Equality of Evil

I don’t think race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or really any other broad way of categorizing a human being tells you very much about who they are as a person. There are some cultural differences among us, and that’s very different from any biological predisposition which is a much weaker influence on us, if it bears any impact on who we are and what we do at all. Yes, a black man in America will have a very different experience from me, a white person who identifies as gender nonbinary, but just the same way I can’t extrapolate out a whole list of experiences specific to that one person based on my preconceptions of who he is based on his identity, he can’t really tell who I am just based on the categories I fit into either.

There’s been a cultural shift in who hollywood casts as their protagonists, and that’s a good thing. There should be an equal opportunity for basically anyone to be the principal characters of a major motion picture. But we’re writers and readers: it’s the books we care about. If you look at the New York Times best sellers list of fiction in 2017, you’ll find 53 books, many of them written by men, and literally everyone on the list is white. I’m going to guess that most of the characters in these books, if you took a census of all of them, would be white. I’d even go one step further and suggest that the majority of them are male, as well. I’m not asking for fictional characters to be represented in a directly demographic way: I don’t expect writers to sit around and ask themselves “Is the amount of white people, black people, and everyone else directly representative of the real world in my book?” But I do expect the occasional Indian person (or maybe a few women) to be the villain, and not just because of something incredibly racist: like if a cow was harmed accidentally by one of James Patterson’s protagonists, or if some chick was on her period.

My point here, is that if you’re really about equality (which I definitely am) you’d consider casting someone who isn’t a cisgendered, white, American male as your villain. Postcolonial and feminist ideas of who and what a villain can be should include people from all backgrounds, and it shouldn’t just be some part of their identity that we check off in a box that drives them to commit crimes, lie, cheat, steal, and otherwise frustrate our protagonists.

For a story with a transgender villain, check out my story “Mr. Jones and Me”

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