Wednesday, July 20th, 2016 04:59 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I definitely agree.

Your first point reminds me a lot of the great Renaissance villains who get dutifully killed at the end after we've been breathlessly following their exploits—Edmund in "King Lear," Giovanni in "'Tis Pity," Vindice in "The Revenger's Tragedy," Vittoria in "The White Devil," etc. They have to die for an appropriate moral (that will get past the censors), but you can feel the creaking of the gears to get them there, and they're given these splendid airing of grievances that forces you to listen to them. And in a lot of cases, the grievances are entirely legitimate and real injustices, with plausible deniability granted by putting them in the mouths of villains slated for death.

And yes, I think the "depiction is not endorsement!" and "fiction creates reality" crowds tend to ignore the large swaths that don't really fall into either camp. There's a ton that isn't a warning, that rolls around in the drama without much interest in preaching.

And there are also, definitely, things like LOTR and Lolita that get profoundly misunderstood in what they are at their cores. But I don't really feel that it's on the author to cater to people who are going to ignore blatantly obvious themes.

Austen actually ranted about this with Lovelace-stanning men who managed to glom onto the most indulgent aspects of Richardson's writing while ignoring what he was actually saying. And that's definitely a mix of "enjoying wallowing in it" with intellectually criticizing.

I'm not entirely sure where I stand, beyond the furthest edges of exploitation porn. It does seem that anything beyond relentless one-dimensional vilification or outright absence becomes easy to misunderstand. I think it's what goes on with Tolkien, who does write the stirring glorious battle scenes and builds an entire (likable) society around the glory of war, shows how it's possible to see things that way, while ultimately treating it as inherently problematic (see: Boromir).

And I am completely with you on those sort of vampiric subversions that are just feeding off something else and taking credit for its appeal. It was one of my greatest annoyances with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, for instance, which mined P&P for the vast bulk of its ~female bonds!!!~ material, simultaneously refused to restructure P&P around something other than Elizabeth/Darcy, and scolded fans for caring about the wrong things.

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