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A Black Hole of Implications

edited 2019-09-20 06:00:42 in Philosophy
All that really matters is we could be friends~☆
(Okay first of all, I'd like to apologize for the practically deadly length of this thing. I mean, it's basically an essay at this point, but it was really meant to just be a way to start a discussion rather than a blogpost).

You guys might have noticed that I seem to have shifted my political opinions a significant degree lately. I have, and it's prompted a lot of self-reflection.

Outside of particular opinions, I've always had a contrarian streak, hence my hipster ways. However, I'm also a strict rule-follower, and I can be strangely purist when it comes to this. I don't think these are necessarily contradictions, because even anarchists never just stop at 'freedom' if you look at the literature (I mean, otherwise there would be no literature outside of criticism).

Keeping this in mind, let's talk about the forsaken land. I know it's basically post-passe to reflect on what happened on TVT, but I always knew that the political positions I'd held (for literal years) were linked to it.

I don't know how right I am, or how encompassing the following theories can even be considering how many tropes there were, but I think this is a good place to start.

Let's talk about Unfortunate Implications. I think we all know what this is; where somebody presents their story and they've accidentally included some sort of bias or stereotype. Sometimes this is pointed out by viewers, but most of the time it was a sort of site-based exercise in pointing out racism, sexism and the like.

This was one of my favourite tropes to read through, because I always found it funny. How could [This Work] possibly not realize what it was saying implicitly? Did nobody check it beforehand? This is funny because they were accidentally sexist/homophobic/whatever!

I don't know if this applies to everybody, but the very nerd-based "we're in, they're not" culture of TVT, combined with this trope (and probably many others I've forgotten) started to breed a sense of "knowledge" in me. Most importantly in the form of a skill that let me critically analyze any work and see the mistakes that were made in this vein. See, Hollywood or whoever didn't get it, only us on TVT and other nerd-sites did. I think an obvious example of this is something like The Beschdel Test, before it went mainstream.

However, whilst this skill let me critically analyze works for a while (probably even 'a bit'), soon it imparted on me what was basically the all-knowing truth and authority of what was racist or sexist. Quickly, my opinion was law not to be questioned, and truthfully, so were a lot of the examples in Unfortunate Implications that I agreed with. I mean, there's a lot of prejudice out there, but it's very much not coming from Hollywood or any fiction hub, because these places are already highly liberal and forward thinking.

But, as long as I could justify myself in some way, I was right, and everybody agreed with me. And frankly, so was almost everybody updating this trope (I actually never did it all that much, but I did contribute a few times, one case I'll use as an example later). It was an echo chamber, a fun, never-ending labyrinth of new (and old!) ideas to dub 'Unfortunate'.

The truth was, however, that a lot of these things weren't even offensive in a benign way, they're just things that happen in a story because characters exist. How can that be, then, that stories are full of characters behaving in ways that are clearly [pick your -st or -phobic]?

They aren't, that's just your mind finding patterns that aren't there.

I think a main problem with TVT was that there was never a politically-charged trope that preached the opposite of this. In fact, it can be argued that Unfortunate Implications isn't even a trope at all, not even one worth YMMV status (I have a lot of complaints about the YMMV system anyways, but like, who really cares at this point). The positive tropes on TVT were always descriptive. This happened in a work, and it was beautifully choreographed, and it included elements of character development. This music was amazing, something in that vein.

There was never something, like Unfortunate Implications, that stripped a story of all it's context (even I remember that there were few enough of those that referenced context that they always had an especially, in italics, placed before any context was provided) and applied real world circumstances to them. I guess it's because we all assumed there was a breadth of Positive Situations (bare with) that needed no explanation, but Unfortunate Implications needed to be highlighted.

Well, why was that the case? I was just a kid, and I didn't know any better. I mean, I understood that small social contract between me and TVT to an extent, but bombarding me with Positive Situations sure wouldn't have hurt either. Why? Because it would have given context and understanding to said Positive Situations. A framework to explain why this was good, not just revel in it's goodness.

