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Crime, Paranormal, and Horror Writing

The Red Shirt Effect

I do enjoy watching rather off-centre films particularly the sci-fi post-apocalyptic ones which are on offer on Netflix – I am also quite partial to the small budget, independent ones. They all have something to offer even if they are hated on ‘Rotten Tomatoes’. However, the last two films I watched, I noticed a slightly unnerving pattern occurring.

The colonies under attack were both led by elderly but physically strong, black men who mentored a younger, more attractive (white) male. In each case this proved disastrous as the elderly leader died protecting the colony and the younger male took his place. To be an elderly black male in these films seemed to be a death warrant with the life expectancy of s red shirt in a Star Trek expedition or as I call it the ‘Red Shirt Effect.’

Has anyone else noticed this trend?

I think while it’s great to have more ethnic diversity in films and books, the characters need to be real and natural.

I came up against this problem in my latest book ‘Welcome To Witherleigh.’ set in deepest darkest Devon where even people from the next village were regarded suspiciously as ‘bad’uns’, foreigners or even witches and this is set in modern times and based on a real village.

There seemed little chance of injecting ethnic diversity into my story, just no characters would naturally arrive in my story.

Fortunately, I then met Clem So at a Comicon.

He is the archetypal elderly Chinese baddie with long white hair who has been featured in many sci-fi films including Star Wars and Dr Who. Instantly a cameo character formed around him and the next day he was in my book, dropping quite a big story plot hint and hopefully being a completely real character who certainly does not die a wasteful, heroic death – you just do not want to get him angry as he is wielding a meat cleaver but then I am writing paranormal horror…. but hopefully realistic paranormal horror.

About P.J. Reed-

P.J. Reed is a writer of Warlocks and other Magical Creatures

‘Defiance’ the first instalment of The Torcian Chronicles, her dark fantasy adventure series is available in all good bookshops.

“Anyone who enjoyed The Lord of the Rings and all things magic will certainly enjoy The Torcia Chronicles: Defiance. Torcia, a peace-loving nation is under threat from the Mivirian hordes intent on the total destruction of Torcia and its people” H.E. Joyce

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