Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 00:36 on 13-11-2011, TryCatcher
I believe on just introducing facts and let the reader decide whatever they are good or bad.
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at 00:30 on 13-11-2011, Arthur B
Anyone else playing Skyrim?

I love the fact that they give you the option to throw in with the Imperials or the rebellion right from the start.

Also my character is a berserker from a death metal band, complete with scary corpsepaint.
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at 22:22 on 12-11-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Apropos of absolutely nothing: any day you spend reading about primordial Greek gods and extrasolar planets is a good day.
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at 20:32 on 12-11-2011, Arthur B
I think that's where the main awkwardness is, and it's very difficult to see a way forward. On the one hand, you don't want to end up waving your privilege stick and denying that the way something handles a particular topic is shite if it is, in fact, shite. On the other hand, whether or not a particular work's handling of a particular topic is or is not shite is surely a valid topic of discussion - whether a text fails at something or not isn't always going to have a clear answer.

I think on balance you have to accept that you can only ever say that a text is "alright for me" and you can't necessarily say that it must be alright for others - and consequently, there'll be aspects of a text where you don't have the standing to give the all-clear to it.
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at 19:46 on 12-11-2011, Sister Magpie
That article's interesting because on one hand yes, everything is reasonable. But I still get a little twitchy reading comments that can't help but get prescriptive about how things need to be written. For instance, there's a note about how if you have a character who's a bigot, it needs to be shown as a trait of a bad person and showed as bad. And that makes sense. But then, what about a character for whom bigotry is just part of who they are and otherwise they're a nice person? Is that a bad character to write? Because I'd argue that that's a realistic thing and a good thing to write about, because in the real world people often act like a nice person can't be bigoted.

Yet that character isn't always necessarily going to get called out, because they might not be an important character or it might just be part of the world. For instance, I wouldn't present Mad Men as a shining example of a show dealing with racism, but it does often have people say things that are just establishing the time period and the attitudes that these characters have, often without comment or condemnation. Sometimes it's even funny.

So is it a bad thing that it does that, particularly when it's not dealing with race in any central way? I don't feel like it is. I'd agree with someone who pointed out that the show isn't saying anything noteworthy about race, but I don't know that I'd want to score it badly against a hypothetical version that did, you know? Sometimes it's hard to do what the article says about not defending the problematic thing if you just really don't agree with a particular argument against it.
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at 13:30 on 12-11-2011, Jamie Johnston
How to be a fan of problematic things doesn't say anything that most people here won't already have read / said themselves, but it's quite useful to have a short and readable summary to link to when necessary. (Via ihavechortles.)
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at 09:17 on 12-11-2011, Janne Kirjasniemi
valse: I'm sorry that I derailed the discussion earlier. I hope you'll believe me that I had no hidden ill intent. I do not believe that men are somehow oppressed as men and I certainly do not believe that misandry has any institutional or systematic foundation. As I do not believe these things I'm also sorry that I wasn't clearer in writing so earlier and was thus associated with such thinking. So, once again apologies and I'll try to do better next time.
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at 09:14 on 12-11-2011, valse de la lune
Reading the comments on that Concurring Opinions entry. That's a lot of whiny, insecure children bleating over the poor, long-suffering lot of men. It's like men's rights activists set google alerts up for "male privilege" and swarm up any blog or forum thread they find dealing with such to berate the wimmens how we have it all wrong and how men are really the downtrodden victims of the world. False rape accusations, military draft, custody battles: oh my, it's like a bingo card machine!
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at 06:53 on 12-11-2011, valse de la lune
Arthur: yep, that's what I mean. It's similar to how some nerds like to whine that they too are oppressed because people were mean to them in school. But there's no such thing as "nerdism." It's not a real oppression; it doesn't signify and the only context it will be taken seriously is among other self-pitying nerds/straights/whites/men.

TryCatcher? Your apologia for homophobia and your apparent belief that misandry or anti-white racism is a real thing leads me to believe that you are a smug, privilege-denying tool. I don't usually say this kind of thing in respect of FB as a space, but everything you've ever said regarding minorities has been condescending bullshit. Sit down. Your input isn't half as incisive or clever as you'd like to think. It's old hat. You are boring and sophomoric.

this debunking of the concept of female privilege seems apropos.


Aw, how did I miss this? *bookmarks*

You mention male privilege in a blog post, and it’s inevitable: Someone else (usually male) will start asking about female privilege. If men have privilege, don’t women have privilege too? And does that undercut the idea of male privilege as a type of gender subordination which is built into society? (Because, the implication goes, we all have privilege — and so feminists should stop complaining about male privilege.)


