counterexamples

anonymous asked:

Oh yeah who's ever heard of Nintendo having female main characters, Samus whom?

(With reference to this post here.)

The existence of occasional counterexamples doesn’t automatically refute an overall trend. Nintendo can have notable female protagonists and a library of first-party games whose protagonists skew heavily male; these are not mutually exclusive propositions.

Real Analysis Gothic
  • For every epsilon there is a delta. Where is it? Epsilon does not know where delta is. Zero does not know where delta is, it is too far away. Nobody knows where delta is; every number is so far from the other numbers. They are getting further apart. Epsilon is so very small.
  • You are walking up a staircase. You try to take a step, but another step emerges in the middle. A hooded figure appears at the top. You scream and try to run downstairs, but this staircase has so many steps. It is getting closer, closer.
  • You compute a Fourier series at a point; it is different than the value of the function. That’s normal, you say, unconvinced, as you are overwhelmed by a sense of dread. You start to apply the inversion formula, but think better of it. You still have scars from the last time.
  • You cut yourself into three pieces and eat the middle one. It hurts, yes, but you are so tender. You do it again and again and again and again… Your mouth eats your mouth. You are perfect.
  • A year ago today you were teaching calculus. “So you see, it’s easier to take derivatives than integrals” you said. You coughed, the blood splattered out of your mouth, it formed Thomae’s function on the floor. Now you are at the same point in your lesson plan. The stain is still there. It looks up at you, expectantly.
  • You are talking to a complex analyst. Differentiable functions are smooth, he says. Bounded differentiable functions are constant, he says. What are you doing, he says. I’ll call the police, he says. He doesn’t say anything now.

Something really annoying about identity politics is how it can weaponize it’s own critique just in locaized reduces form. By that I mean when people are like “Listen to X identity and you’ll see that Y is true!” and then someone is like “I’m X and I don’t believe Y” people will be like “Umm you don’t speak for all of X stop pretending you do blah blah” when ofc there might not have been any standpoint-claim being made just that the initial premise isn’t true because of countless counterexamples. Basically people will project identitarianism onto people trying to critique identity politics and then use arguments that are really critiques of identity politics as a defense of identity politics.


Like there is just a total inability and unwillingness to conceive of politics outside of fighting over who gets spokesperson status

Kylo Ren is a mess, but he’s a competent mess. Powerful, witty, and intuitive. The majority of Ren’s failures stem from a lack of faith in himself.

  • He senses something in Finn, but doesn’t act on it.
  • He clearly senses that Rey is a powerful force-user, but instead of trusting himself to handle the situation he runs to Snoke.
  • He knows - the Ben part of him, at least - that killing Han Solo isn’t right (I’m being torn apart), but follows through anyways because Snoke commanded it.
  • And as a result, he finds himself weakened. Subjugating grief into anger, already wounded, he impulsively chases after Rey and Finn.
  • When Luke’s lightsaber doesn’t come to him, you can see Ren lose faith in himself. It’s plain on his face. Later, when Rey starts to meet him stroke-for-stroke, he grows even more uncertain. Rey - who remains focused and furious - gains the upper hand, and kicks his ass.

(let me know if I’m missing any examples or counterexamples)

And ever Ren’s mirror, Hux’s failures are a result of him trusting himself (or at least, the institution and ideals that he identifies with) too much - placing too much faith in the stormtrooper program, in his weapon’s shields.

They Are NOT Asatru

“Odin’s Chosen Wolves of Valhalla” is an Odinist hate group located in Southern Germany. We do not want to mince words when we say THEY ARE NOT ASATRU. Everything they believe is a perversion of the gods and the faith. They dishonor their ancestors and give modern Heathens a bad name.

The paragraph above is fairly common. To be perfectly honest we ourselves are guilty of falling in to that line of logic. It’s not hard understanding why. Humans are simple creatures. We are hard-wired with a gut instinct to have knee-jerk reactions at the slightest sensory input. It is a survival trait that served our ancestors well, however in the 21st century it is a trait that can sometimes lead us to incorrect conclusions.

