The Darnedest Things

Sometimes I find people to be ridiculous creatures who say the darnedest things. Now don’t worry (be happy) I’m not turning into Bill Cosby here. I’m not about to zip-zop-boobedy-wop kids into telling me what they think the answers are to questions they wouldn’t normally know anyway. No, it’s the turn of the adults this time, and the ridiculous things they say.

 "And we would make this face"

People are all racist to a degree. The difference is always the degree of racism – from minor bias to outright bigotry. You simply cannot be not racist (There was an experiment in artificial intelligence years ago that created two groups of robots that would mix and simulate social groups. That ended up with the robots segregating from each other by the colours of their shells – racist robots). Now I know a lot of the people reading this are probably thinking that they’re not racist and it’s those people that I’d like to poke a bit of fun at for the next few minutes. More specifically any of those who have ever said the ridiculous words “I don’t see colour”. We’ve all heard those words and we’ve all heard them from the same types of people – usually raised in a time when racism was a hot topic, their parents either strongly racist or strongly against it, desperate to show the world how much of a well-educated on the issues they are. They truly think that by not seeing colour they are fighting the good fight and letting the world come together. Me? I think they’re a big part of the problem.

The fact is that they do see colour no matter what they claim, so claiming not to is simply a lie of convenience. They don’t want to see colour, they don’t want anyone to be different and potentially scary so they clap their hands over their eyes like the See No Evil monkey and shout “I don’t see colour” over and over. It’s the equivalent of a child sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting “La la la la la” over and over to avoid hearing their parent lecture them. Rather than a parental lecture, the self-professed colour-blind individual is trying to avoid facing issues by claiming they don’t exist for them.

They're like fucking twins!

I’ve played video games in the 1980s on my ZX Spectrum and, despite the colourful name of the computer, most games were monochrome. For those younger readers who have a hard time picturing that, it’s all one colour with black outlines of things. As fun as some of those games were, I couldn’t help but envy my friends with their Sega Master Systems and Nintendos, and all the colour that the same games had. This is the world that the colour-blind wish to see though, and it’s bland for want of a word that doesn’t rhyme with grit. As I said, I’ve played in those worlds as a child and now there are newer games with innovative features like high-resolution graphics and full colour. As I grew up I expected more from the worlds I played in and they in turn gave me more.

The real world is similar in a way. As you grow you expect more from it and it always has something new to offer. It can be overwhelming, I know, but hiding from it only keeps you in the dark. Not seeing colour is denying it exists and you may as well live under a rock if you’re going to do that. Instead try to see and celebrate the differences between cultures. There is so much out there that you haven’t seen by not seeing colour, things that you haven’t allowed yourself to see. Yes, you may see things you don’t agree with and may feel or be called a little bit racist for that, but those things are in the minority. Personally I’d prefer to be a little bit racist than to pretend the differences between cultures don’t exist.

 "I'm moving to Canada in protest of America getting free healthcare! That'll teach 'em."

I’ve been writing a lot recently. People who’ve stuck with me since The Dark Furie first existed (on the page that I’m copying over to here bit by bit) know that I used to post daily. Over the last year I’ve been toning that down so that I, hopefully at least, post more interesting things. Yes, I know, reading this may well be making you roll your eyes at my liberal use if the word ‘interesting’, but I enjoy writing them and it’s the sort of thing I enjoy reading too so, yah boo sucks to you.

Hmmm, that paragraph got away from me a bit. Anyway, one of the other reasons I haven’t been writing as much for this page is that I’ve been writing. No, you haven’t had a stroke, I did just say that. Let me elaborate a little. Years ago I came to the conclusion that death isn’t something I particularly welcome and that I was going to live forever. Now I’ve never been a very good scientist and Tokyo is still paying the price for my last set of experiments so there was only one route to immortality left open to me – I had to create something. I’m a big reader and love writing so it made sense that I write a book. I’ve started many times over the years, sometimes writing a chapter or two, sometimes simply coming up with an idea and a title (gotta have a title or you’re not writing). It never usually gets any further than that to be perfectly honest. I pick a title, write a very basic synopsis of the idea and sometimes write a couple of pages. I tell myself I’m writing but I’m not really. The intellectual equivalent of those people who write in Starbucks so they can prove to others that they’re writers. This time is different though. I’ve hit seventy pages this week and been writing for only a month. Funnily enough this one started out as a short story but the characters came alive on the page and the story grew.

