October 21, 2020, 06:02:39 AM

Author Topic: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?  (Read 4540 times)

Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #30 on: April 10, 2018, 02:23:13 AM »
Rethinking this one, and going just by the question Eclipse posed in the title thread rather than the woman's words  -

I'm not sure I'd use the word fixated, but it does seem to be everywhere in some form, subtle or not. There's no shortage of authors whose work deliberately makes points about the culture wars and a lot of them are highly feted. The awards ceremonies, by accident and design, often seem to be mainly about them. No shortage, either, of authors coming under fire for being too liberal or not liberal enough (and this thread has tinges at least of the latter).

I don't know what word I would use - and I don't really see what else is to be expected, as this is the world we live in - but I can see why it's the first thing someone thought about when asked about the state of the genre.


On point here @Peat. This is the world we live in and cultural politics in the real world are a point of discussion in every arena. In countries all around the world racial and gender policies will contribute to making or breaking governments. These aspects are relevant, have writers focusing on them, factually or in fiction, so it is only natural that this trend will be addressed in various ways unique to fantasy. What better medium, where so many relevant viewpoints can be explored without the need to consider accepted tradition or custom? Fresh ideas and new perspectives.

But that doesn't mean that the community is fixated, there are still all the traditional ways to write if that is your preference.  LoTR and D&D will always be revered as groundbreakers, some will want to model their writing on them, others will want to break new ground and experiment.  Each has a place and each will have their dedicated readers, while there are plenty of readers who will read both styles, although if you are planning to write for profit the market may well influence your choice.

I feel the answers here generally were taken aback by the use of "fixated" and that was my main point of disagreement. Also the rather strange example the writer use of three black lesbian MC's and a reference to Trump. Like Nora, this made little sense to me, unless it was to highlight a reaction against his exclusivity.   

Thanks @Eclipse, you found an interesting subject to introduce and there have been some thought provoking replies, resulting in a well considered discussion with a variety of ideas and viewpoints.
It is not a subject that is going to disappear into the woodwork and all writers will have to choose their own approach. I enjoyed @Yora's comments on his own ways to do this, although I don't perceive any genuine 'vocal outrage bastions' here. ::)
« Last Edit: April 10, 2018, 02:28:36 AM by Lady Ty »
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Offline cupiscent

Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #31 on: April 10, 2018, 04:19:14 AM »
Dunno about a "happy geek community", but I'd certainly like a community where all geeks, regardless of race, colour, gender, religion, sexuality, etc, etc are welcome.

And...
Rant incoming...

No kidding. Get off the board and write then, TGC. I'm a reader and a member of the community as well as a writer, so I'll continue to participate in discussions about my genre and community. If that's all right with you.

Offline Yora

Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #32 on: April 10, 2018, 05:51:31 AM »
although I don't perceive any genuine 'vocal outrage bastions' here. ::)
No, there  aren't any here. That's good.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Peat

Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #33 on: April 10, 2018, 12:12:13 PM »
Particularly the bit about it not being great for a happy geek community - which may not be the most important thing to the world, but should be pretty important to the community.

Could you expend on that for me please? Because she made no sense in the interview, at least in the quote, on that point. I don't get how people wanting more diversity on every front being a Trump situation and hurtful to the community. I don't even understand how being 'able' to read 3 cis/het white blokes writing black lesbians is bad for the community. I don't understand what she thinks is hurting geekdom.
I'm not sure I understood what she meant, or what you mean.

As far as I'm concerned, if I were asked about what's hurting geekdom right now I'd say shitty unnecessary reboots and overbloated franchises, thinking mostly of the film and game industry. I'd have a different answer for the anime/manga community I'm part of, but I sort of merge sff 'geekdom' between books/comis/movies under the sff banner.
So yeah, I'm confused.

What I think she's getting at -

The black lesbian thing is her saying she's thinking there's a bunch of white male authors writing about things because doing so is cool, its on trend, it sells - and not because its the story they really absolutely want to tell the most. It's her example of authors being more concerned about cultural inclusivity than the stories they want to tell.


The cultural inclusivity leading to Trump - there's a theory that a large part of the sudden popularity of people like Trump is that it's a backlash against liberal values and cultural inclusiveness.

Part of the theory is that a softer approach to promoting liberal values and cultural inclusiveness may have avoided this backlash and therefore achieved a more liberal society overall. The whole "you catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar" thing.

To someone who believes these things - such as presumably the author in question - having less stories that are being culturally inclusive for the sake of it and no other reason would result in less opposition to cultural inclusivity, because less backlash. With the white guys writing black lesbians being an example of cultural inclusivity for the sake of it and no other reason.


For the record - there probably are people adding cultural inclusivity to their books because it's the done thing/cool as well as people who genuinely want to have it there anyway. I'm not sure that's such a bad thing though.

I do agree with the belief that the alt-right and Trump is a reaction to liberal values. I am not certain that a softer approach would have avoided this or achieved more though, although I do often see cases when I think a less confrontational attitude would have achieved more.


