Maybe a year or so ago I came across something that really put my frustration about how diversity in books is critiqued into words.
I’ve noticed that people see ‘default’ characters and anything that diverges from that ‘default’ needs to be plot relevant, plot-driving or defend why they have to be there.
I’ll give a quick example. I was reading a webcomic and a lot of people in the comment section kept asking ‘Why is the MC crossed eyed?’, ‘I don’t get why his eyes are like that if it has nothing to do with the plot?’ e.t.c.
Apparently ‘The M.C. is crossed eyed because he’s crossed eyed.’ is not enough of an explanation. And it I personally think it should be enough of an explanation. People in real life have crossed eyes. Being crossed eyed doesn’t need need to be plot relevant.
Do you think this idea that people have an unconscious idea of what the default person/character should be has truth in it?
Have you ever had a similar critique of a work? Have you asked why an MC is POC when you wouldn’t ask the same thing about a white character? Have you asked why a character is gay when you don’t ask the same question about straight characters?
Why did you think those identities needed plot relevance?
Do you think this unconscious bias is the reason people shy away from creating more diverse fiction? (Thinking a character with a ‘non-default’ identity needs their identity to play a role in the plot, hence complicating the plot.)