In a world of partisan politics, debates about political correctness, and what content should or should not be in a work of fiction, it is difficult to craft stories. Intent no longer appears to be a concern, nor age of a book when it comes to offending some people. Years ago, this was a topic I touched on, but it is just as relevant today as it was then, if not more.
If you’ve followed my blog since it’s inception in 2014, you know that I feel it is never a story-teller’s job to pander, or to throw in content for the sake of sales. We need to be true to the story. After all, once a story becomes a published work it ceases to be solely ours. Stories take on a life of their own, throwing in unnecessary political garbage or ideology severely impacts the work. This is the issue many fans have with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Ideology took front row seating opposed to the story. Certainly, ideology and beliefs influence stories, but they shouldn’t be jammed in to the plot for the mere purpose of attempting to appear “woke.”
The balance is delicate, but audiences can smell an agenda a mile away, and some who agree with the agenda will still get turned off. People who indulge in fiction are open to learning things, but most do not wish to be preached at. Fiction is a place for subtlety, leading the audience to the well of new ideas if you will, not forcing them to take a drink.
There are some, perhaps a minority, but they are a vocal bunch, who get offended when such pandering does not exist. I cannot help but be reminded of Fahrenheit 451. If you are not already familiar with the classic tale, books are banned because people found them too offensive. Is that what we really want? Perhaps that is a hyperbolic response to the growing sensitivities of western culture. Bans for books have not been seriously proposed to governments, but there is a growing social condemnation for those who do not partake in pandering and identity politics.
Again, we story tellers are to write the stories that need to be told as they are. Not only is this an issue with present works, classical books and films are also under fire. Yes, I will concede some are distasteful, and not all cultural norms of the past are good, but we must take care not to swing the pendulum the opposite direction, lest censorship becomes a reality.