people who come at the penumbra podcast claiming that it ‘fails to be as diverse as it pretends it is’ are kind of. missing the point, i think? the team are writing stories about people who don’t get to see themselves in stories otherwise, but there’s no way in hell they could write a single good story that perfectly represents every single person underneath this umbrella at once.
right now, the team is running a longform series about a black, nonbinary, bisexual man slowly learning to come to terms with his past and survive the mental illness that tells him all the good he accomplishes is worthless and all the bad that he sees is his fault. juno is the primary character in this series, and while there are countless other lgbt+ characters, characters of color, characters with traumas and characters with disabilities in this series, their stories are not front and center because the story is about juno steel. this is especially true given that juno has yet to overcome his tendency to paint himself as the hero or the villain, and always the center of attention. he’s selfish.
right now, the team is running a longform series about a whole slough of people who want to be knights and are constantly told they aren’t good enough. a man who uses a horse or crawls instead of walking. a woman who’s constantly belittled and underestimated by her peers because of her gender. a man who battles both anxiety and internalized homophobia. all of them manage to be some of the most competent and deadly fighters in the land. and presumably, there’s more about this group of people we don’t know yet. more people will get to see themselves represented in the second citadel stories, too, because of the ensemble cast.
in the past, the team has written a story about two women falling in love, one of whom was nonwhite and genderqueer. it’s not a longform series, but the arc of the story itself was over in one episode. the conflict was resolved. when stories last longer than their conflicts do they stop being good stories, generally
the team has spoken up saying that they can only be what they are. they won’t write stories that they don’t know how to tell well, because they’re dedicated to writing stories that constitute good representation, rather than token representation for its own sake. these stories can only be what they are, too. they can’t be every story at the same time
and i know it’s hard because there are so many different kinds of people who don’t have the chance to see themselves in stories, but speaking as someone who comes from both a privileged group and a disadvantaged one (ie a white nb lesbian): just because a story isn’t about you doesn’t mean that it isn’t important, or that it isn’t ‘diverse enough’
half the point of fandom is that we can fill in those gaps, if we want to, right? we can do a better job of allowing the writers to tell the story they’re working hard to tell right now, and if we have the time or energy, write some of the stories we want to see ourselves! or look for that content in another place! creators committed to this kind of diversity are few and far between, but there are more of them out there and maybe some of them are writing what you want to see right this minute
this ideological standard that a truly diverse story has to center around the whole spectrum of the human experience at once means that no story can ever measure up! and it’s harmful, especially when media that makes no claim of being diverse gets away with worse every day. above all, it belittles the amazing efforts this team have made to show people stories about themselves!