Monday, September 30, 2013

ART Ep. 27: Stereotypes and tropes (feat. Applecidermage and Tzufit)

I sometimes feel like I have the memory of a goldfish. People tell me about things from not long ago and they feel like they happened to a completely different person. Despite this I can still vividly remember one of my first days in the first grade. My teacher sat us all down and told us that we were going to learn about the most important rule of them all, the golden rule.

At the time I can remember thinking that if it is called the golden rule, it must be important. "Treat others how you would like to be treated," she told us. That's it, the most important rule boiled down to its most basic form. It is one of the very first things I was ever taught, I imagine that's the case for most of us, and yet we still struggle with it more than anything else.

As I say in the episode I've been wanting to talk about this issue for a while. Not because I want to push an agenda or be topical, but because there is little that gets me fired up more than when I feel like people are being done a disservice. In this case, they may be fictional, but I feel like the reactions to characters like Jaina and Sylvanas show an issue with how we perceive these characters.

This topic always seems to be controversial. Part of that I find shocking, but I can also understand it to some degree. People sometimes see these issues as limiting creative expression, removing our freedom of speech, and in general forms of censorship. After all if Blizzard isn't free to have a few orcs being ass-holes in an inn doesn't them limit them in some way?

There isn't an easy answer. People fighting for the issues one way or another will tell you there is. It's either poor taste and offensive or harmless. Like most things the truth is a little more in the middle. If Blizzard puts two orcs in an inn who will rank and rate a female NPC they are inviting criticism. Because no matter how you personally might feel about that, you just don't know how it makes others feel. Where the issue comes though is asking the question, "What purpose does this serve?"

That's the way you always have to approach things. If I want to make a character racist or sexist, that's OK. I can do that, but it should always be for a reason. If I'm doing it "just for fun" or because I think it'll be entertaining, then that does invite some criticism about me as the content creator. Ultimately these criticisms are not about censorship or limiting creative control, but about exposing inequality and asking, "why?"

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