A little known fact about yours truly.
Since the release of Hollowstone and garnering a respectable following online through places like Ars Marginal, I’m often solicited to review and endorse books, tv shows for virtual strangers and their websites. For many I’ve taken up the opportunities, as many of you are aware and for others I turn down these requests.
It’s interesting because while the solicitors don’t know me well or at all, for some reason they think they are entitled to my time and energy. However if they knew me for five seconds they would know why I might be turning out endorsing the media. Like most people, said time is precious but more than that I have a Litmus Test that I use whenever I ponder on considering new media to consume. Now while there are obviously exceptions to the rule, more often than these are guidelines I run with.
This Litmus Test is a series of simply questions I’ll ask before I even entertain watching a television show, reading a novel, a comic book, etc.
Question 1: Is the lead or central protagonist a person of color?
Question 2: Is the lead or central protagonist an LGBTQ?
Now if the title in question has already failed to pass the first two checks, it’s not looking good but it doesn’t mean it’s automatically eliminated. There are 3 saving grace questions I’ll pose then.
Question 3: Is the writing exceptional? And by exceptional, I mean would I as a fellow writer be impressed? By exceptional, I mean is it on some Shonda Rhimes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Joss Whedon, Dwayne McDuffie, Janelle Monae, Russell T Davies, JK Rowling level of exceptional?
Question 4: Is there eye candy? Because if the eye candy is pretty enough I might be willing to overlook a lot but there better be some smoking eye candy?
Question 5: Does this project feature Gina Torres in any shape or fashion. Because if the Goddess herself is involved, game on!
No? Nada? Then chances are I won’t be reading or tuning in.
“Oh but Denny,” many of you say, “You’re being SOOOOOOOO unreasonable?”
Am I? Am I really?
I missed the law that was passed that said that I am obligated to support any and all straight white media that passes my way. I missed the part where my personal decisions about what media I choose to view affects anyone else.
However you tell some fans why you have legitimate issues with the new regime running Doctor Who or why you think Game of Thrones is a train wreck they act like you just assaulted their first born or something.
And then when you voice how you’re sick of minorities being denigrated and erased, mofos look at you like you’ve lost your damn mind. Like in the 21st I’m supposed to be grateful for table scraps, of one dimensional token sidekicks and racist homophobic caricatures. I should be grateful and have faith and trust and wait for things to gradually get better. I’d be better off waiting for Godot and waiting to exhale.
But answer me this, how many straight white people do you know go out of their way to view media where they aren’t featured as the primary or central protagonists. How often do they seek out QUALITY media (and no BET and Bravo don’t count), that features POCs and LGBTQs with RESPECT? How often do you see them going out of their way to better learn about their brothers and sisters of different ethnicities and different orientations?
Exactly. Just like I thought.
There desperately needs to be more diversity in the media. While my options are immensely limited, the fact of the matter is I do have options, thanks in large part to the world wide web.
While Hollywood continues to hemorrhage money and can’t understand why most of its movies are tanking, they still have yet to figure out why series like Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl, the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers and Unwritten Rules have been a huge hit.
Keep your crappy NBC dramas, my must-see TV Thursday is reserved for Olivia Pope on the hit series Scandal. My Friday nights are with a sexy dame known as Nikita.
Keep your Nu Who, I’ve got seasons of Torchwood, the Sarah Jane Adventures, and the RTD era of Who that are not getting old anytime soon.
While some of the comics I’m reading are often to critique in how NOT to storytell, there are so many shitty titles that I’m happy I’m not reading: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, pretty much everything in Marvel. In fact the only thing I am reading and enjoying are Ultimate Spider-Man (Miles Morales), X-Factor, any Storm-centric X-Men issues (the goddess still gives me life), classic Midnighter and the vintage Cassandra Cain. And less I totally geek out, I won’t mention how much I live for Kevin Keller.
Keep your 50 Shades of Grey and Save Your Pearls, my reading list consists of Catherine Llundoff’s Silver Moon, Scott Tracey’s Witch Eyes series, Sarah Diemer’s the Dark Wife, Amaya Radjani’s Nightingales, I can continue on and on.
I can read high fantasy plays that feature leading queer black and Latino protagonists.
And for stuff that I want to see but is not out there yet, well, I just write and publish my own stuff.
So no, I don’t have to settle and I’m not going to settle, and I couldn’t be happier with my choices. I’m being sufficiently entertained, the art is challenging me and transcending me as art should but more than that, I’m supporting marginalized media.
If the media can’t pass one simple test, then it’s not really worth my time. As far as settling for table scraps, those days have long since passed.
Counting Colored Cash: http://arsmarginal.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/681/
Web Media: http://arsmarginal.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/web-media/
You Got That Moxie Baby: http://arsmarginal.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/you-got-that-moxie-baby/