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2013-05-16: Problematic
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Rune



Joined: 08 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, that Beethoven. Always trying to push the philosophies of the bourgeois down our throats. I mean, really: "dun-dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnn~!" What is THAT all about? Sounds kinda racist, too. What a bastard.
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infested



Joined: 24 Mar 2009
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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

merest wrote:
Dogen wrote:
But whether she chooses to watcher her show or not is a reflection of the value of the various aesthetics, and their presence or absence. If one is deeply committed to a certain idea then its presence becomes increasingly meritorious (to continue the "artistic merit" vein), to the exclusion of other things. Whether this is wrong-headed is a matter of opinion. One can imagine a stunning work of cinematography that was horribly racist, for instance, and we probably wouldn't fault anyone for not going out of their way to appreciate the camera work.

Even if 'Nique were more radical, it wouldn't affect her ability to appreciate things, it would just change the nature of what she appreciated.


The scenario you propose - of someone admiring the camerawork of a racist work ('Triumph of the Will', say; or, in the vein of violence and sexual pathology, 'Clockwork Orange') - is certainly feasible. But so is boycotting it despite its excellent technique or success as a work of art, as per the Lenin example.

When you say that "if one is deeply committed to a certain idea then its presence becomes increasingly meritorious (to continue the "artistic merit" vein), to the exclusion of other things", it occurs to me that the extreme realisation of this would be someone admiring a propaganda movie. Because it shows, I don't know, the virtue of veganism, the superiority of Communism, or whatever. I'm not saying you didn't intend this implication, or that it's a fault with your position; merely pointing it out.

So, yes, I suppose think it depends on how much more radical Monique becomes. I don't think it's implausible for politics to replace aesthetic criteria for those who are particularly devoted to their beliefs. I'm guilty of this, too; I was never able to enjoy Anne McCaffrey's books after I learned of her horrific treatment of her stepson. Kept seeing the figment of her-as-a-terrible-person projected onto the work itself.

Lenin refusing to listen to Beethoven because of his class, and your distaste for Anne McCaffrey's books because of her mistreatment of her stepson (though I do admire your attitude towards McCaffrey), have in common that someone is unwilling or unable to enjoy a creative work for reasons outside of the work itself.

I would argue that Monique's example does not share this. She is clearly able to enjoy the television show, but she recognizes certain problematic elements that are part of the show itself. I think, because her evaluation of the show is based on something that's actually a part of the work, it has more relevance to the work than in Lenin's example where Beethoven's class is not really a part of the music he writes. (and McCaffrey's mistreatment of her stepson is not a part of her novels)

Monique is recognizing elements that she considers to be of merit (and of less merit) within the work itself, as opposed to something that's unrelated to the work. The problematic elements are a -part- of the show, and although she enjoys the show in general, she also does find these things problematic (i.e. these parts of the work are of less merit to her). Because of this, I don't think Monique's situation is analogous to the two examples you mentioned. Rune has stated this as well:
Rune wrote:
Comparing Lenin's dismissal of Beethoven's music because of a secondary association it had to cultural ideological differences, to Monique being aware of and literate enough to recognize depictions that are -actually- contained within the media she is watching, is absurd.

In addition, the example about the racist movie is also related to one's evaluations of the merit of the content of the movie (e.g. one would object to racist depictions of African-Americans in the movie itself). Refusing to watch a movie (that did not contain racist content) because its director was a racist would fall more along the lines of the examples you mentioned.

So, in Monique's case, "politics" isn't making her boycott a show that she would otherwise not take issue with (as in, she's not boycotting the show because of an issue with the director); rather, she's recognizing that there are things that she likes, and things that she takes issue with - and these are all relevant to the show itself. I hope you understand why I don't believe these examples are analogous.

EDIT:
Rune wrote:
Man, that Beethoven. Always trying to push the philosophies of the bourgeois down our throats. I mean, really: "dun-dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnn~!" What is THAT all about? Sounds kinda racist, too. What a bastard.

This made me laugh. Laughing And it makes a point!
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Last edited by infested on Fri May 17, 2013 2:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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Rune



Joined: 08 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

infested wrote:
Rune wrote:
Man, that Beethoven. Always trying to push the philosophies of the bourgeois down our throats. I mean, really: "dun-dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnn~!" What is THAT all about? Sounds kinda racist, too. What a bastard.

This made me laugh. Laughing And it makes a point!


Thanks, I try.
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merest



Joined: 15 May 2011
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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want to point out that I don't think that Monique shares Lenin position! Rather, I think Lenin's response is one that Monique might take, if she were more radical. Monique watches a good television program despite finding parts of it 'problematic'. Lenin found the society that produced and enjoyed Beethoven's music problematic - but, rather than enjoying Beethoven anyway, he gave his music up. Monique's position is milder than Lenin's, but they may exist on the same scale of 'emotional response to things outside of the work.'