Now, I haven't been to TVT to do research for this (because frankly I prefer not to go there anymore, but 'did not do research' is definitely a valid criticism if you so want to levy it), but I remember being a huge fan of Bratz the Movie when it came out, and in fact I still am a huge fan of Bratz the Movie, for all it's insanity.

But, I'm in a much better place with it than I was a few years ago. Bratz the Movie was widely panned everywhere, but on TVT it ran afoul of Unfortunate Implications.

Now, first of all, I'd like to start on a positive note; Bratz the Movie is about as colorblind as you can get without just having the characters be transparent blobs. It's about four girls from very different circumstances who are best friends just because they happen to like each other (and rampant consumerism).

One of the most prominent charges laid against Bratz the Movie and it's accidental racism is Yasmin. Yasmin is a Hispanic girl who lives with her grandmother, brother, a bunch of other relatives and... a Mariachi band!

Oh my! How completely racist, right? Yasmin is a Hispanic girl therefore she must have a Mariachi band at home!

But, actually, weird thing; Mariachis have to live somewhere.

How dare Bratz the Movie choose to portray three members of Yasmin's gigantic family as Mariachis? Aren't Mariachis overwhelmingly Mexican? In the modern world, wouldn't it basically cause twitter to implode if some white guy signed up and declared himself part of a Mariachi band (personally, I'd think that would be super cool).

Yasmin has a loving, vibrant family. That's what that scene is meant to portray. Some of them play music, and that is actually not a bad thing.

Another point made against Yasmin is that she and her Grandmother (called 'Bubbie', probably because Yasmin is based on Isaac Larian's daughter and he's Jewish, Yasmin herself may be half-Jewish) love to dance to La Cucaracha. See, racism, clear as day!

However, popular folk songs are popular because they're popular (oh my, what is this sentence). And all points to Yasmin's grandma but she's a traditional Hispanic lady. Funny thing here is that in the two seconds it took me to look up both concepts, I learned that both the song La Cucaracha and Mariachi bands are Mexican traditions. Bratz the Movie, amazingly enough, did it's research on bringing Yasmin's family to life.

Now, let's come to Cloe, who is poor. This is basically a running gag at this point in criticisms of this movie. How can a poor girl like Cloe live in a giant house, have a computer and a moped.

Well, look at her contemporaries. Nobody in Bratz the Movie has a small house, and they're all filthy rich. The only person who ever has to think twice about spending at all is Cloe. The backstory to Cloe's life is that her mother used to be Meredith's maid before she was fired for stealing (a crime she was not guilty of, but Meredith is the villain), and now she has her own catering service.

How can anybody with a catering service lack for money? This is the sort of question to you ask when either you don't know the ins and outs of money or you're purposefully ignoring facts to make your point. At one point, Cloe's sick mother basically tries to work herself ragged to prepare for Meredith's Sweet 16 party. How can somebody catering for Meredith's party not have any money? Well, looking at the work Cloe's mother has to do and estimating the already squeezed margins of what appears to be a one person staff and it's not hard to see.

Most new businesses fold up within a year, and a bunch of those that don't basically run at "at least we can pay for food and the mortgage" levels. It's terrifying to think about, but Cloe, whilst not in abject poverty, lives on the financial precipice that's so often talked about. It's a fact that probably keeps this 22 16-year-old high school girl up at night. This is a real problem that danged Bratz the Movie chose to address, and I tore into it instead. (I would say "we", but really, I was a big contributor to a lot of this mess).

And for some more Positive Situations, the Bratz are able to rekindle their friendship after two years of being forced to live as singular cogs in the gears of the school's cliques. At one point in the past, Sasha was able to overcome her own ego and help Cloe study instead of going on a fancy ski-trip, showcasing the sort of friendship I think a lot of us would like in ur lifes. This movie features a deaf kid for absolutely no reason other than that's the character that was there (well, I'm guessing also for the kudos, but they aren't constantly pointing a sign at him or coddling him). He's not even the 'lame' love interest (poor that line-less guy named Dexter).

