Often times when I sit around reading, or watching a movie, or a program on television, I see a lot of agenda pushing. This is something that bothers me, quite a lot actually.
When Danika and I sat down and started writing, REALLY writing, we made it a point to determine which angle we were going to be approaching things from. We both quickly realized that we’re not fans of the hidden agenda in media. When we came to that realization, we had to stop and think what exactly we were doing in this narrative space, and that’s when it really clicked: We just like telling stories. Stories about life, about people. REAL people with ( to a point) real problems.
Obviously, the title of our blog is Between Him and Her. One of the things that we recognize, and appreciate in each other is the fact that we are NOT THE SAME. And when I say not the same, I don’t mean “one is lesser than the other.” I mean I am a man, and she is a woman. Something that simple, on the genetic level, really pushes out some seriously different views on life and how that path plays out. Rather than sitting around and being at arms against each other, we embrace these differences between us. I can (and have) learned a lot about women from, would you guess it, actually TALKING to women, and her vice versa.
With that being said, we’re not going to try and cash in on “shock value” in order to win over readers. I think it is cheap, and is wrong, and a disservice to not only ourselves, but also our readers. We’re not going to do things such as, for example, throwing in a random “underrepresented” character into a plot for the sake of putting a character in to snag “easy” sales. I despise that, and I think it is disrespectful of under-represented people in general. If I write a story with that type of content, it is going to be for a damn good reason, and will serve the interest of the tale itself. I know quite a few people who absolutely refuse to consume content that has things in it that they “object” to, who are missing out on the spice of life. Things like this is what lead to book burnings of Catcher in the Rye, or people completely ignoring fantastic plays like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (which I saw in Chicago recently courtesy of the Raven Theatre; it was AMAZING). The differences of people of all races, genders, creeds and cultures? THAT IS LIFE. It’s not going to change. Appreciate it, ALL OF IT.
I myself am African-American, and yet not every story we write is going to feature black folks. Sometimes, it’s just not appropriate for the narrative. Who knows, one day we might write a story based in feudal era Japan. Odds are, there probably aren’t going to be any black people in it. (Please note: we’re not writing a story right now about feudal Japan. That was an example).
Right now, the story that we’re working on, and is almost finished, is a thriller story about a woman in the 20th century (sorry, I’m not going to get more detailed than that right now). Danika pitched this idea to me, and I read over her notes and everything she had so far. It is a FANTASTIC idea, and I loved everything about it. Obviously, the past 100 years had a lot of things going on in it concerning the women’s rights movement and more. That’s great… but this story ISN’T ABOUT THAT. The story is about the story itself. I think what we have here is very, very strong, and I’m absolutely in love with the lead character.
This isn’t a story about problems unique to either gender. This is about a PERSON who is in a very, VERY fucked-up situation. THAT is what we’re telling a story about.
This doesn’t mean that we won’t ever write stories about social problems such as gender equality, sexual orientation, racial equality, mental disorders and more. We’ve even got a story sitting on the back burner right now that specifically addresses issues such as right to life, where life begins and ends, and the issues that come up with that. But the thing is, these things must be used in order to serve THE NARRATIVE. Nothing irks me more than issues, SERIOUS issues, being used as cannon fodder to move copies of a book . It pisses me off even more when someone suddenly goes “Oh, and this character is minority X” and then does nothing to actually explore the space with that and how it affects the character throughout the tale. Everything written about a character SHOULD apply to the character, and SERVE THE NARRATIVE. Don’t tell me that a character you’ve created has say, bipolar disorder and memory problems, and then it never comes up again. That was a waste of ink if it does not serve your tale.
Now, if you tell me that that character has bipolar disorder and memory issues, and it reveals that this person is a modern day version of Jekyll and Hyde because of it or something, then HOLY SHIT. I want to read that story. But don’t disrespect people because you’re trying to make a quick buck.