This is something I’ve seen, not only in writing, but also movie-making, and comic books. It’s something I can say that I’m guilty of as well.
What do I mean when I say we cater to the PC (Politically Correct) crowd? Well… honestly, we spend a lot of time concerned with the ethnicity of our characters, who get’s killed off and/or who gets center stage… not based on who is the strongest character, but rather which character isn’t going to make us look in any way bigoted.
Example: (SPOILER ALERT) I killed off a female character of Asian decent in one of my stories. In my next novel, I plan on replacing her with another female character because it suits my narrative, but she’s not Asian or any sort of minority. She’s a very perky country artist that’s going to be more of a nuisance than anything. This, I admit gave me pause… and maybe it’s just me… maybe I’ve been affected by the mass-media because of incidents like what happened with James Rolfe, but even knowing that, it’s hard to get passed. In the end, I decided that it’s my story and I’ll write it however I want. DAMN THE TORPEDOES, FULL SPEED AHEAD!!!
Now I know what a lot of people are thinking… what, you have a problem with diversity? We should be adding more minority characters into stories! We don’t want to alienate people!!
That’s very true. People of all backgrounds should have someone like themselves to look up to. However, forcing/pressuring someone to write a character a certain way for the sake of diversity can have a damaging effect…
Consider this… you’re writing based on your experiences. You’re using fantasy to make your story a lot more interesting and decide that you want to represent more people. As a result, you write in a character of an ethnicity, who’s culture and background you may not have enough information on. The result is a stereotypical character that some would consider something to the affect of a ‘black-face’ character and guess what? You’ve now offended the very audience that you’re trying to include.
So why not immerse yourself more in the culture! Take the time to learn more about people.
Very true. That’s good advice that I was actually going to allude to later on, but that’s not always an option. Put it this way, a writer living in Greenwich CT, who has spent their life there, is not going to be able to properly represent a person from… let’s say New Orleans. Even if they visit it for a little while. Immersion into another culture isn’t always possible unless you have the time and money to do it… which I can honestly say most authors starting out don’t have.
My point is that you should write what you know, do your best to learn, but don’t feel pressured by societal norms into writing characters certain ways. If you want to write in a character of another ethnicity or religion, just make sure you represent them correctly. Otherwise, you’re going to turn people off to your work.
Seriously dude, how can diversity in writing honestly be THAT damaging?
Well let’s take a look:
Most recently, Ghostbusters 2016. This movie was absolutely blatant in its girl power message… blatant to the point of being offensive to all 5 senses. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with a strong female as one of the leading roles in a story. (See Damnation and Soul Siphon). The problem was that Sony was obnoxious about it. Instead of making the women in the story equal with everyone else, they pushed something closer to a social justice warrior narrative where they promoted the women in a rather derogatory way. Instead of having them work with male characters side by side, they created a ‘Separate but equal (kinda)’ team of all-women, and from what I saw from the reviews, the male characters were weak, evil, or grossly incompetent.
This is where Star Wars and Fury Road worked where Ghostbusters failed. They made the female/minority characters work alongside their male/non-minority companions. They didn’t try to force any diversity message down anyone’s throats, they just wrote a great story with great characters.
As I stated in a previous review, a female Ghostbusters cast could have worked. If they had a Rey or a Furiosa on the team and maybe had them working alongside two male Ghostbusters (not even the majority) it would have been great, but that’s not what they did. They brought in a director that’s known for his ‘girl-power’ feminism agenda, which he then proceeded to force down everyone’s throats.
What’s worse, Sony and Feig double-downed on this and went so far as to paint the main fan-base of Ghostbusters as misogynistic and ‘assholes.’ Yeah… not the way to get butts in the seats. The result was a consistent controversy, critics of the film getting needlessly attacked for their opinions, key spokespeople having to do damage control, and the movie chalking in a multi-million dollar loss internationally.
Now the big money question: Have I seen the new Ghostbusters?
No, and I have no plans to. Sorry, but I was greatly offended by what Paul Feig said about geek culture and the damage Sony did to it, that I’m pretty much sworn off any of Feig’s work, past, present, or future. Geek culture and it’s progress over the last 20 years is something very near and dear to my heart, and I don’t appreciate us being painted with a wide, hypocritical brush as ‘assholes’ and misogynists. Sorry, but they’re not getting a dime of my money and I sincerely hope Sony studios gets flushed down the drain they’re already circling. (Hostile, I know, but oh well. I’m human.)
