Media Representation | Very Important Docs²¹

– Hey Greggers, my loyal
fanbase of vlog loving Greg watchers. Today, I want to vlog about
some of my favorite films. Aright, let’s start off
with James Cameron’s Avatar. I just love how he goes
to a pure, pristine planet and then becomes its king. Next one I gotta bring up is Alice Through the Looking
Glass, which has got a super woke message for
all the ladies out there. Another absolutely massive
one for me is Eight Mile ’cause I love hip hop and Eminem, come on. Best rapper, right? And then of course, there’s Titanic ’cause even on a sinking ship, she chose tits over GTFO. One last thing for today,
Greggers, I’m gonna have to go with American Pie ’cause I tried
that sh*t and it’s awesome. Click Like and Subscribe
and I’ll see ya next week. – Racist, bigot. A whole list of films and the
only one with black people in meaningful roles is
the one where a white man steals their culture. What a racist, this guy. I’m leaving a comment. – [Feminist Voiceover]
Chief called and he said this ain’t it. Greggy back again to stand for the whites. Seriously, what a virulent racist you are. Just choke but first,
apologize for stealing Scottish people’s culture last Halloween. Bet you use a plastic straw to drink, you prejudice xenophobe. Unblock me on Twitter, coward! – And post. – [Spongebob Announcer] One week later. (sighs) – Hey, Greggers. Last week we got some
fairly interesting responses to my favorite movies so this week, I kinda wanted to maybe
talk about some of my other favorite films. First, let’s talk about Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection,
a true classic where some ponzi scheme dudes get
relocated to Madea’s, an angry black woman’s house. Next, I wanna bring up Tyler
Perry’s Boo, A Madea Halloween, which scared me as well as made me laugh. Another big one for me is
Greenbook, which won the Oscar for Best Picture it’s so good. Finally, Tyler Perry’s
A Madea Family Funeral taught me how to process grief and also, the guy had a boner and they
couldn’t close the casket and that’s how I wanna go. – He listened. This is it, Chief. Consider your privilege checked. ♪ Represent represent ♪ ♪ Represent represent ♪ – [Peter] Media is the
primary way many of us learn about people outside of our reach. And when talking about how
people of varying upbringings, ethnicities, cultures, and
situations get depicted in the media… – I’ve got it. – Got what? – A.I.D.S. – Fred, I’m so sorry. – Brian, stop, don’t. – [Peter] Well, we’ve got some issues. First, there is often
little to no representation of these various groups in popular media. And second, when people of
these groups actually do see themselves on the
silver or any other screen, page, canvas, or whatever, they end up seeing
stereotypes that caricature or further marginalize. In fiction and non-fiction
alike, people of various minority groups
are shoehorned into cliche narratives and their
actions and appearance are made to conform with
tropes and stereotypes. To fix this, there’s
a lot of advocacy done to transform perceptions
with the goal of placing various marginalized people
into normal situations. To show them eating, sleeping,
working, loving, or… – Sitting on the toilet. Sitting on the toilet. – [Peter] This is the process of normalizing these marginalized groups. Today, we see many calls
to include more positive depictions of various
marginalized people, which to be clear, is good. I can’t stress enough knowing
what kind of dung heap my various inboxes and
notifications are going to be after people watch this
dumb heap of a video that more and better media
representation would be a good thing and that I’m not
going to call it a bad thing. Obviously. Also, you’re very smart and attractive. And everyone loves your personality, so just hear me out. – Well, I mean, yeah. I, a YouTube viewer of
literally any demographic, not just the one being
represented on screen am smart, attractive,
and everyone does love my personality. And that’s all I’m
really here for so, yeah. You get one chance, disembodied voice. – [Peter] Even when we see
something as a net positive or perhaps, especially when we
something as a net positive, there are questions we
should be asking about it. Such as, what could people who
get attention in the media, that is to say acting as
representation of some kind to someone believe will happen
with better representation? A particularly prominent
answer that I’ve seen and heard many variance of both while Googling why representation matters
as well as out of the mouths or timelines of actual, real
people advocating for it is that good representation
helps boost self esteem and helps people accomplish more in life. The idea is that when people
see themselves in their heroes, they work harder and achieve more. And truthfully, it’s hard to argue against part of that sentiment. I kind of unabashedly
love the idea of people having better self esteem,
especially marginalized people. I mean, who doesn’t want that? That would be an enthusiastic
win for anyone without hate in their heart. But at the same time, it’s a
sentiment that’s not addressing or even looking to address
the problems mentioned earlier or for that matter, the
underlying conditions that lead to a situation where one, these groups are both socially
and economically marginalized as an underclass, of
an underclass, and have little to no recourse,
reparations, or path forward. And two, there’s no incentive
to positively represent these groups, at least
partly, because they’re not considered particularly
profitable consumer demographics due to point one. That in mind, it’s getting
really hard to repeatedly hear new versions of good
representation shifts mindset and people feel empowered to express their own veracity and realize I can
be whatever I want to be. That’s everything. That’s just everything because can you really be whatever you wanna be? I really– – I really appreciate all
you people watching me. The Greggers are a truly
wonderful group of people and I hope I represent you all real well. You make this possible for me, some random to succeed and be famous like Tyler Perry. – But Greg is just some
worthless, white guy. Of course he can be whatever he wants. Every single worthless, white
guy who makes a vlog succeeds and becomes wealthy. Every single one! – [Greg] Can you really
be whatever you want to be isn’t comfortable because
it really seems like in today’s society most people can’t just be what they want to be, regardless of how well represented they are. Most successful movies
are about a white per– the answer I’d give to the
question overcomes it yet, the American dream eludes
more people every year including white people. As I watch media with quote,
unquote good representation, I’m often reminded of
the amount of suffering that happens here in the
supposed richest country in the world due to class and class alone. Then, I start layering all