Cloe is part of the football team and is super-good at it, back in a time when nobody was really paying lip-service to sports like women's football. Jade is a genius (who is super bad at math, but that's for another day) who also has a passion for fashion. Sasha handles her parents divorce like probably everybody with divorced parents wish they did (with some help from her friends). Yasmin overcomes her fears and is able to sing in public.

I mean, from this, you see exactly why there is no Positive Situations, because there are a danged a lot of them, everywhere.

Yet when you hide them, you create a whole other problem. If the world had been the same as it was back then, I don't think I would have ever changed my views. "Hollywood/whoever needs to know better, I mean, how can it not when I know better." I didn't think things exactly like this, but whatever I was actually thinking was along these veins. I think it can be scary to examine yourself or even put what you feel so broadly into a simple statement, because it can show you exactly how wrong and how condescending you are.

However, the world has changed, and my contemporaries have also overcome their fears. They've put their feelings and broad views into words, and they are condescending, but they don't think that's wrong, and real life politicians are okay with this. I also don't agree with a lot of what they appear to believe in the most, as the hills they're willing to die on continue down a spiral of labeling everything on the planet with that mark of Unfortunate Implications in some way or another (but with much fancier terminology). I actually wasn't going to write this all out because I thought I would just do my self-re-examinations and move on with my life, but recent events have really got my goat. It's really bad because some of it I've even contributed to (Katy Perry, who I have never met or personally interacted with, I am sorry, I think the shoes are cute in a fun, abstract way that isn't racist).

(I actually almost lost this whole thing by closing the page but managed to not, so that's good).

Comments

  • Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    Write your posts in notepad; at least it'll ask before you can close it. =P

    Even Guacamelee has a Mariachi band, playing Jarabe Tapatío (the "Mexican hat dance"), even. And a whole bunch of stereotypically "Mexican stereotype" things, from lucha libre elements to guitar/trumpet music to Olmec heads. It was actually created (in part) by a Mexican-Canadian devteam member, though, and it also includes a bunch of cultural elements that foreigners generally don't know, such as the Huay Chivo, the Alebrije, and the Xtabay.

    I think some people are too quick to jump to judgements about whether something is "bad"/"wrong", when these are often more complicated things. And it can be especially bad when these judgements get used as social tokens, berating others into agreement. (And even more especially bad when someone does this on behalf of a group to which they don't belong, without proper consultation.) Meanwhile, those who object to this practice often make the same mistake -- they become very sensitive to and begin crusading against people who hold the aforementioned opinions merely for having them, rather than specifically for problematic practices such as said berating, because they fall into the same trap of using opinions as social tokens.

    I think people should simply remember that they speak for themselves when they express these opinions, as they are personal opinions. It is quite fine for anyone to feel okay with or offended by a work (and that even includes feeling offended by a grossly inaccurate portrayal of a group to which oneself doesn't belong), but these are individual opinions. The dishonorable action would be trying to compel others to agree with oneself, as opposed to attempting to convince them with reasonably-presented reasoning.
  • "you duck spawn, refined creature, you try to be cynical, yokel, but all that comes out of it is that you're a dunce!!!!! you duck plug!"
    That's a lot to reply to, so already I feel ashamed I don't answer in kind.

    It's like, what you mention seems to be Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. It's not really the same kind of entry on the wiki as Unfortunate Implications are, but it's there.

    Also. There's the thing with this whole feeling offended. Like, I prefer the offended side to the other, but I do think these folks do happen to make a mountain out of a molehill once in a while. And that if I don't want to end up on the other side, as in, I'd rather not wake up one day and realize that it's long past the point at which I officially belong to that whole gamergate/alt-right/political-correctness-destroyin'-muh-hobby crowd, I have to be quite careful dissing the political correctness or the culture of offence or how is it called these days. Like, I would really prefer not to say that Chernobyl should have racial quotas in its pick of actors, and not fall in with /pol/ if I don't, something like that. Which may or not be related to what you wanted to say, but... I guess I'm rambling at this point, so I'll just hit that send button and see what comes out of it.
  • edited 2019-09-20 12:43:16
    All that really matters is we could be friends~☆
    so already I feel ashamed I don't answer in kind.