Marvel Comics… I’ve already gotten into this in a previous post, so I’ll just give a brief quote on it:
“I still enjoy Captain America with someone else holding the shield and Thor being a woman, because it’s explained well. It works and it all comes together. However when you make one character gay with no explanation (Colossus), or randomly change a character’s race (Nick Fury, Psylocke, and Spider-man), and do so with little explanation simply using the ‘Alternate Universe’ defense for poor storytelling, that’s where problems arise. It’s at this point that the pandering and blatant tokenism becomes obvious. For me, it was when they took arguably the most diverse team in comic book history, a team that has literally had members from almost everywhere on the planet and actually dealt with bigotry and hatred, and made that team all women. Essentially, they took the X-Men, THE most diverse team and made it less diverse in the name of diversity. How does that even make sense?”
This may be why Marvel Comic sales are going down. Honestly, that X-Men series didn’t last long, thankfully.
Next up…Disney’s The Frog Princess. This movie had controversy around it from day 1. Disney worked on the film over and over, altering characters, roles, even the jobs that these characters had, making it even less historically accurate in the name of not offending anyone.
Probably with little surprise… this movie didn’t do very well, which is a shame as the visuals and the villain are absolutely spectacular!
Fire Emblem has also come under fire for removing anything Nintendo thinks an American Audience might view as offensive and potentially misogynistic in some cases. It has drawn a lot of criticism and anger from the gaming community… which is sad because I absolutely love the series.
Another good example is the Character Percy from Pokemon. Percy was created because the show’s creators thought a western audience might find Brock racially insensitive… 4Kids, was also known for carefully censoring certain parts of the Japanese dialogue and editing it for… what they viewed as a more sensitive, American audience. Again, geeks and kids are far more intelligent than people like this give them credit. The backlash was pretty bad.
There are plenty of other examples, but I think I’ve made my point.
So… why did each of these projects fail? Was it the result of racism/misogyny/bigotry/sexism? Maybe in part, as certainly those can play a role in why select audiences might not waste their time with something… however I don’t think that’s the main reason. We currently live in a country that is extremely politically divided on almost every issue, and people are getting tired of it.
Political correctness was originally a term that, in modern usage, was used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that… however, over time, the term has been used as a crutch by people who are either WAY too sensitive, or are essentially looking for a reason to create a divisive issue… Sony’s response to the Ghostbusters criticism is a good example of this. PC now comes with a negative connotation as it has become the war cry of the now euphemistically-named Social Justice Warriors, AKA the type of people who quote Martin Luther King Jr. or Susan B. Anthony without a firm grasp of the meaning behind what they were saying or what their main goals were. It’s become a tool of these groups used to stifle creativity and Freedom of Speech and thought under the guise of empowering it. Their actions continuously become less and less righteous, and more like they’re seeking either handouts, self promotion, or superiority of their select ‘under-privileged class’ instead of seeking equality. They are extremely hypocritical in their arguments and usually impossible to engage in a critical debate. (Look up the feminist argument of Barbie vs. HeMan and their response) They insert racial issues into controversy where they have no place, and create other controversies when they have nothing to complain about. Basically, many of the more extreme of these regressive people would rather us go back to the 50s-60s or earlier, as long as they and their group is the one on top.
The problem is… these are the people that our media is now catering to. The result is politics being inserted into movies, books, etc. where they have no place and it is turning people off. I liken it to a comedian I saw recently who stopped in the middle of his act to get on a soapbox give his opinion on various political issues without cracking a single joke. The result was boo’s, heckling, people telling him to ‘Shut up and tell a joke!’ and people walking out demanding their money back… myself included. That’s the real problem here. People are tired of politics and regressive views, they are tired of political correctness and the hypocritical views that come with it.
When we go to see movies, listen to music, see a comedian, read a comic or a book, there are political options out there. You can easily find media that is political in natures. However, unless these people specifically want politics forcing it on them in a movie, book, or other medium, will make you loose the majority of your audience. People are tired of this level of BS and it is starting to show in the backlash that comes as a result.
In closing, if you want to right about another culture or person of another walk of life, go for it, just make sure you get it right. Do your homework and make sure you’re accurately portraying that person’s background. If however you don’t want to or don’t think you can properly portray that group, don’t. You are under no obligation to. Don’t let anything or anyone intimidate you or pressure you into changing who you are or how you create.These people are not the biggest threat to your Freedom of Speech… your fear of them is.This type of nonsense only has power if you let it.
Anyway… I know I said that I’d do my best to keep politics off of my page, and I apologize for going back on that, but this is something that I had to get off of my chest.
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