those identity signifiers that work overtime to
deter success even further and I think, “Wow, I sure am glad
BlackkKlansman got nominated “for all those Oscars.” Lets’– – Hey, Greggers, loving
your positive comments about the movies I’ve
been talking about lately. Let’s open some viewer mail
about my absolute favorite movie of 2018, BlackkKlansman. I’m really excited about this. BlackkKlansman is a fantastic
film about a black cop who is definitely black and fights racism head on and wins. Good thing, too ’cause racism sucks. Anyways, let’s have a look at this. Oh, wait, this is a three
page essay from Boots Riley, Director of Sorry to Bother
You and frontman for The Coup. It just seems to contradict
everything I just said. The real Ron Stallworth
spent three years undercover sabotaging a radical black organization is part of F.B.I’s COINTELPRO? His partner didn’t have
to prove he wasn’t Jewish to the Klan because he wasn’t Jewish? Spike Lee was paid $219,000 by the New York City Police Foundation for marketing neighborhood
policing in minority communities? But that implies a financial relationship that could influence their
portrayal in the film! – Hold on, none of this makes any sense. So there’s a lack of
representation, good and otherwise, and that influences
society’s views on various groups of people? So it’s important to
have good representation so those groups of people can
feel good about themselves? However, representation
that has been deemed good in various mainstream
publications seems to have some serious issues
regarding truth and agenda? None of these things fit together. I don’t like this. Can’t we just go back to
clapping and calling for more female C.E.O.s? – [Peter] The conversation
on gentrification predominantly refers to a specific process of neighborhood renovation. Neighborhoods poor, and
therefore, perceived to be quote, unquote low quality
see an accelerating quote, unquote urban
renewal and an influx of affluent residents perceive
to be quote, unquote high quality. This process often happens
because property values are low. In America, it might be
an area with a history of redlining, a state
sanctioned process that built white suburbs and their
schools at the explicit expense of black people with
generational implications. – In the 1930s as part of the New Deal, FDR created loan programs
to help Americans finance their homes. But to decide who got those
loans, the government created color-coded maps in which
green neighborhoods were good and red neighborhoods were bad. This practice became known as redlining. Because of these policies,
if you lived in the green neighborhoods, it was
super easy to get a home loan. – Alright, I can buy property! – But for folks in the red
areas, no loans were available. – I can barely afford rent with this. That’s no fair, the red areas are screwed. – Yeah, they were. And do you know why some
areas were designated as red? – No, but I can guess. – Those were the neighborhoods
where African Americans and other minorities lived. And redlining systematically
prevented them from getting home loans. – Well, I know what I’ll do. Just take my little guy and put him in the green neighborhood. – Sorry, that’s against the rules. Early suburb developers like
William Levitt instituted explicitly racist policies. – Levittown homes must
not be used or occupied by any person other than
members of the Caucasian race. – And the federal
government itself encouraged developers to discriminated. – Developers, I want you
to exclude non-whites. – The result of these
policies is that from 1934 through 1968 a whopping 98% of home loans were given to white families. – Yes! – Okay, this is not fair. I did not get to pick what
color I was when I started. – Yeah, no one does. – [Peter] Now gentrification
isn’t exclusively an American phenomenon
and it doesn’t only affect minority groups. Though the term was coined in 1964 by British Sociologist Ruth Glass to describe the
displacement of lower class worker residents in London’s
urban neighborhoods, it’s not even really an
exclusively contemporary process. Historians Helen Parkins
and Christopher John Smith noted the dynamic
happening in ancient Rome and third century Britain,
then under Roman rule. But you know, without context, urban renewal and city beautification
aren’t things that sound horrible, per se. However, gentrification isn’t
just making the buildings nice while adding Starby’s and fro-yo. Looking into it, you’ll find a lot of talk that cheerily conflates the
quality of people with their income, you know, viewpoints
people who say things like “overpopulation,” or “vote with your dollar,” or “the great replacement is real,” might say. So, all that context in
mind, consider the process of gentrification’s extensible improvement and the perceived
quality of a neighborhood is at least partly because
of these specific changes. One, the demolition of
unsightly buildings, which keep in mind, it
doesn’t necessarily mean unsafe or unlivable but rather, high quality people don’t
like these buildings. Two, new construction
and renovation that plays to current aspirational sensibilities, flattering those high quality folks and making sure they’re very, very comfy. And three, residents and
businesses that the affluent would consider low quality are forced to leave in
search of lower cost housing and property. – Hey, disembodied voice, is this like that? – [Peter] Yes, high
quality and low quality as they apply here are
things that get defined by people in power, aren’t they? – Are you trying to tell me
I can just gain tons of power and redefine what high quality is? – [Peter] No, I’m trying to tell you that when the power structures
replaced with limits fair, evenly distributed,
revocable, and justifiable, you won’t have to. In reality, to talk
about the current process of gentrification in
America, as if it is not a descendant of or successor
to redlining would be lying by omission. Where redlining was the
process of designating areas poor or black, allowing them to languish, sending the property values
further and further down, gentrification is often
the process of buying up those very areas for
pennies on the dollar and heavily profiting as the
low quality buildings and people disappear. Who lives there when the
low quality folks are gone, you ask? Who are the high quality people? Well, the gentry, of course. Ah, yes, gentry. A word that’s not really
in service anymore. However, the old French word, genterise, sorry about the pronunciation,
I am not from France, means people of gentle birth and is the root of the word gentrification. Over centuries, genterise
became gentry and came to mean well-born gentile and well-bred people or people of superiority of birth or rank. So what we’re really talking about here is hierarchy. A hierarchy that is, for the most part, derived from a weird set of ideas that ultimately prop up certain
