Sunday, September 01, 2013

Just How Inclusive Do We Want To Be?

I want to talk about about something that is hard for a non-academic person to articulate let alone try to put into a public post. What does inclusive mean anymore in a public space?

This posts is not about feminism, Miley Cyrus, Fast Company, Twitter or the patriarchy. They do play a part in this musing but not really what I want to talk about.

It is about the audience. We are the audience except when we are not, as in not seen or acknowledge. It is kinda like sanctified pussy. Meaning, you want your cake and eat it too without repercussions.

Who do we perceive as the audience? Bloggers are not exempt musing but this post is mainly about mainstream media publications and content makers.

I think many on-line, off-line publications and mainstream media still believe that the demographics in their media kits totally define who their target audience is or who they desired it to be.

Allowing just demographics to define your audience in 2013 might not be the way to go.  But what do I know? I'm part of the invisible people.

Still, for giggles let's look at the Fast Companies media kit demographics:

Readership is 66% male/34% female
Median Age of Readership is 45+ for print version and 35+ for web version.

Median HHI is $175,275 for print readers
Median HHI is $72,907 for web viewers
Primary readership is managerial/professional level

Would I be perceived as a Fast Company reader? Would an Latino man working in IT be perceived as one? How about an Asian woman working in management that isn't paid the same as her Anglo male co-worker but does exactly the same job?

And even if we were perceived as readers would the expectation be that those of us that don't fit the above demographic profile would come for the content that was tech influenced or connected to business or the intersections of tech, culture and money?

Would we automatically accept that our respective cultures would not be reflected in the publication?

When they came up with that 25 Smartest Women on Twitter listical they had it coming and they got it.  And I'd lay cash money (up to $1) that they still don't know why.

True, Fast Company responded with a second posts that included more diversity and actual Twitter users but yeah, not sure they totally got it enough to be more inclusive on a regular basis.

When this type of question was asked in the 1960's, 1970s, 1980's....(Yes, this is a long dodged question by publishers, television producers and filmmakers. ) 2000s up to the 2013 the usual response has been:

"Sure, we love all of our audience. But we are just one "insert the blank" and we have an obligation to our advertisers and our primary audience which is "insert the blank."  We do what we can to be inclusive but..."

And mainstream media makers got away with that bullshit for a long, long time. That time might be ending. Or not. But change is being forced upon them.

With Twitter and Facebook in play, mainstream publishers cannot put up a wall between themselves and their total audiences. Publications and media outlets are now being called up on the shim-sham.

If they are lucky. Those are the people that care. Angry, but they do care. These are the folks that are telling media makers that you cannot pretend that "the other" does not exist.

The audience stake-holders are talking back.  For example, when ABC News had an expert explain Twerking people became unhinged.

We expect a news channel to aim a little higher than the anal clef. It is a diminished expectation sure, but folks were a little put off just the same. Yes, exercising your butt and thighs is good for you but this is a news item?

African-Americans were rightfully up in agitation because Cyrus not only did not perform the dance correctly but is anatomically ill-equip to compensate for a lack of dance skill. It was another dose of cultural appropriation and it still is distasteful.

And yet, Miley Cyrus name is permanently attached to Twerking by mainstream media and not Big Frieedia.

A moment for the obligatory Big Fredia video. Those with conservative constitutions should not watch this video.  Those who don't want to see true dancing or ass flipping are also cautioned against viewing.

I am not responsible if you get up out of your chair and try this at home without warming up first.

Eh, where was I. Oh, yeah.

Who was the intended audience? Those that voluntarily watched the VMAs. Not me. I'm still not and will never be but it was forced upon me none the less.

It isn't necessarily just about race, gender or affinity. We had black folks acting the fool as well. Russell Simmons was quickly corrected.

I think we underestimate just how strong a pull a male dominated society influences the American culture. When certain white women feminists choose to defend Hugo Schwyzer over women of color that were being victimize by this man for calling him on his shit then we gotta look at the possible reasons why:

In my subjective opinion:
  1. A white male ally is worth more television and print time than the value of a black, Latino or Asian woman's voice.
  2. Who was the audience they wanted to reach? Not an inclusive one but an audience that fit into their perceived demographic of power. Hugo was the emblem that pushed their agenda and made it palatable to certain viewers.
  3. Do some people's voices have to be subjugated in order to advance the cause? That is what some (a fractional few to be sure) have advocated.

Oww. Which lead to more questions like:
  • How Inclusive are we in our silos?
  • Is it a silo or a bunker mentality? You know people get a little freaky in the bunker right?
  • Can we be inclusive and still maintain our identity?
  • Can we lean to use citation when appropriating another cultures art forms?
There are so many more questions but I have to lay this burden down for a while. 

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