Heroes Are Made, Not Born – Christopher Nuttall

Heroes Are Made, Not Born – Christopher Nuttall

Every so often, I come across an argument that, to borrow a line from Samuel Johnston, is ‘not worth the dignity of a rational response.’ Such arguments tend to be full of strawman arguments, pre-emptive accusations of Bad Thinking or Wrong Fun and generally are not worth the effort of countering their claims. And yet, the sheer prevalence of wrong-headed arguments demands an answer, if only to counter the strawman arguments and stereotypes that are otherwise used to taint people whose only crime is disagreeing with the elites.

One such article, in the New Statesman, had the depressing title of ‘What to do when you’re not the hero anymore.’ To summarise, the author believes there is a backlash against characters who are anything, but straight white males. That the mere prospect of a Black!Hermione Granger is enough to make fans outraged. (I haven’t heard many complaints.) That Rey is disliked by some aspects of the Star Wars fandom because she’s a woman. That forcing white men to identify with heroes who are not straight white males is regarded as an offence against the natural order.

It was depressingly easy to cut through the crap and see the flaw in the author’s arguments.

Following this logic, I must not like Will Smith. And yet, Men In Black and Men In Black III are among my favourite movies. When I watched Independence Day as a teenager, I wanted to be the jet fighter pilot; not the computer geek, or the president, or the slimy government official, or the UFO nut. And I must absolutely dislike Ben Sisko, even though he’s actually perhaps the most well-rounded captain in Star Trek. Mickey Smith wasn’t called the bravest human in Doctor Who for nothing, you know. Must I detest him?

While I’m at it, I shouldn’t enjoy reading Honour Harrington, which features a female starship captain.

But I do. Ergo, the author’s logic is flawed. And, in choosing to ascribe the worst possible motivations to the detractors, she undermines her own argument.

There are two aspects that should be considered. The first is that adapting source material is always a challenge. One has to please the fans, fans who will already have an impression of a character from the books. (And, in Hermione’s case, she was clearly depicted as white on the covers of Harry Potter 3 and 7.) JK Rowling supported the very white Emma Watson to play Hermione in the movies. It seems a little odd, to say the least, to change the character’s colour now.

Strange as it may seem, fans invest themselves in their fandoms. Fans come up with mental impressions of their characters that match what they’re told in the books – and, also, what they see in the movies. They find it hard to understand, therefore, why a character changes race and wonder, given the general tone of our PC era, if the actor was chosen for PC reasons as she doesn’t fit their mental impression of Hermione.

Let me reverse it for you. Peter Grant, the main character of the Rivers of London series (Ben Aaronovitch), is mixed-race. He’s described, several times, as a very dark man. Now, what if someone were to have him portrayed by David Tennant? It wouldn’t fit! Tennant is a great actor, but he just doesn’t look like anyone’s mental impression of Grant. Is it racist to insist on having Peter played by Will Smith or a slightly aged Noel Clarke?

Of course not. Nor is it racist to raise eyebrows at the casting of characters who don’t fit the established image. It’s merely human nature.

But there is a second point that should also be born in mind – the Mary Sue.

There are, in essence, two different Mary Sue tropes. The first is the self-insert, the story where the author goes to Hogwarts and befriends Harry (or is Harry.) The second is the character who is simply too good to be true.

Let me consider an example from Atlas Shrugged. Francisco d’Anconia is, without a doubt, a Mary Sue, Class II. Francisco is not just good, he’s super-good. Even as a child, he’s literally far more advanced and capable than Dagny, Eddie or James. Rand goes into raptures of prose describing his superhuman attributes, to the point where I wind up feeling sorry for James when he is effortlessly outclassed time and time again.

The problem with Francisco is two-fold. First, he is never seen to struggle, he is never seen to grow into a superhuman adult. Child-Francisco is just as precocious, smug and annoying as Adult-Francisco. Second, Francisco is effortlessly good at everything. He is, quite simply, too good to be true. Atlas Shrugged is not short on Mary Sue-like characters, but Francisco is far and away the worst offender.

Honour Harrington, by contrast, is not a Mary Sue. When we first meet her, she is in her early forties and taking over command of her second starship. We do not see her join the navy and rise in the ranks (at least not at that point), but there are strong reasons to ground her greatness in the real world. She does not test our suspension of disbelief to breaking point, unlike Francisco d’Anconia and his ilk, and she actually grows as a character over the series, while Francisco has literally nowhere to go. Indeed, as David Weber points out in this essay, Honour’s flaws are actually easy to discern if you bother to look.

The issue at hand is not the inclusion of characters who are not straight white males. The issue at hand is if those characters are real people or Mary Sues.

To paraphrase Robert Heinlein, don’t write [non-straight white male] characters, write characters who happen to be [non-straight white male].

If your character is good, you have to justify it. You don’t have to do much – you can tell everyone your character is a Navy SEAL, explaining his fighting skills, without having to go over his training in exhaustive detail – but you do have to do something. And your character needs to be human. They need to make mistakes, even if such mistakes are outside their competence zone (like Honour Harrington).

If your character is to be [non-straight white male], you cannot let that swallow up the plot. Nor can you afford allowing your character to become perfect, simply because they are a [non-straight white male]. One of the reasons Men In Black is such a good movie is because Agent J makes mistakes and learns from them, instead of being absolutely perfect in every way. Oscar Munroe of Pandora’s Star and its sequels is a great gay character because his homosexuality is merely mentioned in passing – it certainly isn’t a plot point.

There are two other problems that writers need to learn to avoid. The first is allowing one’s [non-straight white male] to shine at the expense of a [straight white male]. Movie-Hermione gains, at least in part, because she keeps stealing lines given (by Rowling) to Ron. I have a feeling that the proliferation of Ron The Death Eater fan fiction stories owes a great deal to Movie-Ron, who is (at best) the comic relief and (at worst) a cowardly jerk. One could quite reasonably ask why Movie-Harry is friends with Movie-Ron, when there are good reasons in the books, or why Movie-Hermione would marry him. Book-Ron is perhaps the most human of the trio; Book-Hermione is a person who has very clear and fundamental flaws. And yet Movie-Hermione is lessened by her effortless superiority over Ron (and by having her harder edges smoothed down).

The second is allowing one’s character to become insufferable, the sort of person whose presence is resented even when he’s needed. Francisco d’Anconia certainly fits into this mould, but so does Ia – the heroine of Theirs Not To Reason Why. Her skills do come with an explanation, unlike so many other characters, yet she is very much an insufferable character. She is simply unlikable.

Readers and viewers don’t want characters who look like them, I think. I don’t think there are many readers who care about such details. They want well-rounded characters, characters with their strengths and weaknesses, characters who rise above their flaws to become true heroes. Rico of Starship Troopers, Agent J of Men In Black, Princess Leia, Honour Harrington … they are true heroes, because they are human.

They’re not there because of diversity. They’re there because they’re heroes.

And ascribing the worst possible motives to fans who question a diversity character merely annoys people.

