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BookTube—the specific part of YouTube devoted to vlogging about books—has a diversity problem. And I don’t mean racial diversity or sexual diversity, because there’s plenty of that: Joce of SquibblesReads, Cece of ProblemsofaBookNerd, Marines at MyNameisMarines, and Yvette at YvetteEclectic, all have interesting, engaging videos. What I mean is diversity of thought.
In September last year, fantasy author Victoria Schwab faced a backlash after accusations of a lack of racial diversity in her novels. Schwab immediately apologized and promised to “do better”. However, one BookTuber created a response video critiquing those criticizing Schwab, while attempting to defend Schwab. This didn’t go over too well with the BookTube community, who saw this as a person who was against diversity and equality, and immediately debates raged about how “diverse” and feminist BookTube really was.
The problem lies in that said BookTuber—Bre Faucheux—does not have the same political leanings as the majority of BookTubers. Faucheux is notably quite Right-leaning, with some fairly interesting opinions on a wide range of political issues. Despite Faucheux’s absurd beliefs on topics like “traditional lifestyles” and Jewish/nonwhite people, she did get one thing right in that BookTube and the book industry are overwhelmingly far-Left, with the exact same opinions on feminism, social justice and the like. There is a severe lack of diversity of thought.
This should be evident by how quickly the sheer majority of BookTube denounced Faucheux and anybody like her. After Faucheux’s video defending Schwab, BookTubers began releasing videos about how BookTube Doesn’t Want Diversity. Video after video about how BookTube doesn’t want diversity in their books because one woman said forced diversity is ridiculous. Faucheux said in her original video that forced diversity shouldn’t be a thing because it will result in infighting and tear apart the BookTube community. She was correct. BookTubers began heaping criticism on any white author who, like Schwab, didn’t have diversity in their books or, alternatively, didn’t have enough or well-written diversity. Authors like Veronica Roth, Lionel Shriver, S.E Hinton, and even J.K Rowling, all received a deluge of harassment for allegedly being anti-diversity, when they are anything but.
While Bre Faucheux may have some fairly radical opinions on things, she was at least a different voice to the norm on BookTube. It is clear BookTube has a severe lack of diversity of thought. Watch any BookTuber—big or small—and you’ll notice they all have the same opinions on things. For the community to complain about “racists” in their community is laughable: it seems everyone on BookTube is a devout anti-racist, to the point of blacklisting any BookTuber or author with vaguely disagreeable politics.
Take, for example, Cece Ewing of ProblemsofaBookNerd, an engaging and generally memorable BookTuber who, after reading Blink by Ted Dekker, deemed it “Islamophobic” and proceeded to throw out every single Ted Dekker book she had ever owned. Prior to this, Dekker was in her top favorite authors. Notably from this point on, Ewing never mentioned Dekker ever again except if she was talking about “Islamophobia” in another book she’d read. This is the same author who rates how great a book is on if it has “queer” characters.
There’s no problem with diversity in books. As someone who lives in a relatively diverse area, it makes sense to include diversity of race and sexuality in my own fiction. However, BookTubers wish for diversity in all their books, regardless of their context. A BookTube darling, Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, was criticized by a few BookTubers for not having enough racial diversity. By the way, said novel is set in seventeen-hundreds Europe. The book is praised, not by its plot or merit, but instead for its bisexual protagonist Monty. Lee’s novel is always given five stars by BookTubers, and there is no diversity of opinion on the book, except to question its diversity of race and sexuality.
The same people who proclaim “It’s so hard to find BookTubers/books who represent me!”are the same people who have literally everyone to represent them. Books with diversity of race or sexuality are always given the same positive reviews, and all BookTubers generally give the same reviews on these books. There is no shortage of diverse novels or feminist opinions of these diverse novels. The only diversity of thought is the narrow spectrum of accepted opinion. If you think The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas or The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue are merely acceptable, you’ll probably have a hard time making it on BookTube.
We need more people with differing opinions on BookTube. It is challenging to find anyone who isn’t feminist or far-Left, and this is probably why those on BookTube are in such an ideological echo chamber. When you’re only hanging out with people with the same views as you, you’ll probably think exactly the same things about the books you review, and where’s the fun in that? One can check out fifty different BookTubers, and find the exact the same opinion on the same books. Since the majority of BookTube enjoys young adult—or contemporary fiction, as they call it—they all seem to review the same young adult novels. There’s nothing wrong with YA, but hearing the same BookTubers review the same books, and give the same opinions on the same topics, adds nothing new to the discussion. This is the same with BookTubers having the same opinion on Bre Faucheux and the so-dubbed Diversitygate (here we go again with our Gategates). Instead of people accusing Faucheux straight-up of racism and white supremacy, it would have been nice to hear nuanced discussions, even if it is to tell Faucheux why she’s wrong. The only diversity of thought I was able to find in regards to Diversitygate was by Jay Dee Archer, who disagreed with Faucheux, but provided a different, stimulating opinion to the agreed-upon norms. While Archer disagreed with Faucheux, he responded in an intelligent way that added something to the discussion.
The same BookTubers who believe their community has a diversity problem are correct, but not in the way they think. There is plenty of diversity in regards to race and sexuality (though not gender, as a sheer majority of BookTubers are women of relatively the same age), contrary to what BookTubers think, but diversity of thought is severely lacking. While people like Bre Faucheux may have some outlandish opinions, we can at least say she is providing a different opinion to the homogeneous entity that is BookTube. When you ecstatically celebrate Diverseathon every January, you should not be questioning whether your movement is full of racists. Why would a racist community allow a Diverseathon?
Just like the wide variety of fiction in the world, there should be a wide variety of opinions in the BookTube community for everyone. Everyone reads—regardless of where they lie on the political spectrum—and this should be visible in the wide range of readers in the BookTube community. Diversity of race and sexuality are fine, as long as they’re not forcibly compulsory, just don’t forget diversity of thought.