Monday, May 1, 2017

Message Fiction isn't my Cup of Tea

There seems to be a misunderstanding of the necessity of Message Fiction in many writer groups and the boundaries that define what message fic is. Personally, I separate the idea of Message Fic. from fiction that is written with morality/values kept in mind. I might write about the latter at a future time, but this post is about the former and how I view the concept of Message Fiction currently.

"Messages" are radically different than deriving meaning from art.

Message Fic proponents claim any meaning that can be found IS the message and thus, everything has a message even if unintentional on the behalf of the creator. This approach is a side-effect of academic thesis projects leaking into the mainstream populace, critique writing taken to masses who don't fully understand that's what they're imitating.

Probably has something to do with the current state of more people getting higher education degrees and being stuck in that mode of discourse without awareness that it is a pseudo-intelligence dependent on specific discipline frameworks, lexicons, and validation. Academic theory is mistaken for objective fact, rarely acknowledged that within those actual disciplines, there is continual push-and-pull for what is acceptable or not - on a subjective basis because it has to do with crowd and/or expert consensus entirely dependent on individual perspectives of the moment. What was once considered "fact" or accepted conclusions in the past usually are no longer the same as today, just as today's consensus will not be the end-game for tomorrow's scholars because social discourse is meant to be constantly evolving as it is only shaped by those alive and allowed to participate in the conversations. These are extremely limited and specific frameworks from which to build modes of perceptual reality. Academic disciplines are meant to remain in scholarly fields and not be warped into a philosophy of life objective to all people.

In fiction, saying meaning is the same as "message" ignores perspective biases of consumers who project ideas kicking around in their thoughts onto whatever entertainment they happen to consume at the time. Meaning is not the same as Message. Message suggests an objective form of opinion or thought that needs to be preached. Meaning, however, is subjective always. Proven in abstract art, even a blank white canvas can lead to hours of controversial discussion and many essays on the meaning behind that white canvas on the wall - a literal example of how humans project meaning onto something that is nothing.

Malevich's White-on-White, for instance.

What was the Message behind Malevich's White-on-White? While different meanings can be extracted from the visual uptake of the work, the actual creator spoke of the movement (Suprematism) that brought the piece into reality (but not of the piece itself);
"Art no longer cares to serve the state and religion, it no longer wishes to illustrate the history of manners, it wants to have nothing further to do with the object, as such, and believes that it can exist, in and for itself, without "things" (that is, the "time-tested well-spring of life").
- Kazimir Malevich, The Non-Objective World: The Manifesto of Suprematism. 
Ah, what a beautiful concept. While any explanation I might offer simply by viewing the artwork (or even researching Malevich's life) could be radically different than the actual intention of the creator; that will never mean my explanation becomes the actual message because to do so assumes that as a consumer, I am superior to the mind who actually brought the work into reality to be perceived by myself... which would be highly arrogant of me to claim.

However, this depth usually flies over the head of those immersed in virtue signaling and being social justice zealots. Every meaning they perceive MUST be the message that was meant, even going so far to act like it is objective, rarely respecting what subjectivity in art and entertainment is. Even when they acknowledge subjectivity, they use it to make other people into being wrong due to different perspectives instead of themselves being personally capable of basic humility. This might be because in order for their agendas to have merit to them, meanings must be objective or else they lose moral high ground of which they derive their virtue from.

Food for thought, eat while you can.

Meaning is not a different term for messaging. They are not interchangeable.

Reactions, perceptions, responses, and understandings are not objective when it comes to creative works. Different people will comprehend entertainment in their separate ways and this diversity of thought is what makes humanity intriguing. This nature shouldn't be denied or suppressed.

Message Fic. is identity politics brought into the creative sphere, surface-level representations of what is perceived to be lesser known/understood identities in American/European entertainment.

It is usually based on the claim that people cannot identify (associating/relating with the inner self) with characters who look or identify differently than they do. In this logic, a black woman could never identify with a white character or a lesbian could never identify with a heterosexual character. Instead, it is said that they need someone who looks similar, someone who blatantly identifies the same, even Mary-Sues catered to someone's vision of that particular identity.

This requires the fundamental idea that people can't relate and identify with characters who are different than their outward (or political) appearance. That as a woman, I couldn't possibly identify with a male character.

But that's incredibly Wrong.

Claiming that a character's identity or appearance excludes anyone who isn't of the exact same identity/appearance is a strange claim to consider seriously.

