chooses to. Maybe even more so.

  17. Emma says

    It’s completely wrong to dismiss DIY!

    Go ahead, argue your point: they can ‘misinterpret your choices of stories to produce’. I can just as easily argue that they can ‘ignore an international dialogue’.

    You do it your way – start a dialogue.

    I do it my way – DIY, make a film.

    What do we end up with? You’ve written your heart out and are still being debated, and I’ve created a movie that you’ll probably watch, likely enjoy, and will maybe inspire other people like us to do the same.

    A DIY movie is not something I want to do in order to show the Hollywood guys how profitable it is, so they’ll make movies about girls or people of color. It’s something I want to do because there is a gaping void on my DVD shelf where a movie about a Luke Skywalker style hero who happens to be a girl should be.
    I want a DVD to put there, and other people want that DVD too. It doesn’t have to come from Hollywood.

  18. Anemone says

    I was at an advocacy meeting of Women in Film and Television in Vancouver the other day, and one woman said something really strong: get a lawyer. I don’t know about private enterprise, but any time public funds are being used to fund media (and that might include publicly funded university programs), there are legal requirements to distribute these funds fairly.

    I’m also hoping that legal action could be possible on some types of content.

    For when DIY is not enough.

  19. says

    It just strikes me as fundamentally *wrong* when there used to be kick-butt roles for women in Hollywood, with movies sometimes produced/written by women, and now, it is not there anymore.

    I think it’s insulting to think that, at least about movies produced by women, featuring women, that the main advice now is, “DO it your goddamn selves, you slackers. You had your chance. Be vigilant, and try climbing up that Sisyphean slope.”

    Should movies produced, directed and featuring women’s ( or POC) roles have to be produced for UTube? Is that where it’s gotten to now?

    I’m aware that there are independent women producers these days, but they comment on how difficult it is to find funding about/for women’s stories that don’t reinforce male viewpoints of women’s lives. Find a lawyer? Sure, for public funding, which in the US is mightly slim right now, especially after a Republican president and congress slashed arts funding. Who do you think gets those moneys now? I don’t know exactly, but a lot of female and minority run dance, arts and educational facilities went down the drain.

    DIY. That’s a very American Guy Thing to say.

  20. says

    Emma, I said: “We need a giant, international dialog in addition to any other measures such as DIY.

    That is NOT dismissing DIY. That is saying I don’t think it’s the “only answer”, as Frederik suggested. I have a real problem with people saying that any one thing is the only answer – especially when that one thing costs quite a bit of money. Even a short student film is thousands of dollars, and while many people are fortunate enough to think of that as something they could borrow from relatives or put on the credit card or get a loan for, the vast, rather quiet and underrepresented majority of Americans consider that a helluva lot of money, and if they had it, they couldn’t justify spending it on movie-making.

    The whole reason there’s so much elitism in film-making, at least in L.A., is that it’s very expensive to make a movie, and so many people want to do it that it drives the cost of non-Guilded labor (and even Guilded, under the table) down to literally nothing. If you can’t work unpaid for an extended period, living on who knows what because you won’t have time for even a part-time job – then you get started working on film sets. This is generally true even if you’ve got a degree you just paid (or went into debt) many thousands for. So you end up with the middle-middle to upper classes (and their POVs) being overrepresented.

    So when anyone suggests that we should spent a couple years’ rent money making movies INSTEAD OF posting on this website, I get a little perturbed. We’re doing what we can.

  21. says

    Anemone, I imagine you’re right, but I’m not sure if public funds are ever used here in the US. I’m trying to think in what sort of situation that would happen, and it would NOT be feature films or major TV, at least.

    As far as private enterprise goes, I have talked to women who work for groups or agents that try to get female directors jobs on TV shows. The producers tell them no, they won’t have women directors. They remind the producers that Guild rules dictate they must, and the response is “Go ahead and fine us.” But they do routinely hire boys fresh out of film school with less on their resumes than the women they’re turning down, so maybe we do have some good cases for discrimination as a matter of US law. I can’t speak to why no one’s suing on that basis – maybe the cases are too hard to prove, or maybe they know they would be blackballed from film after that and aren’t willing to take the chance. Really, I’m not sure US law is up to taking on the film/TV industry. It’s bound by rules of procedure, and the industry is, shall we say, not.

  22. says

    As you know, I agree with what you and your commenters are saying about wanting to see a range of types of stories with a diverse cast.

    This is only tangentially related to your main topic, but I was struck by your comment about people in supposedly-enlightened places projecting their racism on other regions. I’m currently reading Jonathan Kozol’s Shame of the Nation about de-facto segregation in schools, and I’m disturbed to learn that “The four most segregated states for black students, according to the Civil Rights Project, are New York, Michigan, Illinois, and California.”

  23. sbg says

    Why do you want diversity in entertainment? Because you think you’re supposed to, or because of some genuine feeling?

    I’d like to say it’s 100% genuine feeling, but in all honesty there is probably a portion of it that is because I’m supposed to. It seems horrible to even admit that.

