violsva: full bookshelf with ladder (Default)
The problem with the worst forms of prescriptivism applied to media is that they are trying to find a way to make people write media that absolutely no one will be offended or upset by.

Problem one: This is impossible. There is nothing that anyone finds appealing that someone else won’t really really dislike. And I don’t mean “be indifferent to”, I mean “be actively repulsed by”. And yes, I’m including fluffy happy fantasies of people taking care of each other: some people cannot read those without going into depressive spirals. Some people just get so bored they can’t finish them.

Problem two: No one ever loved a book just because it didn’t offend them.

No one ever loved a book just because it wasn’t terrible. It has to actually be good - by their definition of good. And that’s where Problem One comes in - as soon as a book is doing something a reader will love, it’s doing something that another reader will hate.

Some people want ass-kicking female characters who will protect their friends and conquer their enemies. Some people hate violence.

Some people want to read about gay male couples getting together and living happily ever after. Some people hate romance. Some people don’t want to read about men.

Some people love complicated deep beautiful prose and pages of exposition about a character’s inner state; some people want to get to the fucking point.

And all of this gets intensified when it comes to sex. Anything that anyone finds hot - urophilia, say, or anal play, or penises - someone else is going to find absolutely disgusting and an immediate turnoff.

The solution is insight, and self awareness. The solution is the ability to recognize that your own upset, or your own joy, is not universal.

Nothing is universal. Nothing will apply to everyone. That is the fundamental point of diversity - people are different. People want different things, and that’s good.

If you write something that makes at least one person happy, it will make someone else furious. Someone else will be bored. Someone else will be grossed out. Someone else will think it was okay but forgettable. Someone else will think it was lifesaving.

If you want to write something good, you need to be prepared to write something upsetting.
violsva: Mulan squinting at a bowl of food (morning mulan)
Okay, self. The reason we do not get into discussions of the thing is because it triggers perseveration which makes us unhappy. If we do get in a discussion of the thing, even if it’s because we have something important to say, the reblogs etc. will probably add to that. (Also, the vast majority of my followers: do not, thankfully, care about the thing at all.) You came up with a whole bunch of fic ideas during July. It is probably better to focus on those. If that means staying away from anywhere that is not highly curated, by me, then we will have to do that.

I don’t seek out posts about how Gifted kids are all spoiled brats, and I’m not going to seek out posts about this. It can go on without my involvement. If other people aren’t saying what I think should be said, I’ll live, and so will they.

(oh, fandom)
violsva: A graffiti white maple leaf surrounding the words Toronto Maple Waffles (toronto maple waffles)
Let's say that Group A eats kittens.

They're terrible people, right? But if I say to you, "Stay away from Grace, she's a kitten-eating monster," you're going to assume I'm joking. That's hyperbole. That's actually a terrible thing to say about someone.

So everyone in Group A doesn't have to worry about rumours that they eat kittens, because seriously? Who does that? You must be joking.

But if anyone does say, loudly, "Hey, these people seem to be eating kittens," they can say "Well, you eat BABIES!"

Because then people who don't know them are going to go, "Right, these people are throwing hugely exaggerated insults at each other, got it." Because these look like the same insult, if you don't know the history. And even if you try to show them the history, well, you must be blowing it out of proportion, right? No one eats kittens. Not in our society.

The fact that one of these insults is in fact true - people have actually been eating kittens - and one is false - no one has eaten a baby - may be ignored.

And the second person now has to fight against accusations of baby-eating - which they do care about, because they don't want to be seen as a horrible person. They don't eat babies, and they're probably really upset that someone said they did. And a few people are going to be saying "Well, they must have a reason for saying you eat babies, and you did start it by saying that they eat kittens..."

So no one wants to accuse actual kitten eaters of eating kittens, and if you do, the first thing that does is cast suspicion on the one doing the accusing.

Anyway, if you're wondering where this is all coming from, someone in the Sherlock fandom ate a kitten in public and then tried to distract everyone by going "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!" If you really want more information, it's here.
violsva: Merida from Brave, with the text "Solve all your problems by turning your mother into a bear" (Merida bear)
 So, there’s a sort of long ongoing argument where one side says “Why is there no femslash? :(” and other people say “we just write what we want to write, and male characters are better developed and written to be more interesting” and the first people say “but isn’t fandom about reinterpreting canon and exploring things the creators don’t” and it just keeps going around and around and eventually someone says “why are you putting the burden on fanwriters when mainstream media has so much more power?”

This is solely in response to that last point.

Women have money. Historically ‘geeky’ fandoms haven’t been eager to take that money, but they’re starting to realize it exists and they might want some.

But all media still assumes that their core audience is straight white men 18-35. And they will not lose that audience if possible. And they assume that not writing about male characters will lose them.

But there’s a solution! If you write a show with no significant female characters, you can, they believe, still get women to watch it if you just make sure you have two pretty white men with lots of sexual tension. And straight white men 18-35 will still watch it, and probably deny that there’s any sexual tension at all.

The problem with saying that it’s on the creators is that we have so much evidence that if they can get away without writing lead female roles, theywill. And if they see that there is huge demand for shows with two pretty white men as the leading characters, they’re going to ignore any demand for anything else and then say that they are just giving female fans what they want.

If you object to any new female characters in a show about these two white boys, the creators of that show don’t know that you also watch Orange is the New Black. They hear “Women don’t want more female characters anyway. Actresses are sent death threats for playing love interests! Clearly there’s no point to focusing on the women in this show.”

And I’m not saying there’s an easy way to fix this. But there are reasons why we need to celebrate female characters in fandom, as much as we can. We need to say we want female characters, and show that we like female characters* or else we will be invisible in fandom, and women will be invisible in media.

The burden is on fandom because if we don’t show that we care about it, no one else will care. This sucks, but it’s what we have to deal with.

.

*Translation: that female characters will make more people watch the show, and that a lack of female characters will make existing fans say 'screw it’ and leave to watch something else, rather than also watching something else

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