Obscured inspirations and topics

It’s been said that when it comes to the X-Men, for all its anti-prejudice message, has a history of fumbling a lot when it comes to nonwhite characters. Characters like John Proudstar and Dust are stereotypical, Elizabeth Braddock being bodyswapped with a Japanese woman to get ninja skills (until recently when it got undone) and that Dazzler was going to be black as she was based on Grace Jones. Grace Jones was certainly a big name celebrity in her time, but Dazzler got racially whitewashed half-way.

Comes to think of it, this kind of tampering might not be unique to superhero stories as this also affects other kinds of stories. In the case with romance novels, there could’ve been romance stories that tackled abortion, getting one’s tubes tied, miscarriage, STDs and the like with a likely number of romance novel heroes being based off of somebody else. Somebody who doesn’t fit the romance hero mold, so there’s a good (and weird) chance that one romance hero may’ve been based off of somebody like Nick Rhodes. He may not have a great body, but he and his band Duran Duran were pretty popular in the 1980s with girls having crushes on them.

So it’s likely some romance novelists and readers grew up with Duran Duran, though it could be said that one’s preferences change over time. But for others, there’s bound to be those whose preferences aren’t beholden to the stereotypical norm. There are even romance readers and possibly romance novelists who’re turned off by muscles, that their own romance heroes were at some point not the typical romance novel hero. They could’ve been thin or chubby, they could even be middle class or working class.

Romance novels might be changing for the better, but the fact that muscular rich men are very popular stereotypes remain. Same goes for bad boys, while not all romance novels have them as heroes, it’s likely some novelists are pressured to keep writing these kinds of characters even if they’re not really interested in or attracted to them as they would in real life. I also think there are romance novelists who likely have less stereotypical Latin or Arab heroes, less stereotypical in the sense that they’re not rich sheikhs or Latin Lovers.

Even if these characters may have at some point more closely resembled what other Latin or Arab men are actually like, they got changed halfway to meet editorial and sales expectations. This could’ve been to the chagrin of novelists who either go against the grain or create characters based on the people they know so well that we never get an opportunity to read them as they actually were. Or rather were going to be, since other than any possible surviving draft we don’t get to see them as what their authors intended them to be.

Thus these characters get rewritten in the interim to meet romance expectations, that’s to fulfill a stereotype. While the Duran Duran example is only hypothetical, it does make you wonder why there isn’t more room for romance heroes who’re openly based on what some romance novelists are actually into or inspired by. Likewise for Arab and Mediterranean men, there could’ve been stories where these characters differed greatly from the stereotypical depiction but were made into stereotypes halfway.

There could’ve been romance novels that tackled the topic of infertility and to some extent, they already have but when it comes to meeting market and editorial expectations authorial desires are compromised or altered to meet such demands.

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