Sunday, April 9, 2017

Grumpy Thoughts: The Diversity Edition

Let's be frank: In some sense, this post remixes things I've covered here, here, and here. But since people are once again claiming that we readers who declare ourselves "human wave"/"superversive"/"pulp revolutionaries"/[insert anti-establishment SFF label here] are "bigoted" and consequently "hostile to diversity," I don't really feel the need to say anything especially new in response.
  1. We are not hostile to "diversity." If you actually take the time to read the authors we anti-establishment types enjoy, you will find that "straight white men in rocket ships" is not really an accurate description of their work. These books abound with characters of color, strong female characters, queer characters, etc. 
  2. We are hostile to a particular ideology that wears the innocuous ideal of "diversity" as a skin suit while preaching something else entirely. Said ideology refuses to acknowledge that we are individuals, preferring instead to carve us up into superficial collectives that share disadvantage -- or that share "privilege." Said ideology then attempts, in top-down fashion, to redistribute prestige to those collectives who, its adherents feel, have been especially victimized by "the system" and to shame and suppress those collectives who, in these adherents' estimation, are to blame for the suffering of the former.
  3. We hate the ideology described above because it justifies bullying. At base, this ideology denies that different subgroups of the human race can ever find common ground through relationships and dialogue. Like the old-style racists they are supposedly fighting, social justice bullies essentially believe that cross-group empathy is a crock and that certain groups are irredeemably inferior -- and once you've embraced this, rationalizing violence and other animalistic power plays becomes oh so easy. You are basically released from all the rules that define civility and fair play.  
  4. We also hate this ideology because it actually severely curtails diversity wherever it is practiced. First of all, wherever this ideology holds sway, people are actively discouraged from saying anything real about culture, about race, about sexuality, or about any other touchy subject that will actually inspire productive conversation. As a matter of fact, in establishment circles, we've now seen the development of a certain type of editor/beta reader whose sole job is to enforce a particular orthodoxy on these topics. This ideology, in other words, seeks to breed parrots - not thinkers - and tries to coerce us into shutting up about any realities that conflict with its premises. 
  5. Secondly, wherever this ideology holds sway, creators who fit into certain minority demographics are expected to present themselves in a very narrow way or else be branded traitors to their kind. Similarly, any differences that exist between the subgroups of the white population are completely ignored. What results are flat, simplistic understandings of whiteness, blackness, gayness and so on that don't lead to quality, fully human art.  
  6. We also dislike a certain style of writing that, while not synonymous with the aforementioned ideology, is strongly associated with that worldview. This style of writing features pseudo-deep brooding masquerading as trenchant social commentary and main characters who, fundamentally, lack agency. Nothing actually changes in these sorts of stories; they are pure, structure-less emotion.
  7. Further, even when a particular work manages a recognizable plot, we disdain themes that denigrate human achievement and are really fucking sick of Republicans, Christians, poor whites, immigration skeptics and other left-favored scapegoats' being portrayed in the same stereotypically negative fashion over and over again in establishment-produced fiction. To be totally honest, that's why I personally am a little more forgiving when it comes to right-wing message fiction; it's not high literature by any stretch of the imagination, but at least it offers me something different.
So no -- we didn't stop reading mainstream comics or SFF because we hate "diversity." In reality, we have responded rationally to an activist movement in the establishment that has declared us unpersons and peddles versions of the world that, in our opinion, are profoundly faulty. If you want to bring us into your audience once again, perhaps you should consider promoting the only "diversity" that truly matters: diversity of thought.

9 comments:

  1. It is so strange that some think a fictional story doesn't stand on its own, but rather one must know the author and apply bigotries and prejudices to the author's race, sex, nationality, age, etc. in order to read and understand the work.

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  2. I just enjoyed reading the forthcoming book "Wilders", and one of the things I liked best about it is that it did not specify the race of anyone in the book. It had rich and poor, men and women, gays and straights, various views on ecology, but not a word about race. I found that just as refreshing as the original Star Trek's multi-racial cast, and for the same reason - suggesting we may indeed outgrow our racial divisions in the future.

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  3. Those of the "Dem/lib/prog/commie/nazi/fascist/satanist [sorry for the redundancy]®" crowd cannot tolerate even a puff of actual thought-diversity, so fragile is their worldview--and their egos.

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  4. Re. #3: I would conjecture that SFF fans know as much about being bullied as anyone. Those like the author would like to see less bullying in general, while the SJW faction simply want to change who is doing the bullying.

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  5. :Shrug: I think I'll re-read Starship Troopers. Again. Before, it was for entertainment. Now it's an act of defiance.

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    1. And remember, the main character of Starship Troopers is Filipino. You just never realize it until the end, when he mentions in conversation that his native language is Tagalog. (Ignore what the movie did...)

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    2. Sam Delany noted that one of the major characters in Starship Troopers was black.

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  6. Amy's and Daver's comments notwithstanding, re-reading Starship Troopers is *still* an act of defiance, as SJWs despise Heinlein. If you ripped the cover off, and gave the book to a SJW, and told the SJW that it was written by a lesbian minority with the bootstrapping of minorities to leadership commands, they would love it.

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  7. They might read it under such circumstances, Rollerball, but when they get to the part where retired Lieutenant Colonel Dubois begins to instruct Johnny Rico in History and Moral Philosophy, they'll scramble for their safe spaces.

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