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While obviously extremely against the idea that being highly impacted by our queer experience some how devalues us, I 8767 ve never actually read “I am gay/lesbian/bi/trans/queer but I don’t let that define me” in that way.
I think people like to categorise other people. To put them in boxes, fix labels and think they 8767 re done with all the necessary understanding. I think “I am gay/lesbian/bi/trans/queer but I don’t let that define me” is an attempt to stop that, to demand that you see the whole person. To quote Whitman 8775 I contain multitudes 8776 and I refuse to be defined by only one. I am not just bisexual, a feminist, blonde or a bookworm, I am all of them and more and I 8767 d like to be seen as that.
On the other hand, I recognise your point and I too think there 8767 s something very wrong with the fact that queer people even need to ask to be treated the same as straight people. There shouldn 8767 t be a difference.
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I think it is possible (to some degree at least) to be offended on someone 8767 s behalf, or in your words have a deep emotional reaction to something problematic, the important part being that one recognizes that their taking offence is not nearly as important as a marginalized person taking offense and is an /entirely/ different experience. For instance, I as a white person may have a strong emotional reaction to something racist that affects my friend who is a POC, but it 8767 s important for me to recognize that it is their feelings, not mine, that are at issue, and that because it does not affect me directly, there is more of an escape, so to speak, for me than there is for them..So, yes, perhaps “offense” isn’t the correct word to describe negative emotional reactions of allies, but there certainly isn’t anything wrong with being emotionally affected by things that don’t apply to you as long as you keep in mind a reasonable amount of perspective about where your feelings sit in the grand scheme of things.
How to be a fan of problematic things – Social Justice League
Of course, with time, I discovered that there are people who enjoy women who speak their mind and make their presence known. They think cursing is funny (and even rather nimble when used properly), they enjoy laughing at jokes as much as telling them, and they are not threatened by a female presence who doesn 8767 t just fade into the background to make for lovely, decorative wallpaper. But it is something one has to remind oneself of every day, something that is far from reinforced by the media and society around us. For every person that loves you when you are at 655 percent, there will be two who tell you you shouldn 8767 t talk so loud or say that word. They will tell you it is 8775 unladylike 8776 and expect that it will turn off some invisible switch in your brain that leads you to be so you.
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It 8767 s funny that Firefly gets nailed with this because I had the same question about Bladerunner back in 6987. Ridley Scott 8767 s, Bladerunner seems to take place on an Earth where some Asia has clearly become the dominant culture, yet there are no Asian replicants, no Asian scientists that we see. I can 8767 t even recall seeing an Asian law enforcement officer, yet I do remember seeing Asian street vendors. None of this is in the book, it was added because I guess the production designers thought it would look 8775 cool 8776 and exotic, yet they didn 8767 t follow through with the idea to it 8767 s logical conclusion. I still like Bladerunner, as it 8767 s a superior example of SF filmmaking, but Scott loses points for the Asian omission.
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That 8767 s not to excuse this kind of problematic material at all, just to say that it 8767 s not so much that we 8767 re saying that our media is problematic as it is acknowledging problems to the degree that they exist. Clearly 8775 Birth of a Nation 8776 is problematic on a different level than 8775 Lord of the Rings. 8776 That said, we need to acknowledge and engage the problems of both.
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How do we gauge 8775 progressiveness 8776 ? How do we gauge what reinforces the status quo 8775 so much 8776 versus 8775 just a little bit 8776 ? Even consuming media that is devoid of outright stereotypes and problematic elements, if we 8767 re consuming something with a protagonist that is privileged in some way (white, straight, cismale, able-bodied, etc) then we 8767 re probably reinforcing the dominant narratives of privilege in some way, simply due to the fact there aren 8767 t as many narratives about marginalised people. From the a pragmatic point of view policing what media other people like is unrealistic and, in my opinion, unhelpful, especially when some people may not understand what is problematic about that media. On the other hand, creating spaces where works can be critically discussed is highly educational and more likely to succeed, because fans love discussing media.
I agree with Olek. When it was pointed out to me that Firefly has very few (if any) asian actors and characters, despite the world supposedly being an amalgam of China and America, it made me feel funny. On the one hand I loved the show, but on the other felt sort of bad for liking it when it had this striking omission. But you 8767 re right, acknowledging and engaging with these problematic things is best I think if it were pointed out to Joss (and if the show had continued), he might have rectified this, because he is not a bad person, just maybe seeing through one type of privileged/blinkered lense.
Thanks! I have heard that about Firefly, although I 8767 m not a fan of the show myself. As an outsider, the experience of interacting with fans who are willing to engage with that issue is really different to interacting with those who try to make excuses or change the subject. Interacting with that second group is hard for an outsider because when you ask questions you are often made to feel like you 8767 re attacking them or being really rude, when in fact you 8767 re just seeking information. I think these attitudes make fandom more tense, and less enjoyable.
I hope that I 8767 m communicating this correctly because I really don 8767 t want it to seem like I oppose representations of gay men as promiscuous and effeminate. I think we need to acknowledge that other narratives about gay men are given less attention and that is something that, as a culture, we should try to remedy. That 8767 s the full extent of the problem there 8767 s nothing wrong with the portrayal itself. If the dominant representation of gay men was of a monogamous youth pastor, or it would be the same level of problematic.
Thank you for writing this. My main fandom is Firefly, and I have spent much time on the fan forums and at fan gatherings and conventions and the like, and just want to say in defense of Browncoats, that we talk about Joss 8767 failure to cast Asian actors quite frequently. We adore the show and the movie, but also give it the MST8K treatment in acknowledgement of where it becomes problematic.