    You don't need to. I'm very wordy by nature, and this is one of those things I think about before I fall asleep, so I have a lot of time invested in these ideas to start with.
    I prefer the offended side to the other

    I think here it's important to separate means from goals, and also to consider those goals individually rather than as a collective ideology. There's a lot of good in the, as you said, 'side of the offended', but there's also a lot of nonsense because the whole spiral operates in a particular way.

    A simple approximation is:
    >X is certainly bad, so we should stamp it out
    >A ridiculous mob effort at stamping it out
    >Doesn't Y sort of sound like maybe it's X? We should certainly stamp that out as well, no questions asked

    And then the proceed in that direction with no stopping. So whilst the initial idea is good (stereotypes are a lazy), the next idea is a bit less good (stereotypes are bad), and then even less good, if noble (I will no longer stand works that have stereotype-seeming-things in them, and will lambast all who do), and then something that is just a nightmare (we should retroactively apply the ban on what we, the ones who know best, now consider stereotypes on works from 20, 30, 50 years ago, and we should charge on anybody who tries to use this fact to stop us).
    I'd rather not wake up one day and realize that it's long past the point at which I officially belong to that whole gamergate/alt-right/political-correctness-destroyin'-muh-hobby crowd

    This is a legitimate fear, and I think an important way to address an issue where you might feel like what was once a favorite thing has changed direction is to part ways with it in a quiet, reflective way. I think one of the main reasons people switch to the other side is that they need to very loudly justify what's gone wrong with a thing (I mean, this entire thread is about this very concept in the end) but then the opposing force is of course, an opposing force, so they fall in with that crowd because there's a sense of community there, no matter how damaging.

    But, if stuff isn't that bad (it usually isn't) and you can overlook certain things, then I'd definitely say follow what GMH said. Enjoy the experience, speak for yourself. Resist the urge to speak as an authoritative voice about how something "should" be.

    It's also a very bad idea to watch yourself as a mediator between two ideas. Instead, find your own ideas, but also be willing to admit if you don't care enough to do enough research to develop an idea on a subject. Because in the end you will never cover everything, but whatever ideology or bias (the good, human sort of bias) you hold will shift one one way or the other if put on the spot. If put on the spot, admit you don't know anything. If you're bold enough, admit the topic has never really crossed your mind in a significant way. And that's okay, because you can't care about everything.

    I used to be quite wary of people who didn't have an opinion on everything, but now I'm the complete opposite I guess. Life is short, nobody has time to critique every minuscule form of utilitarianism and learn the implications of every global headline (I find that this is a trap TV anchor-journalists fall into, because they have to present the whole show and carry weight from issue to issue which is basically impossible).

    I also find not imagining yourself as the other extreme is helpful, because there are many opinions in the world and it's okay to have your own. Just because the mainstream ones are loud and bombastic, doesn't mean the alternatives are the underground ones that are equally as loud and bombastic (Again I bring up Anarchism, which is basically where all the cool pop punk kids go to react to all forms of government. Anarchism sucks).

    It's important to never internalize every opinion you hold to the degree of it becoming who you are, as well. Of course there are certainly things out there that make you you, and you should hold onto them with all you've got unless they're actively harming others, but a bunch of it can be at the very least reconsidered if presented with a good enough argument.
    The dishonorable action would be trying to compel others to agree with oneself, as opposed to attempting to convince them with reasonably-presented reasoning.

    I think the main problem is that, in some way, there isn't a single voice causing what is occurring right now. It's more a... mood, an atmosphere. People feel the need to contribute to the atmosphere, because that's a way to gain social standing and maintain in-group status, and as this continues to happen we go deeper and deeper down the hole.
    And even more especially bad when someone does this on behalf of a group to which they don't belong, without proper consultation.

    This might be a bit much, but I think somebody in a "group" (group-ing?), especially one people don't chose to belong to, who uses that status to parrot their own view as representative (with or without the consultation of those who dis/agree with them) is just as bad.
    they become very sensitive to and begin crusading against people who hold the aforementioned opinions merely for having them, rather than specifically for problematic practices such as said berating, because they fall into the same trap of using opinions as social tokens.

