"Realism" in popular culture

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"Realism" in popular culture

Postby hascow » 11 Sep 2014, 11:19

[TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual Assault]

I ran across this fascinating article today discussing sexual assault and the arguments of "realism" from defenders of particular bits of popular culture over things that others find distinctly uncomfortable about them.

Definitely worth a read, as it caused me to have a bit of a shift in my way of thinking about the sorts of things being discussed. The author brought up some really interesting scenes and examples to make some really good, clearly well-thought-out points.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Hiramas » 11 Sep 2014, 12:57

Thank you, that was actually a well written piece.
The author is saying exactly the same things the very vocal "rape is realistic" crowd is saying, but she is offering the solution to the problem: Good Writing!
(I have not read anything by this author, so I don't know if she is any good, but the intention is clear)
Sexual violence is often realistic and should NOT be overlooked because it would cover up the fact and hide the real-world problem from the reader/viewer.
BUT using rape as part of an origin story, using sexual violence as part of the background dressing is in an overwhelming number of cases just lazy writing. It is the cheap and easy way out because everyone knows rape=bad.
The author can avoid a lot of real character development this way. It is the same with other such tropes like Bruce Waynes dead parents.

Good writing can solve A LOT of problems with the depiction of woman in modern fiction.
Instead of hurting the story, like a lot of people seem to fear, it would actually help it.
Nobody could really argue against this.

But as long as this "cheap shot of character development" is still this widely accepted, it won't change.

tl;dr
Thanks for the link, well written, interesting read.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby korvys » 11 Sep 2014, 15:52

That was excellent, thank you.

This is something that was touched on briefly in the most recent Tropes vs Women video. While I don't want to get into that discussion, it, and a conversation about it on twitter, had me thinking about the idea of sanitised violence (specifically against women). Basically violence, but without any of the repercussions.

Writers seem to use rape as shorthand for "this world is harsh and cruel" or something similar. Which is fine, I suppose, but lazy. Plus, for something that is doing so little for the story, they often spend far too much detail on it. Making a comment about how common it is would get the point across without pages going into detail. If you're going to spend pages on something, it had better be important in the long run, and not just set dressing.

This also reminded me that I need to see Skyfall. I've heard nothing but good things.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Matt » 11 Sep 2014, 16:26

Once you HAVE seen Skyfall, if you care to read a fairly cutting critique of it (from someone who enjoyed it, but is teasing apart the subtext) filmcrithulk did a fantastic assessment of it in his Hulk vs Bond Day 4 column. The gist: Skyfall is a fantastic movie that says some really troubling things about Bond, the world Bond lives in, and how we should treat and react to Bond.

You should just really read the whole column series.

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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby hascow » 11 Sep 2014, 16:57

All this Bond stuff reminds me of something that I thought of while reading the article, and don't know the answer to.

Are any women in Bond films sexually assaulted? I haven't really ever watched Bond movies, so I don't know whether it's something that just doesn't really come up in Bond canon, or whether the Skyfall scene is just something happening to Bond that happens to women constantly in that world. Anyone know?
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Matt » 11 Sep 2014, 17:09

Yes.

Bond himself commits several ostensible rapes of women over the course if the films, though they never play it as "rape" if you get my meaning.

It's usually presented in a "she secretly couldn't resist him" or "she was a bad guy and so it's punishment / duty / bond didn't enjoy it either" kinda way.

Bond is not a "good" guy.

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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby hascow » 11 Sep 2014, 18:14

Matt wrote:Yes.

Bond himself commits several ostensible rapes of women over the course if the films, though they never play it as "rape" if you get my meaning.

It's usually presented in a "she secretly couldn't resist him" or "she was a bad guy and so it's punishment / duty / bond didn't enjoy it either" kinda way.

Bond is not a "good" guy.

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Ok. As mentioned, I haven't actually watched Bond at any point, so that's not something I was aware of. Sounds...about as icky as I would've expected from a "suave spy" movie.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Matt » 11 Sep 2014, 18:24

It's... yeah, it's icky. A lot about Bond is icky.

