Media criticism is messy, and personal. How do we celebrate and critique media made by creators from marginalized backgrounds, featuring diverse casts of characters, without holding those works to different standards than we do less diverse media?
It’s a troubling question, considering that, as YouTuber Sarah Z points out in her excellent video, “Double Standards and Diverse Media,” the scales are rarely balanced fairly. In fact, they’re often balanced against marginalized creators: often in communities of people who care about media like this, we put an undue burden on marginalized creators. If they get things wrong, they’re criticized heavily, sometimes far more heavily than their white male counterparts. It’s a problem endemic to online media criticism. Marginalized creators can be chased off the internet for making mistakes where other creators can just skate by.
Not to say that marginalized creators shouldn’t be criticized, either! And that’s the dilemma Sarah tackles in her video, which attempts to balance the valid concerns of communities that want to be represented correctly with the distinct needs of marginalized creators, and in the process tries to explain why marginalized creators in particular tend to get this kind of treatment in the first place.
At io9, we care about this sort of thing—we care about Rebecca Sugar’s work for LGBT representation, and we also care when major corporations like Marvel make space for different kinds of creators to tell stories that traditionally haven’t been told. So I think this is an important watch. It’s not a short video, but it cogently lays out some of the problems with the way we treat marginalized creators online, and what we might do about it. If those things are important to you, too, I’d recommend giving it a watch.