Stories about straight white people are boring.*
Now, let’s get one thing clear. I am a straight white man — a white man by accident of birth, straight though… I dunno, it wasn’t a conscious choice. It’s not a fucking lifestyle decision as some hetero-conservatives seem to think. I am privileged in that there are plenty of stories out there about me. The vast majority of mainstream literature, media, movies, comics, games, TV shows, theatre, advertising, even music, it’s all aimed at me. I am represented a million times over. I can’t walk out of my house without banging my chin on cis-drama in some form or other.
From a perfectly selfish perspective, hey that’s great. It’s less work for me trying to find something relate to in fiction. I can just walk into a book shop, blindfold myself and pick up the first novel that hits me in the knee. Chances are it’s either going to be about me, or a cis white woman.
For people not like me — people of colour, people of non-christian religions, people who aren’t entirely able-bodied, people who suffer from mental health issues or learning disabilities, people who are gay, non-binary-gendered, non-binary-sexual, transgender, transsexual, transvestite — whatever makes you not able to identify with a middle-class, straight, white, able-bodied man (further referred to as MCSWABM), there’s a problem. These people — and let’s face it, grouped together as non-MCSWABM, they outnumber us by several orders of magnitude — are under-represented in fiction, or when they are represented, they are relegated to being a plot device.
In case you’ve been on a trip to Neptune over the last few years, there’s been some considerable shit-flinging around representation in fiction. Whether that’s mewling man-children upset because the two leads in the latest Star Wars movie are a woman and a black guy, or because they re-made Ghostbusters using humans born with ovaries. It might be sad little puppies, distraught at the thought that something without a penis or an excess of melanin might win a Hugo award. Death threats, doxing, harassment and behaviour usually associated with serial-killers directed towards women who want to play computer games about them for a change (it was never about fucking journalism). Did you hear? One of the official canon Star Wars novel contains not one, but three homosexuals!
I understand, I really do (I don’t, I’m pretending for the sake of brevity), we’ve held onto our throne for too long, we don’t want to let go. Here the excuses come: it’s not about the gays, it’s about the bad writing (fuck off); it’s not about the women, it’s just not funny (very fuck off); it’s not about being a racist, it’s just that we know stormtroopers aren’t black (fuck all the way off); it’s about ethics in games journalism (fuck all the way off to over there, yes there, the sea that’s right, at the bottom of the Marianas trench with all the other prehistoric organism clinging precariously onto existence).
Straight white people are boring. They have stories we’ve heard a billion times over, never changing. We’ve explored every issue, nuance, exponent, every detail of their lives. Every conceivable situation, we’ve put them there. We’ve trampled over stereotype after stereotype, used up minorities as filler and plot devices, murdered all the terrorists from Over-there-istan, rescued all the beautiful dames, climbed up from the depths of depravity as a street kid to be president. We know. We know all about you. We know all about me.
We need something different. We need experiences that MCSWABMs don’t have, can’t have. what’s interesting is finding out what someone who isn’t you and could never be you does in a given situation. It’s what attracts us to all the superheroes at the moment. Hell, it’s what fiction is about, surely, escapism? No? And it’s out there, go and find it. Do some work for your fiction for a change.
I’m bored of seeing me, give someone else a turn, you might learn something. And if you don’t like it? Well fuck off, not everything is for or about you. There are plenty of things out there that are, but you’ve had your turn.