The franchise definitely falls into the category of problematic media that people love anyhow.

one of the reasons I liked the hulk columns on Bond so much is that he does an amazing job of breaking down (over the course of >80,000 words!) how and why Bond is icky, why we like him anyhow, and how the ick has historically been treated in ways that work, and ways they don't.

Bond can be used to say good things or bad things.

Skyfall is one of the movies that really knocks the look & feel of Bond out of the park - absolutely perfectly executed, and sexy. But it uses Bond to say a number of bad things.

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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby AdmiralMemo » 11 Sep 2014, 18:41

Matt wrote:Bond is not a "good" guy.
I'd say that Bond is the anti-hero in a Black and Gray Morality world.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Avistew » 11 Sep 2014, 19:50

I really enjoyed the article and I agree with it.
This being said, I found Skyfall very "meh". I'm not a huge Bond fan though so that could have a lot to do with it.

At least I only found it "meh". Out of the group of people I saw it with, I was the only one whose reaction wasn't "this was so horrible I want not only to be paid back, but compensated for having to watch it". So I have to say I'm confused by the "I have only heard good things about it". Prior to this article, I had never heard one good thing about it.

I do think they over-reacted though. It's definitely not that bad, and I totally understand that people into this kind of movies may like it.

Going back to the main subject here, though, I have to say, I have been disturbed in the past by rape (of women) being everywhere, and the way for authors to show "the world is cruel" and so on. But I am at least equally disturbed by how men getting raped is usually, when it's part of a story at all, used as comic relief, or a way to punish the bad guys that we're supposed to be happy about (and, again, find funny).
That's another reason I think male rape (or its risk) being treated seriously in a story would be a very good thing.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Matt » 11 Sep 2014, 20:07

I actually don't understand how a person could hate Skyfall.

That movie does so many things flawlessly. It's gorgeous, well paced and plotted- it does next to nothing wrong (besides the reverence it shows bond himself).

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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby JustAName » 11 Sep 2014, 20:36

I'm afraid I never got around to seeing Skyfall.

On the thread's theme, though, have any of you read The Windup Girl? What did you think? I'll admit I quite enjoyed it when initially reading it for a SciFi class last quarter, and inwardly rebelled a bit against some of my classmates who were uneasy with what they felt was, similar to the above, rape for the sake of the narrative. I know that sounds unusual coming from me, but bear with me.

I think part of it is to do with the sort of revenge porn thing. Bad things happen to a female character, but then she fucks everyone up. This is probably why I also enjoyed Sucker Punch (and we've probably all heard Alex's rants on that by now). There could be a few reasons for this... It could be that because I haven't been assaulted in the way that all my friends have, I want to imagine it's that easy to reclaim one's own sense of personal agency. Or that the way I imagine beating up my friends' abusers translates well to the page/screen for me. Or it could be that I've just been socialized to this idea of the woman who is "damaged" but destroys those who did so because that is the only way the patriarchal norms of narrative say a woman can be empowered.

Basically, I'm worried that someone will tell me my feelings are wrong and bad. And I know that's not the most rational fear, but I'm also afraid that they'd be right if they did.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Duckay » 11 Sep 2014, 21:37

Well, look, I can honestly say I think I know how you feel: I have many, many times felt as though I was having the "wrong" reaction to something and felt sure I was going to get in some kind of trouble for expressing it.

That being said, may I ask - what do you mean you "inwardly rebelled" against other people being uneasy about it? If they were uneasy about the idea of rape being treated as a shallow complication for the sake of the narrative, they are well within their rights to feel that way.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby JustAName » 11 Sep 2014, 21:58

Not that at all. Tbh, I felt they were initially treating it as though it WAS being treated as a shallow narrative device, while I... Hm. So, it IS used shallowly frequently in media at large, but I don't think it was here. If that makes sense. Or, I didn't, but I'm concerned I might be wrong.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Avistew » 11 Sep 2014, 22:10

Fayili, I think there are two things here:

1- There is nothing saying that every single piece of media that includes rape is wrong or bad or lazy. Simply that it has become a trope and should be used carefully, and not just as an easy plot point to show "this person is a bad guy" or something.

