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Monday, August 11, 2014

When Art Doesn't Reflect Life



Writing Contemporary Fiction in the 21st C. Might Not Be Your True Calling If…

  • Every character is Anglo (or every human character is Anglo in Sci-Fi).
  • There are no LGBTQ characters or families.
  • There are no physically or developmentally challenged characters.
  • Perfect is used to describe human bodies, personalities, relationships or families.
  • Financially poor characters are inherently ignorant, lazy, and predisposed to bad actions.
  • Christianity is revered as a legitimate religion while all others are impugned.
  • Strong and powerful character traits are segregated into masculine and feminine distinctions.
  • Emphasis is placed on female characters’ clothing sizes, weight, shoe sizes, slender anything; pale, milk or pearl white skin and beautiful blonde hair.
  • References to doing something like a girl or being a woman are offered as insults.
  • Single female characters are referred to or think of themselves as spinsters.
  • College-educated, professionally ambitious and successful female characters are miserable and have low self-esteem.
  • Beautiful Black female characters’ complexions are cafĂ© au lait or some variation of not dark.
  • A majority of the characters have blue eyes.
  • Bad things happen to female (or non-Anglo or non-hetero or non-alpha or poor) characters because they’re inattentive, careless, foolish, stupid, headstrong, lazy and/or disobedient.
  • Female characters disclose the actual number of their sexual partners as an indication of sexual virtue—or lack of such.
  • Intentionally childless adult characters are described as selfish.
  • Married hetero couples with only one child are described as selfish.
  • Non-Anglo characters embody catastrophic-circumstances-catch-all proxies, ex. a mentally ill, homeless, substance addicted, divorced, military veteran, sex worker, abuse survivor with a limp and a nervous facial twitch.
  • The few non-Anglo characters are all criminals, victims, martyrs, subordinates or servants.
  • Non-Anglo female characters are hypersexual or asexual or masculine.
  • All the non-Anglo characters speak non-standard English.
  • Non-Anglo characters wish they were Anglo.
  • Otherness in non-Anglo characters is presented as negative; otherness in Anglo characters is considered to be admirable.
  • Reasonable expectations by readers for inclusive representation of characters who fall outside the hetero, Anglo, male, monogamous, Protestant, privileged, thin, young labels equal superficial notions of Political Correctness. 
This is not about bashing hetero, Anglo, male, monogamous, Protestant, privileged, thin and/or young people; it's about expanding casts of characters to reflect everyone in multi-faceted ways from different points of view that acknowledge the intrinsic value of their humanity. 

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