“Odin’s Chosen Wolves of Valhalla” does not exist, at least not to the extent of my understanding. There are certainly groups in the world that fit the description but we’re addressing a broader concept here. The made-up text also acts as a snippet that will be seen and shared with the fight-or-flight gut reaction. There will be people who only see that text and share this believing they are spreading the word about yet another hate group, but that is not the case. In that way, we can see just how easily this instinct leads us to unknowingly spread false information in the modern age.

This isn’t a personal fault of any one individual but rather a shared trait. With information so readily available at our fingertips it’s all too easy to see the first lines of text in an article and feel that reaction and need to simply click a button to vent your frustration at the perceived idea of the information that article will contain. So, I beg you, if you have a friend who shared this article under that false pretense please do not hold it against them. Instead try to open a dialogue and discuss how easily our hearts trick our minds in to jumping to the wrong assumptions.

It is said that when we react to something our very first initial thought is our conditioning. We see an individual and it is simply in our nature to judge them. This goes back to those survival instincts. Our ancestors couldn’t afford to sit there staring at the shaking bush wondering if it was a tiger or their cousin back there. These reactions are based on instinct as well as information we are given throughout our lifetime. Someone with a visible disease is potentially dangerous, that individual stalking down the street is a potential threat, someone who stumbles over finding the right words to say is soft-minded. These are all snap judgments that it is entirely too easy for us to find ourselves making.

The logic then follows that the second thought we have in reaction to a person or an event defines who we are. On our deepest level, we are simple animals. But it is our ability to overcome these instincts that defines us. It’s not always easy but overcoming these impulses is integral to society. It is this ability that I ask you to exercise as I move on to the main point of this article. It’s a difficult pill to swallow but it is an important theological and philosophical exercise.

When we see Heathens behaving in a disgusting and/or dishonorable way we want to distance ourselves from them. We want to proclaim to the world that they do not represent us and we are not associated with them. However, this is known as the “No true Scotsman” fallacy. Defined by Wikipedia, “No true Scotsman” is a kind of informal fallacy in which one attempts to protect a universal generalization from counterexamples by changing the definition in an ad hoc fashion to exclude the counterexample.

For example, we could say “Heathens are not racist!” to which the counterpoint could be made “But those Heathens are.” And often the reaction to the counter example of our statement would be “Well they’re not REAL heathens!” This is the knee-jerk reaction that we have and again it is natural to wish to distance yourself from people exhibiting undesirable behavior.

But, perhaps unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that they ARE Heathens. They ARE Asatru. We share the bond to them through our gods the same way we are all connected in our humanity. Humans are a broad and diverse species which means that, by default, with a large sample size such as the general classification of Heathens there will always be outliers. This is true for all groups, not just Heathens. Almost by definition, every group will have members that the majority of the group do not like and do not wish to associate with.

This is a multi-faceted issue. From our perspective as members of the group in question we have to remember that the outliers may believe just as strongly or even more so that they belong in the group with us. From the outside, it is important to remember that the outliers do not represent the whole. No matter how unpleasant, noisy, or even violent they may be.

It is hard for us to admit but every human has the right to believe in any gods (or lack thereof) they wish. It is important to remember that behind the vitriol and negativity that can be displayed there is still a human being. A human being who you likely do not know with life experiences you can’t imagine. Our paths twist and turn throughout our lives to bring us to where we are and sometimes the negative and hateful people we interact with are in a bad place they may or may not escape eventually.

That isn’t to say you have to like them. You don’t even have to interact with them. But those people have domain over their own lives and are free to claim any god you can claim. It may make us feel good to denounce them and say, “they’re not a part of my group” but that doesn’t change the fact that they still identify as a member of the group. It is up to us to show compassion to these individuals. As I’ve stated many times it won’t be easy, but doing the right thing hardly ever is. We need to learn to refrain from reacting on our impulses and react with our heads.

