let's get the seven lines. (bookshop) wrote,
let's get the seven lines.
bookshop

lately i feel like my new fandom is literary politics.

...joking, of course, and not meant to trivialize in any way the stir of debate and controversy that is swarming all over us at the beginning of 2009. but there are just so many points being raised right now about privilege and diversity and literary integrity, and i am obsessively thinking about a lot of this lately.

Monday tl__dr and i got into a lively debate: she wanted me to watch Big Love.
Some points: I've heard so much high praise for this show; I'm very aware that everyone thinks it's powerful, moving, and subversive, incredible, etc. Also, Chloe Sevigny is my favorite living actress. I'd watch her read the phone book. But I won't watch this show.

The reason is because I feel like the entire premise is appalling and offensive. I was inundated with the initial marketing for this show on Showtime before it premiered, and the premise was basically marketed as humorous: tee hee! let's watch as bill paxton tries to control his harem of wives. It felt extremely gimmicky to me, and I hated it.

I know that the whole point of the show is to subvert that misogynistic trope. Epon explained its work very well, and I respect the good intentions behind the writing.

But from my perspective, I feel like the trope itself (the harem, the mormon with multiple wives) is so shallow, offensive, and sexist that to watch it for the sake of subverting it gives it a legitimacy it otherwise would not have.

That's the best way I can explain my approach. And the reason I took the time to tell you all that is because I think it leads directly into my reaction to another gimmicky phenomenon: homosexuality as a ~shocking plot twist~.Collapse )

It's as though by even *using* these stereotypes you're legitimizing a belief in their validity that I believe we should be completely past and not even acknowledging (and I am completely willing to undergo. By even having a Great Gay Reveal (Sleepaway Camp, anyone??) you're legitimizing a belief that gayness is something shocking, something twist-worthy.

I think what I mean is that when you pick a stereotype like harem or shocking gay reveal! that is so universally understood to be a false stereotype among well-educated people, then to pick up that stereotype and take it seriously by trying to ~subvert~ it is completely unnecessary, doing more to promote that stereotype than to deconstruct it.

Because don't stereotypes by their very nature defy deconstruction because they rely so heavily on the prejudices of those who believe them? So even as you're deconstructing it, you're saying, look, see how I'm unpacking this thing as if it has validity in order to prove that it's invalid?

...but I don't know that I'm right to feel this way. Maybe I'm judging too harshly. I just don't know. And if the process of unpacking those stereotypes is helpful to some readers and writers, then I want to acknowledge that too.

I just. You know. I think that the best way to prove that stereotypes are invalid is to just not write them.
Tags: books, fandom
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