Eschew Claytons Diversity A Blast from the past by Kate Paulk from July 19, 2018

Okay, first I need to explain that title to all the non-Aussies out there. Some number of years ago, there was a saturation-level advertising campaign for a brand of soft drink packaged and sold as “the drink you have when you’re not having a drink” – and the brand name was Claytons. It took approximately 5 nanoseconds for the term “Claytons” to be used as shorthand for something that claimed to be a thing but was actually something else, usually something inferior. Jokes got made about Claytons budgets (the budget you have when you’re not having a budget), Claytons recessions (the recession you have when you’re not having a recession) and so on.

Which, of course, brings me to the current batch of diversity you have when you’re not having diversity, largely because I read some incoherent flailing about Dragoncon and a diversity track and in my testing career I see a fair amount of well-meaning discussion about needing more diversity… Except that a lot of the time “diversity” is used to mean “different skin tones but must have right-think” (which should really be left-think, given the political leanings of those commenting in that direction). Somehow diversity of experience and diversity of beliefs rarely if ever rates a mention.

Now in my view, interacting with people who have different experiences, different perspectives, and even different beliefs than me is something that helps to enrich my world-building and character development. If I can work and empathize with someone whose worldview is damn near antithetical to mine, I can understand that worldview well enough to write a character with similar beliefs.

If, on the other claw, I’m surrounded by people who share my basic perspective, any character I try to write who has a different worldview is going to be flat. Substandard. Claytons, as it were. And a gathering of people of every possible shade of human skin color or every possible flavor of sexuality is still going to be completely Claytons diverse if all of them have the same notions of how things should be.

Of course, the people who are most caught by the trap of appearance/declared sexuality = ideology are those who are most prone to view other people as defined by whatever group they happen to belong to. It’s a normal human trait to use obvious distinguishing marks to make a snap judgment on whether someone else is us or them, but that doesn’t mean that every them is the same as every other them.

Take the Mad Geniuses. We’re Odds. We don’t fit in. But every last one of us fails to fit in in a different way than every other one of us. Most of us don’t – that I know of – make the mistake of thinking that a defining trait makes every member of a group the same. To take a really obvious example, if you look at people with blond hair, you see a whole lot of differences. Tall, short, thin, fat, smart, stupid, and every other possible variant. Why in heck should that change because instead of blond hair you’re looking at very dark tightly curled hair? And so it goes.

People who insist that heretical badthink thoughts aren’t worthy of being included in diversity groupings are settling for Claytons diversity. They need to relax. And have a (not Claytons) drink.

(For the curious, here’s one of the ads…)

22 comments

  1. “Claytons Diversity” is People of different “groups” singing the same tune (likely badly). 😉

  2. It even ruins villains — there are a lot of folks who can’t seem to get the idea of a really scary, evil character, they just have buckets of blood and no clear connection to the conflict.

    Say, one of those interchangable police shows had a girl who was honor killed; she was dating a Muslim immigrant, his family objected, they were obviously physically intimate, so obviously it was… she was killed by her father the observant Catholic because she might convert.
    …Wait, what?

      1. Obviously, it can’t be a Muslim killer and “everybody knows those Catholics are evil”. [Sarcastic Grin]

      2. I know, right?

        The sucky thing is the only foreshadowing they did was that her dad didn’t approve of the guy. (Um, duh.)

        We here could probably come up with a half-dozen different options that weren’t insanely stupid and would fit in the half-hour after commercials format– say, the dad killed her because he’s in organized crime, and he was upset about her dating the guy because his group is framing immigrants for their stuff.

        Or again with organized crime, she was going to go state’s evidence.

        Freaking something besides “oh, yeah, honor killings– that’s like, totally a thing in Christianity! Also, once you’ve decided to convert away it DOESN’T instantly take effect, you need a different ceremony!”

      1. They know. It’s because they are offering stuff that is much too good for us. Astounding that they can keep it up so long.

    1. Well, you could do that in a society where you’d established that the modern Christian culture had been strongly influenced by a modern Islamic culture.

        1. Ooh, that’d work even in a modern one, if it was a “saving face” and not “saving her soul” type motive claimed– “Because it makes me look bad” is at least fairly universal.

      1. Only if it was also established that your state of grace was ceremony-based, not behavior (out of wedlock sex) and faith (she’d decided to convert) based.

        1. Thing is, a ‘Christianity’ that absorbed, say, Arab Islamic teachings on apostasy is probably theologically unorthodox enough to go with ceremony based grace.

          And the honor killing might be more about social standing and control than about rigorous theology.

          We have a couple of interesting stresses in our society. a) this stuff with feminism b) this stuff with mixing in the third world so haphazardly.

          As an alternate world building sort, I think that a future where first world nominal Christians had absorbed third world values to the point that the clergymen with sound theology are preaching at them about not doing that stuff sounds interesting.

          Of course, I do not for a moment believe that the writers established such as setting, and am not at all persuaded that it has happened yet. I’m not even convinced that it is a plausible could happen.

          1. Historically it’s been a thing to kill heretics due to it being a threat to the entire social structure– step one in rebellion was to declare the king a heretic, basically, which meant that the guys who suddenly had novel and binding theology were telegraphing their next move. (Highly simplified, because People.)

            It still runs into the issue that once you change Christianity to that point, it really isn’t Christianity any more– like editing out all violence from the Bible or something, there’s just too big a hole.

      1. Haha ha ha!

        But yeah, at least she wasn’t dating a Baptist. There’s a lot of family conflict over kids getting married to someone from a different denomination or religion but it usually meant not speaking to them. Now it might be doing your best to bully them into letting you take your grandkids to your church.

        But when was killing them for it ever a thing? The dead can’t repent. The prodigal son can’t come home if he’s dried up bones.

        1. Utah branch Mormans like to talk about it being legal in the state of Missouri to kill them. I have heard that the Missouri branch Mormans tell a different tale.

          There’s the suppression of the Cathars, for one.

          1. The Cathars held that adherents were absolved from all oaths.

            This in a feudal society.

            Tell me, how severely would a cult be suppressed in modern United States if it preaches — and practiced — that joining it meant that every contract you signed was null and void?

            1. Didn’t the Cathars also protect violent bandits like the routiers, and preach that life was so awful that the only moral course was to starve yourself to death?

              I will never get why some people talk about how ‘life-affirming’ they were.

              1. They preferred fornication to marriage. To be sure, that was because marriage didn’t prevent it form being a sin, so it was to be furtive and unrecognized.

  3. Really simple things can really mess up fiction (or movies). One of my favorite examples (though in a bad way) is what some authors do to the military. They need some random automaton minions and they populate their otherwise lively and thoughtful story with little stick men.

    Dare I say that it “sticks out” when someone does that?

    Maybe they should hire sensitivity readers to read their stuff and check their stick-men for pulses or signs of life.

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