    I'm not going to lie; this I don't have as much experience with, so I don't know if I have any helpful ideas on the subject. I think I understand the basics, but I think what you describe is more a 'troll' rather than the thing gacek is saying about the alt-right.

    On the alt-right, there's a point to railing against these positions, and it's easy to gain enough social points that you accidentally end up with the alt-right if you hold enough anti-positions. The positions you held were anti-something, but in the end they have to be pro-other thing, unless you're presenting yourself with a broken ideology.

    I think in the 'triggering the libs' (how have I used this phrase twice in less than a fortnight?) camp will always be at least 80% people who believe in something, and 20% trolls. At least half the 20% is very much on it's way to becoming part of the 80%.

    It's different from pointing out the differences in a funny way (unfortunately, people haven't taken kindly to the practice of 'joking' lately) to put yourself in an anti-position.
    Like, I would really prefer not to say that Chernobyl should have racial quotas in its pick of actors

    This, for example. It easily falls into current pro- or anti- framework, but it is actually not pro or anti anything. It's just an opinion, and that's okay.

    For example, I noticed a few months ago as I was trying to let go of these things that it was mentally draining to not make sure every TV show I was watching had a cast made-up of every plausible racial grouping. That was a vaguely extremist vision of anti-racism, but not only was I secretly holding on to racism, I was doing it from both ends!

    It's the same thing with homophobia. It took me a long time to stop being angry at shows for not having gay characters because for goodness sakes a massive (supermassive, even) majority of the Earth's population is entirely straight (people seem to be really afraid of saying this, which probably didn't help). I was even skipping over my own aversion to shows that even feature intimate scenes, so I was basically working against myself. Though this seems mild in the face of people who declared that Andi Mack holding off to having Cyrus and TJ express their feelings for each other in the final episode at the climax was actually homophobic.

    Just... have your opinions. If they seem wonky, put them to a bit of a logic test. If they don't pass; fortify, adapt or abandon them.
  • Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    People feel the need to contribute to the atmosphere, because that's a way to gain social standing and maintain in-group status

    I have a bad(?) habit of living under a rock with regards to pop culture so I can legit claim the position of "I really have no opinion on this." I guess that makes it a good habit because I'm not part of the group anyway...?

    I mean, because it seems a good amount of the time, my experience with such situations has involved people expecting me to be on board with a given criticism of something from a moral basis -- such as assenting that something is racially/culturally/sexually/etc. problematic or assenting that there's some sort of "really obvious" politics-pushing agenda in a work or whatever. And they get angry at me when I say I don't see it or I otherwise disagree with their position.

    I genuinely can't have an opinion on everything, like you said, and -- PARTICULARLY for stuff that's the subject of social controversies and flame wars -- frankly speaking, I don't want to have an opinion on it, unless it's one that is made very carefully and sounding very unsatisfying to people on either side of an argument.

    And expect more weasel words for stuff that is especially distant from me, because you (general "you" referring to anyone trying to squeeze an opinion out of me) are trying to get me to make a broad public statement about something I legit don't even know much about. You're trying to get me to join your crusade when I don't want to, and I'll pick and choose which crusades I want to join, on my own time, thank you very much.

    Oh, and I REALLY don't like judging things based on my emotional reactions to them.

    (I have heard the phrases "not your personal army" and "not your shield", and I'd say these words at face value reflect my neutrality-until-I-decide-what-I-want-to-do-with-it.)

    Also, a lot of these controversies involve either...

    1. creative works of entertainment, in which case the real-life implications of it are actually somewhat muted compared to controversies over real-life situations.

