The Diverse Walking Dead

Since I became a zombie at the end of the post I did before my book commentary on Wings—and that one I wrote over a year ago, so even a zombie could have posted about it— and my other post about the Hadringar, I thought it might be time to write about dead things.

Not about the actual TV show ‘The Walking Dead’, I’m afraid, though in a way it does tie into it. If you’ve been following TWD fandom, you might have heard of the ‘Blacklander’ phenomenon; the idea that there can only be one black main character on the show at a time, and if another one comes along the previous one has to be killed off.

Well, it only refers to black male characters now so that there’s still something to complain about, but the point is they still complain about it. This started in Season 3 when the only black main character was killed, another black guy showed up for a few episodes and was then killed, and then another black guy showed up [who, in all fairness, has since been killed]. I’m sure this has nothing to do with characters being killed left and right in every season, or possibly actors wanting to go off and do other things, and everything to do with hatred of black people.

Uh, black men—because the two female black characters introduced that season were still alive at the end of the last one. I guess by those standards ‘The Walking Dead’ believes in Asian and homosexual supremacy, because 100% of the Asian and gay cast have survived up to the end of Season 5.

… now I want to see a spin-off show where a bunch of gay Asians lead by George Takei roam the zombie-infested countryside, head-shotting zombies and protecting the vulnerable black, white, and heterosexual populations. It would be AWESOME.

Anyway, I don’t like that I’ve been going on about the whole Social Justice thing so much lately—I promise after this one I’ll get back to the usual, apolitical ramblings of a complete moron—but the thing is that this thing, this ‘OMG! You killed off the black character!’ thing, is soon going to be affecting my own work. Such are the realisations you come to when you actually work on your projects for a while—thanks NaNo!

So what is the crux of the matter but the fact that you can only have so many main characters in a single work before you begin to get confusing, (and I’ve already got a lot of characters), but ‘diversity’ covers far more than just ‘black and white’? There’s what, 200+ countries in the world? And different regions within those countries who receive less attention than others—I mean how many times is your exciting drama set in South Dakota, for example? There are a dozen different ethnicities out there and a lot more combinations of those in mixed-race people that I’m sure exist in the world, but how often do they get represented? What about queer versions of these characters? Disabled versions? Religious minority versions?

Ultimately there’s only so much room for diversity, even if you eject your white men out altogether, which I haven’t. But the humans in the book I’m working on this month are diverse because I wanted the characters to each relate some way to a different aspect of the alien invasion, which is happening differently all around the world. So I include as much as I can by having only one or two examples of each.

Thing is, I’m writing a sci-fi drama involving conquest! Terrorism! Murder! Assassinations! People are dying all over the place! And if I kill off, say, my Jewish character—that means I killed off ‘The Jewish Guy’! Anti-Semitism abounds! I have two Chinese guys, so I guess I can kill one of them and still not be racist, but what about my Russian character? Sure, he’s a straight white male, but I wouldn’t want to offend Russian people—or have them think the killing off of a character in a book was, like, a condemnation of Putin’s doing whatever he’s doing in the Ukraine or something.

Granted, most Russians probably wouldn’t give a shit. And, frankly, writing my story the way I envision it comes before the feelings of a bunch of hypothetical Russians. But there’d be plenty of SJWs ready to give a shit on their behalf and I kind of wonder how they came to see the world that way—one character being automatically associated with everything associated with one, trivial aspect of that character and a mountain of bullshit that exists nowhere in reality.

It’s kind of weird. But what can you do about it?

I mean I know what I’m going to do about it—i.e., nothing. As I was saying in my post on the New Mary Whitehouse (Mary Whitehouse has joined the zombie hordes! Run!) earlier this month; some people think the way you treat characters in a book is always intended to be, or whether intended or not simply is, a commentary on the superficial ‘diversity’ status of that character.

Muslim villain? You’re perpetuating hate against Muslims. Kill off the gay character? You’re telling gay people they deserve to die. Have a white character rescue a black character? White Saviour. Have a black character rescue a white character? Magical Negro. Woman displays traditional femininity? Reinforcing gender roles. Woman displays traditionally masculine traits? You believe masculinity is superior.

So many of these exist in no-win situations it makes some people think they shouldn’t even try writing diverse characters, because honestly? They seem to get more vitriol for ‘doing it wrong’ than the straight white cis-scum brigade gets for their supposed ‘erasure’.

Well I am trying: trying to write a good story, anyway, and in this story characters who are superficially diverse for reasons other than blatant tokenism also have diversity of inner character, and if people don’t like it they can do whatever they want to do about it—it’s a free country, assuming you’re not enslaved to the kyriarchy, or your own narcissism.

I mean, as long as they don’t, like, kill me or anything. I promise, I’m a nice zombie. Barely eaten anyone all week.

In other news, I hit my NaNo target of 30K yesterday, so have a cartoon of all my diverse characters in celebration and place your bets on which ones will survive the book! XD

Diversity and DEATH!

[Sorry, Americans—I couldn’t really render some of the individual state flags very well… or even recognisably. And sorry to you too, LGBT folks… I didn’t have a purple pen, so the bottom stripe in the flag is now pink].


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