Ok, first, go to the SocialJusticeLeague page for the article How to be a Fan of Problematic Things and read it.
I’m just going to quote the main points of the article, because I don’t think I can say it any better:
Firstly, acknowledge that the thing you like is problematic and do not attempt to make excuses for it.
Secondly, do not gloss over the issues or derail conversations about the problematic elements.
Thirdly you must acknowledge other, even less favourable, interpretations of the media you like.
OK, so this is a thing no one is asking you to do: Burn all your media that involves anyone/anything problematic ever.
Seriously, if I did this I’d have like two CDs left, and maybe three entire books. Maybe. Because people are problematic as fuck, and the view of what is considered problematic does change over time. I really enjoy Lovecraft, but I am the first person to tell you that his views of race and gender are seriously fucked.
I enjoy Jack Chalker and Manly Wade Wellman. This does not mean that the sexism and racism inherent in their work doesn’t make me grit my teeth and shake my head from time to time.
As far as where your ethical line lies in liking problematic things, that is entirely up to you. I prefer to not buy problematic media that can/will still provide profit to the person responsible. So, yeah, that means no Roman Polanski movies, no Mark Millar properties, no Kevin Spacey movies, and so on.
Your mileage may vary. You may decide that your ethics are fine with consuming their media anyway, and focus on being aware and telling people why this thing you like is problematic. That’s fine.
The thing to remember though, is that this ethical decision is yours. I will never read Penny Arcade again. This doesn’t mean I think you’re a bad person for reading it. Just that I have made the choice to not allow the creators and their fans to take up any more space in my head than absolutely necessary. And by necessary, I mean STILL having to delete the occasional rape or death threat, what, six years later? However, you may be fine with reading it online, but not buying any of the products or attending PAX.
However, while media is static to the time in which it was produced, people are not.
This is why you can look at, say, Huckleberry Finn and say, “This text was created in a time where aggressive racism like this was the norm and it is a slice of life in the second half of the 1860s,” but why you really shouldn’t say, “Oh, grandma’s just racist because she’s old.”
A. That’s Ageist as fuck.
B. No, grandma’s racist because she’s racist. People don’t magically quit learning and adapting when they hit 30. When people say they’re set in their ways, what they’re really saying is, “It’s easier for me to be an asshole to you, than it is for me to treat you with respect.”
Until something like Alzheimer’s, Senile Dementia or a similar issue sets in, age is no fucking excuse for not treating people like people regardless of how fucking old you are.
Ok, sorry about that teeny digression there at the end. It’s a peeve.
Anyway, it’s ok to like problematic things as long as you’re aware of the thing’s problematic nature, do not gloss over the problematic issues or derail conversations about them, and finally, be aware that while you may not find something problematic or not problematic in the same way someone else does, it does not make their interpretation any less valid.
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