Every writer has their own process, but with many writers I’ve known, new characters often start as a collection of traits before they become an actual “character.” In fact, there are entire tropes dedicated to this idea. The Five Man Band, for example, is a good starting point for writers wanting to create a story involving a group of protagonists instead of one central character. The Band includes the following:
- The Leader – The hero of the story
- The Lancer – The contrasting character to the hero. Often the best friend or rival
- The Smart Guy – The go to character for exposition and for formulating plans
- The Big Guy – The toughest character
- The Chick – The emotional heart of the team
These are easy, workable templates for any writer of any experience level. But, again, these are only starting points. A character needs personality, motivations, likes, dislikes, virtues, flaws, and values. These details make them unique and relatable to the audience. However, thanks to the toxic political climate, creators are required to adhere to the “politically correct” character quota mandates. These mandates for inclusivity have come to replace the mandate for quality, resulting in declining quality across the board. Ghostbusters 2016 and Disney’s Star Wars are a few recognizable victims. And the reason for this dramatic drop in quality is the poisonous notion of “Forced Diversity.”
Forced Diversity, like many leftist demands, is tyranny disguised as kindness. It’s the idea demanding casts of any creative work be religiously, sexually, and ethnically diverse under the false assumption that the audience can only relate to characters that share their specific superficial traits. In every new work, an author needs a female character, a black character, a gay character, a trans character, and so on. Forced Diversity often ruins characters…and it ruins characters because Political Correctness is cancer.
Why does this matter? Isn’t diversity great?
It matters because, as I mentioned earlier, superficial traits don’t make a character. Black is not a character. Gay is not a character. Girl is not a character. Muslim is not a character.
A politically correct character is meant to be a representation of an entire group of people. On the surface, this might seem acceptable until you realize this politically correct character is meant to represent an entire group of people. So, what does this mean? It means this character is now infected with the Social Justice disease, and it has a dangerously low survival rate.
So now, instead of having a deep thematic character with flaws, weaknesses and internal conflicts; we have a non-threatening minority character who has all the “right opinions,” and no real drawbacks…only superficial traits and shallow quirks. Under the laws of political correctness, a character that exists to represent everyone of a particular ethnicity or sexuality becomes the personification of the writer’s interpretation of that entire group. For example, if their “woman” character needs to be rescued at one point, it’s an admission from the writers that they believe all women are weak damsels in distress. We have shifted from using deeper character elements and moments as measures of quality and have replaced that standard with “how well X minority was portrayed in the movie.” And that leads me to the main reason most people (people who dare watch movies for the action, story, and human drama) cannot connect with politically correct characters.
Humans are not politically correct creatures. Even the most restrained and polite of us have primal needs and urges. We get angry. We have prejudices and biases. We have different opinions. We have weaknesses. We make mistakes. Politically correct characters have none of those things. They have none of those things because they’re not allowed to have those things. They must be near perfect from the starting gate, and that’s a huge detriment for two reasons.
- It takes away their humanity.
- It destroys opportunities for a character arc.
To drive the importance of this point home, let’s compare Luke Skywalker with Rey:
Luke was a farm boy who lived in a desert
Rey was a scavenger who lived in a desert
Luke spent his introduction getting tricked by droids, losing his family, and being saved by an old man.
Rey spent her introduction outsmarting people, beating up a bunch of men, and quickly developing force powers that took Luke three movies and tutelage by a Jedi Master to learn.
Luke boards the Death Star to rescue the Princess only to quickly get into trouble…ending working with the Princess to barely make it out alive.
Rey rescues herself with force powers she can now easily use with no explanation
Luke watches helplessly as the Sith kills his mentor Obi-Wan
Rey, without training, defeats the Sith in direct lightsaber combat.
In the Force Awakens, the plot plays Santa Claus to Rey. She handed things just to make her look cool to the audience. Rey doesn’t get a character arc. Her character doesn’t start at the bottom. Her character started at the top, not for the sake of the story, but to be a role model for little girls. And that’s the core problem of Politically Correct heroes. They’re not written to be people. They’re not written to be cardboard cutouts. No flaws. No growth. Rey is a cardboard doll created simply to exist. The only people who can relate to her, are the women who buy into the ideas of Forced Diversity. The idea that one can only relate to a character who shares their specific identity.
When I was young, I could relate to a lot of different characters. I found myself in a whole roster of people. Man. Woman. Straight. Gay. Black. White. Latino. The superficial elements may have been different from my own, but I could still identify with each. Now, that’s no longer the case. Social Justice has made prejudice and bigotry the standard. Black people are only supposed to identify with black people. Women can only identify with women. As the humanity is drained away from our movie characters, so too is the humanity drained away from the audience. Pandering to the feelings of a fragile generation has been set as the gold standard.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Political correctness is cancer. Already reasonable people are pushing back against this new of soft and delicate heroes. But I think, in the end, it’ll take a counter-revolution lead by new creators. Talented independents willing to be offensive and create marvelous works while doing so. Political correctness is cancer…and a new generation of talent will be the chemo.