    In general, I’m with you, though. It’s boring to see the same thing over and over. I saw an advert for a new USA show this weekend – starring a whole array of beautiful white people. I’ve been known to watch a show for teh pretty, it’s true, but WOW do I wish the pretty came in different packaging sometimes.

    It would be awesome if television shows more accurately represented reality, but it’s clear they don’t.

    The world isn’t 99% white.

  24. Zahra says

    Love this topic.

    Why do I want more diversity in media? Because I personally was very damaged by the limited roles I saw for women in movies when I was very young, just on the cusp of adolescence. I knew I couldn’t fit into those patterns, that I didn’t want them, but there weren’t any other models, any other options. It made me despair.

    Conversely, my discovery of independent and especially foreign films in college was deeply important to me in coming out. I spent six years trying to come to terms with my bisexuality; seeing some of the things I was wrestling with articulated on screen helped me not only realize that I wasn’t alone, but even name what was tearing me apart.

    Media depictions do real damage, and can transform lives. I’m white, and want more depictions of people of color–and of trans people, and disabled people, and people of all religions. People I love dearly struggle with other types of representation–not being able to find a card in the drugstore with an Asian-American mom on it, say–and it makes me mad.

    I echo what others have said–at a certain point, the relentless sameness of all the white people on TV & in films just becomes boring, and that I have a certain level of frustration with the disconnect from reality. My world isn’t all-white; why should the fictional realities I escape to be? There’s something deeply sinister about the erasing of people who are different.

    But I would add that the harm of these absences and twisted representation feels very real to me. I’m thinking about having children these days; my kids will be black. Just having this in the back of my mind has changed how I watch a lot of stuff. I’ve sat through so much that I don’t think I could in good conscience let my hypothetical kids see. I don’t want them to grow up learning that they are expendable and not the protagonists of their own lives. I don’t want them to be taught that their hair is ugly or unnatural (there goes Firefly and Buffy). I don’t want them to only see themselves as villains, or sassy best friends.

    I want a better world than that.

  25. Zahra says

    @sbg

    Thanks for your courage. I don’t have your same perspective, but I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with wanting media to improve because you think it’s the right thing to do, and you feel you should feel that way. The idea seems basic to any kind of morality.

    Generally I think more honesty in all debates about power and privilege (which includes people with privilege admitting all sorts of embarrassing things) is a good thing.

    I want certain types of diversity in a very visceral way, but that has grown over time and been informed by personal experiences. My perspective changed quite a bit when I had to ask myself, “Do I really want to make my partner sit through another film that’s all white people?”

    I do think for those of us with privilege in any given situation, there’s a degree of aspiration, of feeling your way towards another’s perspective and maybe not quite getting there right away. It’s still an important place to start.

  26. says

    Upon reflection, I want to clarify that I didn’t mean to suggest thinking you’re “supposed to” support diversity is bad. If someone’s only doing it to impress friends, then that’s not too reliable (if the friends decide bigotry is cool, so might the person living to impress them). But if someone’s arrived at the idea it’s morally correct whether or not the lack of diversity bothers them on a gut level, that’s still a genuine decision.

    The purpose of this post was to deflate the idea that relatively privileged people only support diversity because they’re posers, and deep down, they don’t care. Even with no awareness of one’s own privileges, and certainly no indoctrination from the alleged Pinko Liberal Conspiracy, it is possible for a white person to look at the media and be find fault with the lack of diversity, for purely aesthetic reasons.

    I later came to understand why I should find it not just boring, but disturbing how my TV and movie environment was being homogenized beyond anything I had experienced even as a kid in rural West Virginia. (Seriously, when your show/movie contains fewer people of color than an elementary school in rural West Virginia in the 80s, you are very nearly committing a hate crime right there.)

  27. sbg says

    And I just meant that it would be dishonest to state that my motives are 100% altruistic, not that the part of me that thinks I should see more diversity because I’m supposed to is the major factor. It’s not, but if I dig deep enough that sentiment is there.

    It is apparently too much to ask of an industry to try to make things realistic, when even the “reality” shows are staged and cast and edited just right. I wish I could do that with my reality.

  28. Charles RB says

    I watched some episodes of the late-90s CGI cartoon Shadow Raiders after reading this. One of the main characters, Jade, is a female soldier with a Carribean accent (I think specifically Jamaican but don’t quote me).

    And now it strikes me I can’t think of any other show where a leading sci-fi action heroine has a Carribean accent – or non sci-fi, for that matter. And she’s not even human. And that just seems weird, and a bit wrong.

  29. Karakuri says

    I experienced the same thing when I was working on a 3D game with some classmates (all white males), and naturally the guy who wrote the design document made every single character male (or have typically male attributes). Mind you they’re beans, not human, but still gendered (king, little boy, etc.). When I suggested we have at least one female character in the game he responded saying he thought being PC was a load of bullshit and the characters were meant to be gender neutral anyway. 1) He didn’t even notice the gendered male beans because male was neutral for him, and 2) It never occurred to him that I might /want/ to see my own gender represented. In the end we made the king a queen, but it still feels like a token gesture to make me happy (and I’d look kinda rabid to them if I pushed for more >.>).

