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Why Fantasy Writing should Ignore Political Correctness

The term “political correctness”  has become an expression of resentment at the idea of having to label or describe people without insulting them. An outright racist, sexist or extreme political person who has no respect for others may use the term as a buzzword of complaint. They resent not being able to publicly bully or to offend others. These people will have problems, anyway.

Other terms that are labeled “politically correct” have nothing to do with people who want to be offensive whenever they choose. These terms were developed for individuals who have to get the facts about a person in a shorthand that actually contains information. When an EMT or teacher knows that a person is “developmently disabled”, that EMT or teacher will be able to invoke certain protocols for dealing with lowered mental, communication or reasoning ability as well as other health problems. The terms “retarded” or “idiot” just do not cut it when proffessionals are trying to determine whether a person has Down’sSyndrome or has one of a host of other disorders, such as autism.

Other terms, including “politically incorrect”, are products of the mass media, corporations, political groups or social groups that have a variety of agendas for the public to play to.

The bottom line is that no one wants to suffer from a racial, gender or ethnic slur in the course of doing business or of reading something for pleasure.

Fantasy has no rules for or against using terms and writing conventions that show tolerance, that give less offense and that provide more inclusiveness. Reality does.

The reality of writing successful fantasy is that the genre does not appeal to large audiences unless there is incredibly good writing, a compelling story and a brilliant set of ideas, plus an attitude of respect and inclusiveness for the readers.

By attacking or insulting part of the audience through deliberately derisive or offensive statement, for example, a writer alienates not only that group, but many others to the point that they will not pay to read the work, or worse, to watch the film.

This behavior belies the nature of fantasy, which is supposed to create a world that gets beyond the realities and limitations of our world, our behavioral problems, our politics and race, and even our individual imaginations.

When a fantasy writer uses certain “fantasy” characters and situations as a setup for offensive and insulting speech and action that is based in real world dysfunction, they had better know what it is that they are doing, or fantasy readers will tend to see through it all. The first giveaway will be whether the offensive and real world content actually has a place in the fantasy world or story.

When characters are only developed as symbolic representations of one group as being superior to another, the problem offantasy that is not really fantasy comes up again. This has to be constructed carefully because readers are savvy enough to make the connections and to get the references to the real world. Then they will make a determination as to whether the writer is trying to play games with them. If they feel manipulated, the smart readers will reject the whole thing. Plus, trying to get around the reader by adding in more and more convoluted distractions will make the whole mess practically unreadable.

The bottom line is to create a fantasy world,  a fantastic story and compelling characters that transport the target audience to somewhere else, not to a poorly disguised version of the same world that they live in or see in the news, which is good at manufacturing and pushing terms like “politically incorrect” into the public vocabulary. Fantasy readers are not looking for more of the same conduct when they are trying to escape from it all.

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