Culture versus language

I meant to put this on my gamedev blog initially, but there's too much to unpack, and it pertains to writing in general much more than games. Over on Medium there's an amazing piece titled The Uncanny Valley of Culture, and we really need to talk about it. Here's just one little sample:

What we have here, in international critical responses to unapologetically Australian media, amounts to a punishment for us daring to write familiar, messy, authentic narratives. The cultural cringe comes from inside, but the real sources of it are the external, oppressive, and prescriptive forces of American storytelling tradition. Isn’t it messed up that when an American critic points at Necrobarista’s dialogue and says, “nobody talks like that,” when in fact I’m almost directly quoting a grieving friend, my first reaction is to apologize or try and see if I can change it to fit their tastes?

As an English language writer from Romania, this strongly resonates with me. Having to explain every little detail for US readers who never seem to read between the lines. Having to justify such alien feelings as longing for home. Having to change language used by many other writers because one editor thinks it's weird. (Where'd you think I picked it up?! You don't own English!)

My own favorite example of this issue is Mamma Mia, a movie beloved by the general public (at least in Europe), but panned by critics who used much of the same incomprehending language. Over here, see, we're equipped to watch a British woman's idea of a Bollywood production and really get it. And European countries are more culturally varied than you'd expect on one small continent. Across the pond however... things are seriously messed up. How exactly would be too much to unpack here, and potentially upsetting to my American friends. But that bundle of issues has been exported for decades as a kind of New Global Culture, with terrible results. It's time we reclaim our respective identities.

I love English anyway, and not just because it grants me potential audience in the billions. Yes, a living language is going to be quirky. Try learning another.