Stop Saying You Only Care About Quality in the Same Breath That You Argue Against Diversity
This cognitive dissonance needs to stop.
So the old defense of the status quo goes: “I don’t care about the race/gender/other aspects of whoever creates the things I love! That’s not important to me. I just care about good stories/gameplay/what-have-you!” Then why are you talking about race/gender/creator diversity issues at all instead of letting people who do care sort it all out?
Say it with me: “If I don’t care about something, then my input isn’t needed, because it doesn’t affect me. If I still try to give my input, I obviously care more than I say I do.”
The “I only care about the quality of my entertainment” argument isn’t solely used when talking about media creators; it’s basically a derivative of “I don’t see race.” And if it were really true of the person saying it (doubtful), then good for that person. Hey, that childlike innocence is unlikely to ever help anyone less privileged—as it essentially blinds you to the suffering of people less fortunate than yourself—so much as it makes the person who says it feel good about themselves, but at least they’re not an actively racist monster-human.
The problem comes in when that person tries to hold up their ignorance as something to be aspired to and shout down those who don’t see the world as “fine if we’d all just stop trying to make things a little easier on people who have it tough.” We run into this line of thinking all the time and see people who claim not to care about diversity still insert themselves into conversations about it—most often in comment sections around the old interwebz—but we reached a breaking point today when reading an editorial on ComicMix on the state of diversity in the comics industry.
The article calls “bullshit” on people “creating these stupid fucking artificial lines” when it comes to what they think are acceptable levels of diversity—specifically in the main creative teams of Marvel and DC Comics. It continues, “To be brutally forthright—and quite politically incorrect—I don’t give a damn what color, what religion, what ethnicity, what nationality, or what sex a creator is.”
Is that really “arguing against diversity”? Sadly, yes. When someone just wishes the world were a better place, and your response is to rant about a nitpick of what they’re trying to improve, you’re doing nothing but impeding progress at best—even if that wasn’t your intention, as seems to be the case here.
And of course, with that line of reasoning comes another old standby from ComicMix: success is based solely on hard work, talent, and a lot of luck. What is it about that argument that makes it so hard to convince people it’s invalid, no matter how many times we hear it? Well, probably that it’s true—on the surface. But if you listen to people a little closer, you’ll realize they’re not asking for someone to change the way the world works; they’re simply asking that those of us with the means to do so try to help level the playing field, and I don’t think that’s too much.
When the return yield for the same amount of hard work and talent from one person is less for another because of their gender or the color of their skin, why wouldn’t we take steps to try to even that out? And don’t tell me that luck is the intervening factor there and it’s therefore an unchangeable situation. Luck isn’t immune to race or gender—it’s probably the part of the equation most effected. Look at it like this: when one person’s background hands them a start where the chance of a positive outcome is as likely as one side of a coin flip and another person might as well be rolling a 100-sided die in the hope of a getting a single, specific number, it’s pretty hard to call it “random chance” when the people with the better start succeed more often. Sure, that’s luck, but why wouldn’t we want to make sure that race and gender play a smaller role in that luck?
And no, rattling off lists of people who’ve succeeded despite these odds—as the ComicMix piece also does—doesn’t invalidate the idea of balancing them better.
In short, I have some simple advice: If you really think that the status quo is fine when it comes to diversity in movies, TV, comics, and everything else, then yeah, just ignore it. That’s a surefire way to make sure it continues on just the way it is.
However, there’s no reason to actively argue against those seeking change if all you care about is watching and reading things you like—those things will still be out there no matter who’s creating them, as you yourself have so adamantly stated. If you really believe it’s all luck, talent, and hard work, then leveling the playing field shouldn’t change anything.
But please, keep it to yourself. If your opinion is, “I don’t care,” then your opinion is doing nothing more than bogging down the conversation—a conversation that, I’ll repeat, does nothing to hurt you you by ignoring it. The world gains just as much from your nihilism as you believe it gains from continued work on diversity: nothing.
(featured image via cherezoff on Shutterstock)
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