Monday, May 25, 2020

Diversity Representation and Checkboxing

If you don't know Otto Penzler, he is to murder mysteries what Burroughs is to the Pulp folks, or Asimov to the post Campbell SFF. He's edited more anthologies than I can count, he runs his own press and his own bookstore.

Then there's this....


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I think it's time for this rant.




"Marginalized peoples."

These are of course, synonyms for bullshit.

If you ever get around to writing a story -- novel, a short, what have you -- and anyone, anyone tells you that you need more of X, Y, or Z "character," smack the fool in the face.

Because the only characters you need are the ones that drive the story forward. Anyone else is a waste of time and words.

This may be funny coming from me, because I've had people tell me I have great diversity in my novels. This is the point where I have to smile, nod, and say, "Thanks, what did you think of the book?"

Funny thing, those who like the "diversity" don't like my books.

But I don't even care. You may have guessed. I sincerely don't notice. It takes me five minutes to add up how many of X I may or may not have. I may have one or two lesbian characters, but I didn't ask them, and it hasn't come up, so I don't think about it. Ask me if I have any black characters, it takes me at least a few minutes to remember, oh, yeah, I have a Pope who is literally from Africa.

Why don't I know things like this off the top of my head?

Because they're characters, not tokens. For me, every character I have is better defined by characteristics than by anything else. 
Granted, give me time, and I can compile checklists for people who want them. Aida Jones of the murder mysteries, who I have in my head as a taller Mariah Carey. Brian Levine, whose body type is "big black football player #4", but I remember him best as ex-Delta who knits. 

I've got a few more characters, but I'm already bored compiling THAT list. Because I hate "checkboxing."

I just thank God that none of my readers give a damn about that sort of thing. Thankfully, they can't, especially given how I like to subvert the cliches -- and let's face it, checkboxing is so cliche, it's painful. 

Let's put it this way. I've been able to tell people about the cast of characters of TV shows I've never seen, just based on cliches. "Oh look, any team has to have an Asian -- probably female -- a black engineer / gadget man, someone with a disability, and maybe a token white guy."

And we can all thank God that I don't even talk about sensitivity readers. The first fucker who goes "I'm offended" while beta reading a novel will find themselves IN the novel, and far more offended. Hell, I'm fed up with "Let's bash Christian," Dan Brown-lite novels, and I'm perfectly happy to offend someone who harps on about how X or Y is offensive.

Hell, someone called me a white supremacist in a review because I used MS-13 as a random encounter bad guy.... because the biggest gang in the world, so big they're on a terrorist watch list, and run human trafficking operations has to be the villain "because they're not white."

Nooo. They're the bad guys because they're bad people. And because I'm really tired of Ayran Nation gangs. Talk about cliche. I've only seen MS-13 as the villain in one novel, once -- Vince Flynn, Consent to Kill. And they were only in one scene as hired guns.

"But what about LGBTQMOUSE and the strong waman?" What about them? To call the first a minority is an exaggeration. I've seen numbers that suggest that it may top off between 1% and 2% of the population. As for the second, one might think I've got enough in my novels -- but trust me, my "strong waman" don't work for the check boxing idiots. After all, they don't spent any time trying to deliberately show up my male characters, or be the bestest evar....

If you are confused by the above paragraph, go watch an episode of Batwoman for the check boxing definition of "strong women" -- the women are "perfect," indestructible, without flaws, and don't need no man ... so much so, that the men in the episodes are disposable, easily replaced by any female character no matter the function. If she's part of the LGBTQMOUSE faction, the woman get extra invulnerability points.

I'm not even going to discuss the trans movement. The public face of the trans movement seem to be so obnoxious, there's been at least one article on kicking "T" out of LGBTQ. Between mediocre men declaring themselves "trans" so they can join women's sports to batter women (see MMA), 

So, yeah, I don't play these games. They're stupid and lead to some of the worst writing I've ever seen or heard. 

Characters in the story have to fit the story. If Thomas Nolan wasn't married with children (both wife and kids are armed), trust me, no one would know what his sexuality was. If Sean Ryan's girlfriend wasn't an agent who brings him his client in It Was Only on Stun!, it wouldn't have come up there either. I'm not even sure it is mentioned in Set to KillWe won't go into the books with the romance subplots.

If the story is twisted to fit the check boxing, we get CW shows and Agent Carter. And no one wants that. Just look at their ratings.

So, write your own stories. Don't try to shoehorn anything or any one that doesn't fit in naturally. 

You've just seen a bunch of woke idiots fire one of the biggest names in modern mystery so they can virtue signal how diverse they are, solely by judging authors by the color of their skin, and not the quality of their writing.

Be judged by the quality of your writing, and not the BS you can jam in.


  1. I def. feel ya on this whole entry here. Yup.

    Its why Saint Tommy is very refreshing.

  2. Wait, I loved Agent Carter... as a vehicle for putting Hayley Atwell on the screen it was wonderful...

    Oh well, that really doesn't mean the stories were good... I stand corrected!


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