Of late, it seems that the Puppy Kickers have been on an extended leave from sanity and common sense. Chuck Wendig weighs on the supposed Star Wars Boycott, apparently unaware that he’s being trolled. But while we can laugh at his gullibility, there are a few revealing quotes in there that demonstrate the SJW perspective handily.
Let’s imagine that you are, as you are now, a straight white dude. Except, your world features one significant twist — the SFF pop culture you consume is almost never about you. The faces of the characters do not look like yours. The creators of this media look nothing like you, either. Your experiences are not represented. Your voice? Not there. There exist in these universes no straight white dudes. Okay, maybe one or two. Some thrown in to appease. Sidekicks and bad guys and walk-on parts. Token chips flipped to the center of the table just to make you feel like you get to play, too. Oh, all around you in the real world, you are well-represented. Your family, your friends, the city you live in, the job you work — it’s straight white dude faces up and down the block. But on screen? In books? Inside comic panels and as video game characters? Almost none. Too few. Never the main characters.
This perspective is fascinating to me, because it doesn’t really make a lot of sense in any kind of modern context. Now, we know what Chunk (I’m keeping this typo, I like it) is trying to say here. He’s saying that Blacks didn’t see enough of their race represented in cinema, and that this was disconcerting to them. Since this is a post about Star Wars, let’s discuss it in that context, shall we?
Let’s take the original trilogy, for instance. James Earl Jones provided the voice for the penultimate villain of the entire series. He wasn’t just portraying a major character, he portrayed what was arguably the character of the entire series. Then, of course, we had Lando Calrissian as a major supporting character as well.
Now, since Darth Vader was portrayed as a White guy when his helmet came off, but voiced by a Black man, we will grant half credit here. And full credit for Lando. We did see some Blacks in minor roles (I distinctly remember one of the pilots as being Black), but let’s discuss the major roles. Now, we will ignore the aliens, like Chewy and whatever that copilot dude was in RotJ, and discuss major human characters only. We had Han, Leia, Luke, Palpatine, Tarkin, Obi-wan, Lando, Vader, Wedge, Mon Mothma, and let’s count both of the Admirals running Vader’s flagship.
That gives us 12 major characters. Vader counts for half, and Lando as one full point. This means that 12.5% of the major cast was Black. What was the percentage of Americans who were Black at the time the original trilogy was made? I couldn’t find that information quickly, but according to the census statistics today, it is 12.3%. In other words, the original trilogy reflected this particular racial split almost perfectly.
The Star Wars cast looked like America… well, not including the aliens, anyway. I mean, I did know a guy once who reminded me of Chewbacca, because he had as much back hair as a Wookie, but even so.
Chunk Wendig is creating a problem where none existed. And the original trilogy dates back 30+ years. This is a common SJW tactic, wherein they will create a problem out of thin air, then propose “moar diversity” as the inevitable solution. Disagree, they will say, and you are a racist. Or a sexist. Or a homophobe. Whatever.
Then one day, things start to change. A little, not a lot, but shit, it’s a start — you start to see yourself up there on the screen. Sometimes as a main character. Sometimes behind the words on the page, sometimes behind the camera. A video game avatar here, a protagonist there. And it’s like, WOO HOO, hot hurtling hell, someone is actually thinking about you once in a while. And the moment that happens, wham. A backlash. People online start saying, ugh, this is social justice, ugh, this is diversity forced down our throats, yuck, this is just bullshit pandering quota garbage SJW — and you’re like, whoa, what? Sweet crap, everyone else has been represented on screen since the advent of film. They’ve been on the page since some jerk invented the printing press. But the moment you show up — the moment you get more than a postage stamp-sized bit of acreage in this world that has always been yours but never really been yours, people start throwing a shit-fit. They act like you’re unbalancing everything. Like you just moved into the neighborhood and took a dump in everybody’s marigolds just because you exist visibly.
Two things. First of all, Chuck, you’ve been trolled. The 4channers love doing dumb shit like this, because they get a rise out of you. But there is a Social Justice crusade going on right now, and it squees with delight when it excludes Straight White Males. You just got done using them as a proxy for your argument, but K.T. Bradford is telling us that we really shouldn’t be reading Straight White Males at all.
Listen, I get it — this problem is not my problem. Inclusion isn’t for me. I’m covered. I am already included. Luke? Me. Han Solo? Me. Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Anakin, Wedge, me, me, me. And it’s not just Star Wars. John McClane, Harry Potter, Frodo, Iron-Man. All a bunch of white guys saving the day. Hell, Santa Claus. Or damn near every painting of Jesus, who was clearly not a white guy but is often depicted as a white guy. We do our level best to paint ourselves as the heroes of our own narrative. It’s white guys all the way down. I’m golden over here. I don’t need more representation. I have had my fill to the point where my pop culture belly is a-burstin.
So? One of my favorite post-apocalyptic movies, The Book of Eli, has a Black man as the protagonist. I loved that movie, for reasons that would probably take too long to explain. Did I care that the main character was Black? Not at all. Denzel Washington was perfectly cast for that role, just as Darth Vader wouldn’t be the same without James Earl Jones voicing him.