I can identify with male characters and I have. But according to the logic, I should only feel represented by brunette females because I am one. Sure, sometimes I can relate to a brunette female and sure, there are a range of brunettes in American entertainment, but actually most of the time I don't resonate with brunette females in movies/tv/comics. I definitely don't relate to them simply because of the color of my hair and the meta-prescription that I should is insulting.

I might take make-up ideas from brunette characters, but that's a different story.
...actually, upon further thought, I usually take make-up ideas from redheads instead. nvm.

So I don't always like brunette female characters when I run into them, even though I am a brunette female. Does this mean creators should change those characters in personality and actions to fit how I prefer so I feel better about myself? FUCK NO!!!

If anything, if I derive my worth as an individual through representation of fictional characters who have similar traits as myself.... that would mean I need to develop better self-esteem, not by living vicariously through fictional characters, but understanding that they are only fiction and that not every brunette is a symbol of myself just as not every female represents me. Brunette is a surface-level identity that doesn't come close to describing WHO I AM as an actual human being and living soul on the earth.

Maybe race has more merit with this because people can't easily change their skin color, maybe the logic isn't meant to be extrapolated for identities that are capable of being kept private, switched, or not noticed. That's a different discussion about the impact of racial traits and ethnicities being used in entertainment. Usually that discussion involves the need for a RANGE of different characters, not simply Strong or Proper characters, but just characters themselves. It isn't rare for a nation to have entertainment filled with the majority race that makes up the nation; for instance, Bollywood or Chinese Films or Americana to name a few.

Inclusivity isn't popular overseas, I guess? Dunno.

Getting back to identification with representation in fiction; I can identify with a fictional Strong Cis Male Character as readily as I can identify with a fictional Queer Female Character as much as I can identify with any character who resonates with my heart because any character can house personalities, outlooks, and act in ways that are admirable to aspire to or wondrously imagine what it might be like to experience being in that role... or are just plain relatable. I am not limited to only identifying (again, defined in this post as associating/relating with the inner self) with people who look, interact, and think identically to myself.

This is different than "color-blind" mentality, it's about the complexity of the human mind and spirit that extends beyond societal roles and political identities. I don't even need to identify with the Hero/Main Character. In fact, villains and side characters have a long history of provoking people's interest due to resonance. Not everyone wants to be represented by a protagonist, some enjoy the other archetypal roles instead.

Now, if people want to go around writing Message Fic., I actually don't care in the sense that they better not care what I'm doing either (libertarian golden rule of apathy?). Message Fic has been evolving ever since fables and societal engineering, it's a direction and a sphere of thought that provides a framework for people who are more inclined to view reality through a political lens.

What I do care about is people spewing that Everything is Message Fic., even if others disagree because Message Fic is the one, true God even if you can't recognize it as such. I care about people saying that other people's artwork, stories, and entertainment have to change to fit the mold of Message Fic trends and that if they don't change to whatever the virtue-signaling fad is at the time, they're wrongshouldn't exist, and are actively excluded due to perceived inferiority.

It only invites the same being done in return by those who disagree in order to balance the energy being forced upon them. The mirror principle of what you put out, you may receive in turn. Get aggressive and bark about, don't be surprised when hostility responds and roars back. Demand that the abyss needs to change into something you prefer and can understand, then watch the abyss madly laugh until you piss yourself in fear. Consequences exist and crying or whining about that reality doesn't change the facts of the matter. It might let you temporarily feel better, but it doesn't change anything because you can't control other people.

The level of illusionary superiority coupled with intense lack of self-awareness is what I observe when it comes to Message Fic./Social Justice proponents. The use of virtue signaling to avoid accountability for the humorless messages of their own opinions is rampant right now. They aren't willing to accept the consequences either because they want reality to be something different than it is. Instead, they wildly try to make the abyss feel guilty for scaring them when they demand something of it and when that doesn't work, they turn away, ignore their pee-soaked trousers and complain about how the abyss is so unreasonable and dumb. I suppose they don't realize how futile their methods are. I'll assume it's due to Tunnel Visioned focus on prescribed importance of people being sectioned into neat categories (identity-clubs; intersectionality means you can join more than one club) while media overlords maintain definitions of those categories through suppression of thought and echo-chambers of approved understandings.

The reason I don't care if people want to write, recreate, or whatever to make characters into Mary-Sue role models is because... go right ahead and do that! If you're an asian transwoman who wants more asian transwomen role models, go right ahead and start creating those stories! I am NOT going to stop you! If your story is good and interesting, I might even take a look at it. If it's not, I probably won't. Hell, I greatly enjoyed Tangerine.

Awesome cinematography, great soundtrack, entertaining plot.