In the end, you are only accountable for your own actions. Set a good example and some will follow. Be the counterexample to those who would paint us in a negative light and let THEM fall in to the logical fallacies of claiming that WE are not Asatruar. We know our gods and the deeds of others cannot take them from us. Remember the sentiment of the final line of Declaration 127.

“[They] are free to stand for whatever principles [they] see fit.
They are free to stand alone.”

Atmosphere around low mass super-Earth detected

Astronomers have detected an atmosphere around the super-Earth GJ 1132b. This marks the first detection of an atmosphere around a low-mass super-Earth, in terms of radius and mass the most Earth-like planet around which an atmosphere has yet been detected. Thus, this is a significant step on the path towards the detection of life on an exoplanet. The team, which includes researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, used the 2.2-m ESO/MPG telescope in Chile to take images of the planet’s host star, GJ 1132, and measured the slight decrease in brightness as the planet and its atmosphere absorbed some of the starlight while passing directly in front of their host star.

While it’s not the detection of life on another planet, it’s an important step in the right direction: the detection of an atmosphere around the super-Earth GJ 1132b marks the first time an atmosphere has been detected around a planet with a mass and radius close to Earth’s mass and radius (1.6 Earth masses, 1.4 Earth radii).

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I’ve noticed that “ally” types into idpol that are like “I believe a thing because I listen to members of X and as an ally I should just sit down and listen and not but in” like when they do that and are confronted with counterexamples where members of the same group say different or the opposite what you typically get is something like “But but they don’t count or shouldn’t count or don’t matter as much for such and such reasons” and the inherent problems with that line of thinking aside I think it’s interesting how initially it’s framed as some quietistic passive listening because “it’s none of their business” but if you throw a wrench into the narrative they follow suddenly that pret name is dropped and they begin to act as the attorney for the “true side”

a few things i’ve learned from trying to write more in the past couple of years

usual disclaimer that i’m not published and these are things that work for me, when i say “you” i’m being abstract and referring to myself, etc, etc

this is a VERY LONG post, to everyone on mobile, i apologize

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anonymous asked:

What's your point with the last post? The main reason Germany didn't have totally free speech is precisely to ban speech that aims at destabilizing the democratic state in order not to repeat what happened in the Weimarer Republik. So if you're post is supposed to criticize these rules, because they also apply to the left, I'm not sure what to make of that. Are you claiming the German justice system has a 'blind right eye'?? (Disclaimer: I'm German)

There are a bunch of American leftists who have been arguing recently that the United States should criminalize speech like much of Europe does, and in particular: 

1) that Germany bans speech by Nazis but refutes slippery slope arguments - the ban on Naziism has not resulted in the criminalization of speech they believe should be legal

2) that while people might think that a government with the power to criminalize speech will always end up using it for the benefit of the government rather than for marginalized people, in practice anti-free-speech laws do just get used against Nazis.

Shutting down a leftist website/forum because a post called to kill cops is a counterexample. It shows that European speech laws are not the narrowly-tailored anti-Nazi laws (which preserve the freedoms of anyone who isn’t a Nazi) they’re being sold as.

So I’m not accusing Germany of ignoring Nazis, I’m saying that the German laws are not just used against Nazis, and that we should not expect that if we had them here they would only be used against Nazis, and that ‘speech laws that stop Nazis without curtailing the freedom of anyone else’ are a pipe dream. Germany is not being hypocritical, they’re being consistent in application of a principle which I oppose.

