The digital age offers an unlimited supply of media to consume. Every time you choose a movie, show, web series, book, or podcast, it matters. Consumers have a say in what an industry produces and whose voices are heard, whether it's in publishing or entertainment. Here's how to make your media diet more inclusive, and support the work of diverse creators.
Start simple: the next time you sign into your Netflix account, search through a podcast network, or browse in a book store, consider making choices that will support a fresh voice. It's a win for you too — by making your must-list more inclusive, it will open you to incredible stories that you might not have heard before. If you aren't sure how to find those stories, there are plenty of initiatives created to expand media horizons.
It's true that the world of online media, from streaming platforms to podcasts, seems to have made the system more democratic. In many of these industries, especially film and television, there have traditionally been gatekeepers. The gatekeepers in every industry, whether it's publishing, journalism, or television and film production, have historically been white men. In the past, this has made it more difficult for creative work by artists and creators from marginalized communities to find a large audience. The best part about new media is that these platforms offer more opportunities for creators who might not have been able to finance, produce, and distribute their work through other avenues. The world still has a long way to go, but everyone can encourage the industry to be more inclusive by broadening their own personal media consumption.
If you want to continue to support a more representative media industry, here's how to make your diet more inclusive:
Support Filmmakers Who Are Not Men
The entertainment industry is still struggling to fix the gender inequity, and one of the most dramatic examples of this is in the film world. Men continue to outnumber women in creative positions, and are often paid at higher rates for their work. For example, a recent study found that women actually lost ground in the industry during the past couple of years. In 2017, women made up just 7% of all directors on the top 250 films list, according to San Diego State's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.
There are people working to fix the gender disparity in Hollywood, and these are the creators who deserve support and recognition. It's important to show up for women who are writers and directors, like Ava DuVernay, Greta Gerwig, and Gillian Robespierre. There are also several prominent women who have have started their own production companies, including Gina Rodriguez and Reese Witherspoon. These companies finance film projects by women and other diverse creators, and make sure that important stories get told. Make sure to check out their work and support the projects they finance.
Get Into Educational Podcasts
It's the golden-age of podcasting, and there are so many educational (and hilarious!) podcasts. It's never too late to get into podcasts, and there's one out there for everyone, whether you want to hear political commentary, stand-up comedy, or a weird history lesson. Podcasts are a great way to hear a new perspective and learn something new, so they're essential for broadening your media diet.
A few suggestions include Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, on which the Queer Eye star interviews academics and other guests on topics ranging from the civil war in Syria to traffic in Los Angeles. There's also 2 Dope Queens, a stand-up show produced by Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson. The podcast became a platform for a whole bunch of new comedians to launch their career. Robinson's interview-centric podcast Sooo Many White Guys shares the same commitment to elevating underrepresented creative voices. There's also comedian Cameron Esposito's Queery podcast, which explores contemporary stories about gender, sexuality, and civil rights, and DeRay Mckesson's Pod Save the People, which explores news, culture, and social justice topics.
Sign Up For An Inclusive Book Club
It seems like every few years people say that books and publishing are dying, but millennial book clubs are more popular than ever. There are several new celebrity book clubs, and while most people are familiar with Oprah's book club, it's also worth checking out Emma Roberts' Belletrist or Reese Witherspoon's, which is simply called "Reese's Bookclub". All three of these book clubs frequently feature work from authors whose voices are often ignored by mainstream media.
Follow Activists On Twitter
Twitter is a great place to find new content, and a good way to make your media diet more inclusive is by following activists on the site. These are people who share their own work and stories, and following their accounts will improve your activism, while keeping you informed.
Support New Voices In Late Night & Comedy
Comedy has long had a bias against women, and it's important to support women working in the field. If you're a comedy fan, check out the shows in your area. Most alternative comedy schools like Upright Citizens Brigade have programs meant to promote underrepresented voices in comedy, and there are sure to be events oriented toward elevating underrepresented perspectives. If you can't go see a show IRL, be sure to check out stand up specials from a variety of comedians.
Unfortunately, late night shows remain dominated by white men. Samantha Bee's Full Frontal is pretty much the only political late night show on network television hosted by a woman. The good news is that streaming platforms open up more opportunity for women, and Michelle Wolf's The Break also deserves support.
Add TV Shows With Inclusive Casts To Your Queue
Next time you go to add a show to your watch list, consider watching a one that doesn't feature an all-white cast. The past couple of years have been some of the best for television — and it has a lot to do with putting more diverse stories and new voices at the helm of creative projects.
The past couple years have been a golden age for the television comedy. If you love a family story, check out Fresh off the Boat, black-ish, Jane the Virgin, Speechless, Atlanta, and One Day at a Time. These shows have all offered a new perspective on the comedy genre and made strides toward improving representation on television.
If you're stuck in a media rut, there are plenty of ways to make your media diet more inclusive. Whether it's tapping into a cool new podcast network or picking up some new titles at the book store, when you support new and historically marginalized voices, everybody wins.