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270 responses to “Heroes Are Made, Not Born – Christopher Nuttall

  1. It’s sort of like the debate over casting Idris Elba as James Bond. Elba is a good actor, but my entry into the Bond ouvre was Ian Fleming’s books, not the movies. And in the books, Bond was white.

    I realize the movies have so little to do with the books, and that they changed so much stuff already that many people wouldn’t care, being more familiar with Albert Broccoli’s Explode-A-Thon movies anyway, but that’s more than my “willing suspension of disbelief” will stand.

    Heck, Elba deserves something better than to be yet another puppet taking on a role that went stale and moldy somewhere during the Nixon Administration… the James Bond franchise has been a joke for a long, long time.

    • Talking of a good role for Idris Elba, some people have suggested for John Stewart (Black Green Lantern).

      • I would watch the Bell out of that. Assuming DC actually managed to pull its cranium out of its rectal cavity and make a decent movie

      • *Watch the HELL out of that. Stupid tiny smartphone with its stupid tiny keyboard!

        • John Stewart is Black but that’s not his main quality. At least I don’t think so. Being a former Marine is a much more important part of his character.

          • Good point: how someone carries themselves and the experience they bring can be more important than “do they look just like X in book/comic?”

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            IIRC when DC introduced John Stewart, being Black was a big part of his character but part of the story also involved Hal Jordan being slightly bigoted. [Sad Smile]

            • How can Hal Jordan have been bigoted when one of his early friends was Pieface?

              Ah… never mind.

              • Pieface was a “friend,” not a _friend_. That developed over time, as he came to see him as a “real person.” I.e. someone who figured out, and supported, his “secret identity.” HJ had “strong will,” but no ability to bend (at first). He came close to breaking several times, and Pieface got him through, becoming a true friend.

            • That’s why I said that’s what I think. Comics seem to be a total SJW factory. I’ve read interviews with comics writers who think that putting their politics into the comic just dandy.

            • Not sure my memory agrees on that, but it has been something like forty-five years since the character was introduced and I wasn’t expecting to be tested on the material.

              If accepted as you state, that would have been during the period when DC was attempting to compete with Marvel’s overtaking them in popularity and was part of the Denny O’Neill/Neal Adams effort to craft “socially conscious” stories in the GL Universe. So in origin he was token, and a quick check at Wiki reveals him portrayed on the cover as a stereotypical Angry Black Man —


              — and I also notice that Hal’s objection to Stewart is not that he is B-L-A-C-K but that he “had a belligerent attitude to authority figures.” Gee, can’t imagine that being a problem for an interstellar police corps run by a cabal of self-anointed intellectuals prone to not explaining their orders.

          • They also used the fact Stewart was an architect as an important element of his approach as a Lantern, both in how he addressed problems and how he used his ring.

        • We thought you were being polite.

      • There but for the grace of Hollywood deals falling apart nearly went we:


        Nick Cage as Superman
        Tom Cruise as Iron Man
        Leonardo DeCaprio as Spiderman
        Bill Murray as Batman
        Jack Black as Green Lantern

      • Ooo, Heimdall could TOTALLY pull of the Marine GL!

    • I wouldn’t mind them casting a black man in the role so much, if they weren’t suggesting it solely as an attempt to insult everyone who is white.
      It’s like making Thor into a Disney princess, they ONLY did it as an attempt to insult the male readers.

      It is very typical of these people, they must destroy, because they wish to hurt. There are no attempts at enlightenment or improvement.

      • Patrick Chester

        Exactly. They aren’t interested in any sort of “equality” at all. They just want to be the ones with the power to enforce their personal bigotries upon others.

        • It is the inherent nature of Looters and cuckoos that they would rather steal from others than build their own nests.

    • Bibliotheca Servare

      What you said. (I seem to be saying that quite a lot, lately, lol) Idris Elba is awesome. I might even (hell, I would, no “might” about it) enjoy watching his performance as Bond. But he wouldn’t be Bond, unless the name become an alias or something, in which case it’d still be weird, but less so. I’d watch Idris as Ben Sisko (pleeeeease? Thatwouldbesoawesome!!) any day, but it feels a little weird picturing him as Bond. Less weird than black Hermione, but still odd. 🙂

      • Well, that is one of the fan theories to account for the different actors and time periods.

        • My theory? He lives a dangerous life…He has occasional changes in appearance and personality…I think there’s a very strong possibility that he’s a renegade Time Lord.

          Does anyone know if any Time Lords change their skin color when they regenerate? If so, that could be offered as an explanation for Idris Elba too…

    • I once tried to do a James Bond marathon while I was recovering from an operation. They all had the same plot.

      • Well, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was at least somewhat different, being a little more faithful to the original book. It also did poorly at the box office, which is why Cubby Broccoli went back to the formula for later movies.

  2. Christopher M. Chupik

    “Ben Sisko, even though he’s actually perhaps the most well-rounded captain in Star Trek”

    I’m not the only one! High five!

  3. i hope this isn’t OT, but consider how Tom Selleck portrayed Lance White in The Rockford Files versus Thomas Magnum in Magnum PI. The former is as an irritant to Jim Rockford due to his relentless perfection. The latter is chock full of humanity as he runs from Zeus and Apollo or gets used by every female client he encounters. The former shows how to use the Mary Sue to the writer’s ends. The latter shows how to defuse the character’s Mary Sue-ness.

    • Very on topic – nice catch. Too Perfect by Half characters, such as Lance White or this one –


      – are cartoons and are only suitable for comedic purposes.

    • Patrick Chester

      “Don’t look at the dogs, pick the lock. Don’t look at the dogs, pick the lock…. you looked at the dogs.”

  4. What color is Manuel Garcia O’Kelly Davis? What sexual orientation is Dorothy Gale of Kansas? What religion is Scooby Doo? Nobody cares because their stories are too interesting for us to worry about irrelevancies. That’s what went wrong in The Great Hugo Hijacking: characters became department store mannequins and authors spent all day dressing this one as female, that one as gay. But for me – the customer on the sidewalk watching dress-up play – it’s boring.

    Go back and read the Bond novels. He’s not charming. He’s not clever. He’s an assassin who kills on demand and sleeps soundly after, what we’d now call a sociopath. Black, White, Female doesn’t matter; can you play the part of Hannibal Lector convincingly?

    • “…characters became department store mannequins and authors spent all day dressing this one as female, that one as gay. But for me – the customer on the sidewalk watching dress-up play – it’s boring.”

      BINGO!!

    • I have read the books. James Bond is both charming and clever, as much as he needs to be to achieve his ends. However, all of his virtues are directed towards a single goal: killing in the service of his government.

      • Right. The whole point of James Bond is that he’s fundamentally very predatory, even mildly sociopathic, and the one thing which redeems him is his sense of honour — specifically, his code of service to his country. Without that, Bond would probably be a ruthless international criminal.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Nod. In the _Spy Who Loved Me_ novel the POV character, an American woman, watches Bond confront some mobsters and sees the resemblance (not in looks) between Bond and the mobsters.

          On the other hand, she gets the strong impression that Bond is more dangerous than the mobsters. Note, apparently the mobsters think that as well.

