maybe it's possible to describe a thing in terms other than 'thing is good' or 'thing is bad'

for fiction especially a lot of people seem dead set on the idea that whatever's being depicted must be something the work and the author supports. every protagonist must be a role model and every setting must be an ideal world, and if you like any aspect of a world, you must support everything that appears in it

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in this world, the only possible responses to a work are complete identification or complete repudiation, and the only permitted mode of criticism is endless legalistic litigation of its 'lore' and the existence or non-existence of 'plot holes'

i think of gamers pissing themselves over the suggestion their video game might have politics in it, but also how in online leftist spaces politics, identity, and media consumption collapse together

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whatever you and the people who post in the good group chats like is good, and whatever the people who post in the good group chats like is bad. any kind of an engagement with a work deemed bad is problematic, and any critique of a work deemed good is a personal attack & discriminatory against w/e marginalised groups you can claim membership of

all of this often pretends to be an abolition of the difference between the personal and the political — 'you aren't immune to propaganda', the art can't be separated from the artist, and so on — but actually accounts to the strengthening of the personal by hiding it inside the political. in a kind of a vulgar backlash against the death of the author, all borders between authorial intent, text, subtext, reading, and reality are abolished and everything becomes one surface

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i don't see a difference between this and the right-wing libidinal investment in video game lady bazonkas, or the way liberals latch onto game of thrones or harry potter. in all cases it's an entwinement of the personal with the brand, the surface: such a complete identification that trying to highlight the relationship between any of its parts, or the parts existing as anything but brute, unanalysable givens, becomes seen as an existential threat. they're replacement egos

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and this way of thinking bleeds into everything else: political theories, sexual identities, all get approached the same way, as brands, as fandoms. it's given extra urgency by the need to split everything into 'problematic' and 'praxis', which is another replacement ego. the line must be cleanly demarkable, as otherwise the integrity of the replacement ego would be compromised. and so reasons must be invented for everything you don't like to be 'tankie' or 'liberal' or 'channer' or w/e

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@esvrld thinking about david graeber's remark that claims for "art for art's sake" are themselves political demands, because they express the desire for a world free of art's instrumentalisation. similarly, art's well-documented interest in moral ambiguity is flattened in the service of its commodification. this hypermoralising approach to art reduces it to the expression of a virtuous consumer identity, within a carceral-capitalistic logic

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