chat at an economics workshop
  • professor: One of the puzzling features we observe in the data on corruption is why bribes to politicians and bureaucrats are so small relative to what firms stand to gain from successfully influencing policy to favor their interests.
  • other discussants: [many remarks, omitted for brevity]
  • professor: Hey, you folks on the other side of the room have been awfully quiet. Let's hear what someone else has to say.
  • me: *raises hand*
  • professor: Go ahead.
  • me: I'd like to offer a historical counterexample to the general observation that bribes are unusually small. In the year 193 AD, known as the Year of the Five Emperors in Roman history, the praetorian guard auctioned off the throne of the Roman Empire to the highest bidder. The winning bid was a promise to pay each member of the praetorian guard a sack of coins equivalent to roughly 100X the GDP per capita of the Roman economy.
  • professor: Oh, really? Fascinating.
  • me: Then again, the auction was conducted in public and outraged everyone's political sensibilities, so the winning bidder was murdered within a few weeks during the chaotic civil war that resulted from the affair. Perhaps it's the attention aroused by very large bribes that makes them ineffective and hence rare, as [another discussant] suggested earlier.

shoot-the-smiles  asked:

Would Maegelle Frey be in the Dead Ladies Club? We don't know much of her and she died in childbed

Hi! Thanks for asking me, I’m flattered! I coined the term “Dead Ladies Club” because I wanted to discuss a misogynistic trope distinct from (but related to) the “Death by childbirth” trope. “Death by childbirth” is often (sometimes! not always!) a characteristic of the DLC, but it’s not how I personally define it. So lemme briefly discuss the criteria I use to define the Dead Ladies Club

(if you haven’t read my essay, please click and read it, but I’ll give the quick and messy version here - please realize that what’s below is not comprehensive, please read the longer essay version, I promise it’s worth your time)

My personal requirements for the DLC: 

  • an underdeveloped female character who died during the generation or two prior to the beginning of the series1  
  • of immediate importance to a POV character, or at most one character removed from a POV character
  • denied her humanity by the narrative, especially in a way that her male contemporaries were not. GRRM refuses these dead women space in the narrative while affording significant space to their male counterparts. 
  • this denial of humanity is conspicuous and unjustified

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The previous phenomenon, by the way, also explains some language universals: they’re more like universals of linguistic analysis than universals of the language data itself, and hanging on to them often requires playing loose with the rules.

For an example, let’s take the alleged universal that “all languages have at least i a u in their vowel systems”.

Cheyenne is a language that has no phonetic [i] or [u]; but it does have vowels that are [+front] and [+round], typically realized as [e] and [o]. Per some claims, they can even be realized as relatively close [ɪ] and [ʊ], so this perhaps means that we should still be calling these /i/ and /u/. Some variation in height is, after all, common in three-vowel or more generally two-height systems. (E.g. in Quechua /i/ and /u/ are lowered to [e] and [o] when adjacent to uvulars.)

On the other hand, Abkhaz is a language that has no phonemic /i/ or /u/; but it does have phonetic [i] and [u], which are allophones of /ɨ/, when next to palatalized or labialized consonants, respectively. So again, maybe this does mean we should be counting it as a language that “has i u”.

But the Cheyenne and Abkhaz cases are polar opposites! They do not have the same phonemes or the same phonetics.

One way to wring a universal out of it is to play switcheroo by what we mean with the universal as originally stated. Either it means “all languages have phonetic [i u]“, or it means “all languages have phonemic /i u/”, but it cannot mean both at the same time. — Or maybe it means “all languages abide by at least one of the previous two claims”? But if at least one language in the world can violate one of these more exact sub-universals, and if at least one can violate the other, then who’s to say that it would be impossible to violate both? It seems improbable, given how most languages do not function like Cheyenne or Abkhaz, but by no means inconceivable.

Another way to preserve an universal would be to switch to a more theoretical description. This could be something like “all languages have contrastive [+front]”. In typical cases, the existence of a vowel /i/, realized as [i] and in contrast to /u/, will cover this. Cheyenne also has [+front], just on the vowel /e/ instead of /i/; and Abkhaz also has [+front], just on consonants like /kʲ/ or /j/ instead of /i/ (same as many other languages with vertical vowel systems).

