I have a not so tight secret.
I'm very, very white.
I'm so white that I burn while waiting for the bus.
I also understand that as a white person, I'm in a position of extraordinary privilege.
Not as much privilege as some, being a woman and all, but a I do have a lot of privilege.
For example, I am acutely aware of my history - it's pretty much all that's taught in schools. There is no dearth of white people in the media around me. My story has been told and retold and then told again.
So, I actually don't really have a horse in the representation race. My horse has already won. By a landslide.
But lack of representation really fucking bothers me. It pisses me off when a white person is cast in a role better suited to an Asian actor (ahem, Ghost in the Shell, Dr. Strange). I'm tired of seeing talented black actors who could play fantastic roles looked over in favour of some white guy. Or seeing a whole whack of white people where people of colour would be far better suited (AHEM Gods of Egypt.)
And more, I'm thrilled when people of colour are cast in typically or presumed white roles (Fantastic 4, Gunslinger (so excited about Idris Elba!)).
I've had arguments with people who feel the exact opposite (one guy was so butt hurt, SO BUTT HURT over the casting of an African American as The Human Torch. Dink.), and it got me thinking. Why does it bother me so damned much?
Well, two reasons, really. The first, is that I've had my experience with exclusion. For a while, there was no real roles being given to women in media. We were the love interest, the inciting incident, the pretty, but perfectly useless lampshade... I was fortunate enough to have grown up in the eighties and nineties, with She-Ra and Xena: Warrior Princess, but I quickly realised that they were exceptions in an otherwise sausage-filled landscape.
There aren't too many chubby superheroes out there.
And, with the exception of Sherlock, asexuals are pretty much never represented at all. It sucks to be asexual in a world saturated with sex.
Anyway, I want to see more diversity because, well, empathy. I know a little bit of what it feels like look at the world, and find that I am, in fact, quite alone.
But not to the same degree as others.
So my perspective is a little different from theirs.
The main reason I want to see more diversity in the media I consume is much, much more selfish, and entirely enabled by the privileges I enjoy as a white person.
It's because the old white men in charge of these things seem to have had a meeting and unanimously decided that I, as a white person, am not sophisticated enough to enjoy media that doesn't star someone who is basically a carbon copy of me.
As it happens, I am. More to the point, I greatly enjoy reading and seeing things from points of view that aren't my own. I want to see stories I'm not familiar with. I'm bored of the white story. It's all there ever is. Give me the Bilals of the world. Show me a mythology I'm not familiar with.
I'll warrant that most white people are sophisticated enough to handle media that isn't predominantly white. I'm so tired of being patronised. It happens too much in my life from everyone around me because of my gender. I don't need it because of the colour of my skin as well.
Here's the thing, old white dudes, I'd like to see Egyptians in a film set in Egypt. Crazy! I'd like to see a Japanese actress play a character named Motoko Kusanagi. Weird, right? Strangely, I like seeing women being real women instead of bizarre and insulting stereotypes (which I believe is part of the reason behind the success of Game of Thrones with female viewers).
Here's the thing, Hollywood et al, I'm not just a social justice warrior (and I will forever wear that label with pride - social justice is great and being a warrior is badass, so... yeah, SJW FTW). It's not just because I think everyone should have a fair shake (though I do), and that it's high time we stopped stripping opportunities from others to give to white people - especially in the role for which people of colour are far better suited. It's not just because of that.
It's because, quite simply, fuck you for thinking I can't handle it.
Now fuck off, and do something about your diversity problem.