          On the gripping hand, she is sure that the mobsters intend to kill her and Bond isn’t going to kill her. [Smile]

          • “On the gripping hand, she is sure that the mobsters intend to kill her and Bond isn’t going to kill her.”

            An important element of the situation to grasp.

    • I’m in an online writing group, and this drives me batty. Quite a few of the shiny new authors spend so much time talking excitedly about how this one is gay, that one is transexual and I still have no idea if they even have a plot. There’s also a cabal that goes around gushing about how wonderful it is to ‘finally’ have some of those kinds of characters.

      • Exactly. I truly don’t care if the character is gay or ethnic or whatever, save as how it logically influences the story, much preferably without beating the stereotypes into the work like a cheap drum. But the story has to be there first. Gushing rambling “diversity” for its own sake is not a plot. It’s not a story. It’s just boring.

        • For some reason* Netflix suggested a show with a blurb along the lines of “An interracial (strike one) lesbian (strike two) couple struggle to raise their adopted multiracial (strike three! I’m out) children”. It’s possible that the show isn’t a SJW wankfest, but I’m not willing to take that chance.

          *a reason I am desperately trying to determine so that I can make the proper amends to the gods of Netflix.

          • Same reason my kids’ classically influenced Netflix profile gets a lot of suggestions for very inappropriate anime.
            (Any shows that we thought were awesome when we were kids, and that hold up, are added to the list; there are also a couple of kid-level anime. Nartuo, on the other hand…. they’re assassins, and the first arc ends with a guy killing a bleedin’ army after he’s been literally disarmed. And it’s vivid about it. There’s just no way to make that work for a six year old girl.)

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Shonen Jump has a lot of great products for older kids. Boys of eight to twelve maybe. I’m not sure if anything they do would work for a six year old girl. Makibao doesn’t sound too horrible, but I know that one has an op with a dancing naked man.

              • Fairy Tale is the go-to at the moment.

                Subtitled. I bill it as language familiarization, although it’s also encouraging the six year old to speed up her reading.

                • Fairy Tail is fun although I admit to preferring dubs.

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    I’m a monolingual dub hater.

                    I have a harder time processing audio than text. Subtitling lets me knock the volume down further.

                    • Patrick Chester

                      I kind of like the Japanese voices better than many dubs, so I prefer subtitled anime. Though companies like Funimation are pretty good at fitting English-speaking voice actors to the original characters.

                      (Example: Chris Sabat as Major Alex Louis Armstrong is as awesome as the original seiyu. Obviously, it’s been passed down the Armstrong line for GENERATIONS!)

                    • I prefer subs. The fun part is that I remember the characters saying the words. . . .

                    • This is a problem my husband and I run into a lot– we can’t remember if a show was dubbed, fan-subbed or officially subbed, unless it became a joke. Back before the Final Fantasy movie got to the US, we watched a fan-sub that included a character chanting “Cloud is a man! Cloud is a man!”

                      You can still get me giggling by saying it at the right time. 😀

                • Yotsuba&
                  Chi’s Sweet Home
                  One piece
                  Cardcaptor Sakura

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    I would think that One Piece could be as inappropriate for a six year old girl as Naruto.

          • “But I only watched ‘Will and Grace’ one time, one day
            Wish I hadn’t, ’cause Tivo now thinks I’m gay!” – Weird Al Yankovic, “Couch Potato”

    • What religion is Scooby Doo?

      A branch of Pastafarian that considers hamburgers, pizza, and (especially) Scooby Snacks to be on the same level as spaghetti.

    • I’ll also point out that in the future it’s unlikely we’ll care about hte same ethnic groupings. Oh, sure, humans are inherently racist (if by that one understands “more comfortable with my tribe” (which isn’t always genetic)) BUT what will the “races” be. In the same way I had a character in trouble for being gay, but the only reason for that was his ah… special purpose, which made it important. Also a society where anyone different must be eliminated. BUT not all in all gays in particular.

      • *Pounds like button like it owes me money* This, so very much this. It will be Belters vs. groundpounders, spacers vs. planet-dwellers, naturals vs. bodymods, and in a spaceship, everybody against the unfortunates with flatulence issues. Children will read about the old days and roundly refuse to believe their elders’ tales of skin color having anything to do with reality. Because you know adults make stuff up just to see if you are paying attention 😀

      • I’ll also point out that in the future it’s unlikely we’ll care about the same ethnic groupings.

        (*nods*)

        Nor is it likely that any ethnic groups which still exist will have the same stereotypes. Compare the stereotypes of Germans, Italians and Persians 2000 years ago, or even 500 years ago, with those prevailing today.

    • Since first introducing Beloved Spouse to Moon in the Seventies we have played the “Cast The Movie” game and for a long time had Manuel Garcia O’Kelly Davis played by Robert Guillaume, who was then playing the titular role on Benson.

      He’s too old now, but would make a great prof, with Will Smith sliding into the Manny part.

      • Yes, because Moon. They could be any color.

      • BTW – in doing a quick glance in Google I notice a movie is apparently in production. Wiki reports that Tim “Angel, Firefly, Wonderfalls, American Horror Story” Minear (sigh) was shopping a script back around 2006 but that the current film is not using that, “filmmaker Bryan Singer will direct an adaptation of the novel for 20th Century Fox. The film will not be based on Tim Minear’s original script but on a new one, to be written by Arrow’s executive producer Marc Guggenheim. The title of the film will be different; it is to be called ‘Uprising’.”


        A quick IMDb check indicates this film is “In Production” slated for 2018 and is not (yet) listed among Singer’s credits.

        Looking about, I see that “The rights had reverted back to the Heilein estate after previous adaptation attempts by DreamWorks and ‘Harry Potter’ producer David Heymer never came to fruition.”

        • The title of the film will be different; it is to be called ‘Uprising’.” Facepalm. Hollywood cannot tell a good title if it bites them on its collective a**. They retitled “All You Zombies,” for goodness sake.

    • It’s a minor point in _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_ that the Davis family is multiracial. He gets arrested on Earth partly because he shows people a picture of his very multiracial family. I always assumed Mannie himself was mixed race and kinda Hispanic looking (based on his first two names mainly), but I don’t know that the book ever said so.

      In a sense that’s kind of what bothers me about Rowling retconning Dumbledore as gay. Who cares? Dumbledore is an old man when we see him, without issue and apparently without a past romantic partner of any sort that anyone knows about. It matters not a whit whether he’s gay or not. If I wanted to make an interesting revelation about the homosexuality of a Harry Potter character, it’d be Lucius Malfoy, forced to keep up appearances as a Slytherin aristocrat…

  5. Points of view, people, points of view. I saw Francisco as someone to aspire to be, to look up to…my son felt sorry for him as he had to give up everything for an ideal. Many interesting discussions followed.

  6. If I can’t be the hero anymore, can I be the villain? Pretty please?? 😀

    Someone suggested that 007, at least in the movie’s universe, isn’t a single man — it’s a created identity that is filled by various individuals over time. I like this notion so much that it’s immediately become canon in my head.

    • 007 is exactly that; it’s a code name or number. James Bond OTOH, is a person, an individual, whose traits, including race, were fixed at birth.

