We Need To Talk About Diversity In Nerd Culture
Start writing a post
Entertainment

We Need To Talk About Diversity In Nerd Culture

Nerds against diversity and inclusion need to check their nerd cards at the door.

281
We Need To Talk About Diversity In Nerd Culture
Flickr

For years, nerd culture has broken down barriers and embraced those who were often made to feel "different". Not accepting norms of social discrimination, shows such as Star Trek had not only one of the most diverse casts on television, but aired one of the first interracial kisses during the 60s. Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, fought to show of one of TV's first well developed lesbian couples, Tara and Willow, before LGBT issues were at the forefront of society's mind. The diversity within nerd culture has often allowed our shows, movies, comics and artwork to embrace those society has pushed aside, making the recent push back against diversity in media from fans and a well known creator all the more troubling. Last Thursday, September 30, 2016, Tim Burton created a firestorm while promoting his new film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. When the macabre filmmaker was asked about diversity in media, or the lack thereof in his films, his response left many of his devout fans shocked.

Nowadays, people are talking about it more, (but) things either call for things, or they don’t. I remember back when I was a child watching The Brady Bunch and they started to get all politically correct, like, OK, let’s have an Asian child and a black — I used to get more offended by that than just — I grew up watching blaxploitation movies, right? And I said, that’s great. I didn’t go like, OK, there should be more white people in these movies.

On the same day, Netflix released their new hit series Luke Cage, and was soon called racist by Twitter users for the overall cast having so little representation of white culture. These reactions from both Tim Burton and fans of Luke Cage when confronted with the idea of diversity, or the overall lack of it, in Hollywood are quite problematic. Besides the fact that lack of representation for minorities is still an issue in the media, nerd culture’s sudden resistance to those society pushes aside is outrageous as entire franchises and storylines within it have been built on the idea that we should celebrate our “strangeness” or what makes us different.

The Nerd Shall Inherit The Earth

Words such as “social exclusion”, “unusual interests”, and “atypical learning development” have all been used as defining characteristics of nerd culture. Tim Burton has claimed to embrace these ideals of unusualness and social exclusion in the past to create art that celebrated the outsider and gave beauty to the peculiar. He was the quintessential strange kid who described himself as an alien who never quite felt comfortable in the environment he was in. So it was quite shocking to hear that the macabre king, who quite often felt like an outsider himself, not only didn’t understand the inclusion of those that society pushes aside most often, but was offended by it.

Many came to Tim Burton’s defense claiming that the director simply meant that he based his casting off of talent, not how much diversity was brought to his films, and that his statement was taken out of context. If one simply focused on the line “...things either call for things, or they don’t”, perhaps one could pretend that was true. If that is what he meant, then yes, he should be casting off of talent and not race. No one would ask that he overlook Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter simply because he needs to fill a “diversity quota” in his movies. Simply placing a minority in a role for the sake of “diversity” could be considered using a minority as a prop and would most likely continue to perpetuate tokenization. But the moment Tim Burton said he was offended by the mere presence of a minority on a majority white television show, it is impossible to say that his words were simply taken out of context. Tim Burton claims to represent the outcasts, but is offended by the presence of groups that are most often treated as outsiders in society and media: minorities.

In fact, white characters are the norm when it comes to media representation. In a 10 year USC Anneberg study, it was found that 71.7% of speaking roles on television were filled with white actors while minority actors across all demographics made up less than 28.3% of speaking roles in the media. If nerd culture truly represents those who are isolated from society and those deemed different finding power in their differences, shouldn’t genres held dearly by nerd culture embrace minorities much more readily than other genres in the media? When Luke Cage was released to Netflix, many comments against the shows lack of white representation found their way to Twitter.

Follow

ᴇʟᴇᴄᴛʀɪᴄ★ʟᴏᴠᴇʟʏʟᴀɴᴅ @CommanderLovely

Lack of white people in Luke Cage makes me uncomfortable. This show is racist, how is this on Netflix???

3:18 PM - 2 Oct 2016

Follow

LiberalsUnited @RockerThompson

Is it me or the new Netflix. Luke Cage a little racist. Notice it's mostly black where is the diversity. @LIVE_COVERAGE

6:55 PM - 28 Sep 2016

One twitter user however, confronted these feelings and pondered why she felt so uncomfortable with a lack of white patronage in Luke Cage. She wrote that she found that she resented not being able to relate as well to the character. She disliked feeling excluded. One thing she realized however, was that his was how many minorities have felt for years, as many shows underrepresented or failed to represent minorities at all. When black characters with prominent speaking roles make up less than 12.2% of characters on television, and often are characters simply existing or relating to a white world, Luke Cage's predominantly black cast is a rarity. For years minorities have had to relate to white heroes and predominantly white casts, so why is it an issue when one flips the script? This lack of representation is precisely why nerd culture needs to not shy away from discussions of diversity and inclusion in media, but embrace and apply them to our shows, movies, comics and artwork.

“We can be heroes, just for one day”-David Bowie, Heroes

People often seek out nerd culture because at the end of the day, every person wants a place where they feel they belong. Whether the story is horror or superhero based, psychology has found that the human brain simply soars at the idea of someone triumphing over the forces of evil and saving the day. When we can find a piece of ourselves in these characters, we can often find strength and power in what makes us different and what we often feel separates us from others. We no longer feel like outcasts, because the outcast has been embraced by a group of fellow outsiders who understands. Society may shame what makes a person different, but nerd culture is not society. Although Tim Burton showed that he’s just a normal man with no real love for those made to feel different and some within nerd culture shared his sentiment for not understanding the need to be inclusive and diverse in our media, nerd culture is ready for the changes ahead. We must continue to create and embrace diverse characters and storylines. If anyone should be accepting and understanding it should be us. No one knows better that what makes us different makes us powerful. In our club, everyone belongs.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Robert Bye on Unsplash

I live by New York City and I am so excited for all of the summer adventures.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

136944

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1607358

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

1004806
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

918362
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

598906
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

383706
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

498754

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments