I’ve had the seriously cool opportunity this past month to get to know Corvus Elrod, a Portland gaming expert, technology educator, and overall seriously interesting man who’s taking personal strides to assess his role in the world, and learn from this experience and those around him who don’t share the same skin color and gender. After telling me about a project he is kicking off tomorrow called The White Male Embargo, I was instantly hooked and asked him to introduce this to my blog readers, and encourage readers to follow him and get inspired…
I’m embarking on a bit of an adventure this Sunday when I begin a media-wide White Male Embargo. I’ll explain that fully, but let me start with some background.
I’ve been experimenting with restricting my media consumption in interesting ways for a couple of years now. It began with the Low Violence Challenge. For one year I didn’t play any video game that relied on the depiction of character-on-character violence as a major gameplay mechanic. The following year I implemented the Rule of Two. This rule involved what I call “geek culture” movies – action, sci-fi, fantasy, super hero, and animated films. I would only individually pay to see any of these types of movies where at least two of the three people in the roles of writer, director, and lead actor were women.
The purpose of these experiments was twofold. Firstly, I’m tired of seeing the journey of the white, western, male repeated in my media over and over. I’m tired of stories about triumph over adversity – especially when the route to that triumph is littered with the bodies of the protagonist’s fallen foes. The flawed idea that every “good” story is a reflection of the hero’s journey has become bland gospel in geek culture and it perpetuates the harmful notion that the experience of the white western male is a universal one that everyone can – and should – relate to.
Secondly – and related – I no longer wish to financially support this harmful shaping of our culture. As a call-back to a hashtag I started on Twitter during the Low Violence Challenge, our media conglomerates need to #BeBetterStewards.
I was a bit nervous going into both of these year-long experiments. I was going to be cutting myself off from conversational touchstones among my friends. I was, I knew, not going to play a few big game releases and see quite a few movies I’d otherwise pay to see. But as it turned out, I didn’t feel constrained at all. I felt freed. I sought out interesting media to consume, I heard more diverse voices, experienced more diverse approaches. So this upcoming year – as marked by my birthday – I’m upping the ante with the White Male Embargo.
This terms of the embargo are simple: During the Embargo I will not buy or rent any media – including books, movies, music, board games, and video games – created by white men.*
Further, as I am both white and male, I will not be posting any content that I, myself, create during the embargo. Any and all posts I make on public social networks during the embargo will be re-shares of content by non-white-dudes. Anything I feel the need to express publicly during the embargo will be posted to Tumblr, but post dated for one year from the date I post it.
*Excluding the selections of the Book & Movie club I belong to, which were proposed by a group of 4 women & 2 men (including myself) prior to my coming up with the embargo.