28 May 2017

trysdyn: (Default)
When I was a wee thing I went to a private school. In fact, I went to a private Christian school for my entire K thru 12 education. One of my main pains of the time was trying to integrate with a peer group that followed a belief system I was only tangentially a part of. My high school class fluxed between 15 and 8 students, all the rest boys, and most of the final 8 were there the whole ride. I didn't have many options for branching out socially.

One of the common sources of social strain was the difference in opinion on consuming media. I loved first person shooters, kung fu movies, heavy metal, and D&D. Most of them found FPSes excessively violent, modern movies needlessly secular and sinful, heavy metal the music of the devil, and D&D to be satan worship. The rare few times we found an interest that aligned between us, I cherished it. Music was an especially rare and special one, especially since we were permitted to play music during our computing classes.

We learned of POD and Creed. Yeah I know, Creed. It was a different time back then, cut me some slack. Neither of these bands scratched the itch for me that the likes of Spineshank, and Drowning Pool did, but they gave me some opportunity to connect with my peers. I got into them, we played their stuff during study hall and computing class, it was nice to have something we had in common.

One day I walked into class and plunked down and started to fire up Winamp (dating myself, right?). I'd gotten my hands on Creed's newer album and wanted to show that off. To my shock, the student next to me turned his head, looked at me, and said "Oh we don't listen to them anymore". What? The reasons pretty much boiled down to one of the songs ("Bullets", if you care) on their recent album had violent undertones, and they had declared Creed to be "Not Christian", ergo they were instantly dropped from consideration. This baffled me, though it was an ongoing theme through most of my high school years; the first sign of secular tendencies from a media source instantly dropped it from the minds of my peers.

What's this have to do with anything? Well the title of this post refers to a specific tweet made awhile ago. This is a tongue in cheek description of a very real thing that happens when someone is catapulted into fame and people begin to peer into their history, whether that be their Twitter history or meatspace history. If something is found to violate the sensibilities of a community, they usually then self-police to remove that person's content from the group consciousness, much like my group censured media they once enjoyed because of (to the external observer) unrelated concepts.

To someone in the thick of it, they're not unrelated though. If someone expresses a viewpoint that is objectively harmful to a group of people, there's definitely an onus to apply pressure to them to change; or to remove their voice from their presence. I definitely don't blame anyone for wanting to do that-- I guess what makes me headtilt a bit is the pressure on said peers to also remove said media from their own consciousness. I've seen a few people flat out say "Stop faving the low resolution shadow pic" because the originator made a transphobic comment 16 months ago. (To be fair, from what I hear they're still kind of awful, so time isn't a factor here)

I guess what it boils down to is if society is required to discard the creations of a person if they find they do not want to interact with that person or consider that person harmful to their structure. I always felt no. I continued to listen to Creed after learning they were no longer appropriate for my peer group; I still find that shadow picture hilarious. I probably wouldn't post it in any circle of my friends that are especially sensitive to trans issues, but it doesn't bother me that the originator of a specific piece of media is a "bad person".

I used to use Orson Scott Card as an example of this. At this point we're aware he's a pretty bad dude but does that erode the quality of his unrelated works? If not, am I causing harm to anyone by engaging in those works? If I bought Ender's Game, or saw the movie, he'd get a few cents off me in royalties... so probably not unless he was contributing financially a cut of his take to DOMA lobbying or something. Conversely, am I sending any message by boycotting his work? Is he likely to understand his viewpoints are causing him financial harm? Would that be likely to change anything? I don't know.

To further muddy the water for me: if someone creates something I enjoy, aren't they deserving of the recognition and financial gain for that based purely on that, irrespective of their political views and things they may have said in the past? That's a very capitalist way of thinking, and that used to be a solid "Yes" for me back when I thought mostly in terms of economics; now I'm not so sure.

At the bottom of all of this though is my personal enjoyment and the enjoyment of my peers when engaging in media. I wish I could attribute it properly, but it floated by on my timeline awhile back... Someone wiser than me expressed this very nicely: You will find problems with any media, or any creator, you look at. If you censure and boycott everything "problematic", you will be starved for media because true intersectionality is a never-ending journey. As we find more ways to identify ourselves, we need to include them in media. At least at present, no one gets that right. Not a single creative outlet. To me it seems the better solution is to consume that media and identify the problems, using them for points for improvement rather than engaging in censure.

I guess above all I find it amusing that I walked all the way across the political spectrum only to find the same behaviors going on on both sides.