Monday, September 8, 2008

Subversive Truth

It's strange that the most subversive act is often just telling a truth.

But this is because the story we tell of what the world is like is vastly unlike the real world around us.

Just look at tv for example. While less distorted than it was just look at the cast of tv shows. Are about half the cast female?

How much of the cast of the tv shows are not white?

Do you think that matches the proportions of the general population?

How much of the characters are gay? Bi? Transgender? Muslim? Bhuddist? Atheist?

Imagine what tv would be like if it reflected the actual proportions of the population!

Imagine what it would be like if those characters were not stereotypes but as deep and complex as the rest!

And movies? Other than a few exceptions most of the time they are either used as comedy, are mocked, stereotyped or are window-dressing to make the allegedly 'mainstream' 'normal' 'average' folk stand out.

And what about the other common media?

Like video games for example?
There are some few exceptions. How many folk rem,otely suspected or imagined that Samus from Metroid was female benearth that armour before they finished the first game? Heck despite the much more feminised version of the suit in the recent versions people I know managed to play reasonable chunks of Metroid Prime without it sinking in. And of course there is the bishonen characters of the Castlevania games (Symphony of the Night is one of the best games ever!) and examples like the transexual character in the Final Fight/Street Fighter games. Of course these examples are Japanese in origin, and while Japan is no bastion of inclusiveness it has been at least braver with some of these issues.

I wonder how long it'll take media critics to realise how susbtantial the cross-cultural effects of Japanese games anime and manga are having on the west?

Not that all such examples are positive but a lot more are than are found in most of western media.

Too much in modern western storytelling the attempts at centering the story on an 'everyman' ends up with a banal blandness at the core of the story for people to try and project themselves onto. But this attempting to aim for the lowest common denominator ends up robbing the story of much of it's impact, fails to represent and downright alienates huge swaths of the diversity of the community as well as whether unintentionally or not pushes conformity and bigotry and makes it more difficult for people to learn to empathise with those who are different than they even at the most superficial of levels when the community would be best served by the opposite, by giving people the capacity to empathise with those who are different.

Just imagine what truly repesentative media would be like!

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