The few words I did pick up had me looking for a point, and not just any point. I wanted a particular point that I hadn't been able to verbalize yet. I wasn't thinking so much of the post itself, but of the posts before it, and the inconsistancy seen in those critiques. It reminded me, and these are two things that won't seem related on the surface, of a point I'd seen elsewhere.
Bear with me, these are related. Days earlier on a different blog, I saw one hell of a point in the comments:
While your overall point is well taken - death and mutilation as a substitute for actual character development and storytelling re often a sign of bad or lazy writing, just like interpreting "action" to mean "fight scenes" is lazy - I see far more fans than creators obsessing over characters to the point of revering them more than real people. This preoccupation with "don't you dare do this and that to a character I like" tends to undercut the point of wanting to read better stories. If fans cared about real people - say, the real people working on the comics they read - more than fictional characters, there would be a better way of putting these entreaties.(Emphasis mine)
I touched on this a little earlier when I got upset that so many found (and no, that writer has not yet answered me) a moratorium on female character death to be a good idea somehow.
I've stepped around this for too long, afraid I'd hurt my own arguments, my friends' arguments, or just plain too many people's feelings.
I've seen three forces at work over the past year, three forces that are always at work in any fan community. They are often at odds with each other, but right now it's getting ridiculous.
We all have an innate Fannishness when it comes to our favorite fictional constructs themselves. We see ourselves in them, see our mothers, our fathers, our significant others or just admirable traits we'd like to see ourselves, our families and our friends. As such, we can take the decisions made using these characters very personally.
Most of us have Creator Loyalty towards the writers and artists who handle our favorite characters the way we prefer. It makes us gloss over their mistakes, ignore even blatant problems in their work, and sometimes defend them to a ridiculous extent. Those of us with friends in the industry are especially vulnerable to this.
And lastly, everyone has some degree of Social Conscience. This where the actual analysis comes in, and we notice inequalities. The women only fulfill certain roles. This is where we notice that the nonwhite characters are being pushed to the background. Here's where we notice that all of the characters in samesex relationships are dying, or look to be dying very soon. It where we notice one writer has the same weakspot with all characters who have X in common. It's where we notice that our favorite characters that have X in common are all getting the short end of the same stick.
Fannishness and creator loyalty fuck up social conscience, beyond belief.
I know this, because I read just about every comics blog that touches social commentary in existence. (If you see someone blogging about race in comics or gender politics or sexuality that doesn't ever get linked at one of my blogs, please email me the post address.)
Over time, it becomes really obvious when the first two have overrun the third.
I guarantee I'm going to regret this post. Tomorrow, I will completely wish I hadn't written it. But Elayne's comment wasn't commented on in that thread. And it's not like this was a long comment thread.
It's an uncomfortable truth, because with out some fannishness and some loyalty, we're simply not fans. But how do we keep fannishness and creator loyalty from negatively influencing any social commentary on our favorite characters?
I really don't see a solution. At least, not one for a community. I can examine myself on a personal level and listen to what other fans are saying about my favorites. But I don't know about anyone else.