The video posted in the OP of this thread is not the video attached to the FRC blog post. The “Longform” video in the OP is wonderful. I agree with everything mentioned by the replies above, assuming they are discussing the “Longform” video. The video attached to the actual FRC blog post is the “Full” video (which is actually shorter than “Longform”; I discuss the different videos briefly at the bottom of this post). The rest of this post focuses on the “Full” video (as named by FIRST).
I appreciate the intended message of the “Full” video. My first time watching it without paying attention, I thought “great message” with no gripes. Then I watched it again, but actually paying attention.
To any FIRST employees reading, please never include “I’m more than just another nerd, gay, gamer, pronoun, or I don’t knownoun.” (0:41) ever again in any form of communication. That is a sentence that, prior to today, I would have thought could only come from an Onion article about a corporate overlord trying to seem inclusive. As an LGBT gamer nerd, it rubs me the wrong way.
Please don’t use “gay” as a noun in scripted D&I videos. Admittedly, I, an LGBT-identifying person, use “gay” as a noun occasionally, and I’m typically unoffended by its use, but phrases like “a gay” or “the gays” are dangerously close to saying something like “a black” or “the blacks” (or, in the same LGBT space, “a trans” or “a transgender”). Referring to a marginalized person by nominalizing the adjective that describes their marginalized trait can be (and often is) very dehumanizing. It’d still be borderline if it was used candidly by a member of the LGBT community, but it is absolutely not acceptable in a scripted video produced by a corporation.
Please don’t say “I don’t knownouns”. Cutesy portmanteaus can be amusing when used in the right context. Doing it with the word “pronouns” while FIRST is still holding champs in Texas is insensitive. It doesn’t help that we’re in a political climate where a large portion of people in the country are pretending as if pronouns don’t exist and joking about pronouns in a variety of demeaning ways. On its own, “I don’t knownouns” reads to me as potentially patronizing and dismissive. As with before, it’d be different if you had a nonbinary person saying it candidly on screen. That isn’t the case when you script it and have enough people say it that you can (and did) layer and harmonize their voices in the final audio edit.
If I close my eyes I can hear my right wing family members saying “what is it with the gays and their ‘I don’t knownouns’ these days”.
The specific grouping of LGBT/Nerd/Gamer makes me slightly uncomfortable on its own, but that isn’t really a major thing. It’s just off-putting to hear several singular “more than x” statements and then hear “Nerd, Gay, Gamer, Pronoun, or I don’t knownoun.” Processing it caused me to do a double take and actually rewind the video. Gave me some apprehensive “What’s that supposed to mean, huh?” vibes. It might not bother me so much if the other issues with those items weren’t a factor.
The other big thing that stuck out to me as strange was the segment beginning at 0:33 where they have a “black” identifying person and a “brown” identifying person say “black kid” and “brown kid” followed by a seemingly articulate and non-overweight person saying “fat kid, dumb kid” all in a list, preceded by and followed by more singular “more than x” statements.
I’ve spent virtually all of my life as a heavier person, bullied for my weight from Kindergarten to 6th grade, to the point of severe depression and many of the things that come along with that. I’ve even spent some time above the 99th percentile for BMI. One time as a teen, I had a doctor tell me they couldn’t do my surgery in a pediatric facility if my BMI was 99th percentile or higher. Must’ve gotten lucky that day because I came in at 98.9th. It isn’t a fun way to live. I’d rather have my experience represented by someone who’s also had a similar experience.
Also, the pattern of (at least semi-plausible) “identity matching” in the surrounding statements is concerning. I don’t want some kid out there to watch this video and say “wow, this person thinks they’re fat, and I’m heavier than they are, so what does that make me?”.
I’ll give “dumb” a pass as a pretty generic insult that could be applied to anyone.
Honestly, this part bothers me a lot less than the LGBT-focused language issues I brought up. It just feels like FIRST didn’t try very hard. We’ve got a 20% childhood obesity rate in the US. It can’t have been that hard for FIRST to have a person that is plausibly “fat” say “fat kid” on screen. Even better, remove “fat” and have someone say something like “more than my (weight/body/size/etc)”, which would be more inclusive to people that have EDs or issues with being underweight.
Overall, I really do like the rest of the “Full” video and the message they were actually going for is clear. I especially like the poetic line delivery at 1:04. FIRST managed to include a lot of aspects I wouldn’t typically think to mention in this style of D&I video: parents, guilt, school dynamics, etc.
The video in the FRC blog post is the “Full” version. There are also 15-second, 30 second, 60-second, and “Longform” versions (“Longform” is the version linked in the OP of this thread). “Full” is 2 minutes long, and “Longform” is about 4 minutes long.
As I said at the start of the post, the “Longform” video is wonderful. Couldn’t ask for much better. The 60-second video is a cut-down version of the “Longform” video, and I give it the same praise. Similar praise for the ad placement in the New York Times.
On the other hand, much to my dismay, the only substantial spoken line in both the 15-second and 30-second videos is “I’m more than just another Nerd, Gay, Gamer, Pronoun, or I don’t knownoun.” Seeing that sentence be the focal point in 2 out of the 5 videos produced for this campaign is really upsetting, substantially more upsetting than when I thought it was just a small fumble in a longer video.
As it stands, the “Full” version video and the 15/30-second cuts make me uncomfortable. As a person and as a mentor. (And not the good kind of uncomfortable you should feel when challenging biases and whatnot.) I know it wasn’t the intent and I really hope these oversights were just that – oversights.
Knowing what I know about FIRST, either the “Longform” version or “Full” version (or both) will be played at every competition this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if they play every morning of every competition this year. If FIRST picks the “Full” version, it’ll be a little kick to the metaphorical shins every morning. It’ll be relatively minor, and it won’t ruin my day, but I’m not looking forward to it.
To add insult to injury, FIRST is running this campaign nationwide in the US until the end of November. To me, the 15-second and 30-second videos are irredeemable, but they’ll probably see the most promotion due to their length. You don’t make a 15-second cut if you aren’t planning to push it out to a wider audience as a cost-saving measure instead of paying the increased ad rates for longer cuts.
I’m far from the most politically correct person on Chief. That is to say, no one is perfect, and I don’t expect FIRST to be either. However, I expect a lot more of something that is released as D&I material. D&I materials demand high standards and reviews from multiple people identifying with mentioned groups before they are released. This applies triple if those materials are going to be released publicly as a nationally advertised PSA campaign. I’m not offended, but I am disappointed and hurt.
It’s worth acknowledging that it is possible that I’m off-base here. Everyone interprets things through their own lens. My lens tends to be pretty lax on stuff like this, so I’d like to think I’m not the only one that will respond this way to those versions of the campaign.
The “more than robots” language has always been a favorite of mine, but this iteration of “more than” has started to spoil it for me.