My Blog Week: June 7 to June 13
A Word on the Week
Good with the Riddance
Cultural changes are big news. It would be tempting, or surface-plausible, to say TV shows, movies, books, are just fiction, just entertainment. There is real life out there, in opposition to cultural artifacts, but it’s not as straightforward as statistical truths and probabilities vs lore and storytelling…images, motifs, roles assigned repeatedly. Also, everything seductive in pop culture influences mightily. Pumping music, characters thin and glamorous, booms and crashes, simple resolutions to simple framings of good/bad. What we know about others, about other countries, about people who live in worlds different from our own, becomes our truth via cultural products. In a way, it can’t come otherwise. Statistics about poverty, or how many die in a pandemic, give no visual, no protagonist to root for. Our sense of what’s real, as stated in the Trilling quote I use on my site’s landing page, is realer to us, more relatable, graspable, through the medium of fiction.
Then, is the culture fair? Far from it…a fact not news at all. We see certain representations over and over; we are never shown legions of alternatives. Every group most often portrayed in these multimedia creations has also a good and a bad stereotype. Criminal poverty and noble poverty are both inadequate. Hero police and bad apple police, on TV, in detective and thriller novels, don’t touch on the teaching and learning environment that has produced our present jaw-dropping disconnect. The militarized police act out amazingly at odds with the broader culture’s beliefs and expectations. To double down on brutality (!) is not a rational response to viewing yourself victimized. Somehow, it is the product of a deeply insular culture-within-a-culture.
Fictional media should go much further in widening representation. In movies and TV that means conceiving stories for…that is to say lives for…and hiring actors to play, the non-young, non-pretty, as well as the non-white. The disproportionate amount of homicide in crime fiction and true crime distorts the cultural view. Why serial killers? Why encourage abusive attitudes towards the mentally ill by allowing easily debunked pop psychology fantasies to fester? Why not true crime books on voter suppression, misuse of public funds, workplace discrimination, of which there are myriad examples? Because we aren’t standing up to that awful and hackneyed trope of the crime novel (and its film adaptations), the quirky, fetishy, serial killer.
The killer who doesn’t even know he/she is a killer…
The killer triggered by the sight of a (quirky, fetishy) object, a church steeple or a yellow scooter…the killer who kills and then instantly suppresses the memory again! No wonder, with such a diet, we have an epidemic of hysterical attacks on people minding their own business.
America could use a dose of perspective. We need to get back to valuing personal courage. We need a culture that shows us, and teaches us, these things.
On Monday, a new Yoharie, Savannah out of options and taking the best she can; on Tuesday, The Mirrors (part four), Charmante trying contact with Dumain’s ghost. Wednesday and Saturday, the last two episodes of The German Spy, paving the way for the re-taking-up of Battle Stations, where it last left off. Thursday, Frédéric Boutet’s “The Legacy”, with a miser’s redemption less exciting than hoped. Friday, Eight, “Oh, You Did That?”, the third on propaganda.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: June 7 to June 13