The voice conditioned in me by schools and society is telling me, “tread lightly.”
On the other hand, part of me wants a level of desensitizing, making less of an issue not because it wasn’t serious in the past, but because it’s time to move on.
“Omg, I can’t believe he just said that!”
I did. And I have said things before that have offended people. Just ask my family, the ones I still have the numbers to. I offended them off speed dial, clear out of my contact list!
So why bring this up? I’m a writer of scifi, not an activist. The reason is simple–books have characters, and unless your novel is about aliens that have no skin (hmm…interesting), your characters are going to have a pigment in said skin.
There are all sorts of tests to see if your novel, or movie, or comic has enough of this group or that group. So let’s start with a list, and for each criteria I’ll asign a number.
A) Putting myself in another’s racial or gender shoes. 2
I wear one size shoes. And as much as I’d like to think that my characters are diverse, they are not. They are all facets of my own personality. (ok, fine, facets of the other ones too. Happy me? Myself, dont you start now!)
B) The lead character is ________ 4
There’s only one lead character, and chances are, he or she (or it for those neuter aliens) will have just one skin color (Unless it’s the cat species from Red Dwarf)
C) Women act like like old school women, men are macho aloof etc 8
Hormones still work in space, and if mankind (uhoh, there, I said that m word) is to colonize, we need them babies! So women, put on your party dress and space helmet, and men, forget the space helmet
D) Im sure I’m missing-_______ 15
There is always a group of people, or culture that an author misses. Unless your novel has every human being that ever lived as a speaking character, you’re gonna hurt some feelings. Get over it, nobody likes _____ anyway. See, I just made feewing owies!
So, the scores you saw? Guess what. They’re meaningless. Just like the bullet points. The point is, that characters should be interesting, and charismatic (even the bad guys). Maybe charismatic isn’t the right word, but you get sucked in, and want to know more. You want to find out what happens to them next!
Skin color or gender don’t matter then, because they no longer become drones representative of their group, they become individuals. (Somehow there’s a Borg joke in there.)
Do I have different colored skin poeple? (OMG he said colored) Yes, white, black..errr…sorry Japan. I swear next time I’ll include a kawaii girl! Do I have strong female characters. You better believe it. But don’t rob them of their uniqueness, don’t shove them in a box and put some label on them. Labels work, I call them words so long as they’re the right labels. So let the characters be, the main character is the MAIN CHARACTER that just happens to be ______
I do joke, but seriously. Let’s do this great novel idea, judging a novel by how good it’s written and how much we love the characters! I am of a certain race…and I can easily say I love Kirk (he’s first, ok, he is awesome, deal with it!) Sisko, Mal Reynolds, Astrid Farnsworth, Gowron, Tex, Lavernius Tucker, Izumiko Suzuhara
Don’t ask me who plays all of them, because I don’t know. I may hate the actor’s guts, but I can still love that character. They all are who they are, not dictacted by check boxes or quotas.
Channels open, ready for hate mail! Nah, I’m kidding, you guys are smart and get it.
Signed, Somebody that only sees the color of a glowing warp core during night shift