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22 April, 2012

Another Watson Fail (With a Better Solution at the End)

So it looks like on top of speaking for all women as the Last Word on Feminism, Rebecca Watson is now crusading against racism. There is nothing wrong with these endeavors, but she picks out the most trivial symptoms of these issues and blows them up into "us vs them" flame wars and mocks and blocks people who bring up rational points against her arguments, no matter how calmly and inquisitive they might be. She's just a jerk.

Racism in this country is a huge deal. Most people don't know it's a big deal because the last thirty years, old white men have been trying to convince us we're all victims of "reverse racism," which is bullshit. Exhibit A, a black kid gets shot while walking home in his father's gated community and the blogosphere explodes over how he "sold drugs" and was "a thug."

Exhibit B, our television and film media have a hugely disproportionate amount of white people represented than other minorities. Granted, much of pop music is driven by Hip-Hop, a genre originating from Black culture, and young people embrace that culture and reject racism in far larger numbers than any other generation, but the work is not done. 

I noticed on the twittersphere the other day that people were abuzz over a show called "Girls" brushing off the charge that they don't have any minority characters. I traced the buzz back to (you guessed it), Rebecca Watson, whose intentions are always good, but whose approach is usually tactless, borderline abusive and a bit rabid. 

Watson had gotten ahold of the producer of the HBO show "Girls, and had asked why there were no black characters on the show and was dismissed by the producer. Watson posted her reaction to the twittersphere and her facebook and people started chiming in with their own opinions.

Some people pointed out that telling a creator how to run their show is not a helpful way of combating racism, that perhaps there might be something else Watson could do to get minorities better represented on television. These people were automatically shut down and banned with the regular Rebecca Watson send-off, which is usually the internet equivalent of rolling her eyes and putting a "W" on her forehead with her thumb and forefingers. 

The thing is, people have a point. Picking one show and making a big deal out of a lack of minorities is doing nothing but getting Watson pageviews. If she had organized a petition or a letter-writing drive to ask network execs to start producing more shows with minorities, we might actually get somewhere. As it stands, all we have is bickering and fighting and divisiveness on the facebook page of a known attention-seeking sensationalist.

The second thing wrong with her approach is that demanding shows include minorities simply to include minorities is not really a solution. Our media should include other cultures from the gate, not add them as an afterthought because someone complained. The ones already on the air were written, cast and produced primarily by white people and we need the execs to know that we don't want the artists to change their work, we want the work that is accepted to change. Stop dumping the scripts that include different cultures and that address diversity. It's not "Girls" we should be after, but HBO itself. 

Watson was close on this, but no cigar, as she began her typical insult-and-block routine to people pointing these things out to her. 

So, blogosphere, I have a solution. This is my first time creating a Change.org petition, so if you have ideas on how you can improve it, please let me know. You can check it out here. If you truly feel that our media should better represent you, your neighbors, your friends, and your culture, please sign.

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