For those engrossed with the political ideology of diversity and inclusion, it is advantageous and altogether fruitful to label those who oppose their beloved “woke” characters as bigots, heathens, and Nazis not worth the very air they breathe. However, for those who spend more than a fleeting moment passing such a judgment, a discovery of something far more complex and nuanced can be found in the opposition of wokeness.
A careful inspection of these so-called “anti-woke” individuals’ statements would reveal that diversity and inclusion in and of themselves do not incite their dislike, for they all can list dozens of such diverse characters that they have loved since childhood. This opposition to wokeness is not born of hatred, contrarianism, or any other such negative aspirations. It is born from an observation of the pattern and web that is spun whenever a “woke” character is devised.
The three central points of this pattern are perfect and flawless characters, lazy writing born from the excuse of diversity, and theft from previously popular characters. These three points evident in woke writing are abhorrent to anti-woke individuals, for these points signal the death of creativity and the death of good storytelling. If such flaws and fundamental ineptitude can be praised and elevated above superior work, the very integrity of filmmaking and storytelling as a whole will crumble, eroding all benefits derived from the necessity of such vehicles of communication.
PERFECT CHARACTERS: Commonly called Mary Sues or Gary Stus, there are many such examples of perfect characters born out of diversity, inclusion, and other political motivations, but the clearest examples of this issue are Captain Marvel and Rey. Both exhibit boundless power and abilities born from little to no conflict nor training, culminating in a flawless character that neither incites fan empathy nor admiration. A perfect character is a boring character. It is not a character’s feats of strength or effortless victory that make them legends for decades to come. It is their struggle and their drive to overcome insurmountable obstacles, and their reactions and motivations for confronting such ordeals, that inspire a connection to the audience.
If Rey is just born amazing and undergoes little to no training before besting her Master in combat on her second day, why should the youth meant to be inspired by her story be motivated? The only message this gets across to children is that they are either born great or worthless. If they do not immediately succeed at everything they do, there is no point in putting in any additional effort because their worth is already apparent. How is this an inspirational character or a motivational story, as it was marketed to be by these politically motivated individuals?
In a way that the woke people have difficulty understanding, it is not how a character looks that gets the audience to relate to them. It is their actions, their decisions, their strength of character, and their heart that inspires relatability and timelessness. The mediocre writing that births such two-dimensionally flat, “perfect” characters must be criticized before it becomes the norm. The sad truth is that those who do criticize such empty characters are mocked and hated by the politically motivated and called every horrific name under the sun to devalue and discredit their opinions to such a degree that they seem meaningless on the broader scale. It is not sexist to call Captain Marvel and Rey empty characters who do not struggle and who do not exhibit the traits necessary to become the cultural icons that they were intended to be.
WEAK WRITING: The other mainstay of wokeness in entertainment is the prevalence of hiring talentless writers with little to no experience merely for the diversity checkboxes that are marked from such employees.
This hiring practice, coupled with these writers’ tendency to focus on diversity in their work, generates a two-fold problem. These writers are incapable of delivering a better product but are shielded from criticism because of their diversity checkboxes. Anyone who questions their decisions or talent is immediately labeled as racist or sexist, thereby apparently nullifying their criticism. This creates an air of distrust between fans and studios while ensuring that other such mediocre products become the norm as other studios see how easy it is to get away with bad writing.
Additionally, these writers tend to create diverse characters who then receive the same shield from criticism as the writers themselves. Suppose a black woman writes a black woman character completely ineptly, and a fan of whatever product or franchise this character resides in dares to deconstruct the flaws within the character. In that case, this fan is labeled with all the hateful names under the sun, again devaluing their opinion in perpetuity.
For as long as diversity is used as a shield for inept and weak writing, the standard of quality in entertainment will continue to downgrade until the only staple for evaluation is diversity; everything else will be a moot point.
