Educating yourself about things like privilege and the kyriarchy is always a good idea, but it does have one slight drawback: learning how every form of media you once enjoyed freely has something wrong with it. From films that don’t even manage to involve two named female characters (or PoC characters) that talk to each other about something other than a man (or white person); to casual transphobia, hipster ableism and ironic racism in mainstream comedy shows; to the wide use of words that seem innocuous until you learn about their troubled past; once you start noticing things you can’t stop. It’s like Pringles, only less delicious (but just as bad for your blood pressure).
This is clearly a reflection of how screwed up the world in general is, which can be a difficult thing to learn. It’s easy to feel powerless, so changing your media consumption habits or examining them critically can be ways to educate yourself and keep yourself aware of injustice. At the same time, such actions can feel like literal armchair activism, particularly when those in charge continue to reinforce the status quo and dismiss any criticism as coming from people just trying to be offended. (Something is certainly trying, but it isn’t us…)
There are a few ways you can try to deal with this constant analysis without giving up altogether. This article by the Social Justice League lists a few of them, but if you’re anything like me you’ll still be conflicted. Some people, of course, say things like “you’re taking things too seriously, loosen up and enjoy life!”. While that dazzling argument clearly works for a lot of people, it’s also playing right into the hands of these problematic concepts, in addition to silencing people who try to draw attention to the fact that not everyone has the liberty of ignoring these things.
What’s your strategy for enjoying problematic media? If there’s a line, where do you draw it? Have you found an example of a TV show, film, etc. that doesn’t have any issues of this sort? Is there anything ordinary consumers can do to make a tangible difference, or is it all a waste of time and energy?
The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, at 3pm ET.
(Featured image by abbot45 on Flickr.)