identities and certain classes called social darwinism. See episode 13, Overpopulation,
Eugenics, and Capitalism for more on that. Gentrification often begins
when artists and other cool, but not because they’re
rich and famous but because people think they’re cool folks move into an area with low rent, often because they need to
live in an area with low rent. People who are playing
the clout game see the genuinely cool folks
living there and assume it’s for some reason other
than that the rent is low, something only genuinely
cool people can understand so they move there or buy up property because everyone wants to be cool. And if you can’t be cool
you can appear to be cool. Why not commodify whatever
these people think is cool? Except it’s the low rent that is cool and all the people who
were there before the even quote, unquote, genuinely cool people, the people who just live there
because it’s what they know rather than what they found get displaced. But what if gentrification
wasn’t just buildings? What if it was culture,
community, and the very essence of supposedly low quality people
living in the supposedly low quality areas? What if you wanted to
make some changes to it but retain the associations of
what is perceived to be cool? In 2014, feminist writer,
Mikki Kendal wrote about the gentrification of food in the Grio. – [Reader] Once affordable
ingredients have been discovered by trendy chefs, and have been transformed into haute cuisine. Food is facing gentrification
that may well put traditional meals out
of reach for those who created the recipes. Despite all the hype, these
ingredients have always been delicious, nutritious, and no less healthy than other sources of protein. As we talk about cuts to SNAP
benefits, we cannot ignore that for many, home cooking
is no longer accessible. The accessibility to affordable
food is being hindered by inflation, in basic
food costs, as well as the economic impact of food becoming cool. Hunger has always been an issue in America with one in six Americans
facing food insecurity on a regular basis. If you cannot afford
your home, your cuisine, or a way to control what
is happening to your cultural products, then
what do you have left? What can you pass down to your children? How do you sustain your family traditions in the face of so many obstacles? There are no easy
answers, but we must start asking the questions before
food becomes a privilege instead of a necessity. – [Peter] If we seek this dynamic out in cultural products other
than food we will find it. Commodifying the culture of
poor, working, and marginalized people as lifestyle trends
for more affluent demographics to have and occupy is
to engage in an abstract gentrification that
doesn’t depend specifically on rigidly defined classes
or who legally owns what property, but rather
the signifiers that go along with it. Though, make no mistake,
it’s the gentry that ends up having the good sh*t and
it’s capital that ends up with the profits. The genuinely cool folks are
earnestly trying new things, at least, relatively speaking. However, capital sees an
opportunity to monetize something seemingly new. And they don’t just do
that by moving white people into that space. They do that, sure. It’s the most obvious way any kind of gentrification happens, but one could also incentivize
a poor, or a black, or a gay to say a certain
thing, act a certain way, embody a certain form. – That’s why we need someone on the inside who represents Worry Free’s needs. Someone they can relate to. The equisapien, Martin Luther King, Jr. One that we control. – You wanna have a false leader for
these f*cking horse people but at the same time, he works for you? – Yeah. – Well why the f*ck did you choose me? – Cash, Cash. You are awesome. I’ve never seen anyone
go through the ranks at RegalView like you did. And I want someone like
that at Worry Free. Someone hungry, someone
who’ll f*cking shank their own friend in the back if it means getting what they want. Now look, I can see that you’re freaking out and that you wanna say no, but I wouldn’t do that before
you see what I’m offering. – [Peter] In my observation, media representation seems to
be the most talked about form of representation by far. Within that conversation,
there’s not a lot of talk about anything outside fictional
representation as well. And there’s a very specific
fact of representation in fictional works of
media I want to talk about. That it all costs money to make. And the people in corporate entities who have the vast majority of money, well let’s just say they do
care about inequality, just not in the way more everyday people might. The kind of inequality they care about is profit. And they want more of it. The people who own the
means of media production don’t just hire Chadwick
Boseman and Michael B. Jordan and say, “Okay, go do a Black Panther, my friends.” They also hire Ryan
Coogler and Joe Robert Cole to write and direct it. Boseman, Jordan, Coogler,
and Cole all have sets of standards they’re
expected to adhere to both specified contractually as well as implied by the very existence
of their business relationship but we have two other things
to think about as well. First, the U.S. government
and its various roles of subsidizing and supporting
the Hollywood film industry and the fact that in Black
Panther, a black radical intending to arm the
oppressed people of the world was the bad guy and a C.I.A. man working
to maintain the monarchy in a small country the
U.S.A., a super power, has friendly relations with was one of the main good guys? Now, I’m not telling you
that 2018’s Black Panther is bad, evil, or that it shouldn’t exist. It’s a blockbuster film marketed
to a mainstream audience that has a nearly all black cast and it’s certainly better than a
lot of representations of black people in media,
ones that lean on stereotypes and ultimately work to
further marginalize. Also, I personally like
and enjoy the film, but I’m noting that it’s a
piece of media presenting the image of African
independence in a black country that wasn’t colonized, which is an image owned and produced by and
under the direction of one of the 100 biggest
companies on the planet. To say nothing of any
multi-national corporation’s complex web of interconnected foreign interests, Disney can easily be shown to have highly specific ties to U.S. government and military organizations, ranging from consultation to subsidies. In fact, most Hollywood
conglomerates can as well. This isn’t a new thing, either. Especially for the Disney Company. From 1940 until his death in 1966, Walt Disney– the Disney– served as a secret informer for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This kind of thing often isn’t
disclosed for a long time. It wasn’t until 1993, 27 years later that Disney’s F.B.I. role
was revealed to the public. Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about Captain Marvel’s unabashed promotion of the Air Force. I wonder why. The thing presented in Black
