Saturday, November 5, 2016
Can We Stop Now?
Okay so this blog is going to be kind of ramble..ish so if you're not in the mood to read a particularly long/rambly blog you might want to pass this up. Oh, also if you're easily triggered please don't continue. I say that because we know in 2016 sensibilities are what matter most in the world.
So recently I've come across a novel that people are going batshit crazy over (before you ask, no, I don't know why batshit is used to describe a form of crazy nor am I aware exactly how crazy batshit can or cannot be) and the reaction is so volatile and frustrating that I couldn't just not speak about it. I'm sure some people saw my tweets the other day which vaguely referenced the situation.
The novel is called The Continent and it's a young adult novel by Keira Drake.
Certain people (read social justice warriors) are up in arms about this novel because they claim it perpetuates negative stereotypes (that nobody with an IQ about 10 actually believe in 2016) and thus it's a terrible book, proof the publishing industry is racist, and it/its author must be flamed for the good of the writing community! Yeah.
Okay for starters I will say that I haven't read this novel I've only seen the forsaken passages and did some research on it - but that's okay, because 90% of the people who are rating it down on goodreads haven't read it, either. They're just going along with whatever crackpot ignoramus is spouting racism and following suit.
In just the last forty-eight hours the novel has gone from a 4 star to a 2.8 star. And it's dropping lower as we speak. Let that sink in. An author's work is being dragged through the mud because someone found offense with her work. How is that acceptable? How is that any form of acceptable? Have people become such sheep that they'll believe anything anybody who has a soapbox says? Have people really become so easily offended and has the word racism completely lost its actual meaning? I don't know, all I know is that this type of behavior and ganging up is unacceptable.
The novel in question is about a white girl who wins a trip/obtains a trip to go to this mysterious continent to see the ongoing battle between two different tribes. Along the way she gets captured by the tribes and the "savage" people she was born/raised to believe were savage were actually intelligent, resourceful, etc. she learned that her misconceptions were just that. She learned to appreciate people who are NOT part of her own culture. Tell me again how this is racism? Tell me how it's racism for someone to learn that their prejudice is unfounded and grow to respect someone different than themselves because I just don't see it.
(Side note: apparently savage is now a terrible racial slur...we must inform Ben Savage and Fred Savage immediately so they can find an appropriate substitute.)
If I'm going to compare the novel to anything it would be "A Man Called Horse" by Dorothy M Johnson which was about a white man getting captured by natives and while originally thinking they're savages, learns that like him they're people with ideals, codes/rules, and morals. It's an excellent read if you haven't already.
The author in question did message the original shit-stirrer and explained herself, which of course is against rule #2 of being an author - never contact anyone who says ANYTHING negative about your novel because if you do you'll be a pariah and the hate will get worse. But to summarize, she explained the following:
"I feel like my novel was misrepresented today. It's not about white saviors if anything it's about privilege and how dangerous/destructive that can be. As a matter of fact PoC save the day and dozens of colors/creeds are represented."
That was apparently not a good response because it made things worse and just reinforced her ignorance and quote "white frailty" which I find funny because if the roles were reversed, the amount of backlash the author would receive from that is just...unimaginable.
I'm going to change topic here slightly. Obviously those who know me know that I'm mixed (Dominican/Italian) but I've always identified as Latino. I'm also gay. Do you know how many novels I've read where I felt Latinos were characterized incorrectly? Or how many novels I've read where gay people did/said cringy things that I would never say in a thousand years? TONS. But I didn't freak out, attack the novel, start a campaign against the novel, etc. etc. I just moved on. Because I understand that while my experiences are valid, they don't fit everyone. And that the way I see/do things might not necessarily be the way others see/do things. Just because I don't like something or it offends me, doesn't mean its bad/wrong. This seems to be another thing people forget in 2016.
And then you get a bunch of people saying "white people shouldn't write PoC because they don't do it right!" but then you have people bitching that there's not enough diversity/representation...well make up your minds. "Oh well do research!" Keira Drake apparently did do research and had PoC pre-read it, which they accepted it but that's not enough "Those PoC don't speak for everyone!"
FUCKING GAH. Do you see the paradox here? Am I crazy? I don't think I am. You can't win no matter what you do and it's ridiculous.
"But Michael, some people are offended by it so shouldn't something be done?" Yeah, it's called stop reading the novel and/or never read anything by the author ever again. But the idea that we need to force the author to change the entire story because random people think its not acceptable is highly toxic and just insane. And they're offended. So what? Are they going to catch leprosy or something?
This whole situation seems a lot like the one in the m/m community where some people suggest that women cannot write gay men correctly, which we know is not the truth. Anyone can write anyone. As I said above, everyone on this world is unique so just because something seems out of character for that person given their culture/ethnicity/gender/etc. doesn't mean nobody of that culture/ethnicity/gender/etc. would do/say the things that person does/says. It's called having an open mind, people.
The sad thing is Keira Drake and her publisher are probably going to give into the sensationalism and edit the story before it goes live rather than stand up for her free speech and her artistic right to keep the story as she originally envisioned it I.E. the whole point of publishing something, but whatever.
I'll end with this: just because you yell, complain, and whine the loudest about something, doesn't mean you're in the right.