For decades, the entertainment industry has capitalized off of exploiting marginalized bodies and identities for the sake of creating “good art.” Traditional comedy is rife with fat jokes, racism, transphobia, and homophobia. Fat suits are still heavily used instead of hiring fat actors. Whitewashing of adapted films and television occurs so frequently, it’s exhausting. People of color have a very slim margin of stereotypical roles they can audition for. Art and entertainment have become so exploitative of different bodies that anyone who doesn’t fit the thin, white, heteronormative Hollywood culture has taken to self-deprecating humor just to stay relevant.
It has to stop.
We do not have to explain our differences to be seen, to be heard, and for our art to be valid. Our identities are valid simply because they exist.
So many people who appear different from the traditional have built their careers out of making themselves the butt of a joke to appease the crowd. While there is some power in claiming that identity in the form of joke that used to be a way to tear us down, it still tells the traditional that they are right. It still gives them the majority of that power.
Our fat bodies are not a source of shame. Our disabilities do not give people license to mock us. Different skin tones do not make people inherently bad. We can change the definition of what is art and what is comedy. Our identities are our strength, not the punchline of some tasteless joke. We do not have to explain our differences to earn your respect.