I recently saw someone complaining about the advice of ‘if you don’t like it, change it’. The person claimed the advice was just a load of bull that it meant that if you are not going to change it, you do not have the right to complain. Maybe in zir experience, this might have some truth, but it is a poorly worded piece of advice.
I see complaining as acknowledging that you see a problem. No matter if other people justify your complaint, you have a problem with a subject.
For instance, there is the complaint that there is a lack of POC in animated feature films. This is a problem. This has been a problem for years, and there are raging debates all over the internet on if this is a problem, why it is a problem and so forth.
The person who says ‘if you don’t like it, change it’ might suggest that the person who objects should then make their own animated film, but how should they go about this? It assumes that the objector has the skills to actually create something to address the issue. This turns the complaint into a whine, as something that is unimportant and dismissible, when it really is not.
Complaining is the first step in drawing attention to a problem. Whether said problem is popular or not, or considered politically correct is not up for debate. The fact that someone objects or is offended enough to make a statement means that to someone the issue has value. Some people just want to complain, and while others might find it frustrating, it is still something that is allowed, people are allowed to complain, although most people would probably appreciate if complaints were made without being specifically offensive. To go back to the earlier mention, animation, a person should feel free to express zir displeasure on the lack of POC, but they should keep from insulting the people who made the movie personally. A good complaint would be ‘that movie should have had more POC in it’, not ‘the person who animated this is a (insert expletive of your choice) because there weren’t more POCs’.
Of course, there are people who actually want to do more to complain, and that is a wonderful thing. The problem is how they choose to go about it. The first thing a person should do is choose their audience wisely. If you choose a platform where everyone is going to agree that something needs to be done but somebody else needs to do it, then it is unlikely that something will change. If you choose a platform where the people have historically expressed opinions contrary to your own, then you increase the chance of becoming the target of negative attention. Perhaps one of the wisest moves is to do some research and find organizations that are actively promoting the change you want to see and support them, either by telling people about them, supporting them with your money or even volunteering to help them. The catch is to make sure that the organization you are supporting is legitimate and that you agree with the methods they are using because people tend to assume that if you support an organization’s cause then you must support their methods, and if the methods are circumspect, then what does that say about the people who support it?
If you can do something yourself, such as make an animated film with more POC, then do it. Do not let people tell you that you cannot or should not do it, just make it and tell people about it. If you do this, however I recommend that you do not let your ability to do something inflate your sense of self to the point that you talk down to people who do not have your talent or skill. Another suggestion is to find out what those people can do and if it enhances your own efforts then encourage them to help. Even if all they can do is talk about your work, then you are still getting people to pay attention to what you did that you might not have otherwise had.
People have a right to complain, and should not be driven down for the fact that they do complain. Sometimes one person being brave enough to say that something is wrong and needs to be changed is enough to start a change. There is nothing wrong with complaining, but if you can, and are willing to do more, then do it. One person can start a movement with words, but the more people doing what they can, the more that things can change.