2- People can be made uneasy by things you enjoy, people who have personal experience being assaulted can hate a piece of work you like and it can trigger them... and that does not make you a bad person, a bad friend, or unsupportive.
There isn't just one "right" reaction to every single piece of media. And I'm not familiar with the one you're talking about, but for all you know, there are victims who feel the way you do, and others who don't. And the way you feel is just that, the way you feel.

The people in the books/movies aren't actually getting hurt. And if they're reflective of a systemic problem, you can fight the problem in society without having to hate everything that contains it. You can be critical of it while enjoying it. And you can feel that it was treated in a way that worked. It's all fine.

Sometimes, desire for revenge can be stronger in the people who did not personally experience something, too. If it's not you, but your loved ones who got hurt, well some people will go into a rage over it, that's a completely natural reaction. You don't have to feel guilty about that, either, especially when you're not hurting anyone.

It's probably a good idea to learn not to be overwhelmed by such feelings, for your own good if nothing else. But enjoying a book or a movie is fine.

I'm saying all that because I have a feeling that if you rebelled against the people who felt that way, it's because you felt, I don't know, accused by it. Because you enjoyed it when they didn't. But you're allowed to both have opposite feelings, and both be right.

@Matt: About hating Skyfall, beats me. I could ask them but honestly I'm not sure they'd remember at this point, it was a while ago.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby JustAName » 13 Sep 2014, 11:51

They weren't being triggered though - at least not that I was aware (I know, they could have been anyway). And I didn't feel accused - what I took issue with was them claiming it was lazy storytelling when it didn't seem that way to me in that instance.

Anyway, watching Alex's latest Alice stream, I'm deciding that while I respect his opinions overall, I'm not giving them so much weight in my head. Who hates Kill Bill? Really.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Master Gunner » 13 Sep 2014, 11:57

I can't say I was much of a fan of Kill Bill - though I'm also (sadly) unfamiliar with the source material it homages.

I thought it was a well executed movie, and I can see why people like it, it just didn't do much for me. Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, however, I could really get into.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby JustAName » 13 Sep 2014, 12:02

Yeah, but he said he actually hated it. *shrug*
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Elomin Sha » 13 Sep 2014, 12:09

I don't like Kill Bill. I thought it was boring.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby AdmiralMemo » 13 Sep 2014, 14:01

Elomin Sha wrote:I don't like Kill Bill. I thought it was boring.
Same.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Matt » 13 Sep 2014, 14:06

Y'all are nuts.

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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Elomin Sha » 13 Sep 2014, 14:09

Tarantino is kind of overrated.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Avistew » 14 Sep 2014, 00:01

I liked Kill Bill. And yeah, Fayili, it's good not to value any one person's opinions too much. At some point they'll disagree with you and if you idealised them, well, it can be pretty hard. That has happened to me, and I spent some time wondering if I was wrong all along and the person was not a good person in the end, or I was just wrong about this specific issue, which was hard to stomach as well.

In the end I just realised I was being stupid, and that you can love and respect someone, and disagree on stuff, even super important stuff.

I think it must have been a case of that. They thought it was lazy, you thought it was written well, you guys are both entitled to your opinion.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby King Kool » 14 Sep 2014, 18:46

Matt wrote:filmcrithulk did a fantastic assessment of... Bond... You should just really read the whole column series.


I wanted to, but I think he was talking about how OHMSS was the best Bond and... man, he might as well said Die Another Day and Quantum of Solace deserved Oscars, for about how much I can take THAT statement seriously.
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Re: "Realism" in popular culture

Postby Matt » 14 Sep 2014, 19:17

Well, by the time he got to those movies, he certainly didn't nominate them for oscars.

But he also made a pretty compelling argument for why he OMHSS is his favorite of the films, and the movie certainly isn't BAD, whether you personally agree with his rating of it or not.

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