May 19, 2019, 05:51:02 PM

Author Topic: Social responsibility for creatives (writers included)  (Read 2034 times)

Offline NinjaRaptor

Social responsibility for creatives (writers included)
« on: July 10, 2015, 04:46:50 PM »
A couple of months ago on another fantasy writing forum, I got harassed by a couple of upstart "Social Justice Warrior" trolls in my personal art thread. They both claimed my artwork's portrayals of African female characters was racist and offensive, despite being white women themselves, and that I had a "social responsibility" to stop drawing what I loved and cater to their pseudo-feminist agenda. When I lashed back at them, I got banned for "insulting their sexuality" (since I had mocked one of the trolls' tendency to appropriate unorthodox sexual and psychological identities like so many kids do these days). I'd been a highly respected contributor to that community for four years, far longer than either of those brats, so I'm still bitter that they got to shove me out of it.

The experience was yet another reminder of a debate I've wrestled with for some time even before this incident. I generally believe creators, including writers as well as visual artists, should enjoy the freedom to create whatever they wanted as part of their freedom of speech. Other people do have the right to criticize creations they don't like, but the creators in turn have the right to disregard that negative feedback if it goes against their vision.

Unfortunately both of these punks who had picked a fight with me went further than criticism and straight-out told me, in their manipulatively belligerent tone, to stop creating what I was passionate about because it affronted their narrow, tumblr-esque idea of social responsibility. They represent a larger pattern in certain political circles where self-styled culture critics vilify creators for not satisfying their restrictive ideas of morality, often through the manipulation of people's sense of empathy. If you portray this or that group in a way the critics don't approve---even if the group itself doesn't take offense for the most part---they will smear your character.

In most circumstances I would advise dismissing trolls like these and continuing producing what you love. You'll inevitably offend some cretin out there no matter what you do. But what are you to do in situations where you can't simply block their accounts and delete their harassment?

And what are your thoughts on social responsibility as it relates to creative fields like writing?
« Last Edit: July 10, 2015, 04:53:37 PM by NinjaRaptor »
NEW self-published anthology:
Dinosaurs & Dames

Offline Rukaio_Alter

  • Writing Contest Regular and Ineffectual Comic Relief
  • Writing Group
  • Ambient Mage
  • ****
  • Posts: 412
  • Total likes: 431
    • View Profile
Re: Social responsibility for creatives (writers included)
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2015, 06:16:02 PM »
People have the right to create or write whatever they want. But people also have the right to criticize said works if they think it's deserving of it. And the creators have the right to criticize said criticism and etc etc. That's the way it is and that's the way it should be. Simple as. If your work isn't racist/sexist/whatever, then you should be able to defend it on its own terms. If you can't, then maybe you should take a step back, look at your work and genuinely think about whether the critiquer has a point, even if it's not intentional, as these things so often aren't. Nobody likes to think of themselves as racist/sexist/whatever, because those things are generally considered evil and very few people think themselves evil. However, that doesn't mean you're not being racist/sexist/whatever, even if you don't think you are. A lot of these things are fairly subconscious. And that's the usefulness of having other people's point of view. What may seem harmless to you may seem fairly dodgy to other people and possibly for good reason. Of course, there are also always going to be people who overreact or get too easily offended, but you that's where being able to defend your work comes in. If they're overreacting, you should be able to show that through simple logic. But the point is, you shouldn't necessarily dismiss someone else's point of view simply because you disagree with it.

Of course, if you deliberately want to write racist/sexist/whatever crap, that's still fine. As I mentioned at the beginning, you have the right to write whatever you want. Just like other people have the right to call you on your bullshit.

As for your story, it's hard to tell for certain without actually seeing the artworks in question, but I have to say, from an objective point of view, you don't exactly come off smelling of roses here. It seems like you fairly quickly dismissed them as SJW's without taking any time to consider their points and you openly admitted you insulted their sexuality and dismissed it as fake despite not knowing anything about the women in question. I can't say I particularly disagree with the mod's decision in this case. No offense, I'm sure you're a perfectly decent guy and obviously I can't tell for certain since I wasn't there to read any of the posts, but it does seem largely like your own fault you got banned.
5 Times Winner of the Forum Writing Contest who Totally Hasn't Let it All go to his Head.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Also, <Insert GOD EMPEROR OF THE WRITING CONTEST joke here>

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6873
  • Total likes: 4691
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Social responsibility for creatives (writers included)
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2015, 07:01:34 PM »
I did take a quick look at NinjaRaptor's art out of curiosity. For the most part, I saw nubile women and muscular men... which is what I see on almost every fantasy art website. The main difference is that these are African people; but so what?