Panther is good, though. However, an independent, black country that wasn’t colonized by an
imperial superpower is actually a very subversive idea,
especially as a media franchise spawned in an imperial superpower. At least, when presented
without additional context. Like that black revolutionary bad guy and that C.I.A agent good guy. Black Panther hardly inspired
a revolutionary movement. In fact, it actively
discouraged revolution by painting the revolutionary
in the film as deranged and blood thirsty. In this way, Black Panther
is at least partially, the Disney Company
enacting a gentrification of black cultural products and spaces, recooperating things born
from oppression and poverty, repackaging them in a
manner that makes them safe for other folks to have and occupy. – Hey, Greggers. I have an exciting announcement to make. Since I’ve been talking about
Tyler Perry movies so much, I’ve been nominated for a
Very Online Diversity Award. I mean, that is hella
fresh or whatever, right? Yeah. I mean, according to an email they sent me with criteria for the
award, the more you mention Tyler Perry, the more
likely you are to win. I know, it’s great, right? – What the hell? This white dude is
getting a diversity award for sitting around in his
basement talking about Tyler Perry movies? Who decides who gets these awards? Who has the power? – I did that deliberately,
I did that on purpose. Thank you for all the messages and all the tweets and positive things that you’ve been saying. – Well, you know, I guess as
long as it’s a black person saying the white person deserves it, I’ll accept whatever
criteria he puts forward. There’s no possible way
for that to be misused. Guess it’s safe to be white and
talk about black movies now. – [Peter] What did I say
about power structure like four minutes ago? Okay, let’s talk about
the metaphorical gentry, the high quality folks
occupying a newly gentrified cultural space, may be white, sure the number of eight year-old white kids I’ve seen with Black
Panther t-shirts is actually pretty high. But they also might be black. A new gentry has formed,
specific to the context of the cultural product
and space where the higher quality people
might not actually be from a higher class, but
simply accept the idea that a higher class should exist. Because revolution is
bad because Killmonger, Wakanda forever. At this point, some more
liberal minded folks might feel a bit uncomfortable but I want to remind,
the point here is not there should not be
representation in media or representation is automatically bad. The point is that representation
is not automatically good, even when seemingly positive. In fact, it can be weaponized
to enforce standards as well as repress elements
of a culture or ideas that might be considered
disruptive to the power structure. That is to say, positive representation can be used to reproduce capitalism. I spend a lot of time
talking about Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle
and even when I say his name correctly, people tell me
I am saying it wrong so from this point, I will be
refusing to say it correctly or even try. The very first thing Gim
DeBim says in the book is, “In societies where modern
conditions of production prevail, “all of life presents itself
as an immense accumulation “of spectacles. “Everything that was
directly lived has moved away “into a representation.” Here, representation eludes to a dynamic that the whole notion of the
spectacle is dependent on. That images mediate the
social relations among people, not that the spectacle
is itself those images, rather, it’s the mode of social relation, created by images being the
conduit for our social action. Images intervene in our
everyday connections, forcing them to be indirect. Gol BeDude’s two word
description of the spectacle is separation, perfected
and my 56 word description of what he means by that is a highly atomized social mode,
one of indirect connection through intermediate image-commodities. They are manufactured by us
all as we perform constant, alienated intellectual labor
in the form of perception and interpretation. The effect is a false
consciousness beneficial to a power structure
which needs a way to force compliance without appearing to do so. That image commodity is
inherently reductive, as is any representation
of a complex human being has to be. Especially one created as a
product intended for exchange in a mass market. The image you see of me
right now does not represent everything about me. It can’t. And I’m not saying that’s
a good thing or a bad thing but it is definitely a thing. The viewer can’t just ask
this video of me a question because it is an entirely
linear representation of my thoughts of an issue. – But I’ve been interacting with you and asking you questions. – [Peter] You are an
image that I came up with. Yes, you’re being played by a person but I can put anything in the
script for you to say. Here, watch. – There is only to two
days a week that I do not poop my pants. (gasps) – [Peter] See, this is
what I’m getting at. You’re reading a thing that I wrote. – It’s not stopping. – [Peter] See? – There’s still more poop,
I’m still pooping my pants. – [Peter] Yeah, so as I was saying this video is an entirely
linear representation of my thoughts on an issue. The spectacle is kind of that. Not entirely, as life tends to
be a little more interactive than a video but suppose our relationships have enough separation
that this dynamic occurs to at least some extent. This would obviously
prevent many of us from communicating with other
people, plainly and simply. And I believe it does just that. There’s a societal incentive to interact with a reduced image of people. It is easier given the
massive torrent of information and experience we sift
through on a daily basis and it validates our snap judgements,
enabling our addiction to perpetual correctness. – You’re connecting with the idealized version of people
that they present to you. – [Peter] This is in many ways an individualized version
of the ways people stereotype and interact
with groups marginalized by class, identity, or for other reasons. When someone has little understanding of systemic bigotry and the norms
established to justify it, they may see a black
person, or a trans person, or a gay person and interact
with the image of those people taking up residence in their mind. Representation, as discussed
in Societies of the Spectacle is part of an official culture, a cannon. It is part of recooperation,
a process I discussed in the previous episode in
which subversive and radical ideas and culture are
sanitized and made safe. Here’s the thing, I think that calls for
representation without careful consideration of
how this dynamic pervades our everyday lives leads to
an uncritical accommodation of it. In fact, the liberal view
that media representation is in itself a full solution to any problem is not going to lead to
