I hope this post weeds out the unbelievers.
I’m not in the camp where ~artistic vision~ and ~creative license~ are the end-all, be-all shield to a writer/artist’s craft and how their work relates to an audience because that’s bullshit. I’m not about protecting artists and writers’ ~delicate creative sensibilities and feelings because if their work sucks, their work sucks, and needs to be improved/critiqued/beta’d/just fucking looked over. This all sounds vague, but allow me to get specific.
I’m talking about when fanwriters and fanartists write and draw every white cis character and their dog, but completely forget about everyone else—people like me, for instance. And when they get called out for that, the delicate artistes flutter their hands in front of their faces and cry out, “I don’t want to fuck up the attempt!” or “I write/draw what I feeeeeel!” or “I have no control over what inspires meee!” Or better still, “That takes a lot of effort and research!”
Haha, oh look more bullshit.
Are you telling me, that you can somehow find it in yourself to empathize/sympathize/identify with elves and mages and fictional aliens and dragons and artificial intelligence constructs, enough to write/draw from their POV, but somehow trying to connect with a character whose melanin content differs from yours is like scaling the Great Wall?
Are you telling me, that you’re willing to spend hours reading your fandom’s wikisite articles, research esoteric topics that are only tangentially related to the plot of your fic in order to lend the story a sense of “realism” and “authenticity,” brainstorm elaborate, extensive worldbuilding headcanons and speculations about a fictional universe, but can’t be bothered to Google “how to write characters of color without fucking it up”?
Are you telling me, that your imagination is just so creative and expansive or that the fandom-universe you’re playing in is so inspiring and new and unique that all you can come up with are stories about white people doing white things with their white friends and white significant others and having white adventures, thus further adding to the abyss of white narratives that countless ~creative artists before you have contributed to, thus making more of the same and being not special at all?
If you’re not telling me any of those above things, then what exactly are you telling me? Because I’d love to know, white fan(girls), I really would. Please explain to me how your utter lack of creativity prevents you from writing/drawing characters of color. Please explain to me how your utter lack of empathy prevents you from writing/drawing characters of color. Please explain to me how your ~artistic license and ~creative vision excuse you from improving your craft and broadening your horizons to include characters whose life experiences differ from yours—which, don’t you know, is one of the whole fucking points of writing fanfiction and drawing fanart anyway.
Nothing? You got nothing for me?
Welcome to white myopia—population: every white fan(girl) ever.
You don’t get to decide what’s not racist.
Never. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever.
The same way men don’t get to decide what’s not sexist, cis people don’t get to decide what’s transphobic, and straight people don’t get to decide what’s not homophobic.
This is complete bullshit, and a very dangerous idea. What you’re saying here, whether you know it or not, is that only people who are affected by a certain issue are entitled to decide what that word means. It only seems to make sense because you’ve chosen words that are in some ways abstract.
Let’s pick a word that isn’t abstract. Let’s say you’re suffering from cancer. Despite how awful that is, that does’t mean that you get to define what “cancer” means. It doesn’t mean that you’re more in control of your suffering because you want to decide that cancer means something else. It’s complete bullshit.
Cancer means something, no matter how you personally feel about that meaning. And so it is with racism, and homophobia, and so on. It doesn’t matter how a gay person or a straight person “feels” about the definition of homophobia - it means the same thing anyway. If you’re gay and you feel something has happened which you regard as homophobic, you’re probably right, but you might be wrong. We can talk about all that. What we can’t do is assume that you’re always right all the time about homophobia because you’re gay. No one’s always right all the time about anything.
Maybe in an ideal world this would not be true, but that’s just not how language and logic work on the ground. Anyone with the slightest training in linguistics will be able to tell you that.
tl;dr QUESTION EVERYTHING