Culture Matters

Dear World  

Please Kill Me, 

We live in a time of historically high acceptance and rejection—socially and ideologically (if you’re in the West, anyway). All at once swathes of multi-generational hordes have come out in support of things that previous generations may have thumbed their noses at (if they could fathom our newer concepts at all). 

Though there are the undoubted bigots, stubborn-folk, and contrarians; matters of race, gender, and religion have increasingly found sound footing in the hallowed halls of our governments, institutions, and social realms.  

Sure, there’s a long way to go but I believe that the fact we’re now willing to discuss and legislate on these matters is a far cry from the “tar-and-feather-and-shame” methods of years past. 

If you wish to identify as a pansexual-Martian with undertones of a non-binary reptilian—there are legitimate forums that would happily lend their ears (and cautiously avoid dead-naming you “XRanthum-Minus-T, from Windmill, Kentucky).  

That’s the good news. Like it or not, identity is something categorical that deserves discussion (of which can range across the spectrum of “logical” and “bat-shit crazy”). That’s the price we pay for needed dialogue—sometimes the weirdos get in. Equality means you get the crap too. And no group is above foolishness. 

On the other hand, we seem to have taken a step back on the ideological front (hinting at a certain level of superficiality that I won’t get into). Whereas Billy Ray Bob would widely be accepted as Genisus-K Wormworth, of the Sterillix Galaxy—the moment ole’ GKW slips some whiskey fingers on the “Tweet” button with an unpopular opinion, we’re right back to the medieval times—taring, feathering, and shaming.   

It’s an odd contrast for a culture that emphasizes acceptance. But I’m not here to stand behind a podium and preach to those who’ve already made up their minds (and are subsequently seething because they haven’t seen anything they can use for their own selfish reasons).  

The above thoughts got me thinking about character and how I often approach writing protagonists and antagonists that don’t align with my own world view. To be honest, if you’re going to write fiction from your sole perspectives and interpretations—it’s propaganda, not art. But I digress. 

Firstly, it should be said that I’m probably not the average consumer of content. Rather than drown myself in the multi-tiered availability of the particular strain of entertainment I prefer (and we all have our favorites), I make a point to indulge in things that are mostly foreign to me: movies, shows, articles, novels, comics, self-indulgent non-fiction, etc.  

I can even admit that I follow gangs of popular pundits and randoms (on whichever side of the aisle) that I find myself disagreeing with on fundamental levels. 

Why do I subject myself to this, you ask? (#YouDidn’t

Because I’ve long accepted that I don’t know everything. Something isn’t true just because it “feels” or “sounds” right or supports my preconceived notions. I don’t indulge in my own spiraling thoughts as a springboard for societal projection or imposition of my perspective on unwitting others. 

I accept that there are different thoughts out there. I accept that I’m not always right. I accept that life has more “gray-area” and nuance than we like to admit. 

Whether or not I agree (or like/dislike) something that someone is spouting off, I always try to understand their position (as best I can) and have even gone so far as to personally inquire with them—encouraging them to explain their logic. They may not be evil. They may just be different.  

Don’t we live in a time where “different” should be more widely accepted and peacefully discussed? Ask GKW—the anti-abortionist or Billy Ray Bob—the anti-gun legislator how they feel about expressing their opinions in public.  

But at least they get parades and rallies, right? 

Great job, society! (*slurps sarcasm*

Anyway… 

This isn’t some self-flagellating act of sadism. It’s natural curiosity. More often than not, you’d be surprised by how those with opposing views are willing to expand on their logic (or lack thereof). 

There’s a certain “ah-ha!”-moment that follows when any of these interactions go civilly. Even more surprising is how often their positions derive from a reliably human place (obviously excluding the culture-vultures, just looking to troll and stir the pot). 

This brings me all the way around to writing (I’m pretty sure that’s the premise of this website). Understanding a variety of thoughts, minds, and perspectives is crucial to creating impactful fiction that births meaningful dialogue from within the culture.  

Sure, some people just want to be entertained and some people just want to entertain—but I’d like to think that creativity as a whole is deeper than that. Culture matters when devising substance. Substance matters when understanding culture. People and their perspectives matter when embodying both. 

Sure, entertainment for entertainment’s sake is fine but if you’re looking to establish a body of work that makes a difference and starts conversations (which all art should ultimately do) then you’re better off starting from a balanced perspective that doesn’t ignore the thoughts dwelling beyond your own boiling brain matter.  

But that’s just my opinion.  

I’m open to discussion. 

Until Next Time,

–Antwan Crump

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