an end to stereotyping or oppression. It is a respectful request to the boss, humble and unassertive. Sorry to bother you people with power, but can you present some
nicer, more high quality images of us? And there’s a thing about the boss. What they say goes. Good representation often
creates a new standard to enforce, too. One entirely under the
control of a class of high quality people
who can put up the cash for said representation. – You wanna have a false leader for
these f*cking horse people but at the same time, he works for you? – Yeah. – Who deserves more attention? This group or that group? Or that one over there? These vulnerable groups are left divided as they each rally to push
their individual agendas forward with the hopes of receiving
much needed relief from suffering. This leads to an eternal
cycle of gains and losses for vulnerable groups as they are reduced to duking it out with each other to obtain desperately needed resources and relief, which are being withheld from
them by the dominant class. – [Peter] The image of a model minority is often used to dictate
what the good ones of a certain group need to be. See Candace Owens, who is most certainly one of the good ones by
the standards of a rigid superiority-based hierarchy
as she openly supports such a hierarchy and for people to conform to its expectations. It’s not just a right wing issue, either. If I had a dollar for every person of a marginalized identity I’ve spoken to who tells me there is
some kind of standard expected them in woke spaces they cannot possibly fulfill, well I wouldn’t be rich. But I’d have more dollars than right now. And if it weren’t like that, maybe even anti-racist, left wing YouTube might not be so white. To quote Iimay Ho, writing
about the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians for color lines… – [Reader] In this moment
of extreme wealth inequality and increasing visible white supremacy, I’m not surprised that
Warner Brothers took a bet on a movie where rich
Asians show they can act like rich white people. The film contributes to the flattening of the
Asian American experience, when in reality, economic
division is at a historic high in the Asian American community. According to a recent report
from Pew Research Center, the income gap between
the richest and poorest Asian Americans is greater
than any other racial group. In a 2016 report from the
Center for American Progress found that the net worth of the top 10% of Asian Americans is
168 times the net worth of the bottom 20%. – [Peter] Similarly, various ethnic groups may be pitted against each
other by comparing the image of a model minority, such as a perception that Asian Americans are
naturally good at math or science, hardworking,
affluent, agreeable, or enlightened to the
image of bad minorities, such as the image of the welfare queen or super predators. To quote Iimay Ho’s
article one more time… – [Reader] The logic of
racial capitalism goes, why can’t all other
quote, unquote, minorities be like Asians? There can’t be a model
and good minority without there being a bad and lazy minority, who because of bad choices
deserves to be poor. The model minority myth has been used by the mostly white, ruling
class as a wedge between the Asian American community
and African Americans, Latinx, and other people
of color for decades, stamping down multi-racial efforts to challenge this country’s deeply unjust and racist economic system. That’s why I was disappointed to see Crazy Rich Asians
doubling down on the myth and falsely asserting
that wealth accumulation and outspending white
people is an effective way to challenge racism. – [Peter] Which makes representation, an image commodity the media
produces, meant to speak for and about any given person or group a perfect vector for control. This is precisely why
taking ownership in control of the means of production is important. Petitioning the boss for
nicer treatment is degrading and should they agree,
it is on their terms. Abolishing the very concept
of bosses on the other hand, empowers everyone,
especially those who aren’t being represented. Getting accepted into
the vertical hierarchy is not abolishing it and
establishing a more horizontal and fair, justifiable
hierarchy in its place. Who gets to be white? Or who deserves the
American dream are garbage questions to ask. And the images hierarchical
society has crafted as answers mislead us towards false consciousness. Consequently, Crazy Rich
Asians was nominated for a ton of rewards and
won a fair amount of them. It’s aspirational, it’s cannon, it’s official culture, it’s good representation. – Hey, Greggers, now that
I’ve won Tyler Perry’s Very Online Diversity
Award, I just wanna thank everyone again for the continued support and welcome all the new Greggers and there have been a lot of you. I also wanna introduce
everyone to a new way of preparing meals. That’s right, Frozen Box Of
Ingredients Shipped To You is the best way to make meals at home. Just go to and you’ll get a special offer
just for being a Gregger. – Ugh, he’s selling out now. He’s actually using the award
someone with power gave him to capitalize from his existence and space that was more or less
sanitized and made safe by and for him in order to make money. And because of the identity
of the award giver, I can’t say anything. This is actually entirely
fine by my own ideology, yet I am still very angry! – Yeah. That is the point. Alright, I’m not Greg anymore, okay? You’re not Greggers or any of that nonsense. It’s me, Peter. I’m non-binary, agender, specifically. When I mention it in videos,
I often do it in passing and I tend not to go in depth about it and I have a few reasons for this. The first is that when
I first publicly said anything about it, people who hate me suddenly hated me a lot more. And on the internet, that
generally means people stalk, harass, and smear me a lot. But I guess who gives a sh*t about that, that only negatively
affects my mental health. (laughs) ♪ Hello darkness my old friend ♪ The second, more important reason is that I take up a lot of space. That’s not a self-deprecating
joke about my weight, either. ♪ I’ve come to talk with you again ♪ What I mean is that I’m a public figure that gets a fair amount of attention. What I share with people
could create a standard for what is the right
way to be non-binary, either directly or indirectly,
intentionally or not. If that right way maybe
created a consumer demographic, say enbies 25 to 35 who
don’t dress alternatively or androgynously and have
aspirations of making a six figure income or, you know, some other stale sh*t
everyone’s expected to think. But for enbies, I could create and market that lifestyle to get sponsors to pay
me to use their brand to sell various parts of that lifestyle. Believe it or not, the
inexpensive facial hair removing blade club actually
emails my business address fairly often, but folks, that address is