But at this point we have left easy descriptive universals. “Has contrastive [+front]” is not something we can easily observe in a language — it requires some commitment to featural phonology. If there were to be counterexamples, they might not be clear without theoretical analysis, either.

(It’s possible that Wichita is a counterexample for this reformulated universal. It has /i/, but it does not contrast with an /u/; and it has /j/, contrasting with /w/, but since it also has a contrast /k/ : /kʷ/, perhaps /j/ is simply [+high] [-round], and not [+front] as usually expected; and it has /e/, contrasting with [oː], but the latter might not be a phoneme but instead the realization of sequences such as /awa/.)

And being descriptively easy has been kind of the point of linguistic universals. They require as little theoretical attachments as possible, and therefore, they are surveyable in the first place. Probably the majority of the world’s languages have not been described in terms of featural phonology or generative syntax or most other more “deeply” theoretical frameworks, and in this sense it would be very premature to start speaking of “universals” within any of these theories.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Broysc Quinncident, since it was brought up as part of the Quinn discussion last week, and why I’ve never really accepted the canon that Broysc was mentally ill/suffering from dementia by the time Quinn and the SW catch up with him. There’s a perception that people who don’t accept that canon are trying to soften Quinn, make him more palatable and easily romanced. And I’m sure that exists, but for me it was more that the writing for that particular scene felt particularly lazy.

 Meandering thoughts on my own headcanon follow below. Sort of navel-gazey, has severe problems with verb tenses.

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hello all, this is hilary (formerly evilregalcaptainswan) (yes i did change my url twice in one year faint) (i think it’s fitting tho)

i just thought i would briefly pop in and let you know that yes, i am still on tumblr, but i don’t anticipate being back blogging for quite a while. i need a lot of time away and have a lot of things going on right now, and the break from fandom and drama has been SO refreshing. i still love you, but yeah, i need a break. so a break it will be.

HOWEVER, something happened this morning that i’m just kinda gonna have to share with you, so:

apparently one of my readers emailed the north remembers to GRRM himself. and GRRM actually responded. not to sue me, thankfully – but to say that he found it utterly captivating from the first chapter and couldn’t put it down. also that, i quote, “this is a perfect counterexample to my dislike of fanfiction in general.” (he did add that the author/me needed to work on original stuff if i wanted to actually become an author – GRRM, way ahead of you there, but yeah). so i don’t know if he read the whole damn thing or just some, but in fact, he has read it and likes it very much. i honestly don’t know how i feel about someone sending it to him because i have known all along that he doesn’t like fanfic, but there is that. i also don’t know if the reason he likes it is because i’ve guessed the approximate shape of the story and my ideas are on target for what he himself has planned to happen at the end of asoiaf – but there you have it. thought i would pass it along. he read it and it kinda changed his views on fanfiction.

so um. yeah. that happened.

furiosa murder faces, continued

inthroughthesunroof reblogged this from fuckyeahisawthat and added:

Yes yes yes to all of this. I also love how much Charlize was able to just emote on screen without anyone worrying about whether she looked pretty doing it. She makes faces to the same degree Tom Hardy does - often the same faces. She goes cross-eyed when she headbutts people. She contorts her face in grief, in fear, in pain, and in rage, rage, rage.

I didn’t know how much I needed to see a woman modeling that before this movie came out. It’s… I think I’m fully comfortable with being female for the first time in my life. My gender is Furiosa.

I’m pulling this out into its own post because…this is actually a big deal, and it’s not weird at all that it’s having a dramatic impact on people. I’ve heard other women say things about how they felt the movie changed how they thought about their own gender too.

I wrote about it a little at the end of this post, but having a female action character who doesn’t have to look pretty when she fights–who looks like she’s actually fighting, not performing a fight for the audience–is a big deal. It’s such a mind-bogglingly simple thing, and yet we hardly ever see it. Just think how much we’re used to seeing something like this:

(I feel like I should apologize to Black Widow at this point…I keep using her as a counterexample, and really, it’s not her fault.)

