Do Writers have Societal Obligations?

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  1. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 7 years ago

    That's a very good point.

    I'm reminded of Barney Rosset, the U.S. publisher of books like "Lady Chatterley's Lover" and a number of other books that couldn't be published (until he did it) due to censorship. While not a writer, he was publishing things many people didn't want to hear about or see in print. He was doing it, however, because he thought it was right (and that censorship was wrong).

    If you feel the urge, you can hear an interview with him here:

  2. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    One thing that comes to mind, in response to many people saying "No, I'll just avoid having X race/orientation/issue in my story", is that the invisibility is a problem unto itself.

    I'm thinking, specifically, of hispanics. The issue I notice is less that hispanics are stereotyped or put down (not that they aren't), but that they simply don't get any screen time, generally speaking.

    Case in point: How many hispanic video game characters can you name? That aren't criminals in Grand Theft Auto?

    The issue exists to lesser degrees for other minorities (the transgendered, the disabled). Much as others have said here, writers/designers/developers of major works don't want to offend, they don't know enough, and (not said here, still relevant) they also know that the appeal is perhaps lower as far as the mainstream public is concerned. So they play it safe.

  3. M.C.A. Hogarth (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Technically, one of the most successful urban fantasies in publication today is about a Hispanic heroine (Anita Blake).

    But yes, I believe you. The problem with "Hispanics" is that we're not a monoculture. I am nothing like someone from Puerto Rico or Spain. The fact that we all speak Spanish doesn't make us a single culture/identity... we don't even look alike. There are Spaniards who are blue-eyed blonds. My father jokes that Dora the Explorer is oppressing him because all the "Hispanics" on it are brown and we're pale. ;)

    So I can get where it can be daunting to even get involved with other cultures. But there's usually something or someone near you who's not like you in multicultural America, so why not get to know/explore/share the things you have access to? Or are yourself? By now small-town/rural crackers are just as "minority" as other minorities, for instance.

  4. Matthew (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Ubersoft, I love what you say about "great personal risk". I've taken a few of those. Very difficult things to write, even more difficult to publish... and then you're worried about things like, "Is this going to come across as contrived? Are my readers going to think I'm taking a cheap shot to color a situation or culture or incident?"

    MCA - totally agreed. Explore your friends cultures, religions, heritage. If you can't get it from someone in person, go looking for books, interviews, biographies. Study Puerto Rican culture. Read a few passages of the Torah. Go visit a psychic, even if it's against your religion. Study, learn, absorb, then write from THAT person's perspective, rather than your own. It's challenging, but you will grow as a writer by leaps and bounds.

    My serial: Animus. Future-Earth sci-fi.


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