Saturday, December 22, 2018

Assorted Musings

  • My generally libertarian orientation is being sorely tested by Big Tech and Big Credit. Generally speaking, I think it's a bad idea for the government to step in and regulate businesses (beyond, of course, protections against obvious crimes such as fraud and intellectual property theft) -- but what else are we to do when we're faced with large corporations who have locked down almost total control of our principal communications network? As revealed by the deplatforming of Alex Jones (who's an idiot) and Sargon (who most assuredly is not), Google, Twitter, Facebook, Patreon, Paypal, et. al. now have almost unlimited power to silence dissenting voices -- and honestly, I'm pessimistic that the Rubin/Peterson crusade to find a work-around is going to come to much. It may in fact be time for politicians to step in and demand an Internet Bill of Rights that will outlaw political discrimination on social media. It's one thing to allow businesses in meat space to discriminate based on belief; it's another thing to allow owners of our digital public square to do the same. The latter threatens our norm of free speech and should be aggressively countered.
  • Lately, I've also been mulling over how we can fix education, as so many things worry me about the status quo. The ideas I've brainstormed include:
    • Making the college admissions process far more transparent and objective. Schools should tell students which high school courses, grades, and minimum entrance exam scores indicate solid preparation to succeed -- and if they must include essays in their applications, those essays should be academic rather than personal to keep things 100% identity-blind and avoid discrimination against the less well-off and/or extroverted.
    • Urging schools with large endowments to set up academies in low-income areas to identify talented-but-disadvantaged strivers and offer them classes to bring their academic records up to the aforementioned minimum standards. It's cruel to simply admit students who don't have the grounding to succeed at elite universities because muh diversity, inclusion, and equity. Give them the right foundation before they get to campus.
    • Releasing the pressure valve on the whole college thing by 1) selling alternatives like career and technical education as equally admirable and not as consolation prizes for academic failures and 2) giving students an additional chance to prove their competence by instituting an exit exam for all college graduates so that where one goes to college will matter less. I want students in high school to feel free to take more risks instead of acting like dutiful resume-building automatons.
  • On a completely different topic: how do we properly introduce more diversity into our geeky properties? Don't worry, grasshopper: I have thoughts on that too.
    • Number one, stop denying that good female and non-white characters have existed for a while and do have fanbases. Back in the 90's, people were skeptical about Benjamin Sisko at first -- but now he's beloved. Why? Because he's a freaking bad ass -- but also because he's a three-dimensional character with a family, a tragic past, hobbies, etc. that have nothing to do with his skin color.
    • Which leads me to number two: If the only thing you know about your new diverse character is that he or she is gay/trans/non-white/female/disabled/whatever, then you don't have an idea that people will grow to love. Put some more thought into your creations, for God's sake, and don't just skate on the identity angle.
    • Number three, don't force your diverse character to spend every issue/episode/story tackling the issues-du-jour that everyone associates with his or her identity group. Let these characters have thoroughly unrelated adventures so they can display their universally heroic traits.
    • Number four, don't assume everyone in identity group X thinks or behaves in the exact same way. Treat characters in identity group X as individuals, not as representatives. Have you considered, for example, writing a gay monarchist? Because I happen to know one in real life, and she's definitely very interesting.
    • Number five, portray other cultures honestly. I'd give my right arm for, say, a Muslim superhero who isn't wholly Westernized and progressive. Can you imagine how fascinating that would be?
    • Number six, don't steal existing properties. If you're concerned that your diverse character won't get attention if he or she isn't attached to an established IP, introduce your character in said IP in a supporting role and work on developing audience demand for a solo title by heeding bullets one through five above.
And with that, I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I shall return in 2019!

No comments:

Post a Comment