Diversify Your Shelves, White People

I’m virtue signaling and I don’t care

A couple weeks ago, I was rewatching “North by Northwest.” Then I rewatched “Strangers on a Train,” and a couple other such era movies. I should mention that I’m white, and a man. And I’m watching these things made in the 1950’s and 1960’s by, starring and (let’s be honest) mostly FOR white men. Not even watching. RE-watching. 

And I look at my shelf of DVD’s and my Netflix playlist, and my albums and podcasts and books and everything and I can see the amount of whiteness I’m putting into my body and my brain. 

I’ve never done a cleanse before, not of the food variety, but I am presently in the first week of a cleanse of my cultural intake. I have dedicated myself to only watch, listen, read or otherwise ingest media that does not feature white people or white culture. 

To meet this criteria, I set up the following rules. I can “ingest”…

-Movies and TV made by non-white people (“A Black Lady Sketch Show” and “Astronomy Club” have been fun finds, as was “Vampires vs. the Bronx.” I also went back through “Cowboy Bebop” under this qualification).

-Movies and TV featuring non-white people in starring roles (this would allow me to watch, say, “Tenet” if I wanted)

-Podcasts and YouTube series with at least one non-white host (which seems like a tall order if you limit yourself to shows about movies; fortunately “Red Hot Chili Writers” and “The Indie Author Lifestyle” have stepped up nicely to talk books and writing and such). 

-Books written by non-white people (I was already on a serious Walter Mosley kick, wrapping up “Down the River Unto the Sea,” but then I found Barbara Neely’s “Blanche on the Lam.” It’s damn near perfect). 

-Music made by non-white people (arguably the easiest transition, but I allowed myself to venture beyond the country; Punk bands from India, Korea, Brazil and Mexico serve as a kind of baby-step for me: they all bash on guitars, so it’s not like a huge leap)

I’m not even sure what I’m accomplishing with this, if anything, but what I want to do is simply expose myself. Or at the very least de-expose myself from media that cannot prove itself to be anti-racist. Alfred Hitchcock might have been a really nice guy* and he might have believed Black Lives Matter, but his movies being a product of their times, they certainly have enough stink of white supremacy that I cannot just give them a pass. I’m finished with “Oh, it was a different time.” Yes, it was. For many people, it was an even worse time, and revisiting that time with blind fondness and admiration will not help our present or future.

I’m attempting to diversify my shelves, my playlists, my feeds and everything. In the process, I’ve found some cool stuff. Only a sheltered white person would be surprised. 

*He wasn’t. 

Published by Phillip Mottaz

Writer, father, husband and fan of Batman, Star Wars and the Rolling Stones. I also have a Ramones Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/ramonesoftheday

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