They say in Multiculturally Sensitive Writers’ School that it’s A Good Thing to go beyond generic raceless people who will default to generic white in the average reader’s mind. Instead, wherever possible, give your characters ethnicities, nationalities, etc., and think about how their upbringing as African-American, or Irish, or Lithuanian-Jewish, or whatever, has molded them. If you make the effort to develop your characters along these dimensions, your stories will be the better for them.
I was reminded of this principle tonight while watching Pontypool, Bruce McDonald’s B-movie about a winter zombie-like infestation of a small Ontario town. The movie isn’t merely set in Canada; it doesn’t just use Canadian winter as a backdrop to the isolation of its characters; Canadian bilingualism is essential to the plot.
OK, the acting is less than Oscar-quality, but how much interpretive nuance do you really need in a horror movie?
If your tax dollars helped subsidize this film, you can be proud.