Fiction doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Butcher actively erases millions of POC (not just black people) in his books & presents a common racist & classist mindset about the area around the University of Chicago. Is Hyde Park a crime free utopia? No. But there is no crime free utopia any place where there is more than one human. Hyde Park is also not “a bizarre blend of the worst a large city had to offer marching side by side with the erudite academia of the University of Chicago” nor are there gang flags flying from apartment windows. Also, since he moved it to Lincoln Park (which houses a completely different university btw & is on the North Side) let’s be clear that when we play “The North Side is safer than The South Side of Chicago” routine that’s another bit of racist classist claptrap that Butcher is using in his work without actually confronting why he’s using it. I wouldn’t expect him to get the nuances right, but one of the hallmarks of good writing is quality research. Butcher didn’t even do that & it shows. Deciding to employ the same old dog whistle racism in his descriptions of the city isn’t going to endear him to a lot of people and whether he likes it or not some of them are going to be angry. They are going to express it in ways that he doesn’t like & they aren’t going to pretend that he’s not displaying some ingrained racism & classism in his work. He’s been called out for this a few times & he just keeps upping the ante. In an industry that is wholly dependent on fans it is usually a bad idea to insult potential readers right off the bat. YMMV, but I won’t give aversive or overt racism a pass just because it’s fictionalized.
lol, craimoar. Guys. It’s FICTION. It’s a FICTIONAL CHICAGO. I mean, yes, I can understand being bothered by racism or people acting like your ACTUAL neighborhood is unsafe or whatever, but dude. FAIRIES. MAGIC. VAMPIRES. Did it ever occur to you that maybe he didn’t feel the need to make his FICTIONAL Chicago exactly match up to the REAL Chicago?
I have a universe set mostly in Chicago, with angels, magic, and interdimensional rips in the time-space continuum. Trust me, while it shares SOME similarities with Real Chicago, it is very much NOT. Grant Park is right across the street from the Conrad Hotel and very VERY large. Navy Pier is really not a safe place to be most of the time. Cicero is either the safest or most dangerous place you can be, based on who you ask.
Please, TRY to remember the difference between fiction and reality.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT? THIS DESCRIPTION SUCKS.
“Artemis Bock, proprietor of Chicago’s oldest occult shop, had been a fixture near Lincoln (FAFJKDSAF;FADJ;SADF) Park for years before I had ever moved to town. The neighborhood was a bizarre blend of the worst a large city had to offer marching side by side with the erudite academia of the University of Chicago. It wasn’t the kind of place I wanted to walk around after dark, […..] cheap apartments that were flying gang colors on the windows nearest the doors”
FUCK YOU, JIM BUTCHER. You have obviously never actually lived in Hyde Park. I bet you just walked around a little bit — maybe you walked along the edges of Washington Park, maybe you walked down 55th until you hit Cottage Grove. Did you walk along 53rd St and decide that this was “the worst a large city had to offer”? What made you think that?
Was it the Starbucks on the corner? Or the farmers market that happens every Thursday morning in the summer? The Aveda salon? Treasure Island, the expensive “European food market”?
Or was it the back door Latino club that sells empenadas and Latinoamericano magazines out of the back door every afternoon? The smoke shop with the cheap weaves on Styrofoam heads in the window? The crappy Mexican food shop that sells huge burritos for a buck? The 24 hour cheap grocery by the bus stop, where I bought my yogurt from because I couldn’t afford to shell out 5 dollars on fucking yogurt?
Was it the Black people, Jim Butcher? Did they make you feel unsafe?
You know, given my previous experience attempting to read Jim Butcher’s work, the above does not surprise me.
jim butcher should have just set the dresden files in milwaukee, since that’s the city he actually knows. that said, i lived in hyde park for six years (so i remember when the ~european food market~ replaced the never-stocked co-op grocery). when i finally moved out, it was because in the past few months, my car had been broken into twice, at least two women had been badly injured in muggings right outside my apartment complex gate (and it took my landlords almost a week to wash the blood off the concrete, which was SO much fun for my ptsd), i’d had a peeping tom and an attempted break-in at my bedroom window (not counting the bird that flew into my room after the landlord installed my a/c), the buzzer didn’t work, the gates didn’t lock, and the building was falling apart. so, um. it’s entirely possible to feel unsafe in hyde park without being a squeamish tourist who dipped a toe into 55th street.
Okay, as a New Yorker, who sees my city get sliced, diced, mixed, and then tossed out onto the page or scree in a configuration that in no way matches the city I spent the first 29 years of my life?
A Fictionalization of a city is not, and is probably not intended to be an exact match for the actual city.
I mean, in Ghost, did you see the apartment that Sam and whatserface had? Nobody could afford that in real life. And they got mugged in that yuppie wonderland by a black guy. If it was a real yuppie wonderland, the police would’ve been around to catch that guy for just walking around while being black — but then there would have been no movie.
In Seinfeld, they all drive around everywhere, and are constantly hanging out in that coffeeshop. It is cheaper and less sanity-inducing to ride the subway, and if you ride the subway, you’re gonna see mixes and matches of all people of all shapes, sizes, and colors. But realistically speaking, it is probably very difficult to get a film crew on a subway train, and it’s probably double hell for the foley and sound guys to get real train noises out of the track so you can hear the characters talking enough to make out what they’re saying. So the shortcut is to portray them as driving.
When somebody doesn’t mention people of color, it isn’t necessarily with malicious intent.
Sanya is a Knight of the Cross, one of the most heroic supporting characters in the series, and a good friend to Harry Dresden. He’s black. And Russian.
There are also at least two other black characters in the series — neither is a criminal, a drug lord, a pimp, or a prostitute. They’re both former police officers who continue to keep Chicago safe even though they no longer wear a badge.
So while it may be troublesome or dismaying to some people that Jim Butcher doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on people of color in his series — the ones who are there are all positive examples, and not falling into the ”the only people of color portrayed are criminals” habits of most media.