    2. allegations about things people did in private. These are things I -- and many other people -- will NEVER know the true details about, so I -- and in my opinion, the aforementioned "other people" who are also not involved with the allegations -- literally have neither business nor legal standing to decide who's right and who's wrong.
    (Again I bring up Anarchism, which is basically where all the cool pop punk kids go to react to all forms of government. Anarchism sucks).
    I thought it was libertarianism? Or maybe that's for the dorky kids who type long-winded explanations on the internet. like me
    This might be a bit much, but I think somebody in a "group" (group-ing?), especially one people don't chose to belong to, who uses that status to parrot their own view as representative (with or without the consultation of those who dis/agree with them) is just as bad.
    "Speaking for myself as a [member of group]" is a thing, too.
  • Gallina seráfica
    IIRC Unfortunate Implications is one of those trope pages that suffer from bottom-of-the-barrel reaching, it tends (tended?) to happen especially often to old, subjective tropes, though the examples on work pages are usually better.
    Ultimately, if you put enough effort into looking for patterns, you're going to find them, doubly easy when there are whole communities of outraged individuals ready to tell you the ins and outs of this very important issue.
    I think the important thing is to be honest with yourself and believe something because you think it stands up on its own and not because you've surrounded yourself in an environment that values holding that position.
    Not that I can claim to be neutral in this, it was only a couple years ago that I specifically looked at "political correctness sillyness" to amuse myself. I wonder if at some point I was close to falling into some similar echo chamber but from the opposite side, as is now common to see.
  • All that really matters is we could be friends~☆
    Anyways, I'd just like to say I thought I'd just write up a lot of stuff and not be too concerned if I didn't get too many replies, but I'm glad that you guys maybe saw something in the wall of text that you wanted to engage with.
    doubly easy when there are whole communities of outraged individuals ready to tell you the ins and outs of this very important issue

    I think one of the, well, impressive? I guess things about the modern movements that act like this is their lightning speed.

    One of the main fueling forces, unfortunately, is how everybody takes social media so seriously, most especially twitter. Twitter is like a mighty political codex being used by everybody at once to moves and reform issues in well... about two directions, really. Anybody outside this framework is probably a minor player (or has been banned for offending somebody by not going along with what they want).

    So we have digital-natives spending a great deal of time day on social media, and then writing about how said social media feels about things, so stuff goes ballistic really easily. Something that was acceptable or unknown a day ago suddenly becomes The Thing, and nobody can seemingly shut up about it for 2 seconds, then it's... over? But in the course of those 2 seconds a whole new precedent is up.

    The bad thing about new precedents is that they all seem to be going in one direction, and essentially there's no way that's not going to become illogical at some point.

    There are serious issues out there being co-opted or redeveloped in ways in-group members might not even realize (I assume not many know how baked-in the politics of psychedelics are in Extinction Rebellion as a whole), and I really won't blame individuals unless they're openly hostile to an extreme degree that can no longer be read as 'going with the flow'.
    I genuinely can't have an opinion on everything, like you said, and -- PARTICULARLY for stuff that's the subject of social controversies and flame wars -- frankly speaking

    Yeah this sounds very GMH. I'd like to claim anything near similar to this, but I guess I'd call myself a 'constant lurker' on the sidelines of this all. I don't try to engage because, really, what's the point of that aside from making yourself feel better or getting angry. An internet comments section, or a chain on twitter (how do people actually live using twitter at all for conversation?), is not a place to discuss something seriously (well, most of the time).

    But obviously I'll come away with my own opinions, and I'll be on top of a lot of nonsense (usually political stuff and political-adjacent celebrity stuff). I've noticed that a lot of it is bleeding into the real world, which to me feels insane.
    I think the important thing is to be honest with yourself and believe something because you think it stands up on its own and not because you've surrounded yourself in an environment that values holding that position.

    This is definitely true.

    The main scary thing, for me, is that once one of these groups group becomes powerful enough, it well... starts threatening others, essentially? I feel like the main form 'activism' takes nowadays is being really, really mean to somebody on the internet.

    Sometimes I wonder if human beings just have a baseline level of average group meanness that is slowly being sapped away in real life as schools and workplaces become stricter and safer and so that energy has to go somewhere, and the somewhere is the internet.

    This is kind of taking a depressing spin to put on things, but the venom I see online is basically what I'd expect from a real-life bully in a quiet-enough hallway (but now people are being praised for it).
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