Books are now the target of “cancel culture”

My Turn: What 'I'm not politically correct!' really meansI’ve talked previously about “revisionist history” and the whole changing the world outlook from the “PC” police. It’s not a good sign when everything is wrong in movies, television, and now books. In an article published on July 3 in the Washington Post, While offensive TV shows get pulled, problematic books are still inspiring debate and conversation, book critic Ron Charles said…

“The great reckoning now sweeping across pop culture has been working through the stacks of literature for far longer. The effects of time are twofold: Most books have fallen into dust, along with the racist values they imbibed. And those few texts that survive have been subjected to rigorous — and ongoing — debate.”

So now its books. Books! Are we going to have a good ole book burning, like we saw at Nazi rallies or even in movies like Footloose, where religious zealots burned books like Fahrenheit 451 because of its content. In the article, Charles mentioned books like Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  and Shakespeare’s Othello as examples of racist language not fit for today’s society. Oh course it’s not, but that’s not the point.

As I’ve said before, I’m all for racial equality across the boards. That’s been my mantra for my entire life, and I lived through the 60’s and 70’s in the South. But I draw the line at banning books. Free speech is free speech. It is an essential part of our life as American citizens. I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it with every fiber of my being. That said, I draw the line at book banning or censorship of any kind.

Books are the reflection of our life in this world. The stories of every generation can be found in the books written at that time. Yes, they can be crass, profane, and definitely not politically correct by today’s standards, but they are a reflection of the time they were written in. Books are the chronology of our life written by the authors of the time.  When you read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Huckleberry Finn, The Invisible Man, and other novels, you see the progression of our country through the racial divides. It speaks to the power of literature.

OUR DEFINITIONS OF UNPOLITICALLY CORRECT & POLITICALLY CORRECT ...

“Under the best circumstances, that’s the enriching conversation that literature can inspire: the alchemy that transmutes authors’ moral and artistic flaws into insight and understanding. I don’t mean to suggest that we’re under any super-sophisticated obligation to tolerate plainly racist books. But if cancel culture has a weakness, it’s that it risks short-circuiting the process of critical engagement that leads to our enlightenment.” ~ Ron Charles, the Washington Post

That’s the rub. If we start going after everything one group of people consider offensive (i.e. Gone with the Wind), then where does it stop? What purpose does it have if we “cancel” these novels and no longer discuss or engage in dialogue along these lines? Silence… Nothing but silence. Books allow us to have these constant discussions on race, culture, and society as a whole. It’s what helps us progress and move forward, not backwards.

Take The Great Gatsby for example. In this one novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald lays out everything from race relations to capitalism, alcoholism and class warfare. It is a model of society in that era, the wrong and the right, and opens the door to discuss what changes we could make in our world. This one novel opens up a wide range of discussion on many different topics. To get rid of it would be a great loss to us all.

Are there offensive books out there? Absolutely. There are many that I find offensive and would never read myself, but I’m just one person. We can’t let one person, or one group, dictate to the rest of us what we can or cannot read. Then, we start treading into fascism and communism, one government  rule, and then the next thing to go is our freedom. I don’t want to live like that, do you?

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

This isn’t your grandfather’s Disney anymore

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney

There’s an old saying about how “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” right? I think that’s true in some instances, like sports. You always see the same teams near or at the top year after year. It’s very rare when someone new gets in, which makes New England Patriots fans very happy.

However, the same can’t be said of Disney. What was once the home of Mickey Mouse and friends, the Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night, the Mickey Mouse Club, and the most “kid-friendly” animated movies out there has gone “PC” and become a powerhouse in the entertainment industry. Disney now controls the biggest genres imaginable (i.e. ABC, ESPN, Star Wars, Marvel, etc.) and its growing nonstop.

I know some of you are shaking your head and asking yourself, “okay, so what?” Well, hear me out. Disney has gone politically correct in nearly everything it does. I don’t see it as the same company that Walt Disney imagined all those years ago. Yes, they do strive for a “family friendly” environment in its shows and parks, but it’s also walking that fine line of being in step with today’s progressive ideology in what it does, but should they?

Let’s be honest… How can a company complain about laws in Georgia affecting their television and film production while, at the same time, trying to build a new Disney park in Saudi Arabia, one of the strictest countries in the world? That’s not only hypocritical, it’s wading into partisan politics.

I always strive to stay out of politics, in my books, my social media, and here on my blog. In my opinion, unless you specifically write about politics, you should avoid talking about it as you can alienate half of your fan base. Disney, and other media companies, as well as actors, musicians and other artists, should avoid politics as it could (in the long run) hurt them. Some use that platform as a stage to support certain causes, which is fine, but there is risk involved in doing so.

Take Dolly Parton, for example, a mainstay of the entertainment industry. In an interview with ABC News, she said, “I learned a long time ago to keep your damn mouth shut if you want to stay in show business.” She has succeeded in what she does because of that, because she wants to make people happy, with her music, her acting, and at her amusement park, not lecture them on how to think or what side to take in a political argument.