To go back to this and happy communities - cultural politics has created (or maybe merely exposed and enabled)  two sizable chunks of the community who seem unable to communicate for too long without implying or outright saying the other group are arseholes.  It makes things pretty toxic on the regular and has at times escalated to threats and action against others' livelihoods, privacy and physical security. That to me is a major problem and arguably the biggest one in the community today.

Online Skip

Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #34 on: April 10, 2018, 05:37:29 PM »
When I was younger (so much younger than today), the SF world was deeply divided over those who argued SF writers needed to address the ills of the world--most especially the Vietnam War but also race riots, nuclear annihilation, pollution--and those who argued that the author should write whatever he pleased and was under no obligation to be socially aware. And no matter how much someone did, there was always someone to argue they ought to do more.

Sound familiar?

Culture politics is the conversation of the moment. It's a good one to have, and not only in America. Humans have struggled with tribalism for a very long time, and artists have always been in the thick of that struggle. That doesn't mean every one of us must be a warrior. To coin a phrase, they also serve who only stand and write.

Offline cupiscent

Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #35 on: April 10, 2018, 11:38:24 PM »
To go back to this and happy communities - cultural politics has created (or maybe merely exposed and enabled)  two sizable chunks of the community who seem unable to communicate for too long without implying or outright saying the other group are arseholes.  It makes things pretty toxic on the regular and has at times escalated to threats and action against others' livelihoods, privacy and physical security. That to me is a major problem and arguably the biggest one in the community today.

Yes, there are problems with people behaving poorly. I'm always going to encourage people to state their views without being hostile. But so often things are expressed in variations of "can't we just be nice to each other" and, even worse to my mind, "can't we just go back to when things were fun / people didn't shout so much". This latter view ignores the fact that not everyone was allowed to have fun, and you didn't hear the shouting because some people weren't welcome inside the room. It was not that long ago that fantasy was heavily weighted to white men. I was reading something just the other day about there being black spec-fic conventions in some parts of the US because those fans still don't feel welcome at the "regular" cons.

Having a genuinely open, welcoming community requires more than just a passive desire for everyone to be nice. Not to mention that the community is having trouble with just achieving that--there have been a number of people recently waving their arms and shouting over having been asked not to be arseholes please. (Jon del Arroz springs most immediately to mind.) We are still in a transition phase, an implementation phase, and that means things need a bit of work if we genuinely want to see improvement in inclusivity.

Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #36 on: April 11, 2018, 01:01:06 AM »
@cupiscent You are referring here to a wide SFF community far outside this particular forum and I suspect many here are unaware and do not participate, although some incidents are noticed.  I understand exactly what you are getting at, but again this forum is not representative of any of those very wide views, so this discussion has centred mostly around personal reactions to the question.

I don't believe in nice which is bland and can come off as insincere, I do support fun within a community, but also an accepted level of courtesy, which does not negate a right to stand and advocate for a principal. There is a difference between shouting with venomous narrow-minded ignorance and shouting with directed argument points and sound facts to support an opposite view.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 01:04:15 AM by Lady Ty »
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Offline cupiscent

Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #37 on: April 11, 2018, 04:15:18 AM »
Thanks, @Lady Ty, yes I am referring to the wider SFF community. Then again, so was the original quote and, I presumed, the "Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?" question overall.

Offline Yora

Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2018, 01:49:48 PM »
Hello, fellow anarcho-communists.

So I've been reading a fantas site that has completely harmless content that is often quite nice, but there's a couple of other sites linked at the side that I find somewhat disturbing.
One thing that has been posted on those sites with some degree of pattern is their perception that fiction publishing these days is exclusively limited to "extreme left propaganda", with everything else not being given any space.

Anyone any idea where this conspiracy theory comes from? At least, I am asuming it is one. Anything happening in mainstream circles that is somehow connected to extreme sanitizing of fantasy? I still see Prince of Thorns getting praised and Game of Thrones being a huge hit on TV. And their subject matter is as socially unacceptable as it gets.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline cupiscent

Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #39 on: April 30, 2018, 06:59:20 AM »
Yora, it sounds a lot like you were poking around on the edges of Puppy space. Or at least, that's a very similar sort of rhetoric as gets bandied about by Puppy-and-related people. I have seen their comments specifically about awards--the Hugos are an implement of the extreme left, it's all a Tor plot, etc etc--but that sort of rhetoric rarely remains contained in a box.

I don't really know a huge amount of their messaging nor the reasoning behind it. I believe an element of it is that a number of very big publishers--Tor being chief among them--make no secret of actively seeking out diverse authors and stories, and wanting to see stories different from the same-old boys-own sci-fi. Presumably, that's making Tor money or they wouldn't do it, but Puppy types seem to think it's about Conspiracy, and that everyone secretly wants to read... well, whatever it is they're writing.

But in general, every time I've seen someone shouting about the terrible takeover by the extreme and repressive left, it's because they've been told they can't be racist, misogynist, homophobic, or otherwise terrible in public without there being consequences. So my sympathy is pretty reduced.