In this reading I differ from Infested, who thinks that the problematic parts of Monique's show are part of that work. I'd say that if they were part of that work, they might not be problematic for her, because they wouldn't reflect decisions of the casting agency in only choosing women with the one body type. As for her complaint about 'lack of racial diversity', I am reminded of how no one objected to the show 'Midsomer Murders' only having white actors, because it fit the time period. But when its director recently said that this fact was part of the show's success, because it made Midsomer 'the last bastion of Britishness', all hell broke lose.


Last edited by merest on Fri May 17, 2013 3:10 am; edited 3 times in total
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Dogen



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

merest wrote:
The scenario you propose - of someone admiring the camerawork of a racist work ('Triumph of the Will', say; or, in the vein of violence and sexual pathology, 'Clockwork Orange') - is certainly feasible. But so is boycotting it despite its excellent technique or success as a work of art, as per the Lenin example.

Right. Both scenarios exist because each is a subjective evaluation of the relative merits of a film.

Quote:
When you say that "if one is deeply committed to a certain idea then its presence becomes increasingly meritorious (to continue the "artistic merit" vein), to the exclusion of other things", it occurs to me that the extreme realisation of this would be someone admiring a propaganda movie. Because it shows, I don't know, the virtue of veganism, the superiority of Communism, or whatever. I'm not saying you didn't intend this implication, or that it's a fault with your position; merely pointing it out.

This would be a sufficient but not a necessary conclusion. A propaganda film is not the only result a person might reach from taking a "radical" position. But it might be. The point is that aesthetic is subjective, not objective, and includes what is good in addition to what is beautiful, thus anything a person likes for reason of visual, moral, auditory, social or various other reasons is part of the aesthetic.

Quote:
So, yes, I suppose think it depends on how much more radical Monique becomes. I don't think it's implausible for politics to replace aesthetic criteria for those who are particularly devoted to their beliefs. I'm guilty of this, too; I was never able to enjoy Anne McCaffrey's books after I learned of her horrific treatment of her stepson. Kept seeing the figment of her-as-a-terrible-person projected onto the work itself.

So what we've been walking backward toward is that you started out by referring to differences of opinion as errors and being "wrong-headed." This assumes an objective aesthetic sense over which one is capable of erring. If aesthetic is subjective then one doesn't err because they appreciate different things than someone else. They merely have different values.

Now, whether their values are meritorious is another question all together.
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Rune



Joined: 08 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

merest wrote:
I want to point out that I don't think that Monique shares Lenin position! Rather, I think Lenin's response is one that Monique might take, if she were more radical. Monique watches a good television program despite finding parts of it 'problematic'. Lenin found the society that produced and enjoyed Beethoven's music problematic - but, rather than enjoying Beethoven anyway, he gave his music up. Monique's position is milder than Lenin's, but they may exist on the same scale of 'emotional response to things outside of the work.'


. . . emotional? Identifying elements present in the work itself is not an emotional response. It's -literacy-.

merest wrote:
In this reading I differ from Infested, who thinks that the problematic parts of Monique's show are part of that work. I'd say that if they were part of that work, they might not be problematic for her, because they wouldn't reflect decisions of the casting agency in only choosing women with the one body type. As for her complaint about 'lack of racial diversity', I am reminded of how no one objected to the show 'Midsomer Murders' only having white actors, because it fit the time period. But when its director recently said that this fact was part of the show's success, because it made Midsomer 'the last bastion of Britishness', all hell broke lose.


How do you know no one objected? (Nevermind the historical accuracy argument against racial diversity in older settings is, itself, a racist interpretation of history. People of color have always lived in Europe.) I have no doubt that it got louder and got a lot more attention when the director himself pointed out, and demonstrated unrepentantly, just how racist it was. That doesn't mean that the all-white cast wasn't problematic to begin with. The director just set it apart from other similarly problematic works in the public eye by being an ass-hat about it.

Your argument basically boils down to: "problematic elements aren't actually part of the work unless and until someone complains about them."

Which is, again, patently ridiculous.

Of course it matters to a film or TV show what actors are cast for what roles, as well as what roles are written in the first place and how they're portrayed. That's part of the art as much as choosing your paint and canvass is a part of making a painting, or how choosing your influences, chords, arpeggios, and instruments is a part of music composition. You are selectively discounting actually-present elements of a work that don't fit the metrics you want to use to determine merit.
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infested



Joined: 24 Mar 2009
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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 3:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

merest wrote:
I want to point out that I don't think that Monique shares Lenin position! Rather, I think Lenin's response is one that Monique might take, if she were more radical. Monique watches a good television program despite finding parts of it 'problematic'. Lenin found the society that produced and enjoyed Beethoven's music problematic - but, rather than enjoying Beethoven anyway, he gave his music up. Monique's position is milder than Lenin's, but they may exist on the same scale of 'emotional response to things outside of the work.'