Textbook.
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at 03:37 on 12-11-2011, Frank
I inferred 'anti-white racism or "heterophobia" doesn't exist' to mean that even if it occurs, it doesn't oppress straight whites to any significant degree as racism and homophobia from straight whites. Even straight whites who don't want to be racist or homophobic but have grown up in pop culture that pushes the dominant cultures tropes of PoC and LGBTQI individuals and their cultures and communities, slip into the dominant narrative of the culture and say something racist or do something homophobic.
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at 03:32 on 12-11-2011, Fin permalink
at 03:07 on 12-11-2011, Arthur B
By the way, try to not throw unsupported statements of "X and Y don't exist" just because it doesn't fit your narrative. Is just childish.

I don't want to put words in valse's mouth, but my understanding of what was being said is that whilst misandry-as-individual-quirk does demonstrably exist, misandry-as-social-phenomenon does not exist in the way that misogyny-as-social-phenomenon most definitely does.

In other words, you can probably find a misandrist here and there, in the same way that if you look hard enough you'll find people who believe any arbitrary thing you could care to posit. What you don't find is a pervasive culture of misandry.

Please correct me if I'm getting this wrong, valse.
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at 02:07 on 12-11-2011, TryCatcher
I didn't "insisted" on that, I just made a rash statement and didn't wanted to fight for it. I could have said "a lot of young men are completely unsure of their own masculinity and they attack viciously everything that isn't on their demographic in a sad attempt to overcompensate", but thought that it was too long at the moment. And that statement doesn't even come fron a need to "defend" nerds, it comes from my (highly cynical) observation that most people are just petty and put their "tribe" above all else. Probably myself included.

There you have the long explanation for that.

By the way, try to not throw unsupported statements of "X and Y don't exist" just because it doesn't fit your narrative. Is just childish.
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at 22:36 on 11-11-2011, valse de la lune
As it were the derailment and apparent shift of focus to men came about as I thought the original discussion was about men to some degree and you yourself brought up the priviledge of the male demographic.


I, oh, wow. I'd like to believe you are saying all this in good faith, but either the point is zipping over your head at incredible speeds or you honestly don't get why it's neither appropriate nor welcome to trot out the suffering of men when male privilege is brought up. Take a look at this. Concerns race rather than gender, but in certain contexts operate in not-dissimilar ways. Look up aversive racism and aversive racism too, and then check Derailing for Dummies out. You're ticking boxes like you wouldn't believe.

As such I thought that continuing the discussion along those lines was perhaps tangential, but it interested me to do so. If I had a hidden agenda it would have been to influence you to a more moderate statement on the subject rather than winning as such.


To what? Because it sounds to me like you're pulling the devil's advocate card.

As was clear in my earlier posts I did conceed most of your points and I actually consider myself a feminist, though perhaps not enough or perhaps differently than you'd like.


Do you identify as a woman?

As you brought up misandrism and your doubts as to its existence, I merely thought it interesting to prove by counter-example that such sentiments are extant. I am well aware that they are not in any way a significant part of feminist thought, whatever some older scifi would have us think.


I don't doubt that misandry exists; I know for a fact that it doesn't exist in any meaningful manner, much like how anti-white racism or "heterophobia" doesn't exist.
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at 21:52 on 11-11-2011, Janne Kirjasniemi
valse: I'm sorry, but I thought we were having a different discussion. As it were the derailment and apparent shift of focus to men came about as I thought the original discussion was about men to some degree and you yourself brought up the priviledge of the male demographic. As such I thought that continuing the discussion along those lines was perhaps tangential, but it interested me to do so. If I had a hidden agenda it would have been to influence you to a more moderate statement on the subject rather than winning as such. Actually what I meant to say was that I realize that the group "White male heterosexuals" is more advantaged in most places yes. Probably everywhere. Perhaps not Dubai? I usually try to avoid blank statements on issues I am not more sure about.

As was clear in my earlier posts I did conceed most of your points and I actually consider myself a feminist, though perhaps not enough or perhaps differently than you'd like. I do not understand how you got to your conclusion of my intentions in bringing up Solanas. As you brought up misandrism and your doubts as to its existence, I merely thought it interesting to prove by counter-example that such sentiments are extant. I am well aware that they are not in any way a significant part of feminist thought, whatever some older scifi would have us think. I do think that you jumped to some pretty big conclusions about my intentions in my writing in general with your last post and I do not mean that as a defense of myself or my writing. I will grant that I did not perhaps express myself adequately, which, of course, is my fault entirely.

