There’s a line in David Bowie’s 1980 song “Fashion” that encapsulates the very idea of trends, fashions, and other arbitrarily decided modes of behavior:
“They do it over there, but we don’t do it here.”
That’s the essence of fashion in one sentence.
Fashion is a form of tribalism. People want to differentiate themselves from those people “over there,” and one way to do this is to invent new mannerisms, words, customs, and mindsets that only your special clique can participate in.
This isn’t for everybody to join in on. Fashion is exclusive.
Aristocrats and nobles had elaborate table manners to separate themselves from the hoi polloi–think hard-to-learn etiquette about things as trivial as how to eat a tomato. Different racial groups create lingo to freeze out groups they despite–think hip-hop culture and black slang and it’s general disdain for white boys.
And think in terms of identity politics broadly and how it’s used to create powerful cliques in various industries, including the publishing world.
I am, of course, referring to the case of Amélie Wen Zhao, an author who’s forthcoming Young Adult fantasy novel was deemed “problematic” by screeching SJWs because it involved slavery. Never mind the fact that Zhao’s novel depicted slavery as the unmitigated evil it is. Slavery is bad, and bad means the book and it’s author are evil. And never mind that slavery had been depicted in many works of fiction.
But these are SJWs we’re talking about. They are impervious to facts when they counter their preconceived narratives. So Zhao pulled her book from publication.
Friend of the blog Rawle Nyanzi describes the matter excellently here, particularly how it relates to which circles an author decides to travel in. And as another friend of the blog Benjamin Cheah points out here, Zhao was herself a virtue-signaling, identity politicking, leftist SJW herself.
And she got eaten by her own.
That’s the trouble with fashion and following trends. SJWs in fiction want to differentiate themselves from those icky people over there who might not have adequate representation in their works, actually write people of different skin colors or cultures than themselves, or–gasp!–vote differently. In trying to out-woke each other, the set of overlapping rules grows thicker and higher and more contradictory until nobody is safe.
Worse, the woke like to use their wokeness as a shield. We see this with the Democrat governor of Virginia using his party affiliation to beat back very credible charges of past racist behavior.
Live by the identity politics sword . . .
At least with the case of Ms. Zhao, we see SJWs being consistent and not applying a double standard.
I sincerely hope Ms. Zhao wakes up and realizes that the SJWs in publishing are not her friend and that independent authors like the PulpRev crew are. If this won’t wake her or anyone else up to the dangers of following fashion for personal gain, nothing will.
As Bowie deliberately implies in the chorus to “Fashion,” the word “fashion” is dangerously close in sound and meaning to the word “fascist.”