Stories have power, regardless of depth or complexity. Even stories we might consider bad or irrelevant, or poorly executed, still tell us things about the creators and culture. The illustrations we spend time on matter. The fantastical refashioning of our reality into different forms tells us more about real life than even real life does much of the time, because it condenses and conveys a subject without getting bogged down in too much realism.
I've been writing for a long time. I'm distractible, and obsessive, and take certain things vastly more seriously than many others do, which makes for a frustrating melting pot of experience both from personal situations and observations. And, almost as irritating as that experience and observation, is the fact that I'm not often taken seriously when I do take a pause to say something entirely nonfictional and incredibly unpopular.
Stories and what I have to say about them is too important, because I've been following an alarming trend.
Stories are increasingly weaponized.
Creators can say whatever they want with their own creations. This isn't to argue against that. This is to explain that I know we can do better than this, though I doubt we will. It won't stop me, however, though I've also noticed an increasing trend of people telling me I'm out of my mind.
Mostly people who don't like that I'm a white guy pointing things out, if I'm being honest. Regardless of how right or wrong I am with those points.
Every time I ask a question, and that question is met with belittlement and demonizing, that's a question I archive in my brain, to find my own answers. So this post is a culmination of a lot of things, but the trigger was this:
What right do others have to reinterpret stories based on their own views? What right does someone other than the creator have to assign ultimate meaning to a creation, and impose that on others? What's the difference between character development and simply reprogramming?
There are things open to interpretation, and things we take for ourselves because of what we need. But there's a difference between filtering those things through our own lens and breaking it down to refashion in our own image, because we have a sense of entitlement, claiming we are the real creators. The creations of others are not ours. Our interpretations, and how it plugs into our mental selves -- that's ours. It becomes what we need it to become, and what we want to say, but that's where it has to stop.
In the spirit of [The Bronze Bull], I say it has to stop.
I'll say it, but it's not going to.
There are characters that I discovered in extremely difficult times in my life, who helped me get up in the morning and continue to be me instead of someone else. Imaginary people who told me that I matter, I can do what I put my mind to, and setbacks are temporary. I was told that I didn't need everyone to like me, I just had to continue trying to do good. When real people failed me, fiction took up the slack and helped me find what I needed internally.
One of these characters was recently taken under a feminist grasp and has already been used in an attempt to nullify those affects in my life and the lives of others. I was told that the changes should be irrelevant -- I have to still identify with a character who's drastically changed, or I hate women. Yet women couldn't identify with this character as a male before, and now they're empowered and everyone should agree with every aspect or they're just scared of a girl.
I support people identifying with the characters they need to identify with to feel what I have in the past. I will never support using those characters to belittle others and use the joy of storytelling as a weapon to degrade and mock people, rather than concepts. Or put up the wobbly excuse that it's merely laughing at concepts, and ridiculing people "behind the scenes."
I value diversity in stories -- but I'm also a mature enough writer to know there's more to a good story than checking the boxes. My characters are old and young, male and female and neither, loud and quiet, brilliant and slow, dark, light, flawed, passionate, careful, reckless, and hopeful. If they exist, it's because they told me they exist -- not for someone else to take hold of and throw in someone's face to make them feel less of themselves, and then laugh at that person for feeling less of themselves.
Anyone who does so would have a visit from me, and you can count on that.
I'm scattered. I'm messy. I'm not as organized as I perhaps should be. But there's one great passion of my life, which connects to everything else.
I'm a Storyteller. I don't get up in front of people on a stage. I'm not famous or have my stories on television. But I care -- and know -- about how stories affect people and how they can be used for good or bad, by the creators or people who fancy themselves the same as the creators.
And I refuse to be quiet about what's being stolen from people who need this identification, for the sake of "equality." Creation of what you need isn't the same as theft of what others need.
Whether you're nodding your head, or spitting fire, I'm still going to be here. Some people, who even may agree with me in general, may still be shaking their heads, saying I'm being dramatic.
I don't mind.
I do my very best not to do things halfway, so I'll make you a promise, whether it's valuable to you or not --
Every story that they rewrite in effort to steal your hope --
Every person, real or imaginary, that they refashion to call you ridiculous --
Every time they tell you they have what you need so you'd better take it or else --
I'll be here.
I'll be your imaginary friend who'll annoy you and disagree with you and ask you uncomfortable questions, but I will never, ever, abandon you just because someone else says so.
“There’s a lot of things you need to get across this universe. Warp drive… wormhole refractors… You know the thing you need most of all? You need a hand to hold.”