February 14, 2008
The Problem With Tolerance
Minority depictions in pop culture are often coupled with the idea of tolerance. Tolerance, in this respect, is preached from the dominant norm's gaze and projected onto the reception of the other.
It's important to realize that the preaching of tolerance is not a message of granting legitimacy but is an attitude meant to give the feeling of inclusion. After all, tolerance is always presented as a struggle between the dominant and the other. It's not a message of actual recognition but of a grudging acceptance.
With the thought of tolerance comes the idea of acceptable representation. The minority is granted "legitimizing" public time, but is held accountable under the normative gaze. In order to be tolerable, the minority character must censor their actions, ideas, and attitude in order to "fit in". This furthers the divide of "US versus THEM" as now we have a two-tiered system of other. There is the "acceptable" other and those that just won't assimilate. A form of legitimacy is granted to those who self-censor and deviancy for people who do not/cannot conform.
The increase of minority visibility hasn't actually changed stereotypes. In reality, racism, classism, chauvinism, and homophobia are still rampant. Creating the "US and THEM" ideology that tolerance mandates hasn't benefited minorities. It is only when fair representations and understanding that acceptance is key will we, as a society, see any change.
Tolerance doesn't accept this and that is why I do not tolerate tolerance.