Thursday, December 16, 2004

No more falsehoods or derisions

What happens when the fantasy genre and vintage 1960s liberal guilt collide? In the most irritating case, you get Ursula K. Le Guin's monotonous Earthsea series, the first book of which was assigned for the readings in one of my two English courses this term. I couldn't stand it. While I can appreciate writing from the perspective of consciously increasing racial diversity in a very white genre (and can accept that every author is an unwitting product of their era, to some extent), Le Guin's fictional affirmative action - as all such programs - goes overboard; the only caucasian inhabitants of her novels are the cruel barbarian Karg. Western civilization = bad; Indians, Blacks and Asians as noble savages endorsing faux-Zen hippie-dippery = good. It's an arrogant co-opting of racial issues to argue for an entirely colourblind (and rather depressingly amoral) worldview. I dislike preachy novels, especially when such preachiness is credentialed by being an anthropologist's daughter. (Not an anthropologist, mind you. Why bother taking an important-sounding subject in university if you can coast with such golden "progressive" cred on your father's coat-tails?) In any event, Le Guin sums up why she's disappointed and offended by the new TV adaptation of the Earthsea series by rehashing these points and more. I wasn't planning on watching it anyway, whenever Space should pick it up here in Canada, but if I accidentally happen to see ten minutes at least I can be satisfied in knowing that an author I find insufferable is unhappy I'm doing so. (Via TV Tattle.)


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