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2 Mar, 2020 12:39

Netflix’s ‘Altered Carbon’ was improved by talent, and to say it’s all about woke politics is an insult to that talent

Netflix’s ‘Altered Carbon’ was improved by talent, and to say it’s all about woke politics is an insult to that talent

The second season of Netflix series ‘Altered Carbon’ seems to have received an upgrade in quality from season one. But to claim it’s all about diversity is to downplay the talent of the creators.

Shake ups between seasons of a television show aren’t too uncommon. New episode directors come in, old writers move on, and so on. The same can be said of many mediums; I know that from my work on multiple projects in the independent comic book world. There are always team changes, new contracts, and new talent. One thing that can be endlessly frustrating is when the talent of the people putting in the work is downplayed in favor of their identity.

Devon Maloney, writing for Wired.com, alleges that a behind-the-scenes change adding new writers who aren’t white men is part of what makes the second season of ‘Altered Carbon’ “more radical.” Showrunner Alison Schapker says it happened purely by chance, though. If that’s the case, why even mention it? What’s the relevance here? Is there some sort of idea that it improves the work? There’s also several mentions of the gender or sexuality of key characters, and the lack of violence against female characters. I ask again, how is this relevant? Does this indicate quality?

In a word, no. I’d argue that it’s completely irrelevant, and lazily categorizes creators and what they create. There does not exist a checklist or standard created by critics that they need to follow in order to create quality fiction. There’s no evidence that being of a certain skin color or gender makes a difference with regards to how characters are handled. This idea that someone cannot have a fictional (as in, not real) character have terrible things happen to them in a story if they happen to have a set of ovaries is stupid. 

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Talent, skill, and care are what brings about quality. Denoting people with terms such as ‘white male’, ‘Latino male’, or ‘black woman’ or what have you, insults the creator. Of the comic books that I’m writing right now, every single artist I am working with is Latino. That’s not by design. I wanted to work with passionate people who love telling a good story, so that’s who I hired. The way Alison Schapker frames it, that’s what they did for the second season of ‘Altered Carbon’. With ‘Altered Carbon’, you insult the talent of the writers and directors who work hard to bring a vision to the screen. You insult the acting talents of Anthony Mackie by just categorizing him as ‘a black man’.

Ultimately, people are not simply their melanin. Every single artist on planet Earth should not be judged by what skin tone they have, who they have sex with, or what pronoun they prefer. They should be judged by the quality of their work. John and Jane Q. Public largely couldn’t care less about those backgrounds. The world is not 1957 Alabama. The talents of people of all backgrounds have been appreciated for decades. Rob Halford and Elton John are gay men who became musical icons. Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman are cinema icons who are also black. Comic books have writers like Christopher Priest and Greg Pak, people of color who have carved out their own legends. 

These are not ‘black man’, or ‘Asian woman’, or ‘gay man’. They are artists. Stop disrespecting them and judge them by their art.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.