Which leads sneakily to the next darnedest thing that people say. Authors who say that their characters come to life and dictate the story. Stephenie Meyer once said that “all women are shit and should have domestic abuse romanticised to them at an early age”. Oh sorry, my mistake. She didn’t say that, she just plotted her stories in a way that majes it plausible. What she did say is something along the lines of her characters come off the page and dictate to her how the story should go. When I first read that I put it down to whatever mental illness had reinvented the monstrous creatures of the night called vampires into a clichéd character from a 90s gay bar.

 Body glitter and overly-styled hair. The gay bars, not Steph's legs.

Now I get that her American Mormon background dictates that the most horrific monster she can think of is a stereotypical gay man, and I get that the fact she’s female means she finds them attractive (I’ve yet to find a woman not attracted to vampires so speak up if you’re the fabled “One”). I also get that the Mormon faith subjugates women without their knowledge, praising them for being stay at home moms while the important roles in the church are held for men only. I understand all that, even though I don’t agree with it personally. It’s one of those colourful differences I mentioned earlier on.

What I didn’t understand until writing this book of mine is that characters really can come alive. Not literally of course. That would be as insane a notion as a vampire that sparkles in the fucking sun. Rather the idea of the character is so complete that the story takes a new direction simply because the characters lead it. Things that should have ended earlier go in for longer. Ancillary characters have their own stories and motivations. My villain, who was pretty one dimensional in the first idea for this story, has recently demanded some excuse for his actions be written. While I still see him as vile, he comes across slightly more sympathetically now. The characters and world have taken over the simple story and pushed it in new directions I hadn’t planned or expected, turning a short story into something that is very close to being the book I’ve always wanted to write.

In a way I understand the idea that the characters are coming to life better now. I’d still prefer to say they’re dictating the direction of the story but I understand why people say it the other way. They simply don’t have the words to describe it any other way, which is a disturbing thought considering they’re writers. Still, it could be worse, I suppose.

They could be racist.

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8 thoughts on “The Darnedest Things

  1. I remember making a similar point about racism once. Some people could only see the negative aspect without recognising just how bigoted there comments were in that regard! 😆

    • It’s something that really bugs me. Kim and I have a running joke where if anything could be taken another way than it’s meant abd sound racist we’ll take it that way and call each other racist. The other will usually come out with one of those fake non-racist sayings like “I don’t see colour” after the accusation. It’s just such a false thing. Of course they bloody well do see colour, they simply choose not to acknowledge it. They cover their eyes like the proverbial See No Evil wise monkey and choose not to see something they can’t process. Really annoys me that these people don’t see that they’re being just as bad.

  2. Well, everyone has bias. Sometimes playing around with bias is even fun. Yes, fun, BUT you have to keep in mind that you have more in common with the pal you are working with or attending classes or whatever than that you are different than him. If he is an immigrant he perhaps has another point of view on your society and additional knowledge you might perhaps even need.

    • Indeed. We all have bias and that’s natural. The true problem with racism comes from that bias overwhelming common sense and intellect. Whether it’s a bias or prejudice that does it, the moment we step over that line and allow those things to run us is the moment we become part of the problem.

      People kind of get that but, being people, they take it too far in the other direction. They prefer to lie to others and themselves about their prejudices than to try and deal with their issues. I personally have a problem with a specific type of Scot and I have no problem admitting that to anyone. I’m also aware enough to know both where the prejudice comes from and how it got so bad, and people tend to understand when I explain it to them. It’s my own personal problem brought on by overexposure to the worst parts of a single culture.

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