      If Idris Elba were simply playing 007, that’s one thing; calling himself James Bond, which is what they propose, is definitely a bridge too far.

      • Not at all…James Bond is the cover identity for 007. If you accept the job you accept the cover.

        That’s actually a much creepier idea than many people realize. It implies becoming 007 is more than a license to kill. It means surrendering your entire identity to become an assassin. There is an additional implication that you have given up your identity permanently because you can only retire via death.

        • Except that the climax of Skyfall takes place on the Bond family estate in Scotland.

          • MI-6 can’t create a fake history dating back to MacBeth?

            Also, I haven’t seen a post-Roger Moore Bond movie so there are probably other holes in my theory.

            Maybe I just am too attached to my creepy Personamancer idea.

            • It’s possible, but there were a couple of lines of dialogue stating that Daniel Craig had grown up there. I also like the “take the job, take the persona” theory, which is just one reason Skyfall annoyed the crap out of me (they destroyed THE DB-5!).

              • Christopher M. Chupik

                To be fair, so did Goldfinger. Bond’s cars rarely survive the movie they’re introduced in.

            • On the other hand, if we make it even creepier we can salvage it. MI6 adopts orphans and places them with families on estates around Britian. In actuality these families are agents and the purpose is to raise the child to be an assasin. At an appropriate point the “parents” “die in an accident” and the subject is guided into MI6. It even explains the gaps in the movies, the next kid proves unsuitable or the current Bond dies early so they had to retire the name and number for a time.

            • They wouldn’t have to fabricate that much. After all, the first movie Bond was also The Highlander.

          • And that estate has a priest’s hole connected to an escape tunnel because the Bond family Fleming took the name from were recusant Catholics.

        • There are several members of the 00 section. Each is an individual agent. And your explanation is just MORE wrong and creepy, and an additional reason they shouldn’t have done it.

        • I read a story somewhere (Bond fanfic) that used that concept. It had a paragraph on the order of, “I could be brought in as 007, and become James Bond. Or I could be brought in as 003, and become …”

          • Ah, that’s just craziness from the rogue “Casino Royale” spoof of ’67, with its mutiple 007s.

        • Robery Lory’s “Identity Seven” worked a similar idea; a group of cover identities maintained full-time, and a much smaller pool of agents/assassins, all of whom were surgically altered to look the same, who would swap places with the cover-maintainer as needed.

          Poul Anderson’s “UN-Man” went off in a somewhat different and much creepier direction, though.

        • That gets tough, when the new 007 doesn’t fit the old appearance. Oh, a bit of plastic surgery, sure, but large skin tone changes? Umm . . .

          • Anonymous Coward

            Film idea: ‘Q’ develops a nano-particle color-shifting skin creme, allowing Bond to change skin color at will using a device in his wristwatch. With minimal effort, Bond is able to successfully disguise himself as a Eurasian businessman, a Sikh stockbroker, and a Rastafarian sandal peddler. When attempting to pass as an Alabama pig farmer on vacation, Bond’s inability to fake a Southern accent results in his capture by SPECTRE.

            After the film is released, cinemas nationwide are picketed by SJWs angered by cultural appropriation and racial insensitivity (except in Alabama).

            • Or they just borrow the crème that the CIA has been using on Felix all along.

            • Bond’s inability to fake a Southern accent results in his capture by SPECTRE.

              But then he would need to be rescued… and who could replace Clifton James as Sheriff Pepper (Live and Let Die, the Man with the Golden Gun)?

              (and, just because I don’t want to be the only one with this in my head… your comment is making me imagine Sean Connery from the earliest Bond movies enunciating “what we have here… is a failure to communicate.”)

              • Something that has often given me silly pleasure is remembering Sean Connery speaking Japanese in Rising Sun.

                • Anonymous Coward

                  Once you’ve seen Zardoz, all other Sean Connery performances look pretty good in comparison.

                  • True, and I’ll admit to enjoying watching Darby O’Gill and the Little People again a few months ago. However, the humor in Rising Sun comes from hearing Japanese spoken with a heavy Scots burr.

          • Bond did get plastic surgery in the novels, before “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” In the novels he had a scarred face. That’s why Blofeld didn’t recognize him. Their leaving that out the movie made hash of the logic of the plot. And it would have explained the new actor so well, too!

          • But how many people would know Bond on sight? It’s not like international assasins cultivate a large circle of friends. And even if someone did remember, an ex-lover perhaps, it could be brushed off with a simple “you must be confusing me with someone else.” The fact that there is only one Bond at a time, so there’d be a substantial age difference between iterations, would support that. It’s not like it’s a terribly unique name.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Well, in the novels James Bond is known as a Naval Officer and is known as such in Good Society.

              While he’s not known to be an international assassin, his public persona is known in London society.

              So while the movie James Bond might be different people, it’d be hard to have different people “playing” the James Bond in the original stories.

      • Patrick Chester

        Maybe they need more than one James Bond.

        (Why no, I was not thinking of Casino Royale. Okay, I’m lying.)

    • The last thing that I need is to be a romantic lead,

  7. The Ron/Hermione contrast brings forth another aspect that infuriates me; the idea that social standing is a zero-sum game, that to bring a distressed group up means the “privileged” group must be brought down. The idea that a woman or a POC can only succeed if evil white males are hurt or dis-empowered. And the corollary that any push-back happens because the inherently racist/misogynist white males (racist no matter what they do or say because the “system” is inherently racist and thus they benefit from it) are afraid of having their privileges taken away. Thus a middle-class lifestyle is deemed “white privilege” and must be taken away, rather than propose that everyone, regardless of color, be raised up to that level. It’s equality by destruction.
    I’ve learned to just ignore the pressure to match characters to “appropriate” checklists when writing stories. For one, the “skim until offended” crowd will never be satisfied, so there’s no point. They’ll find fault even if they have to manufacture it – my latest novel got hit with a review claiming it bombarded readers with a “USA equals NRA” message, even though I mentioned the NRA once in an off-hand comment (it was, admittedly, a tip of the hat to one International Lord of Evil). Oh, well.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Best line from the prologue was where the new President basically said “In three hundred years the college professors will call me a tyrant but at least they’ll be alive to call me one”. [Smile]

    • A good example of this is the Hansel and Gretel episode from the first season of Once Upon a Time. The writers were determined to show Gretel as a heroine who could take care of herself. Thus, they made her hypercompetent, the one in charge of navigating the woods, the one who deals with the queen, and the one who fights and defeats the witch. Hansel, meanwhile, is a load during his best moments and an active danger to those around him at his worst. Even with Gretel telling him in real-time what he needs to do, he’s still too cowardly to do it, so she has to shove him out of the way and do it herself.

      Not only was this pretty insulting to both characters, but it was murder on the story that the writers were trying to tell. The “real world” problem was that Hansel and Gretel were going to be put into the foster care system and would end up in separate homes. We’re supposed to see this as a terrible tragedy that they’re going to be separated, but what I was actually thinking was, “Gretel, I know he’s your brother, but you are going to be so much better off without this loser in your life.”

