My only requirement of any story is that it respect its own characters to behave as the human beings their backstories, personalities, and circumstances insist they are, and to react coherently to the context in which the story places them.
In practice, that doesn’t mean a happy ending for them, or a character making a morally correct choice, or being likeable, or being treated respectfully, or even getting what they want. It doesn’t even require a character to be original, or interesting, or even anything too far removed from a basic stereotype. This requirement only asks storytellers to address issues their story raises and allow characters to react to those issues in a coherent way.
Two things brought this basic requirement home to me: reviews of the film Passengers, and watching Elf with my mother.
I have not seen Passengers, and given the spoilers I doubt I ever will. But it reminds me how frequently female characters are not given the benefit of coherent reactions and subsequent actions. Too often a story fulfills the desires of a male protagonist at the cost of any internal coherency in a female character. Why would an ambitious and adventurous woman whose choices in life led her to a career in journalism, suggesting a deep interest in experiencing and documenting human society in all its forms, accept never again being part of human history, never having another conversation with anyone other than this one guy she’s sleeping with? It’s possible to construct a character who would be okay with this scenario, but if you haven’t constructed her that way, you can’t expect an audience to accept her actions as coherent or okay.
Why would an intelligent, self-sufficient young woman who is knee-deep in the difficult realities of her life suddenly want to go on a date with a much older man wearing tights who behaves like a 7 year old? Is she tired of the real world and wants to retreat from it? A few moments of thought suggests that if she wants her life to be easier and have more innocence and magic in it, she would want a partner who can help her deal with its difficulties and rise above them, not someone who is unaware that they exist in the first place. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. But when a story needs a romantic ending for an idiot man, female characters often have to be bent to accommodate.
A sneak peek at my personal contribution to the installation project I’m co-directing.
It’s gonna be our own 24 ft long version of Trump’s proposed border wall, to be displayed around Boston. It will be covered in artwork from artists who identify as part of the marginalized groups, who are responding to being targeted by the same rhetoric that brought Trump into office.
Shoutout to the girls doing ‘dirty jobs.’ The women who can’t wear makeup, nail polish, flattering clothes or have piercings and tattoos when at work. Props to the ladies who come home with dirt under their nails, stains on their uniforms and smells stuck to them that cannot be washed away with a single shower. To the girls who don’t feel pretty in their workplace. To the trans girls who cannot yet pass in the workplace. I see your dirt, smears, scars and dry skin. I see your scrubs, coveralls, aprons and smocks. I see your messy buns and steel-toed boots.
Your hard work is beautiful. Your blood, sweat and tears are worthy of respect. I am so proud of you and all you do. You are just as stunning in your work clothes as you are on a night out.
@ all the folks saying “gotcha” at the people who were expressing their concerns over the lack of lgbt, poc, and mostly sara just because bioware is dropping an alternate trailer w sara… like you do realize they aren’t dropping it out of the kindness of their hearts or because they’re super progressive, right? they’re dropping an alternate trailer because fans made their voices heard. when you don’t critique and strive for more and better inclusivity, you’re gonna keep getting the same shit handed to you and this is proof that voicing your concerns helps in the long run. like do you really think a trailer w sara would have dropped if it weren’t for the qualms fan’s had?? if that were the case the sara-trailer definitely would have been out already lol
Person A working on a construction site or some kind of job that demands they work out in the hot sun all day and person B is someone who brings them an ice chest filled with water and other healthy drinks to keep them hydrated and comes by every morning, lunchtime, and night to refill the chest with ice and drinks.
Prioritise your own survival using whatever ways and means are at your disposal. Your life is valuable and deserves to be preserved above all.
If you have the ability, do what you can to support those equally or more vulnerable than yourself but with less means to affect their own survival. Build and sustain networks and communities of support.
Where you have the ability, actively resist systems of injustice, dehumanization, and physical or institutional violence against vulnerable people and communities. Leverage any privilege you possess to lend strength to resistance while being mindful to not expose people without those privileges to more danger from your resistance.