Offline Dark Squiggle

Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #40 on: April 30, 2018, 03:01:57 PM »
I would like some good commie fantasy. Never read any though :(

Offline cupiscent

Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #41 on: May 01, 2018, 06:12:13 AM »
I would like some good commie fantasy. Never read any though :(

If you mean fantasy that promotes communist ideals... that might be more something explored in sci-fi/utopia type fiction. Though perhaps consider Jo Walton's The Just City, which is less communist than explicitly interrogating Plato's Republic, but still an interesting story / thought experiment on individualism, equality, merit, resource control and sharing, freedom, etc.

If you mean fantasy in a communist setting, try Peter Higgins' Wolfhound Century. It's very bleak, very Soviet, very soul-strapped-to-the-grinding-machine (...literally). I didn't much like it, but I can't fault its style and delivery.

Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #42 on: May 01, 2018, 09:51:58 AM »
I would like some good commie fantasy. Never read any though :(

Does Animal Farm count?  I guess it's more anti-communist. Orwell fought fascim (the dictator Franco) in Spain alongside anarchists who were ultimately betrayed and killed by Communists, so he's got some opinions he works out in animal farm.

So Marx requires industrialization as one of his steps... And communism is built on Marx. (My personal take is that communism is built on socialism which is built on capitalism which is built on feudalism). Anarchism, on the other hand could really work in a fantasy setting, though it usually shows up as some sort of Malthusian bullshit

Offline Yora

Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #43 on: May 01, 2018, 11:06:35 AM »
You do have some proto-socialist ideas in various ancient religious movements. Everyone is equal and everything should be shared are not radically new ideas. The principles can be applied to agrarian societies as well.

I think the difference that came with the industrial revolution was not the methods of production, but rather the development of social mobility. To be an industrialist you didn't have to be born a noble. With the hard borders between upper and lower class removed and the prospect to rise in status becoming more realistic, it would become much easier for people to question the established status quo. It's no loner a fact of life that peasants are poor and nobles are rich, but the division of upper and lower class is clearly a mam made construct that can be remade into something else.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Dark Squiggle

Re: Is fantasy a bit fixated on culture politics?
« Reply #44 on: May 01, 2018, 05:13:27 PM »
You do have some proto-socialist ideas in various ancient religious movements. Everyone is equal and everything should be shared are not radically new ideas. The principles can be applied to agrarian societies as well.

I think the difference that came with the industrial revolution was not the methods of production, but rather the development of social mobility. To be an industrialist you didn't have to be born a noble. With the hard borders between upper and lower class removed and the prospect to rise in status becoming more realistic, it would become much easier for people to question the established status quo. It's no loner a fact of life that peasants are poor and nobles are rich, but the division of upper and lower class is clearly a mam made construct that can be remade into something else.
Unsure of this. Yes both early Judiasim and Christianity were rather socialist (only two I know about at all.), but the focus was still heavily capitalistic. Read the 10 Commandments. All about money, marriage, ownership, and parenthood, all Capitalistic ideas.
I would like some good commie fantasy. Never read any though :(

Does Animal Farm count?  I guess it's more anti-communist. Orwell fought fascim (the dictator Franco) in Spain alongside anarchists who were ultimately betrayed and killed by Communists, so he's got some opinions he works out in animal farm.

So Marx requires industrialization as one of his steps... And communism is built on Marx. (My personal take is that communism is built on socialism which is built on capitalism which is built on feudalism). Anarchism, on the other hand could really work in a fantasy setting, though it usually shows up as some sort of Malthusian bullshit
Capitalism, I think, predates Feudalism.
 Yes I read Animal Farm. Even if you can  count Animal Farm as Fantasy, it is not about Communism; it is about the Soviet Union, which is a different entity altogether.
I would like some good commie fantasy. Never read any though :(

If you mean fantasy that promotes communist ideals... that might be more something explored in sci-fi/utopia type fiction. Though perhaps consider Jo Walton's The Just City, which is less communist than explicitly interrogating Plato's Republic, but still an interesting story / thought experiment on individualism, equality, merit, resource control and sharing, freedom, etc.

If you mean fantasy in a communist setting, try Peter Higgins' Wolfhound Century. It's very bleak, very Soviet, very soul-strapped-to-the-grinding-machine (...literally). I didn't much like it, but I can't fault its style and delivery.
Thanks, I'll look into Jo Walton's The Just City. it sounds good.
Soviet =\=  Communist. I know people who lived there, and I know people who were/are communist, and I can say they have nothing to do with each other. Corruption describes the USSR, not Communism.

Communism is about group pooling of resources, abolition of marriage, utilitarianism, 'freedom' and children raised by the community rather then their parents. (At least when taken to what I think is its logical extreme.) It has existed, (and in some cases still exists) I think, on communes in the US, India and Israel, maybe in some other places, I don't know.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 05:17:36 PM by Dark Squiggle »