Friday, May 17, 2013

You Are the Media

Lately there's been a bit of hubbub about Disney prettying up Brave's protagonist, Merida, for their various toys and clothing lines. It seems like thousands of people are up in arms over the whole thing, each with a different reason for it. You've got the movie fanatics who are pissed about Disney ruining Merida's character, you've got the sheltered folks who don't understand that Disney owns Pixar and all of its intellectual properties, and you've got my least favorite group--and the inspiration for this particular post--the crazy angry people bitching about how every female character "in the media" is an oversexed skank simply to make profits and brainwash the public.

They're kind of right. Popular media does have that common portrayal of their female characters, of prettying them up and telling girls "Look, you need to be pretty like this if you want to be anything important in life". That's a real thing, and it has been taken to ridiculous levels. A lot of it really is deplorable bullshit, and it would be wise for parents to educate their children against this kind of Hollywood witchcraft.

But please, please, I'm begging you, for the sake of delicious cheese, stop complaining about how "the media" portrays gender stereotypes. The media isn't a single entity throwing nonsense into our faces 24/7. The media is a grouping of all individuals who create content for your viewing, and like with any group, what you're seeing most frequently are the loudest and dumbest individuals. There are plenty of shows, toys, games, and what have you which do not reinforce these negative stereotypes, and there are a host that reinforce stereotypes in opposite directions which are just as bad. The simple fact of this is that, well you are the media.

This is particularly true in the age of the Internet. Right now every individual human being has the power to create, distribute, share, and publish material fashioned to their own liking. They can use this material to brainwash people how they think people should be brainwashed, they can use this material to objectify any social group they think needs objectifying, and they can use the material for about a billion purposes I haven't even thought of. 

It really pisses me off when people bitch and moan about how "the media" portrays certain people or certain groups, how they'd "like to see more positive role models for (in this example) tomboys in the media", then go back to watching media to bitch about, or, for the more militant among them, take their bitching to another forum and unleash it upon the poor members there.

I don't know what it is with our society that makes people think their media is some mystical force created by high ranking people who must adhere to their particular moral views, but it really needs to stop. We should not legislate how people are portrayed anymore than we should legislate what they are allowed to say (so like always when I'm complaining about people's opinions, I acknowledge they are free to express them. I just also acknowledge that they're really fucking wrong). If people are unhappy with the way "the media" is doing things... make some media! The media is nothing without creators, and when I see creative people complaining about portrayals of social groups or animals or whathaveyou it really baffles me.

How can you not understand that "the media" is nothing more than published work which you are entitled to consume? If you really want "the media" to portray things differently you can't just sit around  yelling at it to do that, you have to get off your butt and make your own fucking media! You can't force people to do what you want, but you can sure as hell do whatever you want. You want role models for tomboyish girls in the media? Make them! You want more positive role models for non-white kids in the media? Make them! You want positive role models for gay kids in the media? Make them!

You aren't helpless. You have the ability to do this. At your disposal are all the tools and platforms you will need to create your own media utilizing whatever demographic portrayals you desire. You have free creation utilities like GIMP and OpenOffice, you have free distribution and media sharing platforms like YouTube, FictionPress, and hell, The Pirate Bay, and you have no excuse to continue demanding other people make stuff you want to see when you have the power, ability, and right to do so yourself.

You are the media.

You are personally responsible if you are unhappy with "the media" and not creating any of your own. You are responsible. Own up to it.

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