Friday, January 04, 2013

how to make your alternate medieval fantasy story both original and not shitty

Oh gosh yes, please stop rewriting Tolkien. Hell, Tolkien himself is a lot less hackneyed than his hordes of imitators; at least his main character was small, weak, and insignificant in comparison to all the royal humans and "high elves" and shit. (I seem to remember, though, reading a couple of these LOTR rehashes with hobbit knockoffs ("halflings" was apparently not copyrighted) and they fucking sucked, so yeah.)


Sigivald said...

On the other hand, most of the rest of her whine was bad enough to make me actively annoyed.

(That and having to mention "social justice" in her header? Warning!)

"Stop writing about white people and not having gay people!!!!"

In other words, "Write modern identity-politics into your fantasy novels, or you're The Other!"

(I suppose then that if one is writing "historical fantasy" and set it in, say, Ireland, one is basically screwed, because no "people of color" to speak of, and all the gay is on the down low.

For all she wants to talk about how "people of color" were Doing Awesome Stuff All Through The Middle Ages, well... history still suggests that Most People Were Honkies in Western Europe.

How DARE an author not be Appropriately Racially Diverse and Queer Positive in their casting, I guess?

I can't help but think that caring more about that than storytelling and characterization won't make for good output, you know?

Count of "people of color" on the Good Guys Side in Lord of the Rings, and count of Queers? Zero.

[Tolkein automatically "lost" in her algebra anyway, because the minor player Bad Guys From South And East were dark-skinned, and half-orcs are "swarthy".

I guess we'd better stop reading that racist monster.])

Andrea said...

I can see you didn't really read what she said, having crashed somewhere around the corner of No Homo Street and Blinded By The White Avenue.

Your standard fantasy story nowadays is this: a setting based on medieval Europe, only with dragons, and a story based on Lord of the Rings, only with More Sex. They're all called Sword of Thrones or something like that, and everyone good (or "good") in them tends to be white and blond because I really don't know. (I don't get it. I am personally inclined to think of blonds as evil because of Nazis and mean girls in high school.) And there is apparently a huge audience for cookie-cutter mush like this. I will admit after reading LOTR in my teens I was hungry for "more" but it turned out, after several disappointing experiences (Terry Brooks Sword of Shannara, I am looking at YOU), what I meant by "more" wasn't "a pale imitation only with not even the background of erudite scholarship to ameliorate the conscious classism and unconscious racism in the original they are practically plagiarizing."

I have been having lots of Thoughts on Tolkien, and will write that post some day. I'll just end with this: there were plenty of non-white people of non-European heritage doing all sorts of things all over the place throughout history, not just in their own countries. There were loads of gay people. There were cultures where gay people and trans people were accepted as existing and not called "evil perverts." This is not fantasy. But even if it was, what does it hurt to make up fantastic cultures where this is the case? Why does the entire Fantasy!(tm) have to look like the Errol Flynn Robin Hood? Why do white nerdboys in their basements clutching their worn D&D collections and unopened Star Wars toys get all bent out of shape if someone writes an article complaining about the endless reams of White Hero Tales being vomited onto us?

Anyway, you probably won't like my future posts, just warning you now. After much reflection I have come down on the side of the Whole Rest of the World that is sick of our shit. And yes, maybe we should quit reading Tolkien. He's like a gun, dangerous in the wrong hands, and the minds we produce these days in the West are, by and large, the wrong hands.

Andrea said...

One more thing: if you want to comment further here, I'm going to have to ask you not to use terms like "Queers" in that way. You know what way I mean. I had a "no bigoted slurs" rule on my previous blog, guess I'll have to put one up here.