I’ve been meaning to recommend the channel Just Write for a while now, but this video from last week catapulted the idea back into my mind. One third of my posts to this blog are art criticism, because Fridays are book review days.
I’m not sure I’ve ever used the phrase “objectively bad” in one of my reviews, but it’s possible. (Honestly, I’m not going to search all of them for it.) I have strong opinions on what’s bad in a book, and what’s good, but watching this made me consider what my biases are.
I managed to come up with a few that I don’t think most people would argue with:
- Pedophilia = bad, when portrayed with anything other than condemnation.
- Same goes for rape.
After that, though, my grounds for what constitutes good/bad become hazier. Sure, I decry racism when I find it, but I also recognize that being white, with my raising and background, I’m simply not going to see things the way a person of color would–I can point to obvious racism and racial bias in a lot of the work I read, but I know a lot of it escapes me as well.
By the same token, I take a book to task for any obvious misogyny or anti-feminist rhetoric, but I’m not going necessarily going to spot the same things a woman of color would, because I’m in the process of moving away from White Feminism™ to a more intersectional viewpoint.
Getting more specific, I abhor anything that romanticizes abusive behavior (toward anyone, but especially women,) yet what do I find in my own beloved romance genre? “Heroes” who are stalkers, manipulators, abusers, and somehow readers still love them. Do I think they’re “objectively bad?” Absolutely.
But that’s still just a bias.
There’s more, of course–anyone who’s been reading my reviews for long enough could probably list a half dozen on top of these–but to circle back to my original point, Just Write has a lot of thought-provoking videos like this one to get you thinking about writing from different angles and thinking critically not only about the craft, but about yourself and how you approach it.