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Culture Wars

February 3, 2014

Last post I talked about my optimism toward 2014, when people will become empowered through technology. One thing I am sick of hearing is, “I don’t see any ____s on TV, so I don’t watch TV.” Some days you can’t turn around without hearing it. Usually someone points out to the person complaining that there are Asians, Christians, female welders, amputees — whatever the original complaint is about — on TV and maybe they should try watching before they complain. You don’t want to watch? More power to you. But that remark is how we get to the heart of the matter. It’s not that there are no ____s on TV, it’s that there’s a lack of interesting ____s on TV.

Diverse Disney Princesses

This awesome image belongs to Gynostar.

Maybe I’m weird and most people need a character to resemble them to like them. They could complain to Disney until they have the princess of their design, but it’ll likely be a long wait because Disney has no obligation to produce your dream princess. What’s a person who desperately wants their daughter to see a left-handed Sikh princess with a magical nematode symbiote to do?

They don’t need to spend the rest of their life demanding Disney make that princess anymore. They might find there is a group that creates art around left-handed Sikh women with a magical nematode symbiote. They might commission an artist to draw the Sikh princess wielding a khanda left-handed while her nematode sidekick shields her. Perhaps they’ve got some artistic talent of their own and self-publish a comic, netting a larger audience for the adventures of Princess Satkiran and her symbiote. Maybe they have zero talent, but come across webisodes of Princess Livdeep and a magical iguana she bonds with telepathically. Just watching will up Livdeep’s creator’s exposure and if the parent has some money to spare, they might donate to keep the series going.

To all talented FFF readers, I challenge you to change the culture. Tired of the fat person being the comic relief? Let’s see you do it better. I’d love to share your work with the rest of the FFF audience. But wait, that’s a big failing of conservatives. Someone calls themselves a conservative artist, poorly Photoshops some AP images, slaps some text on it, and expects all conservatives to love their “art.” It’s not enough to have art that meets an agenda, it has to be art that people want to consume. I hate country music. I don’t care how pro-Constitution the lyrics are, I’m not buying the album. But a rock band that sings about breaking the bonds of tyranny? I’m all over it.

To amend my statement, I’d love to share interesting fat characters with any audience because that is how you change the culture.

Gingeroid Sig

 

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2014 9:39 am

    I don’t know. I kind of feel like the fact that it isn’t important to you doesn’t mean that cultural representation isn’t an important issue. You and I are white, so cultural references have always defaulted to our skin color. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in a reverse culture where white people are the minority and therefore virtually all characters in mainstream media are dark-skinned, leaving me out of the fun.

    Yes, there are increasing choices out there, but most of them are low-fi options: comics or online shows. Yeah, you can follow and support the artists who do create diverse characters, but there is no substitute for being included in the big projects that snag a national audience. I think it’s important for kids to see characters who look like them, otherwise you get results like the Clark Experiment, where kids internalize the belief that their own skin color just doesn’t matter or isn’t as valuable as white skin color.

    Personally, I think representation in media matters and has an impact on how the culture perceives and reacts to minority groups. I don’t think media companies should be mandated to be diverse, but I would hope that responsible media companies can begin to understand how diversity in media can impact the culture positively and prevent the kind of xenophobic dustups like the conservative reaction to the Coke ad during the Super Bowl last night.

    Peace,
    Shannon

    • February 3, 2014 10:00 am

      This.

    • February 4, 2014 6:56 am

      Yes. Supporting indie artists is an essential part of changing the landscape and should not be understated, but so is holding the big players (Disney etc) accountable for their narrow definition of “the norm.”

    • February 6, 2014 10:23 pm

      Thing is: When enough of us get behind a “lo-fi” project, it will stop being so “lo-fi.”

      If I were a parent, I’d probably be all about the Disney thing, despite my heavy-duty (no pun intended) misgivings about the company and the messages it peddles. Hell, when I was kid my Mom was often critical of the stories and characters when she watched them with us. But then again she praised what she liked about them, as well.