I miss the days when Disney meant family-friendly shows, devoid of political undertones or progressive messaging. I realize that Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck might not have the influence over kids today like Sponge Bob or Ricky and Morty have, but maybe they should. Disney needs to get back and focus on that which sparks a child’s imagination.

I became a fantasy writer because of the adventures Disney took me on as a child. From battling dragons in Sleeping Beauty or fighting evil in The Black Cauldron to flying through space with The Black Hole and deep under the ocean in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This journey into the fantastic and unimaginable is what made Disney what it is today… Disney means fantasy.

Walt Disney said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” That should be the mantra for Disney. Maybe bringing back the Wonderful World of Disney would bring about a healthier, less aggressive, atmosphere in the world today. Maybe that’s what we’re missing.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Stop fussing over Doctor Who becoming a woman, you’re embarrassing geeks everywhere!

jodie-dwSo much has happened in the world of science fiction and fantasy this weekend, I don’t know where to begin. D23 brought us great new updates on Star War: The Last Jedi and Avengers: Infinity War; Game of Thrones, Season 7, premiered with murder, mayhem and dragons; and the late, great actor Martin Landeau passed away. All that has been overshadowed by the announcement from the BBC that actress Jodie Whittaker has been cast as the 13th Doctor on the long-running sci-fi TV series Doctor Who.

Whittaker is the first woman to play the Timelord from Gallifrey and the fans reaction has been mixed. Some see it as a great step forward, having a woman finally play this iconic role, while others have condemned it as further example of the world over-compensating it’s political correctness. I say, GROW THE F#%K UP PEOPLE!

I am not the most “PC” person in the world. I didn’t like the way Marvel took a number of original characters and made them women, like Thor, but after I read the stories, I understood the change and accepted it. That’s the heart of Doctor Who … It’s great characters and amazingly written stories. This is a new direction for the show as Steven Moffat leaves and Chris Chibnall takes the helm.

When the Doctor’s nemesis, The Master, became a woman and terrorized the world as Missy, we all loved it. Everyone embraced this new take on a classic Doctor Who villain, and today, those same people are crying fowl with the casting of Jodie Whittaker. You’re all a bunch of hypocrites!

I, for one, can’t wait to see how she interacts with characters like Captain Jack and River Song. It brings a new dynamic that we’ve never seen in the Doctor before. Even former Doctors’ like Colin Baker have given their approval of her casting. You forget, this is a woman who has worked with many previous Doctors’ and their companions like David Tenant, Arthur Darvill, Christopher Eccleston, and others.

Let’s stop all this petty “BS” and quit judging a show’s direction until they actually produce their first episodes. I think Jodie will bring in new fans to Doctor Who and she’s excited for the role. Jodie said, “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey — with Chris and every Whovian on the planet. It’s more than an honor to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for:  Hope. I can’t wait.”

Neither can we, Jodie! Neither can we!

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

Stop the PC madness and start saying Merry Christmas again!

A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas

First and foremost, this post is not for those of you who are so politically correct in your life you won’t read “To Kill a Mockingbird” because of its colorful language, wave the American flag because it might offend somebody or say the Pledge of Allegiance because of the words “Under God.” I am not PC and never will be. We have lost our identity as Americans due to political correctness and I for one am sick of it.

But the most PC thing I hate is people not being allowed to say Merry Christmas. In every corporate press release over the past few years, everyone from Starbucks to Target said they will no longer say “Merry Christmas” to its patrons so as not to offend anyone. Why? What’s offensive about Merry Christmas?

It’s a cordial greeting between people to celebrate the festive time of year. It’s not a declaration of war, slang or a swear word. If I went into a Jewish Deli, ordered a pastrami on rye and the cashier said “Happy Hannukah” to me, I wouldn’t be offended or upset. The same with “Happy Kwanza” or “Merry Winster Solstice” either. These are terms of affection by people who want to be a little bit kinder and spread some good feelings of the holiday with it.

Every Christmas, you’ll find one more school that doesn’t allow Santa Claus to be seen anywhere in the classroom or allow candy canes to be passed out because of their religious basis. Have we become a society where we let every little thing offend us? It’s beyond ridiculous how people go out of their way not to be offensive with things that would never be considered offensive in normal society.

I don’t mean to get political here, but I hear from many of my liberal friends and family how we should emulate Europe more in education, social practices, etc. Really? In Europe, they have CHRISTMAS markets and CHRISTMAS displays with the Nativity and Santa EVERYWHERE without any worry of being sued. In Europe, schools sing CHRISTMAS carols and put on CHRISTMAS pageants, with the Three Wise Men and Baby Jesus.

As a writer, I love the old TV specials and cartoons about Christmas because they are so open and frank about the love, the joy and the spirit of the holiday with no apologies necessary. It’s why I love to write. I want to be as frank and open with my imagination within my novels. That’s why “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will never get old to me. Linus speech about the true meaning of Christmas is so touching and so powerful that it resonates with me even today.

So if someone says “Happy Holidays” to you as you pick up your Peppermint Mocha Latte, wish them a Merry Christmas. It’ll brighten your day and maybe theirs too. Merry Christmas!

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.