for speaking engagements, not ads. You wanna pay me to go to
somewhere and say what I think, email me. You want me to do ads, ehh, maybe not. And let me be clear,
I’m not throwing shade at people who do ads. I understand the struggle of folks. Individuals are not the problem anyways and I’m actually pretty happy
for people who find a way to get by while spreading their message. And I personally, am not like, better for resisting incentives or anything. That doesn’t make me better than anyone, it’s just that I have a slowly
growing monthly donor base on Patreon that enables me not to do ads. Link in description, people! It’s the incentive itself
and the power structure that creates and perpetuates
it that is the problem, not me and not someone
doing ads in their videos. Also, the point isn’t every ad is a weaponization
of representation and therefore, immoral,
and because I say that, I am moral and so is
everyone who agrees with me. But rather, the point is it’s worth critically
examining every instance of representation we see. So I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s good to think. If I made and marketed that Big Enby Lyfestyle, with a Y, trademark, I wouldn’t just be saying, “Hey, enbies that fit a specific criteria, “here’s some ads.” I’d also be saying, “Hey marketers, here’s a group
of Enbies I’ve figured out “how to market to.” And those with power would
use that to make decisions and get information out
there that benefits them. On top of that, the marketing
would receive compliments for representing an
under-represented demographic, so woke. But if that’s what the
general population of people think are enbies are then that’s what at least
some enbies will think all enbies are, encouraging conformity. Nothing left to do but bake incentives, calls to action, and aspiration
into that representation and sure, instances of it
become memes and an entity with reach or one that can buy reach can to a fair extent, manage expectations of the social relations
of non-binary people. To put it more bluntly, that kind of thing is BS
designed to slowly subsume the folks within various
classes and identities, coerce them into buying the aspiration, and get them not to think
about their own conditions, provides them with a couple
of examples of people just like them, doing just as good as anyone and it’s to say you should be able to do
just as good as anyone and if you aren’t, be more like these examples. Here, representation can act
like a socialization tool as well as provide visible,
plausible deniability against the assertion
that capitalism is unfair and inequitable. After all, like I said,
BlackkKlansman got nominated. Cops can fight racism too, don’t you know? Now obviously, more and
better media representation isn’t something I would
ever advocate against. That would be nonsense and
a dick move on my part. It’s a signifier that
people at least want things to be better and I
personally hope we continue on a trajectory towards it. But given that we live in a
system that needs underclasses, exploitation, and misery to exist, we need to understand
there is incentive to push aspirational norms and
standards within even positive, validating representation. When it looks like the main
problem marginalized people face is that they aren’t trying hard enough, maybe needing to get a
little bit more empowered so their mindset is more about
expressing their own veracity and not as if there
could be systemic issues perpetuating their situation,
inequality, and separation, then sure, some people are likely to feel better and that’s not bad. But the environment,
their social context will ensure it is at least partly an image and not one everyone gets to partake in. To emphasize, the concern
itself is genuinely valid. And just to bring this up one more time, leftist YouTube is very white. Hell, leftist anything in
the west is very white, enabled, insists, et cetera. It doesn’t mean everyone
is bad and the point isn’t white people are bad,
don’t watch white people. But rather, there’s a lot of other people that are marginalized by
both class and identity that maybe could see more in
the way of solidarity, like genuine, caring, mutual support. So I’d like to take the
opportunity you’ve presented me in staying with the video this long, proving I am a professional
attention-haver once again to call for an overall
collective change in attitude away from a desire for
perfect representation and instead, inclusion of diverse people, simply as people. Well, all content on a for-profit platform is ultimately representation,
commodified images of a person or a group, we
need to resist the craving for some degree of ownership
of the person behind it if we exchange time or
money for their content. Ultimately, these content
creators are people and though, in consuming any content, people should be mindful
about what gets said, I am against the idea of
exerting control in that way. No one is perfect. The human worldview is not
homogenous and the very idea of perspective means
there is no such thing as perfect representation. And maybe that’s not bad. With that in mind, and
knowing that creating a list of marginalized leftists
would simply cater to my own personal taste
as well as place me in a gatekeeping role I
probably shouldn’t be in, I think it would be good to
throw caution to the wind and as people use social
media to find each other and help each other out. A novel approach, I know, and hashtags can be super annoying but I think this is a perfect
opportunity for one that might actually help spread
the old attention currency around in the marketplace of ideas. If you were a marginalized leftist or you know of a marginalized leftist, post in hashtag Show
Marginalized Leftists Some Love. Also, look for some leftist content from marginalized folks in that hashtag. You may find some folks
you haven’t otherwise seen. There is no reason a lot
of people working together, collectively can’t
achieve an in system goal because that’s ultimately
what representation at its best is. A tangible in system
goal and a possible tool for working and achieving
bigger goals of systemic change like genuinely ending
inequalities built on arbitrary crap, like worthiness. To represent people in
such a way, is specifically an act of denying many
of the justifications a capitalist power structure
uses to prop itself up. It’s important to
remember that capitalism, the system we all live in, is literally a system of inequality and representation can look
positive but have hidden goals or even unintended outcomes. Specifically, ones that
reproduce and re-enforce that system and therefore,
it’s inherent inequality. That is to say the march
towards any kind of equality is going in circles if
it’s not marching away from capitalism. A question I think we
should ask continually as we address these and all concerns is are we doing that? (upbeat music) (pop music)