Ah, thanks. Sorry, I missed that. But I guess I still disagree about the problematic elements being "outside of the work" ... and like Rune, I would argue that this isn't an "emotional" response on Monique's part. The strip also clearly shows that Monique is responding emotionally to things other than those problematic elements she pointed out. Her recognition of the problematic elements is a thoughtful analysis, separate from her crying in response to (presumably) the plotline.

merest wrote:
In this reading I differ from Infested, who thinks that the problematic parts of Monique's show are part of that work. I'd say that if they were part of that work, they might not be problematic for her, because they wouldn't reflect decisions of the casting agency in only choosing women with the one body type. As for her complaint about 'lack of racial diversity', I am reminded of how no one objected to the show 'Midsomer Murders' only having white actors, because it fit the time period. But when its director recently said that this fact was part of the show's success, because it made Midsomer 'the last bastion of Britishness', all hell broke lose.


I'd say ableist language and glossing over of class issues are certainly part of the work itself (as they deal with the script of the show ... which I'm fairly sure everyone would consider to be a part of the work. =P ).

As for casting, I think this is also a part of the show. A show that takes place in a universe with skinny females and muscular males is different from one that takes place in a universe with people of diverse shapes and sizes. There's a difference, too, in depicting a modern-day "America" without people of color (edited, my original post used the Canadian term "visible minorities") as opposed to including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, etc. Casting doesn't just reflect the decisions of the casting agency, but it ends up being part of the finished product as viewers see it. And it does send a message to viewers about what is regarded as 'normal' or 'ideal'.

Actually, any part of the work reflects decisions made by someone involved in its creation. The script reflects decisions made by the writer, depiction of implicit vs. explicit violence (and other camerawork) reflects decisions made by the camera director ... In light of this, I feel that arguing that casting is a choice is not sufficient to demonstrate that it is not part of the work. EDIT: Actually, if anything, I feel that because casting is a decision made by people responsible for creating the show that will affect the way the story and its setting are portrayed, this makes it very -clearly- a part of the work! Monique's comments about casting are indeed relevant to the work.
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stripeypants



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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

infested wrote:
=( Sorry, that must be really tough, stripeypants. I hope I haven't stepped on a nerve.


No worries, my feels are in tact, as they have been fortified with art and coconut italian soda.
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Yinello



Joined: 10 May 2012
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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Miss Magenta wrote:
Yinello wrote:
I currently like Persona 4. But there are ZERO people of colour in it, everyone is white.


I thought the cast of Persona 4 consisted of Asian characters, not white ppl?


They look pretty dang white to me. It's probably the anime face but I'm not getting Asian vibes from them.
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Yinello



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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lol wrote:
Yinello wrote:
I currently like Persona 4. But there are ZERO people of colour in it, everyone is white. Even the guy who calls himself funky and wears a big afro is white. Despite that it's still a really good game.

I think it's always good to point out that the aspects that are wrong even in the things you love and adore.

Most of the people in that game are japanese, not white. I'm not picking on you, but did the japanese names not tip you off? Chie Satonaka, Yukiko Amagi, Kanji Tatsumi, Yosuke Hanamura?

This actually is a decent prompt for me to post this link. There's this common misconception in the West that anime, and similar works, feature mostly white people. It stems from our own cultural biases though. This article does a great job of explaining it.

http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/08/30/guest-post-why-do-the-japanese-draw-themselves-as-white/

A culture that doesn't consider white people the ultimate human ideal? NO WAAAAAYYYY!!!!!

(that wasn't aimed at you Yinello. Much love.)


<3

Names do not necessarily imply origin of country. My irl name is Arabic and I'm definitely not Arabic.

Nice link. Very Happy But it doesn't excuse Persona 4 for having mostly 1 skintype in their game. My complaint was mostly that they lack diversity, but I guess I could've worded it better. :3
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Tekii



Joined: 27 May 2012
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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yinello wrote:
lol wrote:
Yinello wrote:
I currently like Persona 4. But there are ZERO people of colour in it, everyone is white. Even the guy who calls himself funky and wears a big afro is white. Despite that it's still a really good game.

I think it's always good to point out that the aspects that are wrong even in the things you love and adore.

Most of the people in that game are japanese, not white. I'm not picking on you, but did the japanese names not tip you off? Chie Satonaka, Yukiko Amagi, Kanji Tatsumi, Yosuke Hanamura?

This actually is a decent prompt for me to post this link. There's this common misconception in the West that anime, and similar works, feature mostly white people. It stems from our own cultural biases though. This article does a great job of explaining it.

http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/08/30/guest-post-why-do-the-japanese-draw-themselves-as-white/

A culture that doesn't consider white people the ultimate human ideal? NO WAAAAAYYYY!!!!!