      • He’d probably be better off, too, with a chance to express himself without being overwhelmed by her.

      • And an unnecessary change, since Gretel already comes off well in the original story.

        • Ah, but Hansel got his moments of glory too (figuring out that they were going to be abandoned in the woods, leaving a trail for them to follow), and if a man were shown to be doing something even vaguely competent, women might feel bad about themselves. Can’t have that. As the original comment mentioned, “a woman or a POC can only succeed if evil white males are hurt or dis-empowered.”

    • It’s a side effect of their closed-pie thought. It’s also what’s driving them nuts re: indie. They can’t for the life of them GET that if indie goes up traditional doesn’t need to go down. In fact, I’m reading more, so I read more of a lot of things, and some of that is traditional.

      • Ah, but since traditional *is* going down, Fixed Pie Is Fixed! I know, I know…but to change they would have to *think* and that hurt the one time they did it.

        I suspect some of them do, in weak moments, realize more books are being sold but not theirs and it purely frosts them. Many of their favorite excuses for the shrinking bottom line feature variants of “more stupid people not wanting to read.” Ooops.

        • I know, because they’ve never actually thought before, so unused muscle.
          Watching my friends in traditional is watching someone insisting on drowning in a bucket of water in the middle of the the floor, while you’re screaming at them “Stop putting your stupid face in the bucket, you stupid idiot.”

          • And instead of trying to do something positive about the situation, too many of them are instead lashing out at indies, like that loser “writer” on FB (I put “writer” in quotations because when I actually checked on his body of work I saw less quantity and quality than most “mid-list” indies I know of) who insulted both indy writers and the people who read them.

            • As the old joke goes, they don’t care about out-running the bear, they just want to out-run you.

              They can’t* compete by writing better, they can’t* compete by writing more, so they compete by attempting to get people to not read you because cooties.

              *For purposes of this discussion, can’t, don’t want to, and are unable to may be used interchangeably.

        • Actually, they know fixed pie isn’t fixed and are terrified it is shrinking (which is correct) therefore the shrinking must be theft by indie and not failure to produce things readers want to read.

      • Very true. Ever since I got my Kindle Unlimited subscription, I find myself reading more than ever, and have more spare income to buy books outside the KU list – but the publishers who charge $13+ for a kindle books aren’t getting that discretionary income. They don’t get the idea that cheaper books make reading a more competitive form of entertainment, which leads to greater overall sales.
        Oh, well, their loss is indies’ gain. I recently noticed that most best-selling books in several major SF categories are now indy-produced. Too many trad publishers are self-destroying, between pandering to the social pseudo-justice movement and overcharging their customers. My guess is that more forward-thinking publishers like Baen are going to also gain market share.

        • They are now making the first books in a series cheap to lure me in, but I’ve yet to find something so spectacular that I actually read the higher priced ones.

          • Even some indie authors are having pricing issues (probably because it is still being sorted out by everyone). I love the “Wearing the Cape” series but wound up buying all of them in trade paper because at what the author wants for Kindle eBook I expect a physical object and the difference in price doesn’t make the trade paper more than I’m willing to paid for a physical object. He’s not alone.

            It isn’t as bad as mainstream publishers (which are just insane…I am not paying $9.99 for a single eBook) but it is there.

            • Even Baen is starting to fall into this trap, and with the current difference between the Canadian and American dollar… there’s a few books I’ll splurge on, but not nearly as many as I used to.

            • Yeah, I don’t get that. I actually make more money out of a $3.99 ebook than from a $9.99 trade paperback, so I just can’t see myself charging those kind of prices. At this point I only have a short list of people I’ll pay $9.99 for an ebook, and it gets shorter every year (it’s now down to two, from a half-dozen in 2014).

          • That, and it’s exceedingly rare that series get better as they continue… I’ve bailed on many because things dragged out to the point where I simply didn’t care how they ended.

    • “another aspect that infuriates me; the idea that social standing is a zero-sum game, that to bring a distressed group up means the “privileged” group must be brought down”

      THIS!!!

  8. As I was reading this I was thinking of the “Richard Diamond, Private Detective” radio show. having heard many episodes, I picture Mr. Diamond as… Mr. Diamond. Who is almost certainly white, and decidedly heterosexual. BUT… file the serial numbers off the stories and change the names – and move things up a few decades – and you can have the main character be any color you wish, male or female, straight or not.. and except for incidentals (ending scenes) overall, nothing changes. A strong character is a strong character. Who is this Private Detective? A very competent wisecracking NYC cop who left the NYPD and went private. That’s the key. The rest is details – and that’s all they should be, details.

    While I think Richard Diamond had better writing, I have no problem whatsoever listening to the lesser-known Candy Mason – a show featuring a wisecracking private detective, who just happens to be female.

    • Bugger, messed up her name: Candy Matson.

    • I’ve only caught a few, but I very much enjoy the Richard Diamond shows!

      And the thing about radio is that…he might NOT be white. (Okay, yes, considering the era, he is almost certainly so–but you could arguably get away with a modern visual adaptation where he is, in fact, not and likely no one would bat an eye.)

      • I like to keep in mind that the reason James Arness got the lead when long-time radio hit Gunsmoke became a TV show was that the actor portraying him on radio …


        … did not fit the public’s idea of Matt Dillon. Probably because he was too black.

        • One of the pleasures of animation is the freedom it gives good voice actors to play characters they are not physically right for. For example, does it seem likely this guy


          could play Superman? Yet he voiced him very effectively. Or put “kevin conroy images” in your search engine and ask if that is Batman.

          Okay – I concede Wally Cox was physically right to portray Underdog, but …

          • Or this guy?

            (he’s doing the Joker voice at what I HOPE will show up as the cover image, 25 seconds in.)

            • Hamill was a delightful Joker, and would have been as hard to cast in the part


              as Diedrich Bader is to see as Batman (although looking through his image gallery I could imagine him as Joker.)

            • For that matter, compare Bryan Cranston as Walter White to the anime character he voiced in the 1990s (the wise-cracking fighter test pilot Isamu Dyson in Macross Plus).

            • Why do I have this scary thought of Luke going to the darkside and the Joker coming out. With THAT voice? Had he used the whole joker schtick the emperor would have run screaming. Hamill as the Joker is SCARY. That utter devil me care, sociopathic “I don’t care about the cosnequences” and the pure unadulterated evil.

              • And if you want to see it live, he’s shown up playing The Trickster on Flash. Similar sociopath.

              • See also this at TV Tropes:

                The Joker himself has run into problems thanks to this trope. Whenever a new Society of Super Villains comes together, The Joker is often excluded. Partly because he is not much of a team player and considered far too “unprofessional”, and partly because all the other villains are flat fucking terrified of him. Summed up best by this quote from Underworld Unleashed:

                The Trickster: Good going, Neron. Pick a guy no one wants to be in the room with. When villains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories.

              • Don’t forget the totally random “Oh, you thought I was going to kill you? It was just a joke” thing put in often enough that you’re never sure.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        The thing is, if you change Diamond’s race and keep him in that era, then it changes the dynamics of the story. Society back then was most decidedly NOT colorblind.

