Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Championing Diversity Means Nothing If The Support Isn't There
Diverse stories. Own voices. Inclusivity. What a time to be alive that we're seeing this being not only a reality, but a DEMAND in the publishing and film making world - that's a GOOD thing. But what's not so hot is this: when we put diverse stories and own voices on such a high pedestal that we make it loud and clear that while everyone else can afford to write more than one bad book or make more than one bad movie, we can't. By putting ourselves out there, by telling our stories, the slightest negative thing that anyone looks for in the representation, we are invalidated, and that's not only not right, but it's plain and simply not fair. What it says when we put our own on a high pedestal is that we lose sight of how it's not about having perfect LGBT, diverse, and own voices films and books. It's about having them exist, period. The good and the bad. Yes, there's more bad than good. But still: as long as it's by our own, that is good. There's nothing wrong with wanting better, but...
This is the thing, that I've been noticing for quite some time:
There's no point in demanding diverse books and diverse films if the support isn't there. It's disheartening when that very same audience that champions more diversity, more inclusivity, and more own voices in film and publishing are the same people who don't buy it, who don't support it, where all their championing ends entirely when that book or film exists, even when it's good.
What's the point? It only sends the message loud and clear that our audience is fickle - that we only demand, but don't support.
I'm not saying everyone is doing this. We see our supporters. Yes, they are out there. We have them.
But on the whole, we can all do better than this.
It's not enough to demand a supply. We have to rush out to buy it as strong and passionately as when we're championing it on our social media. So what if some diverse or own voices books aren't a perfect representation - why should it have to be perfect when we don't expect perfection from the books and films by straight creatives? Why can't we enjoy our own books and films the same as we do the straight ones without having such an overly critical gaze on them? As long as these books are written by actual LGBT, PoC, women, etc. and not only written by the straight and/or white perspective, whether these books and films are good or bad shouldn't really be the point and bottom line. This industry, this world, is big enough to have all types of books and films. We should want our share of good and bad just like how there are so many terrible straight books and films and hardly anybody bats an eyelid about them - and also, nobody's perspective on the subject matter changes entirely just because it was bad. But when it's us - every. little. thing. matters. Even though I know most of our hearts are in the right place in wanting more good diverse books and films, I feel like we're focusing too much on being negative and critical of our own instead of supporting our own. It feels like we're out to looking for anything and everything that's bad with that story instead of doing what we should be doing: simply enjoying it. The escapism. The fun. The magic. And the pleasure.
I look forward to the day when readers and viewers can enjoy diverse stories the same as they do the straight ones. Like truly enjoy it, not overanalyze it and focus on the negative. I look forward to the day when we can all afford to fail just like our straight counterparts with no big deal being made of it. I look forward to the day when we aren't put on a high pedestal for being published at all. Not that we shouldn't be congratulated or acknowledged. Naturally, we should. But the high-pedestal mentality of it - isn't it counterproductive when we do this? We want to be treated equally. There shouldn't be this bias, especially when it's not as if diverse stories aren't out there, it's not as if we aren't being published. We are being published. Our stories are out there. It doesn't just start with our own, it begins and should end with our own by supporting one another, and not only by simply championing and demanding for more representation and more stories. There's no point in any of it if our own don't support our own by putting their $$$ where their mouth is. We got to let our $$$ talk as well since that is what it boils down to on whether or not our works will continue to be visible, or made and published at all. I get it - some still say that there's still so much bad out there, and nobody wants to spend their hard earned money on something bad. But the thing is: there's so much good out there. Why is it with the latter, the audience that wants more good stuff aren't supporting the good stuff? And why do we want perfection so badly? Is it out of fear that the one bad film or one bad book will tarnish us? Why do we have this fear when there's no need to? Whether it's good or bad, not one book, not one movie, has the power to do that. With diversity, there's the reality that we can't expect every book, every movie, every author, etc. of our own to get it right all the time, every time. By expecting that, we're being unrealistic, doing more harm than good to the bigger picture. We come across as unsupportive, fickle, indecisive, and just never happy with any book or movie that's centered on us, even when it is by our own. Is that what we're all about, really?
It's okay to be unsatisfied and frustrated when diverse, inclusive, own voices stories don't get it right entirely. It's okay to want better from our own. But when does it stop, do we even know how? When can we start supporting our own without putting our own on a high pedestal and expecting them to fall at the instant we find something wrong? And when they do fall - why don't we lift them up and encourage them to do better for the next time? Why can't we be more supportive of our own?
It has to start with us, and the rest of the world can and will follow. But it has to start with us.
It's not more diversity that we need. We need more support. That is ultimately what we should want.