    I am so bored with TV and movies now that I feel the only way left is to write those stories myself. It’s all I can do while waiting for society to advance a few hundred years (dare I hope it’ll take only that long..?).

  30. Karakuri says

    Well… there is kind of a way to do DIY TV shows, on YouTube! I’d much prefer an imaginative low-budget internet show to anything on the air. I don’t know how many people would agree with me though.

    Oh, and in response to the original question on this thread. For me it’s not at all about PC anymore, mainly because not-PC is starting to become the new PC. So many people act like it’s actually racist to pay attention to diversity in TV shows because we should “treat everyone the same”. For me it’s mainly out of the desire to see different human experiences than the ones we’re limited to, it’s a need for authenticity. So much of our lives doesn’t fit into the model that only exists in the media, I want to see something relevant to me. At the same time, though, I want to see something that doesn’t assume the unfamiliar will scare me off, because I’m very fond of the unfamiliar. Some people might think I’m being pretentious, but I honestly love hearing foreign languages just for the simple pleasure of hearing something exotic, full of hidden meanings. The learning process is fun, too, in the context of pop culture. It’s through pop culture that I learned my second language, which I never could have done had I stuck to watching dubs.

  31. Ray says

    I’m not bored of stories about white men — insofar as they are good and varied stories. BUT… everyone pretty much agrees that white men are people with full characters and personalities. Yes, there are stupid stereotypes about white men too (in how many movies are they allowed to express emotion openly?) but for the most part we portray them in a range of roles and experiences. The problem is that while we, who are searching for greater roles for women, POC, and GLTBQ, know that all of these people are also full characters who fill a variety of roles, those who aren’t actively searching these characters out maybe do not. I can identify with many male characters… the men rarely get a chance to see if they can identify with a woman like me.

  32. says

    the men rarely get a chance to see if they can identify with a woman like me.

    Meanwhile, the industry thinks you do NOT relate to male leads – they think you want to sex them. In another thread, someone mentioned a friend claiming the only reason guys saw Aliens was Sigourney Weaver being hot*. So what? Doesn’t that prove for whatever reason, boys will watch women heroes in blockbuster movies? Yes. I mean, there’s just no other way to look at the success of the ENTIRE FRANCHISE. How can you write off *several* movies as a “non-recurring phenomenon” to use the phrase industry pros gave William Goldman. You can’t. But they keep scrambling to do so, desperately, like an addict in denial getting an intervention.

    *I have some questions about Sigourney Weaver’s hotness. She is not your traditional perky nosed big-boobed big-shiny-toothed smiling pinup blond – in fact, I think she looks physically powerful, which we’re told is a turn-off for young men who are still intimidated by women. So if young guys do think she’s hot, then guys are more variable in their perception of beauty than Hollywood claims. Or maybe they thought her attitude was part of the hotness, which is an even more interesting possibility. I think that’s how I would see her if I was attracted to women.

  33. SunlessNick says

    I can identify with many male characters… the men rarely get a chance to see if they can identify with a woman like me.

    And maybejustmaybe we want that chance. I read books or graphic novels, and watch films or TV shows because I want stories about people who aren’t like me. So why wouldn’t I want that to extend to extend to leads who are other than white or male?

    Doesn’t that prove for whatever reason, boys will watch women heroes in blockbuster movies? Yes. I mean, there’s just no other way to look at the success of the ENTIRE FRANCHISE. How can you write off *several* movies as a “non-recurring phenomenon” to use the phrase industry pros gave William Goldman.

    Not to mention that in the wider Alien VS Predator franchise, it’s Ripley who is the standard against whom any leads – male or female – are judged, not either of the Predator stars.

    So if young guys do think she’s hot, then guys are more variable in their perception of beauty than Hollywood claims. Or maybe they thought her attitude was part of the hotness, which is an even more interesting possibility.

    That latter would explain why they seem to think Ripley is hotter than Dana Barrett (Weaver’s character in the Ghostbusters films).

  34. says

    Or the other possibility is that my memory is correct, and no boy I knew ever lusted after Sigourney Weaver, and the person who said that to someone in the other thread was just scrambling for a way to dismiss her importance to the franchise.

    But I argued with film professors: you’re sure young, white, heterosexual guys would rather watch Ahnald terminating than some gorgeous actress in a tight suit? Because if that’s what they want, than either they’re all gay or what they’re looking for in a lead is NOT sex, and the PROBLEM is actually sexy-looking actresses who distract them from the action or whatever it is they like about blockbusters. In which case, Sigourney Weaver’s no-makeup jumpsuit kick-ass appearance in the Alien movies makes complete sense: boys failed to notice she was A GIRL, GASP because it wasn’t highlighted to them in a sexual manner.

  35. SunlessNick says

    Or the other possibility is that my memory is correct, and no boy I knew ever lusted after Sigourney Weaver

    Indeed.

    Because if that’s what they want, than either they’re all gay or what they’re looking for in a lead is NOT sex

    Zounds! Could it really be that out-of-context sex/sexiness is no more fun than having an action star randomly start shooting outside of a battle?

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