MP (militarypenguin) wrote,
MP
militarypenguin

Here’s an important question to consider when criticizing a work of fiction you hate from a sociological angle: would this have bothered you if it were in a work of fiction you loved?

I see this happen a lot, and I’m certainly not exempt from it; you check out something that’s beloved by many, it doesn’t do it for you and you can’t pinpoint why, it frustrates you to no end because you want to write up something thought-provoking about your negative feelings towards it, but you can’t seem to get any further than “I just don’t like it.”

Until, by chance, you happen upon something critiquing it from a sociological perspective. There’s aspects of the story that perpetuate certain sexist, racist, transphobic, or ableist beliefs. Ah, there it is! That has to be it. Never mind that you never noticed it before, or if you had noticed it you didn’t mind it until you’d completed the work and decided you didn’t care for it. What matters now is you have a thoughtful, constructive reasoning behind why you dislike it. You feel validated.

Except...plenty of those same, troubling aspects pop up in works of fiction you adore. You’re aware of them, they just don’t bother you. Why is that? It could be because they’re small enough to be overseen, it doesn’t hit a particular hot button for you, or it could be because the work is so good you can forgive it for any flaws it may have. Conversely, you may love this work for reasons you yourself can’t pinpoint, but then you come across an essay praising the socially progressive aspects of it and ah, there it is! That has to be it. Repeat and rephrase the last two sentences of the paragraph prior.

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this, and if not, I’ll tell you: we see the positives in things we adore just as clearly as we see the negatives in things we despise. This extends to real life with people we adore and despise. The more we love or hate something, the more we’ll want to pick at any strength or flaw to justify ourselves in our opinion, even when the truth is, we wouldn’t have taken notice of either strength or flaw if it appeared in the thing we share the opposite feelings towards.

Be sincere in your criticism and praise. Choose your battles wisely. It’s ok to love or hate something for reasons outside of sociological ones.
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