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Diversity

I get so tired of people complaining about "too much diversity" in media, like honestly, why can't these people understand why we need diversity? I will also never understand why they DON'T want diversity. It makes no sense to me. What, these people LIKE hearing the exact same stories a million times over and over and over again? Well to heck with that! I'm on the autism spectrum and even I get tired of the same things all the time eventually!

Let me explain why I personally want diversity:

1. Because I am not represented in most media. I'm transgender, bisexual, polyamorous, autistic, mentally ill with depression and anxiety, and neo-pagan, but very few of these things are represented in most media. It hurts not being included, and it's a wonderful feeling when you're represented accurately and well by one of your own people, rather than someone who doesn't know the struggle pretending like they do. Even when they do a decent acting job, it's still an insult because we still know that person isn't what they're pretending to be. Acting the role of a farmer when you've never been one is one thing, anyone can learn to be a farmer, but you can't learn to be a gay person or transgender; you either are one or you aren't. Hiring an actor to pretend like they're gay or trans or something like that when they're not tells the whole world "We could have hired a real (insert minority here), there's plenty of excellent ones, but instead we're just going to go with Generic White Actor #14 because fuck you that's why."

2. Fairness. I'm white, but I like seeing people of color, especially women of color and especially black people (and dark skinned black women), in media, especially popular media. Why? Because it's fair. When certain groups of people are excluded, it sends a hurtful message, and the instances that don't affect me personally still hurt my heart because I feel other people's pain and have a strong sense of justice. And I don't think highly of people who don't share my compassion and strong sense of justice. I consider them selfish at best.

3. I have partial face blindness, and most of these white Hollywood actors and actresses look alike to me. For those who don't know, total face blindness is a condition that causes people to be unable to recognize their own mothers by their faces. I have a partial version of it, which simply makes faces a pain to memorize. By default, faces look the same to me; I have to concentrate on a face to work out its unique shape and memorize it, and that can take anywhere from hours to months depending on the face. And there's a lot of white actors and actresses I still can't recognize because Hollywood seems to despise uniqueness in its actors, the Hollywood casting people seem to hire mostly conventionally pretty white people. For white men, it's bad, but for white women, it's even worse. I can recognize maybe half the white male actors I see, but I can only recognize about a third of the white actresses. Heck, I had to stop watching The 4400 because one of the protags and one of the antags were blond white men who looke, dressed, and sounded so similar to each other that I was getting completely lost trying to follow the story.

Interestingly, for my part I find it a lot easier to recognize the faces of most people of color, especially black people. It takes me less than half the time to memorize the faces of black people than white people, I can recognize black actors and actresses more quickly than white ones, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've mistaken one black person for another (whereas that happens at least 10 times a month with white actors). Which is why I don't believe people who say all black people look alike to them; if I have partial face blindness and can do it, what's your excuse? (All these things are true of most other races for me, too. I have a little more difficulty with Japanese and Chinese faces than with other races, but they're still easier than white faces for me.)

4.White people, and stories with just or mostly white people in them, are BORING! Speaking as a white person from the midwest, I was bored of white people and their repetitive fucking stories before I had even turned 10. (And fantasy is the worst genre in this regard. Almost no diversity at all, and 99% of the stories were exactly the same until urban fantasy started becoming a thing.)

Growing up, I loved shows like Family Matters, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Sister Sister because they were interesting, refreshing, and creative, whereas 90% of the rest of the crap on TV was the same recycled bullshit. Same stories, same character types, same settings, same old boring shit time and time again. Diversity of characters and especially diversity of writers and producers and directors opens up a million paths for new stories, things nobody's ever heard the like of before. It's becoming a struggle finding anything to read or watch these days because of the boringness of your typical white media BS, so I find myself drawn to diverse media because it's the only thing that doesn't bore the pants off me anymore. It's hard to be enthusiastic about reading when all the stories are ones I've already heard a million times before.

Hell, at least half my obsession with Harry Potter has to do with how new and interesting it was. I had never read anything like it before, it was so unlike any fantasy I'd read up to that point, and even if the diversity wasn't great, Rowling did at least TRY to be diverse, with Cho Chang, the Patil twins, and at least four black characters.

And not only can diversity show us whole new story vistas, it can revitalize tired old story plots. Take the old trope in scifi of time travel. Bloody boring, been done to death. And yet I've been watching a time travel TV show called Timeless, and it's pretty good for a time travel show, saved from being utter rubbish by the two black characters in it, one of whom is the dude who invented the time machine and pilots it. They inject new life into this dead trope by giving us a mostly realistic portrayal of a black man's take on history, which included gems like recognizing that the dude the Lone Ranger was based off of was black, giving us accurate depictions of relations between the First Nations people and the colonists, how life was for the black women who helped get NASA to the moon and back, and other commentary on history from a little-heard perspective. Seriously, if that black time machine inventor dude dies or leaves the show, they'll have to replace him with someone equally good or better, or else the show will lose all it really had going for it.

This was cross-posted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org/1333431.html
You can comment either here or there.

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