This was going to be a Star Wars appreciation post. It is, after all May the 4th and May the 4th be With You. Instead a couple of things came across my twitter feed yesterday that caused me to get a bit upset:
Five starred reviews + an NYT notable book and some dude tells me the problem is I just need to “write better.”
— Leigh Bardugo (@LBardugo) May 3, 2016
Leigh Bardugo is one of my go-to authors. She has written The Geisha trilogy and Six of Crows. I wanted to see what she was talking about as I had missed the previous posts. What she and other YA authors of science fiction and fantasy, particularly women authors of young adult science fiction and fantasy, are upset about is the fact that Locus Science Fiction Foundation announced their finalists for the Locus Awards. The finalists are chosen through an open vote online, but those who are members have a heavier weighted vote than others. What is the issue? The Young Adult category for this year are the following titles:
- Half a War, Joe Abercrombie (Del Rey; Harper Voyager UK)
- Half the World, Joe Abercrombie (Del Rey)
- Harrison Squared, Daryl Gregory (Tor)
- Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older (Levine)
- The Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett (Harper; Doubleday UK)
All of the authors are male. Two of the books are part of a trilogy. ONLY two, Shadowshaper and The Shepherd’s Crown come up as YA in World Cat and the Orange County Library Catalogs. Yet YA is constantly called a female-centered genre filled with women writers and fluff. Women writers can’t get recognized for original ideas, don’t get recognized for awards, and get told that they just need to work harder and write better? And then we’re told we get a little emotional? I think not.
Recognize world-class works and the women who have written them!
On top of that, there is the #whitewashedout hashtag on Twitter. Go read it. I caught it because I follow Jenny Han, who wrote To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and PS I Still Love You, and Marie Lu, who wrote the Legend trilogy and The Young Elites series. The first I caught was Jenny Han’s tweet:
— Jenny Han (@jennyhan) May 3, 2016
STUPID IDIOT PEOPLE! How can you think that race doesn’t matter in a character? Capture the spirit of the character? WTH? Race is an integral part of every individual’s identity, and it is foolish to pretend that it doesn’t affect a character’s formative experiences, let alone cultural references or values. Everyone around the country is begging for more diverse casting, for more diverse stories, and you are whitewashing everything that comes through Hollywood. And it’s not just producers — we can blame the actors as well. They can say no to the script. Examples coming soon to theaters near you include:
Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusangi in Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Natalie Portman is cast as The Biologist in Annihilation (2017), who was written originally as half Asian, half Native American in the book.
Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange (2016). She has addressed comments of whitewashing the character, basically saying it was not in her hands. That is really disappointing as I really admire Ms. Swinton as an actress- her portrayal of Gabriel in Constantine is still one of my favorites. There is also another huge controversy over the setting of Doctor Strange: originally written in Tibet, Marvel has moved it to China. Even George Takei has come out saying that Marvel has moved it to appease China and not cause political fallout, especially after the latest idiotic statement about why Tilda was cast.
Joseph Fiennes has been cast to play Michael Jackson in the TV film comedy Elizabeth, Michael, and Marlon. In it, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, and Marlon Brando take a road trip from Los Angeles to New York after 9/11. Stockard Channing is playing Elizabeth and Brian Cox is playing Marlon Brando.
This has been happening forever and it needs to stop. The only way it will is if we stop allowing it.