Last week, an ongoing controversy fired up yet again on Twitter. In one corner was S.E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders, among other books:
In the other corner? Half the internet. Okay, maybe not that many people, but it definitely seemed there were more people against the author than for her in the Twitterverse.
It all started when S.E. tweeted this:
Apparently, she feels she's dealing with regular criticism about the lack of diversity in her books.
Tired of this, she launched the first missile. The internet fired back. People took issue with the fact that she felt she was being attacked "for being heterosexual." As everyone fought, nobody seemed to take a step back and say...
"Why are we arguing over books that were published 40+ years ago?"
Unless I'm missing something, S.E. Hinton's last young adult novel was released in 1988. She released a couple of adult novels in 2004 and 2008. Yet her argument isn't that she seems to have misplaced her TIME MACHINE...
Instead, she's making a different kind of statement.
Okay, so let's assume (HOPE!) that she has a new book in the works so she's actually able to make a decision on this issue. Authors today know we should try to work diversity into our storylines. Many of today's children/teens have friends who aren't white. Who aren't heterosexual. It's important to introduce characters who aren't all white and heterosexual, even if it isn't an issue in the book itself.
In general, authors like S.E. Hinton have the power to introduce large audiences to the diversity of today's world. But S.E. Hinton doesn't feel qualified to tell those stories because she hasn't lived that life herself. She says she can only write what she knows...
But do you really need to know what a person has been through to diversify your fiction? What do you think?