      But I have very limited resources to spend on entertainment, so if it’s a contest between “hi” and “lo,” I’m likely to go for the latter most of the time.

      • gingeroid permalink
        February 13, 2014 8:42 pm

        I think parental involvement is an awesome thing and so often missing today. When other parents were complaining about South Park, my dad was encouraging my sister and I to watch it with him. I don’t remember there being much discussion about the alien abduction episode but others encouraged dialogue and it’s something that’s carried into adulthood too. I’m trying to convince my family to watch Robocop with me so that we can debate militarization of law enforcement, drones, etc. afterward.

    • gingeroid permalink
      February 13, 2014 8:29 pm

      Sorry for the delay. I’ve had a hellish last few weeks.

      Everyone’s experiences are different. I’ve usually been drawn to the non-human characters and robots because their personalities were more like mine. While there may have been times I wished I was cybernetic, I can’t say I wished the robots looked like me. For that matter, most of my favorite Star Trek characters aren’t white either. Granted, the Trekverse is known for having a variety of people. Disney’s had how many years to diversify? Sure it would be nice, but why hold your breath for them? If they find themselves losing money to a competitor for their unconventional character, Disney will emulate it.

      There’s always going to be a group of idiots I saw as many people saying *yawn* or NBD to the Coke ad as there were “Speak English, damn it!” in the conservative population. There are 2 lines from a Madison Rising song that summed up my feelings on the whole thing perfectly:
      And if we spoke an extra language, it was just another way
      To pledge allegiance to the flag, God bless the USA

  2. February 3, 2014 12:31 pm

    Yep, ^^ this.

  3. February 5, 2014 2:29 pm

    Sometimes interesting fat characters are created, but then they’re slimmed down. DC Comics created Amanda Waller, a strong, fat, black woman. Then they slimmed her down and whitewashed her to make her look more like a conventionally pretty, lighter-skinned black woman such as Halle Berry, rather than a large, dark-skinned woman like Gabourey Sidibe or even a medium sized black woman like S. Epatha Merkerson.
    See www dot comicvine dot com slash amanda-waller slash 4005-4920/
    Racism, sizism, and sexism are indeed alive and well in entertainment. Yes, there are performers of color and of size. But they are few and far between, and the road for them is much harder.

    • February 6, 2014 10:27 pm

      A couple of comics (or graphic novels) that I love that keep fatties as real humans (flaws and all): Roberta Gregory’s Artistic Licentiousness and Alex Robinson’s Box Office Poison. (Though neither of them are for kids, because they feature some disturbing subject matter.)

    • gingeroid permalink
      February 13, 2014 8:36 pm

      I don’t know about interesting, but there was Fat Momma. She was created for Stan Lee’s superhero reality series and she got pretty far through the competition. It looks like someone drew a few comics with her.

      I do agree with harder because it’s so easy to get pigeonholed into a stereotype. I think it goes both ways though. I don’t know why it was such a shock that Rue was black and cast as such. I’d always envisioned Finnick as black and was shocked to find he was cast as white.

  4. February 6, 2014 10:35 pm

    Well, given your stated dislike of “found image” art, you may not care for my stuff, but since some of it mocks the diet industry I’ll link to it anyway. Maybe someone will think it’s amusing…

    • gingeroid permalink
      February 13, 2014 8:13 pm

      Sorry for the delay. Autoimmune disease is fun.

      Yours looks a lot better than the one I was complaining about. Think bad cat macro. Your work reminds me of Your eCards, with superior artwork. Will definitely have to give it a shout out in a future posting.

      • February 15, 2014 1:53 pm

        🙂 Thanks, and no need to apologize. Nice of you to take a look. If I ever get organized enough to update, I may even have some current work for you to link to before ’14 is done. (flickr turning without warning into a useless lump of mud last year set me back quite a bit.)

Trackbacks

  1. Racism, Sizism, and Sexism in Entertainment | Sly Fawkes

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