The Woke Pedestal & How We Overly Scrutinize Diverse Media

In the emergence of more diverse casting, writing, and producing in Hollywood, the discourse surrounding those works have become almost inherently part of how we consume and experience the work itself. When we make the entry point so enormously high, it does produce quality work that reflects the diverse experiences in our world. But it can also make it so much harder for these works to be seen and criticized as a stand-alone work and not as a contributor or detractor to the wave of diversity representation we are experiencing in media. Romesh Ranganathan believes that the way movies are marketed as diverse and made into a 'cause' feeds into the stakes that audiences put on media with the diversity representation. And this leads to critics and audiences giving harsher critiques. People also tend to put these works up to a standard that makes them responsible for the future of diversity representation in ALL media.

While I understand the gravity and importance of diversity representation, I think it's important that we let works stand on their own and remove some of that cultural significance, if only to let these works thrive and get the same fair chance at success than their un-diverse counterparts. I mean, there are so many mediocre works that portray only white people and how often do people say that these disappointing works are a step back for white representation?  

Star Wars sequel trilogy and its inclusion of a more diverse cast has incurred an overwhelming amount of racist hatedom on Instagram for actress, Kelly Marie Tran, who ended up leaving the platform entirely for a while. Fans who did not like her character and/or had mixed or disappointed reactions to the film that debuted her took it out on the actress herself. The movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, did exceedingly well with critics at a 95% rating on rotttentomatoes.com, yet the audience rating is at 45%. And with the racist backlash Kelly Marie Tran garnered, it would be naive to say that the representation of racial diversity is not intrinsic to its audience rating score. The inclusion of diversity in media comes with the price of an exceptionally high standard.

The thing is, this sentiment of varying judgment exists on the interpersonal level. Marginalized people have to do so much work in order to even have a fighting chance to be treated equitably. That's what these movies and tv shows are undergoing on a larger scale. The burden of standards not only dictates our consumption of media but how we see and treat each other. I think that how we interact and view the real life minorities represented in media fuels these double standards. I think that what can really help with the discourse surrounding on-screen diversity is in our off-screen relationships and understandings of these diverse groups.

And honestly I think this can even apply to how people educate themselves on groups that are different from them; make the efforts in real life, not just through other sources.