Последно време следя един доста як блог: Mythcreants. Хората там често пишат по теми, които ме вълнуват, свързани с тропи, стереотипи, светостроене, характеризация, и т.н. Доста са агресивно про-social justice, като в няколко изолирани момента дори на мен конкретни позиции ми идват леко нанагорно. Но като цяло мненията им ме кефят много и понеже в ШД изглежда съм малко outlier, рекох да споделя два материала, които ми се сториха интересни. Искам да видя какво мислят хората във форума, защото честно казано някои от описаните аргументи са се появявали тук.
Six Bad Arguments Against Social Justice in Speculative Fiction
Six More Bad Arguments Against Social Justice in Speculative Fiction (продължението)
Малко откъси (болдовете са мои):
1. Representation Is Pandering
Uh oh, an author made their protagonist black, queer, female, or anything else that isn’t associated with the dominant group. They must be pandering to whatever demographic their character is part of. That’s the only explanation!
First, let’s look at the definition of pander. From Merriam-Webster:
To do or provide what someone wants or demands even though it is not proper, good, or reasonable.
For now, let’s assume that this hypothetical author made their protagonist part of a specific group in order to draw in an audience from that group, and not just because it made the most sense for the story. That isn’t pandering; it’s expanding your audience, and in any other context it would be seen as a proper, good, or reasonable business move.
This argument is inherently hypocritical. No one ever accuses the countless stories that star straight white dudes of pandering to the straight-white-dude demographic, even though focusing on the dominant group to the exclusion of all others definitely isn’t proper, good, or reasonable. For a long time, minority audiences have been ignored or taken for granted. The current upswing in diversity is a course correction to address historical injustice, not an example of different groups being unfairly favored.
Even if someone hates any and all attempts to expand readership, it’s impossible to know an author’s motivation. Did Jeff Vandermeer cast an Asian woman as the protagonist of The Southern Reach because that was how he first imagined the character or because he thought it would draw in extra readers? Was Gene Roddenberry only hoping to get Star Trek better ratings when he conceived Sulu and Uhura? We can’t know, and as such it’s pointless to waste our energy endlessly dissecting such questions. What matters are the results, not the intent, and the results are more diversity.
Sidebar: @Random Биологът азиатка ли е? Толкова ли съм блял, че съм го изпуснал това?
3. Story Quality Is All That Matters
Who cares if they cast Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi? It doesn’t matter if the actress is actually of Japanese ancestry, only that the movie is good.
This argument pops up whenever a story is critiqued for putting a white person in a role that should have gone to a person of color or for including some kind of problematic plot element. It’s very clever, as it casts social justice as some kind of secondary concern, independent of a story’s quality. The person making the argument can then claim the position of enlightened defender, making sure stories stay good for everyone to enjoy.
The obvious hole in this argument is that social justice supporters* also want stories to be good. There probably isn’t anyone out there who actively wants stories to be bad. Except maybe the people who keep producing Transformers films, but that’s beside the point.
Think about a person saying that they don’t care if the dialogue is well written; they just want the story to be good. Sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? That’s because social justice is one facet of a story’s quality, like plot or character development. Better social justice improves a story, the same way that better worldbuilding or fight-scene description does.
We do see one major difference between social justice and other story qualities: a lack of social justice has a negative impact in real life. When a story passes off creepy stalking as romantic, that reinforces unhealthy attitudes already present in our society. When a person of color can’t find anyone who looks like them in the gallery of great fantasy heroes, it sends a message that those with darker skin don’t belong.
At the same time, stories that feature strong social justice themes help make our world better. When Terry Pratchett wrote Monstrous Regiment, a book about the evils of entrenched sexism, he brought the issue to the attention of readers who might never have thought about it before. When Zootopia based its entire plot around intersectionality, it gave a bunch of kids* their first glimpse at the complicated nature of discrimination in our society.
I don’t know about you, but those sound like good stories to me.
3. Personal Freedom
In this argument, some claim that calls for social justice are hampering a storyteller’s right to self-determination. Wanting more respectful stories is basically the same thing as taking hold of someone’s hands and forcing them to write “T’Challa is our lord and savior” one hundred times.
I love this argument because it attributes so much more power to advocates than we actually have. It conjures a world in which SJWs command armies and can send squads of righteous soldiers to the homes of regressive storytellers. From there, we presumably put them on trial and sentence them to watch Zootopia as penance. Now that’s a power fantasy I can get behind.
In real life, of course, no one is being forced to do anything. This is true of any storytelling discussion, not only social justice issues. No one is being forced to craft an ending that satisfies the promises they made in the beginning or use language that is both evocative and understandable.* When we talk about social justice in storytelling, we’re advocating a best practice. That’s it.
Occasionally, this argument has a follow-up about how even though we SJWs don’t have any actual legal power, we’re still forcing storytellers to accede to our demands via buying habits. When we refuse to purchase works either containing bigotry or made by bigots, we’re starving all the storytellers who don’t accept our agenda. Worse, we even go online and tell creators about our preferences in the hope that they won’t make more bigoted work in the future. What monsters!
Sorry to anyone who espouses this belief, but what you’re describing is just the free market at work. People buy what they want, and in this case a growing number of people want stories with social justice. The only alternative would be for the government to mandate that people buy stories they don’t like, which would violate personal freedom just a bit, don’t you think?