But it doesn't matter what I think, right? Because it's for that person, not for me. That's the whole point of identity representation, yeah? If a white male character excludes anyone who isn't a white man, then having an asian transwoman character should exclude anyone who isn't an asian transwoman.... according to that logic.

I don't have anything against including random ethnicities into a cast if the creator/writer sincerely wants to include certain types of characters. Especially in non-Earth Fantasy where it's all dependent on the type of world created and what influences the creator is drawing from.

As an audience member, I will choose whether to bother with entertainment based on its entertainment-value. If I get tired of a character because I'm continually distracted by an identity shunted upon them for representation's sake.... I will leave. If it seems like they're just trying to hit token points by "inclusive" representation like is so frequent on television shows lately, I probably won't stick around because it's BORING and vaguely insulting to my intelligence.

I am not obligated to swallow entertainment that comes from agenda-driven generalizations. This is not a Clockwork Orange hold-my-eyes open type of scenario... even though I wonder if that's what a lot of Social Justice zealots and Message Fic. writers wish they had the authority to force upon people. Instead, they manipulate guilt and emotions to try and corral people into consuming entertainment that suits their purposes.

No, not the remakes, so many remakes!

So, don't come around and demand that other people must write about asian transwomen otherwise they must not care about the trans or asian communities on a political level - which maybe they don't and shouldn't individuals have the freedom to care about what they wish to? Much of the Representation push seems to be to take niche "PC" stereotypes and force them to be mainstream via peer pressure. It seems many creators do so only to appease these lobbyists instead of sincerely wanting those changes, or perhaps to try and fit in with the "rich kids", both of which often leads to awkward flat characters... but there's a chance they'll still be applauded for the thought of it rather than the execution. The whole process depends so much on guilt and virtue-signaling to prop up the works that come out from Message Entertainment.

Assuming identities are the same across the board is irritating in itself (as with the brunette example). Often those lobbying and virtue-signaling for representation are guilty of massive stereotyping. Politically Correct stereotyping, but stereotyping none-the-less. Most representation of identities in entertainment right now ARE stereotypes. They're modern stereotypes, updated to be PC, but they are what they are.

Characters aren't real. Even in "realistic"-oriented entertainment or mockumentary/derived-from-actors, they. aren't. real. They are fictional caricatures of what the creators want someone to be or think someone is and if it is based on an identity like gay for instance, some Message Fic. writers will build a character entirely around that central identity, which is why some creators make it incredibly blatant with characters going so far to say "Hello, I'm Craig and I'm gay!" or similar within the first few lines or "Hello, I'm Besty, but I used to be Craig. Nice to meet you.". I'm paraphrasing to make a point, of course.

How media narratives train impressionable people to act through use of stereotypes in entertainment aside, the idea that white male characters are generic and black female characters are rare ignores the actual diversity of what it means to be humans with active minds. In fact, it sometimes reinforces exclusion, simply shifting the subject of what should be excluded instead - making the oft-talked about "inclusion" into Orwellian double-speak.

Which suggests to me, what is truly desired is the means of authority provided by the media empires to control impressionable people into acting out beliefs of particular socio-political agendas.

And as a writer and creator, what is important to me is to accurately portray whatever fictional world I am presenting. My belief of what is accurate can be formed by research and decisions I make, but I won't seek to appease everyone with my work. I definitely don't expect to, and to attempt to do so is a fool's errand - remember what I said about the abyss and whining?

I merely seek to appease the work itself, the story within and the characters born from it.

If a character isn't human, does that mean it excludes all humans? That a human cannot relate to the character then? Well, Message Fic logic would actually suggest this is the case (after all, this is similar to the old "the protagonist must "always be human""). This means that people can't find a role model in a pixie or an alien or anything that doesn't have the vessel casing of a human.

Personally, I don't believe people are so shallow as to only relate to bipedal human flesh. After all, look at furries. Their existence as a community challenges that notion.

In essence, while MessageFic seems as necessary as PulpRev for those who believe in it, it isn't less than or more than in any objective sense. Both are frameworks and explorations of what it means to create. Trouble comes when one group claims to be the sole provider of Correct/Right entertainment and that all other forms should be eliminated. If it stems from undeserved authority to control what people consume and enjoy as art, then there is a battle to be waged... maybe even a war to fight.

Don't mess with a story simply to cater to a lobby group of what they want to prescribe for other people. Don't lose sight of a viable fictional world to make it a stage for virtue signaling scripts with props-of-identity. Find personal integrity as a creative and live by your own creed. Have your own reasons outside of the herd. Characters of diverse appearance and thought have always existed, they always will, it isn't a radical or necessary act to change writing to suit what equates to a political fashion trend.

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