This afternoon I was involved in a (very civil and polite) discussion on Twitter about diversity in media. The discussion mainly involved Nikki and I trying to point out to a man that diversity in media doesn’t mean tokenism, and it doesn’t mean diverse characters feeling forced and contrived, it simply means more representation. As well meaning as he was, he just didn’t seem to get that the things he was saying about female and queer characters could just as easily be said about male and straight characters. Let me take a moment to say, I don’t dislike the chap in question! I do however feel that he is a product of social conditioning.
For example, let’s say a movie has a male, able bodied protagonist.
“A movie has a male, able bodied protagonist”
Now let’s say the movie has a male, disabled protagonist instead. It has zero impact on the main plot, nothing changes other than that the protagonist now uses crutches while he walks from his workspace at Mission Control to the coffee machine, to refresh himself during a long shift trying to guide the astronauts home from their mission to mine Red Leicester cheese from Mars. (That’s a thing, right? Cream cheese from the Moon, Red Leicester from Mars, Stilton from Pluto?)
Oh, that and now our hero that got our brave cheese miners home is representing disabled folks. It bolsters the fact that disabled people are, well, people. They exist, and they do stuff. Maybe not ensuring our Martian cheese supplies continue, but you know, doing people’s accounts, walking dogs, programming games and a million things inbetween.
And the same goes for women, LGBT folks, people of colour, fat people, short people, people who aren’t conventionally good looking. They’re all people, and there are people who will feel good seeing themselves represented on screen.
“Bunty, what the hell does this have to do with tea?”
Fair enough, I did say this would be about tea.
Back in November a certain corner of Retro Gaming Twitter went a bit intense over tea. #teagate saw people discussing what was the best way, or rather, their favourite way to make a cup of tea.
Many said tea should be well brewed, with a splash of milk.
Others declared that tea should be served without milk…
…or that it should be very milky.
Some revealed that they don’t even like tea, if you can imagine such a thing!
“Bunty, get to the point.”
Ok, ok. Here’s my point. The tea is media – movies, games, etc. Some of us will only like milky tea, some will only like strong. But, just because you only like milky tea, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be able to have strong tea. The availability of strong tea doesn’t stop the availability of milky tea.
If you like games with predominately male, straight characters that’s fine. Other games with predominately non-binary, queer characters existing won’t take away your games.
“But I tried a different kind of tea and I didn’t like it!”
Well, that’s ok. But just remember, it’s probably someone else’s cup of tea. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have the kind you want, remember?
“But loads of people liked the tea I don’t like, I feel like my tea is less important!”
Well, maybe it is, to them. Just as their tea is less important to you.
“I’m going to shout at them about how much I hate their tea!”
Ok, well, you have every right to voice your opinion. But would them shouting at you change your mind about your favourite cuppa? I doubt it.
“I’m going to tell them that how their tea is made is problematic and isn’t to their taste, and how the people making that tea for them aren’t doing it right!”
I’m sure they’ll tell you if it’s a problem. It’s their tea, after all.
Let people enjoy their tea. Let the menu be diverse, so we can all have the tea we like. The kettle is always on, and you will never go thirsty.
And for the record, my personal preference…