In the past few years, many people have believed that most of the media (games, movies, books, etc) that were coming out were plagued with what was referred to as “Forced diversity” or “woke agenda”! Which implied the idea of characters of non-white, non-male varieties being shoe-honed into a story. That, if the character wasn’t superbly written to justify their inclusion, they were nothing more but a checklist for diversity that needed to be ticked off! I realized that this was a very flawed way of looking at this phenomenon. Yeah, woke agenda does exist but most of you have your views warped in what really is woke agenda!
Now, in this blog, I am only focusing on original characters, not characters that have been blackwashed. I have my own stance when it comes to blackwashed characters which you can read here. Today, I would like to address this ongoing discussion that any characters that are non-white, non-male that show up in any story is “forced diversity”, and that the only way to prove to the masses that they are not forced, to be written in such a stellar fashion that it curbs all doubts. Placing such a high level of expectation and requirement on a character of a non-white, non-male origin seems a tad bit toxic, as we don’t ever do that with white male characters of different ethnic backgrounds.
As in, if a character who is white but of French background in an all-American cast ends up being poorly written, no one ever yells “FORCED DIVERSITY”, most just say “that’s a shitty written character and just move on. However, if the French guy was Black, not only will there also be the usual and fair criticism of being a shitty character, now on top of that, they’re being unfairly labeled as a “forced addition to the cast for diversity sake”! The notion of forced diversity has gotten so broad that now it’s used to gatekeep characters out of any media unless they are beyond perfection in writing. Sounds familiar right? If not, then I’ll explain. This is how most people of non-white background feel in order to succeed in a workplace, we gotta put in twice the work for the same results.
I’m not saying that I want mediocre written characters, but if the character is original in origin, then this idea of “forced diversity” should not exist in the discussion. A prime example of this was with the new Buzz Lightyear movie! The trailer itself was harmless, but when you go to the comment section of that video, most people had words for some of the Black characters on the screen, despite them just possibly siding characters. Their mere presence in the film bothered a lot of people, to the point of saying this is forced diversity at work again. What people fail to account for is that most modern studios in any media have employees that range from their mid 20’s to 40’s on average, with some backgrounds having post-secondary education.
It goes without saying that urban, younger people with post-secondary education tend to lean more on the progressive side, with most studios being in cities, which are fairly multicultural. As a result, it’s natural that people are making media that are more diverse, as these people would naturally be interested in bringing more diversity into their games and movie. A reflection of changing times. In fact, if there’s any sort of forced anything, it would come from the higher-ups, who would be encouraging “forced conformity”! As in, “DO NOT STRAY AWARE FROM THE OLD AND NORM!”
Not just the higher-ups too, the marketing teams, research and departs, there’s a lot of conformities that happen behind the scenes! The idea that diversity has been forced seems absurd in reality. The fact that you’re seeing more non-white and female characters show up in gaming, books, and movies is because times have changed. If you think I’m lying, here are examples of when studios wanted to create new and diverse characters, years before “forced diversity” became a buzzword, and were shut down because “money talked louder”:
For the development of Fable 2, Peter asked the team to double down on the more progressive elements of Fable 1, spurred on by some of the negative reaction from those upset with the kinds of things you could do in the game.
Lionhead received death threats because it had a gay character and two of the leading heroes were black. One message read: “I can’t believe you would put a faggot in the game.” A German magazine wrote a damning preview of Fable in which it accused Peter Molyneux of being “the man who thinks he’s god”, and called McCormack and other artists satanists. Mums from the Bible belt would write to the studio complaining that their eight-year-old had been exposed to homosexuality.
“We were like, the game’s not for eight-year-olds,” John McCormack says. “It’s a mature-rated game. So it’s not really our problem. It’s yours. And, I hope you rot in hell.
“With Fable 2 we were like, right, gay marriage, lesbianism, fuck you. We revelled in it.”
John McCormack remembers butting heads with Microsoft’s marketing department over Fable.
“They were going, you can’t have a black person on the cover, and you can’t have a woman. And you want a black woman. And I was like, yes, I do, because it’s about be whatever hero you want. No. It’s a white guy. That’s just the way it is. We know what sells and that’s fucking it. Stop the arguing. I was like, fuck you! That was a huge fight.”
“They said, what’s the most unsuccessful Disney film? I was like, I don’t know. They went, Princess and the Frog. Work it out. I was like fuck you, man. I hated it.”
“I was screaming at them in conference calls. I lost it at that point, because they just weren’t getting the game. Especially because we were the first ever game that had gay marriage, we were about breaking down walls. It was meant to be funny and mature. They just took none of it and just did the usual white guy with a sword on the front. Damn it! You missed the point!”Eurogamer
And here’s a recent one that should explain why every Assassin’s creed had multiple options for gender and never just one that’s female-only:
For the next game, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, an early outline of the script gave equal screen time to the twin protagonists, Jacob and Evie, according to three people who worked on the project. In the end, Jacob dominated the game. Assassin’s Creed Origins, released in 2017, was originally going to injure or kill off its male hero, Bayek, early in the story and give the player control of his wife, Aya, according to two people who worked on it. But Aya’s role gradually shrank over the course of development and Bayek became the leading figure.
Development of 2018’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey went much the same way. The game tells the story of siblings Kassandra and Alexios. The team originally proposed making the sister the only playable character, according to four people who worked on the game, until they were told that wasn’t an option. The final product gives players a choice between the two characters.
All of the directives came from Ubisoft’s marketing department or from Hascoët, both of whom suggested female protagonists wouldn’t sell, the developers say.Bloomberg
And there are hundreds of examples like this where studios want to create their vision but get shut down because the money talked was louder than their ambition. So to conclude, there’s no such thing as forced diversity, it has never existed, but has become nothing more than a rallying cry to frighten people into believing that the “white men are been erased from fiction”! And unfortunately, we all fell for it!