        • Aye, if you kept things in the 1940’s/1950’s things don’t work very well. But move up to the 1970’s and there’s a chance, and after the 1970’s it’s “Alright, so he’s $RACE, now tell me something interesting about the character.”

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            And nowadays we’ve slipped back behind where we were. The fruits of “progressivism”.

  9. I remember there being quite a bit of upset people when Tom Cruise got the role of Jack Reacher. My wife is upset with the portrayal Hannah Swenson in the Murder She Baked movies because Allison Sweeney not only doesn’t look like, but also doesn’t act like the character in the books.

    • The Reacher character as described in some detail in Child’s books is a very large man, something like 6’4″ or thereabouts. Cruise is 5’7″ or 5’8″ depending on who you ask. Fans of the books had a hard time with the changeup when Cruise starred in “Jack Reacher” based on the novel “One Shot” by Child. Still, the movie made money, and I see that “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” starring Cruise is currently filming.
      Films are certain to make money as an action adventure vehicle for Cruise, but IMHO rather shabby treatment of one of my favorite odd and quirky fictional characters. Much of the unique flavor of Reacher simply did not transfer to the big screen, and I believe the choice of Cruise had a lot to do with that.

      • As a Mission Impossible fan (the real thing not the mislabeled movies) I understand the money making Tom Cruise action film that treats a favorite, well here concept more than character, poorly.

      • The ideal Jack Reacher: Adam Baldwin.

        • I think he’s holding out for Owen Pitt.

          • That would be awesome! Who’d you cast as Julie?

            • I dunno – there seem a number of actresses who could play that. Did you watch Justified? What would you say about Joelle Carter (Ava Crowder)? She’s from Georgia, so she ought be able to get the Alabama accent tight, and is 5’9″ which might not be an issue – I recall julie being “tall” but am not sure. It has been a while since I read MHI and perhaps I need to revisit, paying attention to the character descriptions. I admit there are some favorite actors I would like to see cast just because I like them, such as Nick Searcy and JK Simmons. Is Dennis Haybert too old to play Trip?

              Sarah has probably paid more attention to the MHI cast, more recently, than anybody here.

  10. Am I the only one ticked off that they turned Khan from Star Trek into a white guy (Benedict Cumberbatch is a fine actor, but he’s not Khan).

    And wasn’t Bane from Batman supposed to be Latino (the first time I saw him was in a cartoon and he had the luchador mask)?

    And what’s up with whitewashing the Mandarin when he finally shows up in an Iron Man movie? Were the moviemakers trying not to be offensive? Because how offensive is it to imply that Eastern/Middle Eastern villains have to either be led by a white guy or the dupes of a white guy?

    And turning Roland the Gunslinger from the Dark Tower series black? Sargon of Akkad has addressed this, but it would mean changing dynamics throughout the story as well as the entire demographic makeup of Gilead!

    And yeah, the whitewashing in the Shyamalan Avatar and the Wizard of Earthsea tv movie. How much sense did that make?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      The changing of Khan to British really annoyed me especially when one of the producers basically said that the “villain” can’t be an outsider because “we” have understand that the “villain” can be “one of us”. (The “us” equals White.).

    • Them whitewashing Khan did seriously annoy me. I think Benedict Cumberbatch is a great actor, but he was not right for that role. And the problem, I ultimately concluded, was the fact that they recycled Khan in the first place. Why couldn’t they come up with an original villain? Especially when shoehorning Khan into the villain role made absolutely *no* sense in the new continuity. I felt like the filmmakers entirely missed the boat in their rush of “let’s remake the best of the original Trek movies, the fans will love that!” and totally ignored the many, many fans going “No, that’s a terrible idea, we’re sick of remakes, can’t you just tell a good story?”

      And while what they did with the Mandarin *was* irksome, I find no fault in Ben Kingsley’s absolutely hilarious portrayal of the actor-behind-the-role. He was awesome. The actual Mandarin? Booooring.

      I kinda want it to turn out that the Ben Kingsley character really *is* the Mandarin, and he put on the stoned-out, washed-up British actor front to fool absolutely everyone–including his supposed ‘puppetmaster’. That would be awesome. (And while yes, Ben Kingsley is British, he is also half-Indian.)

      • What really annoyed me was in the rush to make Star Trek 2:2 was they threw away the Star Trek movie I have long wanted in a throw away fanservice line about using the shuttle from the Mudd incident last month.

        Instead of giving us a poor remake of Wraith of Khan why not give us a version of Mudd’s women that could take advantage of both trends in tech (for the Venus drug) and the loser restrictions on a PG-13 movie today compared a prime time TV show in the late 60s to actually tell an interesting tale of sex trafficking and mail order brides.

        • A little too esoteric. Abrams tosses in details to please the hard-core fans, but for the general audience he tailors the thrust of the movies and the characters to appeal to lowest common denominators.

          Take Kirk and McCoy’s characters. Kirk is portrayed as hypersexualized womanizer in the new movies, but in the series he had charm and class and he genuinely cared about the women he was with.

          Likewise, McCoy was actually a sweet and good natured guy in the series. But because the image in the public mind is his “Dammit Jim!” memes and his going off on Spock, Abrams portrays him as a grouch.

          • Too esoteric? A movie version of “Mudd’s Women” is no more esoteric than a movie sequel to “Space Seed” was in 1982 yet “Wraith of Khan” is generally regarded as far and away the best Star Trek movie.

            Would it be an “explosions and cliches for the LCD”? No. Neither was “Wraith of Khan”. It is in taking a chance and treating your audiences as more than free range ids that you make the best movies. Even the best action or sci-fi ones.

            • Yeah, but that would mean a movie for fans of the original series, that would cleverly show how events could play out slightly differently in this alternate reboot universe, and the general audience might not even get the details. Who’d take a chance like that?

              • Because you could have three supermodels as the “guest stars” and a huge (lovely to Hollywood) theme of strong women oppressed by patriarchal slavers and wife buying husbands.

                Okay, maybe not the later so much but the supermodels part yes. Hot chicks would have improved the snooze fest that was the majority of “Into Darkness”.

                • One of my (many, many many) issues with that flick is the absence of McGivers. Seduced and manipulated but by the end Khan was genuinely in love with her (a big part of the Wrath there). It would’ve been great seeing her as Khan’s agent inside Star Fleet, and possibly hinting that she might break him out again when he’s recaptured.

                  Also a part for the whole hot girl angle. But Carol Marcus was still good.

                • And the SJWs and hipsters might give it a pass if it were done ‘ironically’, like: ‘This is a parody of what a boorish lout would demand of female companionship’ But they might screw that up too. And what would a modern incarnation of Mudd’s wife be like?

                  • Oh, so you’d rather a movie version of “I, Mudd”…well, that could work too.

                    • And it looks like I was thinking of an entirely different episode. My bad.

                    • No, is fine, there were two Harry Mudd episodes:

                      1. “Mudd’s Women”
                      2. “I, Mudd”

                      You were thinking of the later. The former has Mudd transporting mail order brides to dilithium miners where all the women are using the Venus drug. I assumed that was the one reference as Mudd’s ship is destroyed running from the Enterprise in that episode. In that later he is already imprisoned on the android planet.

