I am a huge media consumer. From books to music to television to movies to web series, I am transfixed by entertainment. My habits border on addiction and often distract me from more academic pursuits. This piece is an attempt to mind meld both my passion for media and my passion for student affairs. Let's hope it comes out more like a hybrid striped rose than Frankenstein's monster.
Staying up to date on what is popular is a hobby for me. I always check the trending sections on Facebook and Twitter as well as entertainment magazines. As a woman of color it has been of interest to me how representation, particularly in television, has changed lately and the trends are reflecting that. We have seen many characters bring the variety American life to the screen in the past few years. There are two critically acclaimed shows, Orange Is The New Black and Transparent that focus and feature on the lives of transgender people. The biggest show runner in Hollywood is a black woman who heads up three hit shows with diverse casts ranging in ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and more. Shows like Blackish, The Fosters, and Fresh Off The Boat explore family life in ways that we haven't seen in years or maybe ever. Television is starting to try to reflect our society. Of course, it is by no means perfect and the majority of what is created is targeted at a certain demographic of viewers. The simple truth is that our media is still run by men and white men at that and they are the ones deciding who and what we see. However, we are taking a turn for the better and I only hope that this will continue until it is no longer a trend, but everyday reality on our screens.
Seeing is so very important, especially in the media. It is where we get a lot of our information and education. It is where we learn about other cultures and experiences we may not have access to. It is those views that help shape how we view ourselves and how we view others. When there is no one like you in the common places to look your view of yourself can become skewed. I know that I connect better with stories and characters that reflect aspects of myself whether it be my ethnicity, my gender, or my hobbies. When you can see yourself in the characters on your television screen it helps to affirm all sorts of possibilities. When characters that look like you or identity as you do are doctors or business people or just fully formed complex humans you have an easier time conceiving that these are things that you can achieve, that you can be. When I see characters like Cookie from Empire, and Maxine Shaw from Living Single, I get so much LIFE. This feeling of belonging and believing made me think about how I could apply this to my work.
I do a lot of program planning in my organizations, from academic panels to Disney themed socials, and one thing that has stood out to me is that students are more engaged in the work my groups and I do when they feel represented whether physically or in terms of interests. Diversity in programming and presentations is so important to students, just like it is to media consumers. The programs on campuses need to reflect their communities. I have helped curate a Nerd Girl Panel for the past two years of Geek Week at Rutgers University. With the help of advisors we were able to gather an amazing group of women from a bunch of nerdy fields from film to social justice bloggers to librarians to Buzzfeed authors. We had women of different ethnic backgrounds, sexualities and experiences. It was amazing to see the way students of all different backgrounds, genders, sexes, and interests interacted with the panelists and spoke about how wonderful it was to see themselves in the speakers we brought. Our programming has to reflect our students and their interests, not just in the entertainment we provide, but in the academic and networking areas as well. Students can only thrive when you affirm that they can achieve anything by showing them real life examples. Seeing truly is believing.
I've gamed for my entire life. I remember having an original Nintendo Entertainment System and I've kept with it since today, playing video games to varying extents throughout my life, mostly enjoying to play single-player adventures that I can really sink my teeth into. Multi-player games have never been my forte for the most part, mostly because of the sort of behavior that happens in the community. The language and bullying is reprehensible at worst and at best, you still have to face the lack of diversity in games.
A recent article a friend shared took a keen eye to the bias non-white, non-male, queer identified gamers face daily. It has a long list of incidents they face whether or not they are jumping online to enjoy some friendly competition. There is a lack of heroes for them to look up, voices in the community to echo their concerns, and multiple incidents of bias every day when all one wants to do is relax with a favorite video game. A major point the article makes is that a big first step for us here is awareness of the issue, which I highly agree with. We need to not tolerate or support the types of behavior from each other that makes fellow gamers feel less than. We should be having conversations about acceptance and respect for diversity, and just focus on having fun with our favorite video games.
This was an eye opening article for me and I hope that it can positively influence others, since even though I have enjoyed the benefits of privilege in this space, doesn't mean I can't do all that I can now to help remedy its effects.
Thanks for stopping by.
I've just started exploring the Star Trek universe lately. I am a fan of the two newer films by J.J. Abrams and have seen two of the original series movies. Only now though am I starting to work on Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix. As far as geekdom goes, this is a pretty established bit of sci-fi.
I write with Star Trek as a foil for all of science fiction. The genre as whole is a great place to gleam learning that is overtly delivered, just like in the comic book realm of storytelling. It gives a certain glimpse of what might come in our future either moving past our current issues or being symbolic of them. I always find it fascinating the different perspectives on what lies ahead for humanity in these shows and films, especially since Star Trek focuses a lot on diversity. While humanity has united itself, there are still growing pains with acclimating ourselves with all of the varied aliens out in the universe, so it still provides teachable moments for the viewers.
Whether it is Klingons or Romulans, these struggles of understanding and accepting the "other" showcased in Star Trek as well as the deep moral questions always posed by the show make it a greatly entertaining and educational show for this emerging student affairs professional to partake in when I have some rare free time. I highly recommend it and the other complete series that are out there to stream for free. If Star Trek isn't your thing or perhaps you prefer another medium, there is so much awesome science fiction out there that deals with diversity as well as many other important issues, like the growing role of technology in our lives, or how it will be best to govern in the future, just to name a few. It's also just a great guilt-free way to spend some free time! You'll have some fun and learn something too!