(that wasn't aimed at you Yinello. Much love.)


<3

Names do not necessarily imply origin of country. My irl name is Arabic and I'm definitely not Arabic.

Nice link. Very Happy But it doesn't excuse Persona 4 for having mostly 1 skintype in their game. My complaint was mostly that they lack diversity, but I guess I could've worded it better. :3


Do Japanese people have much variation in their skin tones?
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Yinello



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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tekii wrote:
Yinello wrote:
lol wrote:
Yinello wrote:
I currently like Persona 4. But there are ZERO people of colour in it, everyone is white. Even the guy who calls himself funky and wears a big afro is white. Despite that it's still a really good game.

I think it's always good to point out that the aspects that are wrong even in the things you love and adore.

Most of the people in that game are japanese, not white. I'm not picking on you, but did the japanese names not tip you off? Chie Satonaka, Yukiko Amagi, Kanji Tatsumi, Yosuke Hanamura?

This actually is a decent prompt for me to post this link. There's this common misconception in the West that anime, and similar works, feature mostly white people. It stems from our own cultural biases though. This article does a great job of explaining it.

http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/08/30/guest-post-why-do-the-japanese-draw-themselves-as-white/

A culture that doesn't consider white people the ultimate human ideal? NO WAAAAAYYYY!!!!!

(that wasn't aimed at you Yinello. Much love.)


<3

Names do not necessarily imply origin of country. My irl name is Arabic and I'm definitely not Arabic.

Nice link. Very Happy But it doesn't excuse Persona 4 for having mostly 1 skintype in their game. My complaint was mostly that they lack diversity, but I guess I could've worded it better. :3


Do Japanese people have much variation in their skin tones?


From ze Google:

Flavor text below the image: Japanese government officials and celebrities sent messages to wish Divine Performing Arts a great success

But honestly that shouldn't really matter. Diversity should always be considered. Most games (especially MMOs) can't get away anymore with excluding people of color, Japanese games shouldn't be the exception. I would let Persona 4 off the hook more if the creator wasn't aware that the game would become so popular, but considering it's number 4 of a series... I'm pretty sure he does.
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Tekii



Joined: 27 May 2012
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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yinello wrote:
Tekii wrote:
Yinello wrote:
lol wrote:
Yinello wrote:
I currently like Persona 4. But there are ZERO people of colour in it, everyone is white. Even the guy who calls himself funky and wears a big afro is white. Despite that it's still a really good game.

I think it's always good to point out that the aspects that are wrong even in the things you love and adore.

Most of the people in that game are japanese, not white. I'm not picking on you, but did the japanese names not tip you off? Chie Satonaka, Yukiko Amagi, Kanji Tatsumi, Yosuke Hanamura?

This actually is a decent prompt for me to post this link. There's this common misconception in the West that anime, and similar works, feature mostly white people. It stems from our own cultural biases though. This article does a great job of explaining it.

http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/08/30/guest-post-why-do-the-japanese-draw-themselves-as-white/

A culture that doesn't consider white people the ultimate human ideal? NO WAAAAAYYYY!!!!!

(that wasn't aimed at you Yinello. Much love.)


<3

Names do not necessarily imply origin of country. My irl name is Arabic and I'm definitely not Arabic.

Nice link. Very Happy But it doesn't excuse Persona 4 for having mostly 1 skintype in their game. My complaint was mostly that they lack diversity, but I guess I could've worded it better. :3


Do Japanese people have much variation in their skin tones?


From ze Google:

Flavor text below the image: Japanese government officials and celebrities sent messages to wish Divine Performing Arts a great success

But honestly that shouldn't really matter. Diversity should always be considered. Most games (especially MMOs) can't get away anymore with excluding people of color, Japanese games shouldn't be the exception. I would let Persona 4 off the hook more if the creator wasn't aware that the game would become so popular, but considering it's number 4 of a series... I'm pretty sure he does.


Western culture barely has racial diversity as it is in mainstream media and you want a country with almost no racial diversity to be able to handle it? I would worry about our own countries first rather then a Japanese company making Japanese characters in their game set in Japan.
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Yinello



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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We were talking about problematic things after all. Just because they might not want to tackle it doesn't make it less problematic.

I want everyone to handle it. As I said, I love the game but I'm not going to stop myself from saying it's not perfect just because a country might be more racist. There's nothing wrong with pointing out the flaws of something you love. Every form of entertainment should always get a good critical look from people, no matter where they are from or who made them, because they will have an impact small or big.
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Tekii



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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yinello wrote:
We were talking about problematic things after all. Just because they might not want to tackle it doesn't make it less problematic.

I want everyone to handle it. As I said, I love the game but I'm not going to stop myself from saying it's not perfect just because a country might be more racist.


How is them portraying Japanese people in Japan in their Japanese games in a very homogeneous country racist?
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