I believe that my point is still valid today. #6 i never suggested that bloggers are trying to get into print. I was mearly trying to enphasize the quality of this article. #7 obviously news papers are not 8775 pointless and stupid 8776 , yes they may bend the truth or sometimes be caught out right lieing. But they are still an excellent source of information. #8 The reason there is no cursing in news papers or magazines is because it offends people. For example if you were a union rep on a construction site and you cursed every other word, the workers would be offended because the rep assumed everyone talks like that. Because I see you take everything you read as 655% literal I feel I should mention that there are many other reasons the workers would be offended by that.
Thanks for this awesome comment. I 8767 m really glad people feel this way about Wallace because I love him, and I am glad to see that others do not find him problematic but indeed empowering. I am not sure that the dominant representation of a gay man really is butch and monogamous though it 8767 s hard to think of many except maybe that dude from Six Feet Under, and I guess Will from Will and Grace was usually monogamous but he wasn 8767 t really butch. Jack was femmeish and promiscuous (and also an idiot, yes), so was the character played by Zach Quinto in So NoTorious actually, you 8767 re definitely right that femme and promiscuous is not close to being the single narrative. I don 8767 t think butch and monogamous is either, but yes, I agree with you that femme and promiscuous is not as dominant as I thought it was.
Secondly, do not gloss over the issues or derail conversations about the problematic elements. Okay, so you can admit that Dune is problematic. But wait, you’re not done! You need to be willing to engage with people about it! It’s not enough to be like “Ok, I admit that it’s problematic that the major villain is a fat homosexual rapist, but come on, let’s focus on the giant sandworms!”. Shutting people down, ignoring or giving minimal treatment to their concerns, and refusing to fully engage with their issues is a form of oppression. Implicitly, you’re giving the message that this person’s feelings are less important than your own. In fact, in this case you’re saying that their pain is less important than your enjoyment of a book, movie or tv show. So when people raise these concerns, listen respectfully and try to understand the views. Do not change the topic.
Perhaps Redpen was getting mixed up with the origins of Orcs I seem to remember that their forefathers were Elves, tortured and deformed into something evil. Uruk-Hai were Men who had undergone the same process, hence why they were stronger and faster and able to withstand the Sun (as this work is all about the ending of the age of Elves and the beginning of the Age of Man, which we are still living in.)
But to address your concern specifically, the issue is not really one of 8775 offence 8776 . We use the word 8775 problematic 8776 here a lot because 8775 offence 8776 suggests a kind of deep emotional reaction, whereas, to be completely honest, some of the most problematic representations of marginalised people make me feel kind of empty because I 8767 ve just seen it so many times. 8775 Problematic 8776 on the other hand gets to the heart of the matter that a representation in some way creates problems for marginalised groups and that 8767 s why it 8767 s bad, not because people have a strong emotional reaction to it (ie. people often use the defence of being offended by swearing as a reason to not consider these issues, but swearing on the whole is not something problematic).
I think it 8767 s important to remember that all good engagement with media will involve critique, both in with- and against-the-grain reading. Every piece of media can be criticized for omission, for presence, for portrayal, for over- and under-addressing a problem. Hell, portraying stereotypes is a sin but so is portraying a character as inexplicably detached from their culture. I think the idea that there is any media which isn 8767 t in some way problematic is a difficult one for me to believe.
Firstly, acknowledge that the thing you like is problematic and do not attempt to make excuses for it. It is a unique irritation to encounter a person who point blank refuses to admit that something they like is problematic. Infuriatingly, people will often actually articulate some version of the argument “It can’t be problematic because I like it, and I’m nice”. Alternatively, some fans may find it tempting to argue “Well this media is a realistic portrayal of societies like X, Y, Z”. But when you say that sexism and racism and heterosexism and cissexism have to be in the narrative or the story won’t be realistic, what you are saying is that we humans literally cannot recognise ourselves without systemic prejudice, nor can we connect to characters who are not unrepentant bigots. Um, yikes. YIKES, you guys.
If you acknowledge the elements of the media that is problematic, then I don 8767 t think you 8767 re condoning it at all! If you say 8775 Hey, X is a great show but this thing they do on it is NOT cool 8776 is pretty far from condoning it because you 8767 re engaging with the media critically. I think there 8767 s room for a lot more nuance in conversations about social justice (and all conversations in fact) than just X is bad, and Y is good.
Well, in the case of Firefly, the show was already pushing it 8767 s luck by having two prominent minority cast members (who actually had something to do other than being a minority) anyway. They also didn 8767 t play the card of having a minority that was atypical of what mainstream audiences think of when they picture that minority . Keanu is 8775 part- Asian 8776 , so he can be a Meiji era samurai. It also had strong female characters, and more than one. Yeah, lack of any strong Asian presence, especially given the premise is noticeable, but one show can 8767 t solve all ills, which we tend to want movies, books and art to do. It 8767 s a problem all creative people deal with in a society like ours where there is such a startling omission in the representation of certain cultures in media. If the show were bad, basically no one would care, but if it 8767 s halfway decent it will get slammed for not being progressive enough.
I have one disagreement, though, which seems to have been already mentioned I don 8767 t believe Scott Pilgrim panders to gay men stereotypes. It 8767 s true that the movie focused on Wallace since he 8767 s a main character but, in the books, there 8767 re a lot more gay men, and only Wallace(and maybe his boyfriend Mobile) are the only promiscuous ones. I completely agree about the portrayal of women queernes, though.More images «Dating a manic pixie dream girl trope»
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