This is what happens when POC have close to zero control over how they are chosen and represented in Hollywood media. The black experience isn’t a monolithic entity. We need more of us in the field, ESPECIALLY in animation.
I’m tired of ~diversity~ meaning the core white people are safe while the poc get cycled in and out and tortured and sidelined, the lgbt characters can’t have happy relationships and the women can’t interact for more than five minutes. I’m tired of white people and straight people and men patting themselves on the back for regurgitating the same bullshit tropes and calling it art.
Today, a friend of mine expressed that she has become too paralysed with fear to continue writing. She’s working through it and it’s compounded by her mental illness which magnifies this sort of self-destructive rumination. However, as for the trigger, she named it specifically as Tumblr’s vicious hostility towards any piece of work which does not pass their arbitrary, ever-shifting and vastly varying criteria. Criteria for being “inclusive”, as well as portraying “diverse” characters in a way which doesn’t raise red flags for some subset of users and thus gets stamped “problematic”, or if you’re feeling saucy, “garbage shit trash”.
To summarize: Tumblr “critical consumption” has effectively silenced a queer, female, mentally ill creative voice.
I am a minority creator myself (biracial, mentally ill) and I’ll be the first to admit that hanging around tumblr has been helpful in learning how to examine my programming and how it shows up in my work. However, I possess a confidence– and arrogance– in my work that others do not, which allows me to press forward even when my inbox accuses my queer characters being “lip service” because they don’t have romantic arcs.
Is deep-sj tumblr happy with this model? Are we content to batter aspiring socially-conscious creators into abandoning the idea of creating altogether, while scores of white boys skim past your open condemnation of Urbance with a scoff, if they even read it at all?
Let’s talk about Urbance. Before I get right into it I have a related anecdote.
Some time ago, I recommended The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin to a user seeking books with gender-nonbinary characters (the work in question contains characters who are, quite explicitly and viscerally, genderfluid). They immediately discarded the idea after reading its summary on goodreads. They didn’t want to read a book about “some white guys from Earth having to ~learn to accept~ gender noncomforming aliens and that being the entire arc of the story”.
Anyone who’s actually read Left Hand knows this is ludicrous, but for your benefit, the main character is black, and he is the only Earthborn human in the story; the Gethenians are described as ‘Inuit brown’ and are humanoid in every respect besides their unique sexual physiology. The core themes of the book are actually about exploring a society which doesn’t have a masculinity construct. Where everyone is both male and female. No time is spent by the (BLACK) protag being disgusted or crudely fascinated by the Gethenians; only with examining how his two-gendered social programming has led him to frequently prejudge and misunderstand them.
No, that wasn’t good enough. These barriers need to not exist, because we want diverse stories where LGBT and people of color don’t face prejudice, right?
Urbance. Urbance was almost utterly destroyed by Tumblr; its creators sought to portray a society where everyone was mixed race (their characters were unmistakably black and asian-coded) and the construct of 'race’ was absent, a relic of a bygone era. Tumblr users decided that this, in itself, was racist. They proceeded to pick apart every line of a translated-from-French Q&A page and decided that Urbance was acephobic, nb-phobic, transphobic, queer-erasing, whatever; until, embarrassingly enough, Urbance received a funding surge at the eleventh hour from fucking GamerGate.
GamerGate had to pick up a promising, racially and sexually diverse project because Tumblr users were so utterly batshit hateful towards it that it almost didn’t get funded. Simply to spite us.
So that’s at least one high profile 'progressive’ piece of media that Tumblr has waved its dick and balls at and nearly destroyed– has there been an analogous example of a diverse project that Tumblr has rallied behind?
Oh right– The Arkh Project.
I really have nothing else to add that hasn’t been said a hundred times over by people more versed in this stuff than I am– everything is problematic, progress in small steps, glass half full, etc.
The fact of the matter is Tumblr needs to sort its fucking attitude out, and quick, or we’re looking at a lot of the same shit for the next ten years while the same straight white guys make everything, and laugh at “SJWs” constantly, impotently, pointlessly, complaining. While queer, female, mentally ill writers languish in corners, silent, hiding like battered wives from the people who are supposed to be their advocates, their protectors, and their fans.
diversity/representation is not enough on its own to make media good. criticizing “diverse” media is not just “nitpicking things that are trying to be good”. just because something has gay characters doesnt mean it cant be racist. just because something has gay characters doesnt mean those gay characters are portrayed in a good and non-homophobic way. if you shoot down all criticisms just because something gives you scraps of representation, you dont actually want progressive media.
and before you say “oh this is totally about x” it’s about all of them. steven universe, ddadds, sailor moon, taz, and every other thing people pull this shit with.
In a new survey from LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD, conducted by Harris Poll, those open minds are reflected in the numbers: 20% of millennials say they are something other that strictly straight and cisgender, compared to 7% of boomers.
“Either you commit to diversity, and it’s just a fact of how you do
business, how you live, or you’re not diverse,” Franck says. “You can’t
say ‘I know, we’ll be diverse, we’ll gift one black part.’ That sort of
tokenism is not diversity. To be truly diverse, you have to start at the
top. Our production company, one of the presidents is a black man. The
president of our TV division is a woman. Our writer’s room is pretty
close to fifty-fifty, men and women. It’s not like there were
checkboxes, the attitude was just, ‘Let’s hire an interesting array of
voices.’” That attitude extends to the script and the screen. “We’re not
trying to champion anyone in particular,” Abraham says. “We’re telling a
story, and in the course of the story, there are people who aren’t all
white guys. What’s important is what the Zuni woman is doing, not that
she’s a Zuni.” - How SyFy’s The Expanse cast its multiracial future.