I agree with what Rukaio says about people having the right to the art they want to create, and others' right to express opinions about it, etc. In terms of trolls and insulting language, I believe that within a post or two, any folks who want to treat each other without respect will have shown themselves. If someone is unwilling to discuss respectfully, the reasonable thing to do is to stop discussing. "I've heard your viewpoint. We differ, and I don't think further discussion will settle it."

Let's put aside the specifics of your case; none of us were there. You ask:

"What do you do when people won't stop harassing you?"
For me, it depends on the stakes. If the stakes are low, then I would pack my things and go elsewhere. But let's say that I was being harassed here on F-F, where I've invested a lot of time and have a lot of friends. I would keep my own nose clean, my own ethics and courtesy in place, and ask for help from the Mods. If I behave with respect, then my position will be good.  But in the end, it's the internet, not your family. You can leave.

Which you did. Right decision, as painful as it was.

"What are your thoughts on social responsibility as it relates to creative fields like writing?"
Let's take the idea of a neo-Nazi writing Fantasy and injecting her politics, then asking for a critique here on F-F. I would tell that person that I find her politics objectionable and didn't enjoy the story. End of discussion.

Do we have an obligation of social responsibility in art? No. But I have a preference for art that is socially responsible, at least as I see it (which is all about respect and tolerance). And I have a preference for writers who are living up to their own ethics (as long as they're still fun/interesting to read).

For the most part, my answer to obnoxious ideas in literature is to not read it: voting with my time and wallet.

But let's say a work that is offensive in my POV receives wide acclaim. Then I have the right (and maybe the responsibility) to offer a counterpoint.

And on it goes.

Respect and tolerance tends to breed respect and tolerance.

Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline NinjaRaptor

Re: Social responsibility for creatives (writers included)
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2015, 07:59:40 PM »
As for your story, it's hard to tell for certain without actually seeing the artworks in question, but I have to say, from an objective point of view, you don't exactly come off smelling of roses here. It seems like you fairly quickly dismissed them as SJW's without taking any time to consider their points and you openly admitted you insulted their sexuality and dismissed it as fake despite not knowing anything about the women in question. I can't say I particularly disagree with the mod's decision in this case. No offense, I'm sure you're a perfectly decent guy and obviously I can't tell for certain since I wasn't there to read any of the posts, but it does seem largely like your own fault you got banned.
In fairness, I did have a history of being a hothead on there. Perhaps it was for the better that I got off that place permanently. I'm just venting about the individuals who instigated this particular incident, and the larger ideology they represent.

And frankly if you are a college-age kid who claims all manner of "trendy" psychological differences (e.g. ADD, synesthesia, non-binary gender, and asexuality without being aromantic) and you behave like that one troll (i.e. claim to speak for an entire ethnic group you don't belong to), of course I'm going to be suspicious. Especially in this age of tumblr.

Maybe this thread wasn't the best idea since it could lead to a fight. I have a problem with brooding over past squabbles.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2015, 08:03:37 PM by NinjaRaptor »
NEW self-published anthology:
Dinosaurs & Dames

Offline cupiscent

Re: Social responsibility for creatives (writers included)
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2015, 12:29:07 AM »
Maybe this thread wasn't the best idea since it could lead to a fight. I have a problem with brooding over past squabbles.

Yes. Especially since I was there. Rehashing past squabbles where some parties cannot represent their views (or defend from personal attacks) isn't helpful to anyone or anything.

I agree with the general tenor of the responses received here. You have the right to create whatever you like. Other people have the right to respond. Their feelings are valid, as are yours. A little willingness to listen, consider and understand - if not necessarily accept - goes a long way. In both directions.

Offline NinjaRaptor

Re: Social responsibility for creatives (writers included)
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2015, 01:06:38 AM »
I agree with the general tenor of the responses received here. You have the right to create whatever you like. Other people have the right to respond. Their feelings are valid, as are yours. A little willingness to listen, consider and understand - if not necessarily accept - goes a long way. In both directions.
I think this is right too. Since we really all agree with the basic point, maybe I should ask for this thread to be closed since there's not much to discuss left.
NEW self-published anthology:
Dinosaurs & Dames

Offline jefGoelz

Re: Social responsibility for creatives (writers included)
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2015, 04:12:17 AM »
Writers have one responsibility: Entertain their readers.