                      Interestingly there is an episode of TNG that was to feature Mudd but the actor died right before filming. It was the one with the three frozen people from a century earlier.

                  • And the SJWs and hipsters might give it a pass if it were done ‘ironically’, like: ‘This is a parody of what a boorish lout would demand of female companionship’

                    That was actually in the original episode! Mudd was a conniving fool and he married a bitchy shrew, so he fled the Federation for deep space, where he found the android planet and programmed them to provide him with android sex slaves, only he was such a jerk he couldn’t even keep THEIR loyalty despite the fact that they desperately wanted a master!

            • A bit late to respond, so sorry, but redlettermedia did a good review of the 2009 Star trek reboot that went a long way to explaining how nostalgia movie get made and why the things you suggested will never, ever happen. His predictions of what future ST movies will have at the end of Part 2 are almost prophetic.

              So in other words, just expect endless Khan remakes.

          • From what I hear about Hollywood, “hypersexualized womanizer” actually constitutes “charm and class” in today’s climate. One shudders to think what it now takes to be a boor there. Roofying starlets barely seems to count.

      • There’s a Marvel short out there telling us that the Mandarin is real and isn’t too happy with Ben Kingsley.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          I thought that was Marvel FanFic. IE some Marvel Fan decided that the Real Mandarin would be annoyed at Ben Kingsley. [Smile]

          Oh, nice either way. [Very Big Grin]

          • The Other Sean

            No, that was a Marvel One-Shot, produced by Marvel. ISTR that in the prison, one of the other inmates was a villain from one of the other movies.

          • Nope, it’s MCU canon.

          • I was under the impression that marvel long ago threw in the towel and switched to publishing FanFic in lieu of original created work. Wasn’t that why they started prebagging their comics so they went out of mint if you opened and read them?

        • Patrick Chester

          …and this is what happens when I don’t read through all the comments before making my own: Someone beats me to it. 😀

      • Marvel’s major villains haven’t fared all that well in the movies, in terms of portrayals or fates. The Mandarin, Ultron, Ronan the Accuser…

        Well, Magneto’s still active, and The Leader, the Hulk’s enemy, and possibly Zola (fingers crossed)

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Don’t forget the Red Skull. He was apparently killed in the first Captain America movie. Of course, “Good” Villains never really die. [Wink]

          • I dared not voice the hope that he might return.

            • Pfft. I can think of multiple ways to bring back Herr Schmidt. There’s no evidence the Cosmic Cube Tessaract (dumb name change) consumes the Skull — remember the power beam shooting up into the atmosphere, possibly into a space-time warp. This leaves open a variety of explanations for his apparent demise and alternatives for his return.


              A basic analysis of some of the options are offered in the linked video, and there are undoubtedly more possibilities. Perhaps Thanos can use the Cosmic Cube Tessaract to reincorporate Skull as a pawn … well, more of a bishop or knight, right?

              • After seeing the video of “Flaming Fart Barbie” I’m willing to believe in the real world Hiroshima switch Japan with the Japan of an alternate dimension but that would a bit much for a Marvel movie. I demand more realism of my fiction than my reality.

            • Given that Weaving has voiced a decided disinterest in reprising the role, at the least it would require a recasting, and I thought his performance was part of what made RS work in TFA… erm, the other TFA, not the retread of A New Hope 😛

    • Patrick Chester

      Re: The Mandarin. IIRC, the “Mandarin” in Iron Man 3 is just an actor hired to play a role. Also, in one of the Marvel One Shots its revealed that the real Mandarin is a bit ticked at that actor.

    • White? Montalban was 100% European Spanish, son of two Spanish immigrants to Mexico.

    • Ricardo Montalban was a Mexican playing a Sikh. I had vaguely thought he was Spanish, but it never occurred to me that he was anything other than “white.” Trek had plenty of characters painted green or blue, and I go from pasty white to a lot darker than Montalban with just a little sun.

      So when Montalban was supposed to be a Sikh, no problem. That was 1967; it wasn’t that long after Hollywood put eye makup on a Hungarian actor to play a Japanese. Trek was so hip they hired someone who was actually of Japanese ancestry to play a Japanese, but I doubt there were that many Sikhs with SAG cards back then.

  11. And ascribing the worst possible motives, etc., is perfectly acceptable because these articles are not about their topics but about the author’s rage at the world.

  12. Okay, it’s my turn to be pedantic (again)–and this is really beside the point of this well done column (and, “Well done!”). Admiral Lady Dame Honor Alexander-Harrington uses the American spelling of her first name, probably because David Weber is an American.

  13. Beloved Spouse & I were enjoying a program the other day and noticing a superb performance by one of the actors found ourselves pausing to discuss whether the actor had been cast because he was best for the part or because he was Black. In a righteous world that is not a question which should ever arise, but when watching the output of H’wood it can never be ruled out.

    The Hermione recasting is a simple case of reductio ad racism, assuming that even blinking at a casting decision can only mean the blinker is racist, not that the casting runs contrary to established memes. It is a cheap and offensive way of virtue signalling, of practicing race consciousness to “confront” race consciousness, thus fundamentally dishonest.

    Another part of the irritation engendered by all this is that door swings only one way — take a “minority” character and recast with a “majority” and all Heck would break loose from the same crowd crowing about their enlightened views of race/gender/preference/breakfast cereal. Just once make Owen Pitt Black and you would never be allowed to cast a white man in the role.

    • What’s the problem with Hermione becoming black as an adult?

      She should have known better than to drink a potion Ron made.

      • After all, if Rachel Dozel can do it.

        What do people have against the trans-ethnic (I term I heard 5 years ago and is about to become mainstream…up next, Otherkin Rights).

      • Laughing . . . if only they would play it that way it would work. So they won’t, of course.

        • scott2harrison

          Of course not. Considering Hermione’s sheer competence, the message would be that a white can be a better black than a black can. Talk about exploding heads.

          • But as Thomas Sowell has expounded in his Black Rednecks and White Liberals, what we are told is “authentic” African-American culture is naught more than an incorporation of “White Trash” cultural values, meaning that Blacks are trying to be better Whites than white liberals can.

      • I think she’d just wind up a real gone cat.

    • I long for a day when Denzel Washington could play George Washington and Robert Downey Jr play Martin Luther King Jr with nobody batting an eye.

      One could say I have a dream.

  14. They want to plonk $ApprovedGrievanceGroup actors to existing characters because they think that will transfer all the glory and fame of that character to $ApprovedGrievanceGroup, quick and easy. Writing a new character that *becomes* as famous and beloved takes too long, and even when they try it just doesn’t seem to work. Probably because of the patriarchy. Couldn’t be because they are humorless scolds.

    I firmly believe everybody should have the opportunity to be the villain. All genders, all colors, all orientations, all *species* 🙂 Think of the actors! They want to have fun too. Playing a villain gives many more opportunities for scenery-chewing and badassery. Why restrict that privilege to white males?

    • The first part, very much so.