But I do apologize for angering you and I will try not to repeat the mistake.
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at 21:43 on 11-11-2011, Frank
The retcon requires my hate.
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at 21:30 on 11-11-2011, valse de la lune
Oops, I accidentally a word so that didn't make sense. What I meant to say is: "She's not on wheels anymore, though."
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at 20:40 on 11-11-2011, Frank
Yeah... how are you defining 'compelling character'? Cuz Barbara Gordon kicked open the door to the fridge she was stuffed in and wheeled the fuck out, kicking some ass.
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at 19:16 on 11-11-2011, Ibmiller
Good point about category confusion. Since I regard all text as literature (which leads to my more exclusionary friends to pointing at street signs and mocking my "literature"), I have no real terminology problems with "Beowulf" or such being "literture" - but I do acknowledge that there is a distinction between what I use as boxes, and what boxes existed back then, and that distinction makes a big difference in how you look at the composition of a work.

And originality is indeed overrated. Skill and intelligence in handling old concepts, even cliches, are much more interesting to me than most "new" ideas (which, I think, are usually pretty old, just with new names slapped on).

Also, I must have missed that comic book statement. I'm a big baffled...I mean, I personally don't find Venom compelling, but he's certainly more interesting to me than the Punisher. And I think that comics, while definitely written by 30-40 year old fanboys (mostly, though some bright spots of non-boy-ness exist), are actually written for the adolescent crowd. I think the statistics show that the majority of comic buyers still read and purchase them between 12 years old and college - which is why things like the recent DC reboot happened and seem to work out okay, despite the fairly articulate reasons for them not to happen or work. Because people like me, who have graduated and still read and buy comics, are in the significant minority. So I don't think that they are written for 40 year olds. Sometimes I wish they were - we might have actually good things happen every now and then. But that might be me getting agist.
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at 19:12 on 11-11-2011, Jamie Johnston
On other topics, I don't know whether anyone here is in any danger of going to see The ides of March but my recommendation would be to wait 'til it's on the telly. It's a competent and well-made political thriller about rich white USian dudes that does exactly all the things you'd expect such a film to do. Clooney is unremarkable, Gosling is pretty good, and Wood almost overcomes the fact that the writers have given her a plot device rather than a character. (In fact there's a sequence near the end that pretty much explicitly invites the audience to regard all attractive young women as interchangeable and doomed.)

From the trailer, though, I quite like the look of The awakening.
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at 18:57 on 11-11-2011, Jamie Johnston
Catching up a bit...

Ibmiller wrote:
I would also like to moot the issue of "what is derivative fiction," if anyone's interested. I mean, tie-in work is pretty clearly a commercially driven property, but there are a lot of professionally published Sherlock Holmes, Jane Austen, King Arthur, and the occasionally more difficult to find Narnia, Shakespeare, and Virgil fanfic. Okay, yes, I consider the Inferno fanfiction (to some extent...but then, I think the Aeneid is kind of Homeric fanfiction, so I'm clearly beyond all reason).

I wouldn't say beyond all reason at all. I mean, as we saw from the discussion about Beowulf being 'wish-fulfillment' a while back, in many ways it gets unhelpful to try to classify pre-modern texts in boxes made by and for modern readers (to the point where I hesitate to say 'fiction' or 'literature' rather than 'texts'). But it's got to be productive and relevant to point out that tie-in and fan works on the one hand, and a huge proportion of ancient western narrative texts on the other hand, are both based on re-using existing characters and settings. If only to counteract the excessive premium placed on 'originality' and the accompanying deprecation of fan-work &c.

It's also, of course, a creative approach that has underpinned comics since they began. Speaking of which, TryCatcher wrote:
About comic books, their main problem is that they are written by ad for 40-year old fanboys. There's hasn't been a compelling character on the big two (Marvel and DC) since The Punisher. So yeah.

Wow, that's quite a statement! I mean, of course there's no arguing over tastes, so never mind how compelling you can get by saying 'hey what if Batman really liked guns?' — are you really saying neither Marvel nor DC have created a single compelling character since 1974? o_O
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at 18:31 on 11-11-2011, valse de la lune
Maybe is me, but making a huge "Systematical Opression of the System" statement just because some guys decided to use a female pseudonym seems out of proportion.


Look, ma, someone's fighting a straw man!

You seem to generally have a lot of opinions with regards to minorities and said opinions have consistently followed a pattern of deflection or apologia, e.g. the WoW thing which you insisted was totally not homophobia. Do you have any further scintillating insights you'd like to offer? Are you some kind of ambassador from Kotaku or Reddit?
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at 17:59 on 11-11-2011, TryCatcher
Maybe is me, but making a huge "Systematical Opression of the System" statement just because some guys decided to use a female pseudonym seems out of proportion. Note that I already wrote my opinion on trying to pass fiction stories as facts.
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