I wrote a review lately that made me think a bit about the role I play as a writer in shaping the world we live in.
I was talking to my mom about Donald Trump and how some media have taken up the catchphrase #notmypresident. Except that he is. The media for so long has been putting out into the world that being rich and arrogant is sexy just look at Fifty Shades of Grey. That people who are willing to step on others to get ahead are thought to be ambitious instead of cruel. Just look at things like Survivor. You can't constantly put out into the world an image of perverted men who always get the good looking, and often half their age, women and then expect us not to revere a orange perverted old man who has a pretty wife because I'm afraid that is what we want. I mean that. They don't put programmes on tv and movies without testing them extensively. We vote for their crass shows with our dollar and our attention.
I don't write books to make money. A little snigger here because I think I would faint if I actually made more than I spent on my books. I write for many reasons but one of them is because I ran out of books to read. In a world where a million books are published every year I am in a drought for books to read because everywhere I look we glorify in the vulgar and the crass. I'll show you what I mean. I don't like anything too contemporary as it just reinforces the world we live in and that isn't where I want to escape to when I read. I don't like spy thriller kind of stories as A. most of them are about men who are commitment phobes who go around killing people and we should pat them on the back and B. They never really have happy endings. They have lucky-it-wasn't-worse endings but not happy endings. I don't read erotica because it feels like instruction manual. Slot B into A and repeat till done. With no real development of any of the characters. I don't know about you but even that is beyond my imagination where a romantic interlude has no emotional entanglements. Erotica and spy thrillers are the top sellers. Chic lit not far behind so that is a good chunk of the published books I don't read. That leaves me with romance and science fiction and fantasy and a whole bunch in between.
There is issues with those as well. SF and F have been plagued for a long time with chauvinistic jerks. So to avoid the veiled innuendos I stick to either female authors though even they disgust me sometimes, I'm looking at you Sharon Green and your Terrilian series. I also like husband and wife teams. I cautiously pick up male author books and then only to see if they have a female protag. Romance hasn't missed out on its own era of chauvinism. Fifty Shades is actually a little old fashioned when it comes to romance as for a few decades there every male romance was a take charge kind of guy even if what he was doing was technically rape. So I always look at the age of the romance I'm reading. And thank you mills and boon and all the others like you that you actually state on the book the kind of romance it is going to be.
But writing that review and talking to my mom made me look closer at what I was reading and writing. I want to read a book that is either a reflection of the world to show how ugly it is or I want a romantic utopia that can be attainable. Those are hard to find like rare hens teeth. I once stumbled onto a site that promotes biracial romantic couples. Over half of my books are biracial couples and the other half bispecies. I hadn't even realised I'd done that till I saw the site. Because to me there is nothing abnormal with biracial couples but here were people crying out for more books. There are also sites and lists for clean romances. I love clean romances though I'm not as picky as some of the others. I just want real romance and not erotica.
If we want a better world we need to shape it and we shape things by first thinking about it. Our thoughts are easily influenced by the media so the media has an ethical obligation to stop trying to make money over what needs to be published to make us a better human being. As a reader we can have some influence by speaking up against any media that doesn't help make us better people and we can choose not to consume the kind of media that makes rich old jerks the heroes of our lives.