28 thoughts on “Media Representation | Very Important Docs²¹

  1. I know its easier said than done but try not to let it affect your mental health. Idiots aren't worth your mental housing.

  2. let me just start by saying that i think you did a really great job tackling a very difficult, involved topic. it's hard to break these ideas down in a way that makes sense, and i think you did really well. that said, criticism of movies/media representing poc done by a white person does make me… uncomfortable. not bc you did it badly, necessarily – you handled the topic pretty cleanly. but mainly bc white people tend to see criticism as a ticket of entry.

    to give a (somewhat tangential, highly personal) example: crazy rich asians pissed me off for a number of reasons, including what you mentioned re the model minority myth, but also bc they really just glossed directly over the active colonization of se asia by wealthy e asian countries. in a movie primarily set in singapore, i can count on one hand the number of times an actual singaporean person speaks, and none of those lines amounted to more than 10 words apiece. they are background characters in their own homeland. despite pretty much treating se asians like shit, many people in the asian community steadfastly refused to criticize the movie at all.

    while as a se asian person myself, i find this stubbornness irritating, this is an understandable position. discussions on the internet are never private, and no matter how hard we might try to keep certain topics within our own community, other communities are bound to see it. there are often times i'm grateful for this – i think paying attention to what's happening in other adjacent marginalized communities is important for intersectional literacy. however, it also means that white people can almost always access and butt into these discussions, discussions which they cannot possibly approach w the level of nuance that can be achieved by people for whom these discussions revolve around actual lived experience. and that's just when we're attempting to keep conversations between ourselves.

    when we have these conversations on a wider, more public scale, we seriously run the risk of sending the message to white people that they are universally allowed to participate in criticism in our community. there's a sense that in publicizing internal discourse, we're "airing dirty laundry," and there's definitely truth to that – i mean, historically, white people exploit any division between poc to drive us further apart and make solidarity difficult, if not impossible. still, it's frustrating to want to have these discussions but to continue to be forced to tiptoe around white people, even in spaces that are supposed to be ours.

    which brings me back around to this video. again, i think you managed to handle the topic nicely, this is not a criticism of that. but, as a white person, i think you should be aware that your participation in this criticism is /even more permissive/ than a poc's. it's not that i don't think white people should engage w these topics, or that i don't understand that as a white person you have the privilege of being able to deliver this message in a way that's automatically more palatable to white audiences, bc i genuinely think that white people can really benefit from learning more abt these things. i think it can really help to humanize poc in a sense, bc many times in white leftist spaces, the attempts to uplift poc end up putting us on a pedestal, which is not much of an improvement (you touched on this as well, i thought it was hilarious). but i also know from experience that white people cannot often tell the difference between engaging w a topic and participating in discussion of a topic, and it's a dangerous line. that makes me uncomfortable.

    i still think you did a great job, although i was definitely a little on the edge of my seat the entire time. i just urge you to think in the future abt how to perhaps approach this kind of topic a bit more carefully. i can tell that you already did a lot of work to approach it carefully from the get, so don't get me wrong, i can definitely see and appreciate that, and i don't necessarily have a solution as to how to avoid giving the white audience "permission" per se. hell, there might not even be a solution at all. but as a creator and an expert in your own content, i trust that you would be the most likely person to solve this problem, at least between the two of us.

