The content on this blog is my personal opinion and does not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the US Navy in any way.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Entertainment and Stereotypes

Sorry about last week. I was a little busy with work.

Anyway. This week's post was spawned by a random post on a friend's Facebook page; said friend was wondering about the portrayals of various minorities in entertainment.

Or rather, this friend was wondering why people were complaining. The argument in question essentially pointed out that minority characters always being flawless character models wasn't a whole lot better than them always following the same flawed stereotypes; it doesn't help us make any progress towards a society which can ignore details which should be trivial.

Which was a nice surprise, since I agree wholeheartedly with that particular point and don't usually see someone who puts it that neatly and politely. While I don't intend to argue that no reasonable opposition to (or internal disagreement within) the progressive movement exists, I do tend to get discouraged seeing people arguing against points I disagree with with arguments I find it impossible to agree with, and that seems to be most of what I see. (Put another way: seeing misogynistic or racist bullshit deployed against arguments I disagree with forces me to differentiate myself from that crap. Which is probably good for me in the end, but that is not the same thing as comfortable or easy to deal with.)

In any case, my views are fairly simple, and (as I said) align with the Facebook commenter in question. From a standpoint of realism as well as from my own idea of what makes good fiction (which, come to think of it, might deserve a full post of its own eventually), there are going to be some good people and some bad people, no matter what other identifiers may also describe them.  That doesn't mean that every story has to represent the full range of possibilities - most stories don't have that many characters - but it does mean that we shouldn't shy away from acknowledging the full range when it's necessary... or, hell, when the author just feels like it fits. And that means that I'd rather not have just heterosexual molesters, even if the idea of a homosexual molester plays into some unfortunate stereotypes.

Granted, in order for that to be fair, we need to note these things both on good and bad people. I think that's one point which the progressives push most strongly - that the evil characters always have some obvious connection to a minority group while the good characters' connections to similar groups are downplayed. A similar point came up in the Facebook post, namely that the proper solution was to have more positive roles to offset the negative ones, rather than removing the negative ones to leave only positive roles. I can agree that more effort in that area is probably necessary.

And that's just about it, really. People can be either good or bad - and while we can probably get away with leaving these concerns out of some of our entertainment, I think it's worth remembering that we have to acknowledge both.

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