Monday, October 24, 2016

Works of fiction should not be edited to conform with political correctness because they aren't real and are only there to entertain.

I got into an interesting conversation this weekend with my friend Meg about The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Basically, she said she wasn't interested in it because the movie (playing at a local theater with live shadow acting) promotes "rape culture." It was an interesting comment because I came back with the opinion that it's a work of fiction. Dr. Frankenfurter is not a real character. I followed up with the question, "Does our fiction need to be edited so that it doesn't promote 'rape culture' or so that it becomes politically correct?" When I asked her this question, she indicated in not so many words that she didn't mean it that way. However my question did give her pause to think about the implications of being able to distinguish between reality and fiction.

We live in a very peculiar world right now. Facts and everyday realities, if they don't agree with what a person believes to be true, are now being dismissed as partisan opinion. There are many people who (because of this environment) are unable to tell truth from lie, fact from fiction, or fantasy from reality. I've never seen anything quite like it. You can actually present a video to some people, and if that actual video doesn't agree with what they believe, they'll dispute it saying it's faked. I'm troubled by the new realities that seem to be sweeping the nation, where facts no longer seem to matter, and conspiracy theories and untruths are things that people believe with all their heart.

That being said, I'm more thankful than I ever have been that the First Amendment exists. I never really expected the threat to actual fiction to come from the political left, but I see that there's a bunch of people out there who believe that works of fiction need to be "edited" so as not to portray anything that may be "triggers" for people. For example, there are people who believe that Game of Thrones and Westworld should be modified so that they don't portray so much sexual assault. I of course disagree with this. The programs should feature as much sexual assault as the writer wants. No one is forcing anyone to consume either the programs (or the books). If someone is against these things, then start a discourse as to why.

The argument (of course) is that some people are being encouraged by what they see in film and in fiction books and even (by extension) video games. And that's where I think society needs to really think about what's going on here: people are losing their ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Why is this happening? Do we blame education and belief systems? Or do we look at ourselves and realize that there are conversations taking place every day meant to break down trust and faith that once existed between people only to shift that trust and faith to someone else who has a singular objective: to make money. I suppose this is one of the real downsides of capitalism. Anyone care to weigh in?


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  2. Entertainment does sometimes shove things down our throats, but as you said, don't like it, don't watch it.
    Losing the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy? I wonder that sometimes as well. Like all the backlash against Harry Potter from Christians. I'm a Christian and I never understood it - you're telling me your kid won't understand that Harry Potter is fantasy?
    And sorry, I won't watch Rocky Horror because I thought it was a really stupid movie the first time.

  3. Agreed as long as the sexual assault has a point and isn't just for shock value.

  4. I certainly don't advocate for censorship of any kind, but I would point out (because it's a thing I find interesting) that your brain can't actually distinguish fact from fiction. The pathways your brain set when reading about a fictional character (like Harry Potter) are of the same type it sets when you interact with a friend in "real life." So fiction does have the same kind of influence over us as "the real world."

  5. Capitalism is a great idea but it relies on a system of unlimited resources. Socialism needs to be added to the mix so future generations aren't stripped of all opportunities. Our National Parks are a perfect example of American socialism at its best. Here in Oregon it isn't possible to purchase a beach; these remain open for everyone's enjoyment.

  6. There are some shows and movies that I worry about as far as giving the mentally disturbed ideas, but censorship hadn't occurred to me. I wouldn't be in favor of it. I also don't think we're going to see censorship any time soon, not as long as certain shows keep making money.

  7. I'm going to have to think about this a bit more before I respond. Triggers are real. Some people have been traumatized and should steer clear of things that are going to be damaging to their psyches. It's part of PTSD.

    But, that doesn't mean that all triggers should be expunged from fiction. While some writers put out that sort of material to titillate, others use it as a way to demonstrate the dangers. And, of course, there are those who use such things as a way to clear out issues they may have with those ideas--either because of trauma in their past or as just a way to heal and move on from something similar.

    I do think that stories that contain such triggers should be labeled as such so that those who would be shattered by exposure can avoid them. Like, for example, I can't stand anything where people are systematically tortured. I can't watch Holocaust stories. They make my physically ill. And rape... Yeah, can't go there. (This is one of the reasons why I can't watch Game of Thrones. It's too intense for me.)

    What was your question again? I seem to have lost my point here.

    I think the whole thing about people choosing to believe what they want even with proof to the contrary is a different issue entirely. And this comment is long enough.

  8. I agree that some people seem to be losing the ability to distinguish between fact and fantasy, and my own theory for this is we have failed to teach people how to think. I mean, really think and debate and logically argue viewpoints--it's almost becoming a lost art.