One of the best examples of such writing is the introduction of Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor, who is lovingly called Doctor Karen. This character was written with all the complexities of paint drying. However, if anyone in the Doctor Who universe even questioned her decisions or inconsistent moral structure, the Doctor would just say, “I’ve had an upgrade.” Both the writers and the character in-universe believed that this Doctor was superior to all predecessors merely for the subtraction of male genitalia. If this change had been coupled with equal or superior storytelling, very few fans would have had such a strong reaction to this change. However, this was not the case.
The best example of this Doctor’s inconsistency and lazy writing can be seen in series 11, episode 4, in which the Doctor is given a choice: either quickly and painlessly put innocent yet dangerous creatures out of their misery with guns, or horrifically and painfully suffocate them, letting them suffer for before their deaths. Because an evil white man suggested the merciful option with the use of guns, this Doctor just says, “No, guns are evil. Let’s suffocate them,” before proceeding to torture these creatures to death. A more talented writer would see the contradiction in such a decision and would remember that it fundamentally erodes the Doctor’s firm moral foundation, ripping out the backbone of the character. But whenever anyone dares question this inconsistency or any other such inconsistency within the 13th Doctor’s era, they are just labeled as sexist, again devaluing their opinions and shielding the lazy and inept writing in a cocoon of “You’re just sexist,” which will only inspire others to do the same and perpetuate lazy writing to overtake the entire industry.
THEFT: Character theft and assassination is no way to endear fans of a franchise and entice them to connect with a newly created character. This only serves to alienate them and divorce their love of the original character from this derivative and tokenized version. These writers and studio executives believe that they can just slap a new coat of paint on a character to satisfy their diversity and inclusion requirements, and the fans will climb over themselves to accept and love this new version of a once-beloved hero. These fans are more than happy to accept new, well-written, original characters, as they have done so many times. Nevertheless, they are robbed of this opportunity because those entrusted with these beloved franchises do not trust their own writers nor the fans’ level of acceptance, choosing instead to bastardize what came before and hope it turns out for the best while using a slew of hateful attacks against those who criticize the theft.
Miles Morales has become the key figure in the realm of tokenized and stolen characters. Some fans have learned to like him, but many see him for what he is: a derivative of Spider-Man who relives much of Spider-Man’s own history. Miles Morales has even gone on to be tokenized versions of other characters such as Thor and Captain America. If Miles Morales had not just been a derivative of Spider-Man and if he had not just stolen past Spider-Man stories, there is enough within his character that would have enticed fans to like him regardless. But the stain of theft leaves a cloud hanging over him that prevents many die-hard comic book fans from even giving him a chance, and rightfully so. Who likes to see something they love stolen, changed, and shoved back in their face with the demand that they love it or be called racist?
This marketing approach only alienates fans, continuing the downgrade of the comic book industry from sales within the millions to sales within the thousands. Diversity and inclusion have always been a part of entertainment, so if studios and creatives would focus on previously diverse characters that they summarily ignore or put in the effort to create original characters, they could still keep their industry at the heights that it once reached. However, theft and bastardization cannot sustain an industry for long.
For those who have hurled hate at these so-called “anti-woke” individuals, the nuance of this analysis will go unheard, but perhaps a few will realize that labels such as racist, sexist, homophobe, and transphobe are not warranted nor accurately apply to them. Diversity and inclusion can work, but when such diversity and inclusion are accompanied by these three points and others like them, fans have the right – nay, the responsibility – to call them out in hopes of securing the integrity of the entertainment industry for generations to come, for without entertainment and the understanding of stories, our society will devolve. Sometimes, people need well-made escapism, sometimes they need to be inspired, and sometimes they need to believe in something greater than themselves. If diversity and inclusion come at the price of good storytelling, they’re not a price worth paying.
Hopefully, we can be a diverse and accepting society in our entertainment and as a whole, but it takes talented and intelligent people to do this in honest and good ways that benefit society more than they detract from it. Wokeness is a fundamental misunderstanding of this truth. One can only hope that good stories will endure through this tirade of hatred.