The argument us anti-SJW types have for race, gender, etc… is that micromanaging a story to fit a specific racial quota (or gender quota — any quota really) is a distraction from the primary purpose of creating good stories. If you envision a characters a White guy, great. If you envision a character as a Black woman, fine by me. I don’t care. But if you call me a racist for writing about a White character, you can go to Hell.
Which is why I’ve tried very hard to vary my reading. Which is why in Aftermath the protagonists are: a Mom, a gay dude, a lady bounty hunter. It’s why the Imperial antagonist is a powerful woman of color. (I’m no culture hero here, to be clear — I did the bare minimum in including different characters. It’s not like I have Sinjir engaging in sweaty man-love with Wedge Antilles. He is gay and he is present and he is visible and that has been enough to conjure 100+ negative reviews and an unholy host of comments, hate mails, and social media ‘interactions.’ Don’t believe me? Here’s four pages of reviews — 1, 2, 3, 4 — and that’s just me searching for the term “homosexual” across the one-star reviews. It’s just the tip of that septic shitberg.)
I read a little of this book, because a group of folks I trusted told me how absolutely horrendous the writing was, and I was morbidly curious. So I used the preview functionality on Amazon to read some snippets. It was utterly atrocious. The writing style was horrible. It was. Punctuated. Overly much — and — was — hard. To. Read.
One bad review put it more succinctly than I could:
This book—what can I say? It is written differently. Differently than anything I have ever read. Why? Never seen so many short sentences. Very short. Super short. Choppy? Yes. Hard to concentrate? Yes. Hyphens? Oh—the hyphens. Never seen so many hyphens—in my entire life. His writing style? Hard to follow. Just like this review. So many short sentences. Likes all these I am writing. I can be a writer too. Obviously. This is how the whole book is. Many examples. The hyphens—did I mention all the hyphens?
I gave up on the book after the preview chapter, and did not purchase. I cannot say if the book improved after that point, but what I did read was exceptionally poor, and I’m not exactly a paragon of great writing myself. Chuck Wendig would have you believe that the one-star reviews were because he wrote about a gay character, but the fact of the matter is, his writing just stunk, and even placating the Social Justice Warriors wasn’t enough to save it from the bargain bin.
One suspects that he was published because of his political positions, not in spite of them, which is really what this whole Sad Puppies affair is all about in the first place.
Point is, I don’t need to see me on the page as often as I have. And while I wouldn’t want to steal someone’s voice and make it my own, at the same time, in a sci-fi novel, I think we’re okay.
Here, Chuck realizes that he is treading on uncertain ground. You see, Social Justice has a split personality. On the one hand, they clearly desire less Straight White Guys in pretty much everything from politics to fiction. At the same time, they often have a tendency of viewing their White Guy “allies” as potentially appropriating their culture and identity. In other words, there is a distinct possibility the Social Justice crowd could turn on Mr. Wendig for daring to write about someone of a different gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Chuck demonstrates at least a peripheral understanding of this. When he says “I think we’re okay,” he’s not talking to the eeeeevil racists, but rather to his fellow SJWs.
“Please don’t get mad at me for writing characters that are not my identity!”
The rest of the article is just a slam on the trolls doing their thing on Twitter. Chuck Wendig would be wise to ignore them, but he cannot help himself. How does it feel to be a moron, Chuck?
But what is irritating here is how Mr. Wendig associates the Sad Puppies with such people. In his article written after the Hugo kerfuffle, he makes sure to tar the Puppies with the racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic brush as much as possible. Or, in his own words:
Making sure to include bigots and homophobes and other social malefactors is a pretty good way to show your true intentions. At the very least, it exposes you for the shitbirds you are.
In his mind, there is no difference between a fake Neo Nazi Twitter troll (congrats for being sucked into that, by the way), and the Sad Puppies who just don’t want to be micromanaged, by a bunch of idiot SJWs, no less, where the gender and ethnicity of their characters are concerned, and who take exception to awards being handed out to those who do submit to such micromanagement.
I don’t care if a major Star Wars character is Black. Nor does it matter if another one is a woman. We had them before, and we’ll undoubtedly have more in the future. If they can act the part, and the story doesn’t suck wind, then all is well. The story is the goal of a movie, or a book. It’s the reason for its existence. It isn’t there to serve a diversity goal. Diversity is incidental to its real purpose. And that’s the whole Sad Puppy perspective, Chuck. The goal of writing isn’t to “promote diversity.” Rather, it is to write good stories. You have the priority mixed up.
So, for the love of all that is Holy, take your diversity quotas and shove them out of the airlock. Write good stories, Chuck. I know this is difficult for you, and your last attempt didn’t turn out so well. But, here’s a protip for you: next time don’t focus so much on whether or not you’ve checked the right SJW character boxes, and learn to write characters we actually give a shit about. Sarah Hoyt is living proof that, a Sad Puppy no less, can write female protagonists and gay characters well enough for me to care about them and like them. I know. How bigoted of her to do that, right? And she didn’t even need a quota to do it!
And longer sentences. Please. Writing like this — it’s stupid. I don’t like it. And — I don’t think. That. Other people liked it. Either.