    • They really ARE uncreative humorless scolds.

    • Tom Hiddleston originally tried out for the Thor role. Clearly, Loki is the star-making character permitting the actor far more opportunity to create layers of complexity.

    • It would be a tad vicious, but maybe someone (else) should come up with a Rapid Review checklist for books, where you literally go down the checklist of character tropes (SJW version) and if it hits a certain number of designated character types (ethnicity/sexuality/politics/ablenes/species) the book passes as “an instant classic!” “starred review best seller!” “boundary breaking work of e[ic fiction [really long book].”

    • I wonder if James Earl Jones was offered Obiwan and went for the Vader voice instead.

    • Part of why they want to appropriate ( 😉 ) existing characters is because they tend to be rather [excrement]y at making up their own material.

      Witness, f’rex, the abysmal sales of the video game “Sunset”, which was praised by SJWs and their sycophants in the gaming press, but moved all of 4k copies in its first month… and half of those were to people who tossed money into the Kickstarter.

      Or “Gone Home”, another SJW favorite that sold 250k copies. That’s not terrible for a non-AAA game, perhaps, but it did that over the span of a year, which is terribad for pretty much anything other than random tapping on the keyboard for some project that’s only intended to ever be seen by a few close friends.

      And of course there’s “Revolution 60”, by the twit who tried to drag Gamergate into Sad Puppies. Even for an iOS game it was a stinking turd, with uninteresting characters with emotionless voices whose design makes Barbie dolls look like a realistic representation of actual humans, a trite and hole-filled storyline (and by “hole” I’m not using a derogatory nickname for females, for the record and any SJWankers reading this 😛 ), and graphics that looked out of date any time after the turn of the century.

    • This is a real phenom that affects up and coming young actors blessed with an abundance of melanin. The only approved propo roles are so milquetoast or worse, Mary/Marty Sue they don’t get a chance to show how great they’d be in more complex roles.

      So yeah, the Man is keeping ’em down. And pointing to the results of their crappy decisions as proof that the general US society is soooooo rascist.

      Oy.

    • Notice the additional implication that everyone’s a rip off of a white male. Like having a wife take over her husband’s business, it rather implies you couldn’t start on your own.

  15. Two things occurred to me. 1. The TV version of A Wizard of Earthsea features a white actor as Ged. He is clearly described in the book as dark. This put me off. 2. The coveted spot of SFF reviewer in the New York Times Book Review was given to N. K. Jemisin. Yes, she judges books exactly on the basis you would expect. Offered without comment.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      The main peoples of Earthsea were dark while one group, originally the bad guys, was blond-haired blue-eyed barbarians. [Very Big Grin]

  16. OT: The alert Huns and Hoydens already know this, but for the rest of us–the (trade?) paperback of Worst Contact is out. This collection of not so smooth contacts with aliens includes “Her Sister’s Keeper” by Sarah A. Hoyt, Beautiful but Evil Space Princess, member of the League of Evil.

    • Sigh. My copy was in my Twelfth Night gifts, and came with a very bad cover crease — as if some ham-handed idiot or improperly maintained machine had folded the cover back so the edge touched the binding. I am currently balancing mu OCD tendencies (I routinely handle ppb so that the bindings never show a crease after reading and yes, i am one of those anal sorts who goes through a whole stack of books looking for the most perfectly preserved cover) against my disinclination to go through the delay and hassle of returning for replacement.

      I can’t even straddle by giving the book a bad review, because the dmaged condition should not be held against the publisher and authors, which is what such an action at Amazon would result in.

    • Oh, yes. I’m the world’s worst promoter. Thank you.

    • the (trade?) paperback of Worst Contact is out.

      Thanks for the heads up… added the Kindle version to my wish list to pick up when I’ve got a few things out of my TBR folder.

  17. While I don’t agree with the characterization of the Atlas characters as Mary Sues at all, the rest of the article is really good.

    I read Thomas Sowell for years before I ever bothered looking him up, only to find out that he was black. I’d had no idea. It affected my impression of him – that level of candor from a black writer? Amazing – but in a positive sense.

    When I saw the Hunger Games film where they cast Rue and Thresh as black, I was initially outraged for exactly this reason: I thought they recast them solely for PCness. But then I read their descriptions again: yes, they were black characters. And my objections evaporated: I had been mistaken, not the casting director.

    I read ‘The Voice of Reason’ without knowing who Ayn Rand was, how to pronounce her name, or where she was from. It didn’t matter to me; the content of the book was important, not the author’s story. Most of the authors I grew up with, I still have no idea what they look like or where they are from. Never asked, never cared.

  18. “That Rey is disliked by some aspects of the Star Wars fandom because she’s a woman.”

    There are a few…however, it’s a minuscule portion of the fandom.
    A rather larger problem are the people who see her as some kind of Third-wave feminist character, when she most definitely is not.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I am not a Star Wars fan, and do not speak for Star Wars fans.

      The Star Wars continuities in our timeline are grossly inferior to those of the timeline where Hollywood reached the peak of it’s artistic abilities. Travelers tell me that Rey, the Sarlaac, and Jocasta Nu are especially bad because they highlight that inferiority.

      Note that I’m not speaking of the Libertarian Space Cowboy timeline.

      I’m speaking of the one where the Republican Doomsday Grimoire was unsealed sixty years early. Where Evil Reagan, a Japanese highschool boy, and a spiky haired kid swore brotherhood in the New York Botanical Gardens. Where said brothers tore a bloody swath out of the late 1970s Who’s Who of World Communists. I am told that, legally speaking, they did not kill a sitting President as Carter could no longer hold office after the third transformation.

  19. Speaking of idiots making unwarranted “Mary Sue” accusations, look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travis_S._Taylor and what Travis has had to deal with (in the “Warp Speed” entrry of the bibliography)

  20. Captain Comic

    Another Who-vian moment:

    “You’re wrong, Doctor. I didn’t die saving the world, I died saving Clara. The rest of you lot just lucked out.”

    What did Danny Pink look like again?

  21. Laurie Penny should try to get a refund from any place that allegedly taught her critical thinking, logic, or basic research…

  22. Honor Harrington and Miles Vorkosigan are possibly my two favorite fiction characters ever. Neither is an able-bodied white male 😉 Both have vivid and believable inner worlds and personal growth histories.

  23. Just a minor quibble here, but I distinctly remember being introduced to Harrington as she was boarding her first ship out of the academy(“On Basilisk Station”). And yeah, I’m one of those racists who is annoyed by all the racial change in characters.
    My thought being along the line of yeah, whas’matter, can’t come up with your own heroes? ‘Course considering that the scribblers in Hollywood can’t come up with a new script worth shooting these days, I can understand their problem. Hows ’bout a remake of “Independence Day” with Smith being replace by some white actor? Or maybe “Django in Chains” with the lead being Irish? Didn’t think so…heh, heh, heh.
    As much as I hate to say it, Daniel Craig is the truest to the original Fleming Bond since Connery in the first Bond flick. And I read Fleming before he he became popular with “masses”.

  24. My bad – been too many years and too many books and too many lost brain cells. I was remembering the back story from the book.