“The (White) Purity of the Material”

There’s lots of talk these days about “the purity of the material.” Lots of fanboys pissing in the Wheaties of anyone who dares to gender-bend Thor (even though he was occasionally gender-bent in Norse mythology), or enjoy a team of female Ghostbusters, or make a Star Wars movie with female and non-white leads.

Last Jedi

And that concept – “the purity of the material” – is utter nonsense.

I write this stuff for a living. Have done so since the early 1990s, in a variety of media. Hell, I even wrote part of a book for Star Wars. And despite the seriousness with which people like me take our jobs and try to do the best we can do under the circumstances, it’s a job. That’s it. That’s all. One we love (trust me, we don’t do it for the money!), but still a job.

We creators are professionals making a living on tight deadlines, in media that were until recently considered to be completely disposable, unfit for serious consideration. We rarely own the things we create, and so while we do our best to bring actual creativity and fun to our work, the idea that comics, or movies, or games, or TV shows, or even most books – certainly those in genre categories – are somehow sacred, unchanging writ is complete garbage.

For far too long, our jobs were more-or-less restricted to white guys (in comics, usually Jewish) who mostly knew one another and so hired the people we knew. A handful of women and non-white folks of different genders were hired if and when an editor knew them, and trusted them, and didn’t hold some absurd ideas about who was and was not fit to join the team. Some guys, obviously, did hold such ideas, which restricted the talent pool further. And so, because creators tend to create stuff based on what they know (or think they know), especially when they’re on tight deadlines in disposable media whose rights they don’t even own, the majority of the heroes of such media were white dudes scoring white chicks, with the occasional (often inaccurate and offensive) gender and / or ethnic stereotype dropped in to show how progressive the creators felt they were at that time. And because that was the marketplace norm, even the female creators, and the queer creators, and the non-white creators, stuck to what they were being paid to create: stories for and about white dudes.
Luke Cage
That was then, this is now. Some of us felt that was bullshit even decades ago, and hired people to break the stereotypes. Other folks who weren’t white, het dudes enjoyed those media too, and they grew up to be the next generations of creators – creators who tell their own stories about a world with a greater and broader and far more realistic and frankly more interesting view of the human condition than The Adventures of Whiteboy Pt XIV.
Some white boys hate that.
Fuck ’em.
Anyone who honestly desires a retrograde form of entertainment wherein the scope of characters was limited to a very small slice of human culture and experience has got decades’ worth of that stuff to enjoy. More than you could possible indulge yourself with in one lifetime.Go get it, dudes – it’s all yours.
But to anyone who wants to keep the gates of imaginative media shut against everybody else on earth in the name of “the purity of the material” – there’s the door, assholes. Don’t let it hit y’all on the ass on the way out of it.
“The purity of the material” is as mythical as Superman himself… a dude who was created by a pair of Jewish teenagers to do the things they never could.
Speaking as a creator of such media, a creator who takes his work as a sort of sacred charge, I know that the material is a JOB, not an eternal statement of fundamentalist, exclusive truth.
Our work inspires people, and I love that. I feel humbled and honored that so many people find something real in the fictions I create.

And I feel deeply offended that some folks believe that only they have the right to create and enjoy and perpetrate such media. That with terms and logic straight out of

Mein Kampf and other racist nonsense, they defend the things we create while they wave the banner of “the (white) purity of the material.”
Bullpen 2There’s nothing pure about what we do, kiddies. It’s sweat-work in a rough and often unforgiving field. The fact that we occasionally manage to make characters and tell stories that resonate with people on anything beyond a superficial thrill is a bonus perk of that job.

How dare someone – anyone – feel that resonance belongs only to them?


Motherfuckers, I create this stuff and it doesn’t even belong to us. Once released, it belongs to the audience; our names and visions and sweat helped shape it, but the art that makes such things immortal (or at least enjoyable) comes from the connection between the creators’ vision and the audience’s desires.
It belongs to whomever loves it. To whomever it speaks to.
Do not ever, EVER, try to defend selfish, ignorant bigotries in the name of the creators and their work.
‘Cause I’m one of those creators, and most of my friends are creators, anyone who wants to speak hate with ours names attached can go straight to hell.

About Satyr

Award-winning fantasy author, game-designer, and all 'round creative malcontent. Creator of a whole bunch of stuff, most notably the series Mage: The Ascension, Deliria: Faerie Tales for a New Millennium, and Powerchords: Music, Magic & Urban Fantasy. Lives in Seattle. Hates shoes. Loves cats. Dances a lot.
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