'How to be a fan of problematic things'

I found this blog post recently, and I thought it had some interesting things to say about problematic things and how you can still be a fan of them even though they might offend some (or most) people:


What are your “problematic things”?

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a “fan” of H.P. Lovecraft’s work, but I recognize that he did contribute a lot to horror as a genre, even though he was a racist (how many times can you say ‘mongrel’ in one story?) sexist anti-Semite. I enjoyed the first three books of Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonriders of Pern” even though characters get away with rape and actions that would be seen as physically abusive in this day and age, not to mention McCaffrey’s odd views on the causes of homosexuality (see ‘the tent peg theory’).

Not being a fan of the problematic cuss word the writer seemed to use like spilled salt, I didn’t finish the post.

I’m a fan of a lot of potentially problematic things: I’m fond of classic movies and 1950s and 1960s TV shows, even though I am well aware that they were made in “less enlightened” eras. I’m also fairly fond of the current TV series “Supernatural”, even though people have kind of rubbed my face in the fact that there’s a fair amount of stuff that can be construed as sexism and racism in it. And we won’t get started on the dings I’ve drawn for being fond of series with GLBT characters in it.

I’m a writer and I’ve found that in writing, your characters are more convincing if they have flaws. Not flaws like tripping on things constantly (I’m looking at you, Bella Swan), but things that make them seem like human beings, who are full of good points and bad points. Sometimes those bad points include a mild problem with not being the most understanding toward people with certain aspects. Doesn’t mean making that character in a stereotyped redneck who hates everyone but able-bodied males of European ancestry, it just means making them human. And humans sometimes have a hard time getting their head around aspects of their fellow human beings which they don’t know about first hand.

Yeah, reading the first sentence was enough for me to stop reading.

Here is a summary for those who don’t like cuss words:

Liking problematic things doesn’t make you a bad person. However, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Firstly, acknowledge that the thing you like is problematic and do not attempt to make excuses for it.
-Especially do not ever suggest that people not take media “so seriously”, or argue that it’s “just” a tv show.

Secondly, do not gloss over the issues or derail conversations about the problematic elements. (Example: “Sure, H.P. Lovecraft was racist, but his stories are about monstrosities from outer space! Let’s all focus on Cthulhu!”)

Thirdly you must acknowledge other, even less favourable, interpretations of the media you like.
-Also, as a fan of problematic media, you need to respect the fact that others may be so upset or angered by media you love that they don’t want to engage with it at all.

I do not think you should have to apologize for liking things with questionable elements. Just recognize that they are there and think about the role they play.

I’m fond of Robert E.Howard although like Lovecrat his work to has problems with regard to his racial views at times. However he often rises above the limitations of the pulp form he was working in to create genuinely melanchonic vistas regarding human aspirations and their ultimate meaningless in his works. Even his racial views are paradoxical at times, as he is quite capable of playing the ‘he was a noble savage and not typical of his race’ card with regards to certain characters like Bran Mak Morn.

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