Posts from Memory Lane: Why Analysis is a Form of Love

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

These posts were written during the summer while I was in Bangladesh, in preparation for the upcoming academic year. Long story short: when I looked back at the archive, I didn't have the desire or the time to put them up. But now, since I'm coming back to the blog, I decided that some of them aren't half bad. Read on!

I love video games. And televised sports. And stand-up comedy. And any other number of media goodies that can be watched, heard, read, or played. But, what I don't love is the continued sexism and racism that I see in these media forms.

More often than not, I find myself unconsciously analyzing any media I take in - for instance, how much camera time a black tennis player got in comparison to a white tennis player during Wimbledon - and pointing out the critique. I'm not exactly silent about these observations, but for some people that takes away from the experience. They think I'm "reading too much into it," or I'm "taking away from the fun/action." Basically, they tell me to keep my comments to myself as much as possible.

Sometimes that's warranted - perhaps they themselves understand the issues at hand and want to take it in without interuption. Fair. But I believe that many people would just rather not think about the structures and problems that accompany their favorite media. Take video games for another example: there has been a lot of bluster about how the sexism in video game culture is just part of the fun, but when someone points it out and wants to make a marked change (such as this video blogger), they get accused as coming from the outside, as not understanding well enough, and they are told that their analysis isn't needed here.

I'd like to think, however, that most of the people making these critiques are doing it out of love.

Analysis (at least, good analysis) in a specific focus area requires a lot of time spent with the material or the topic. Sure, people from the "outside" can also make critiques, but they won't hold the nuance or the call to action to make these media better. Most virulent critiques aim to take away the entire thing (as with banning some types of music because of their lyrics) rather than looking at the systems they perpetuate and the ways they can be reformed.

Having opinions doesn't make watching a tennis game any less interesting. Holding commentators and newscasters accountable for how they portray different people on the court certainly can't make the game worse. You can still have your pick of the best player. But leaving alone media just because there will be haters and there will be things that people dislike does not mean we have to shun all discordant viewpoints. Sometimes they can be the squeaky wheel that gets more than just grease - they can pressure us to upgrade the whole machine.