  3. Not just black people are negatively affected by gentrification, I'm white, native, & asian (mostly white) & I'm affected negatively as well. Glad you note that, after the fact

  4. This is for the blue haired beauty at 4:06:

  5. I love that blue hair. I might color my hair blue sometime, although it probably won't look that good because I have to start from brown.

  6. I'll be honest, even the whole "showing ML's some love" thing feels forced and insincere. Obviously, I want people like Kat Blaque and Contrapoints to be happy, and if you truly want to "show them love" from the spirit of sincere appreciation, that's great! It's just…I guess the idea of showing affection to someone specifically on the grounds that they are a part of a marginalized group feels like more of the same trope of treating people categorically, not as individuals. Some ML's might gag at the idea of a bunch of random white people throwing hugs at them simply because they're Black & Trans–or maybe they won't. Maybe they'll love it.
    …or maybe we should just understand what THEY want before assuming they want a group hug for being marginalized. I dunno…is that taking it way too far?
    (Yes–for fuck sake–showing love to people is great. Do it whenever you can.)

  7. I don't really understand your identity as NB. Of course I can't and would not challenge it as your identity. How can we ratify intent (such as how an individual presents themself in their environment) with effect (the presentation as understood by an onlooker). Does NB need to manifest by behaviour or appearance (in some way)? Is this a needless frame of object & onlooker? I think we generally have a popular idea of NB but it's too rigid to accept somebody identifying themself as NB but it not being obvious without needing to say so.

  8. hey peter i just started watching and i just wanted to say that as a transwoman it's really fucking cool to learn that you're nb.

  9. Yet another enby…there's a lot of us isn't there?🤔
    Capitalism still sucks.

  10. I am weary of investing in the idea – home cooking is not available to an increasing number of poor people. I have worked with several community kitchens that cater to low income people. Many people who frequent these community meals, are reluctant to explore different types of foods that are inexpensive and easily available from multicultural shops.

  11. A world in which more and more people are furious, is not desirable – think of the torrents of #spittle.

  12. A march away from capitalism sounds horrific! Humans are selfish, greedy and spiteful. Capitalism enable us to harness such disgusting traits, but focus them and be productive. If we were mostly rational, as you appear in the video – we would live in an equitable world. We are motivated mostly by our base instincts, and therefore, we are unable to see our ture selves. And so, we cannot properly appreciate eachother.

  13. When you ran through this phrase at the SJW blue hair chick (optics) “When the power structures replaced with limits fair, evenly distributed, revocable, and justifiable you wont have to”
    Fair, evenly distributed, and justifiable clicked, but revocable? In what scenario? Need clarification.

  14. I love this so much! Did a whole essay on this kinda thing with regards to Mulan, and now I finally have the language to explain my distaste for it! Thanks for the validation Peter!

  15. Watching this and seeing you talk about your agender identity was like a breath of fresh air, Peter. Your videos are truly helpful and great to watch, but you're right, we (I)should also be consuming and boosting minority leftist media because yeah, left-tube is waaaaay too white.

  16. Lemme give you another dollar. My hella liberal environment keeps trying to put me on a pedestal and make me validate their belief that they’re not transphobic. When I point out that this itself is a symptom of transphobia, then suddenly I’m a “fake trans”.

  17. As "Left-Tube" is moving forward and the discussion of better representation among said-tube is being… discussed, I feel subjects like those mentioned in these videos are becoming more relevant!

  18. my favorite film is about a white, racist, alcoholic incel that has a creepy relationship with a minor and ends up doing a mass shooting.

    thats right, taxi driver is a great movie.

  19. Extremely well titled program Peter. Thank you for these Very Important Docs

  20. I identify as agender too and I barely ever bring it up. I do not have time for that.

  21. do you really think that ariana grande represents ANYONE but herself in the media? I really want to know who's dumb enough to think that. congress has a 5% approval rating, so ARE THEY REALLY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE WHOLE or any group for that matter?

  22. My understanding is that all YouTubers are contractually required to be part of one of those networks connecting them to advertisers, I forget the initials used to name them, but know about them from other YouTubers who talk about the inner mechanisms. You claim to not run off ads because you simply don't take on sponsors like Dollar Shave Club or Nord VPN and yet I watch your content while being subjected to whatever random advertisements YouTube throws at me based off my interactions with the system and I skip through the ads because I have not decided to subscribe therefore you are not getting paid when I watch. Likely if you're a successful YouTuber though, one such person as myself consuming your videos, skipping the ads, and not subscribing will not monetarily hurt you. What's the difference in whether you take on sponsors or let the third party networks connected with how YouTube runs select ads that algorithms believe I may be more aligned with?

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