There’s friggin’ dust on every surface in this shot, there’s an explosion in the background, and she still looks like she just stepped out of the makeup trailer and is doing a destructoporn photo shoot.

At best, we get something like this:

This is what I call the “PG-13 fight” look, in which you can spend half an hour of screen time battling aliens and come out of it with a maximum of two artfully placed face scrapes/blood trickles.

To be fair, I don’t know if either of the above images are a still from the actual film or a promotional image. But promotional images are part of how the studio wants you to perceive the film (if anything, they’re more stage-managed than the actual shoot) so I think they’re fair game for analysis.

This is a promotional image from Fury Road:

Dirt! Neck tendons! Murder face! I mean, she’s got blood on her teeth in this picture. And while she looks slightly less dirty in the hyper-saturated color scheme of the finished film, this is just a very different image than we’re used to seeing when it comes to women in action movies.

And faces…boy does she get to have an amazing range of facial expressions while fighting! Here, I’ve been collecting them.

Actually…these faces are not amazing at all. They are totally the normal range of faces a person who’s fighting for their life might make. We just don’t normally get to watch a woman fight like a person.

It’s like…she has a complete range of emotions…or something.

It’s like…when actors don’t have to perform some set of expectations about femininity (or masculinity, for that matter)…they get to actually…act. What an idea!

Enneagram type 6: Phobic and Counterphobic

Six, between the enneagram types, is the most explicitly fearful, aware of dangers beneath of everyday life. Recently, I found that this type can have two types: phobic and counterphobic, and their reaction to fear are very different.
- When phobic sense danger, they lay low. They could act cautious, compliant or ambivalent in order to avoid potential attack. Healthy phobic Six are steady, loyal and idealistic, are usually committed to a group, tradition or cause beyond themselves. Healthy phobic Six handle power with integrity and may be fair-minded leaders because they sympathize with underdogs; can affirm their own personal value but also want others in their chosen group to be recognized as well.
Unhealthy phobic Sixes can become blindly conformist even as they avoid personal responsibility. They might subtly shift their power onto an outside authority and begin to romanticize those who seem surer of themselves. The healthy Six capacity for deep loyalty is double-edged, where unhealthy Six are often loyal to the wrong person or simply codependent.
When they give away their power, phobic Six start to chronically worry and feel helpless. To compensate, they become cautious and wary, trying to anticipate the motives of others. They may seem friendly, but can be passive-aggressive or give off contradictory messages as their resentment breaks through. Phobic Sixes can also be nervous, skeptical, tense and indecisive, hesitantly stutter-stepping through life.
When deeply unhealthy, phobic Six become addled with fear and openly dependent upon others. They could act like weak, powerless losers and yet demand coddling from friends, tyrannizing others with their helplessness, placing strict, narrow limits on what they will risk or try; avoid challenges, chronically catastrophize and can become paranoid.

- When counterphobic sense danger, they often deliberately provoke it by acting out, and being aggressive, wanting to handle trouble before it handles them. Counterphobics can seem tough, challenging and punchy.
Healthy counterphobic Six are often courageous, brave, physically adventuresome, highly skilled. They consider themselves team players who offer useful and new alternatives; they may be energetic, honest, assertive, and have many good ideas; also, loyal, hard-driven workers and highly idealistic.
Unhealthy counterphobic Six often have an edgy, restless quality. Some channel their energies into physical activity, tend to be more openly competitive: this physical challenge is to expel their fears by facing danger, because they are ‘afraid of being afraid’. Their preoccupation with risk can lead to bad decisions or degenerate into self-destruction. They react by taking brave but possibly reckless action; doing something to discharge their fear.
Counterphobic Sixes are often defiant or rebellious towards authority and can habitually find counterexamples to what others assert to be true. Deeply unhealthy counterphobic can be aggressive, unstable and senselessly contentious; also be fruitlessly hyperactive, as well as paranoid, accusative, belligerent and vengeful.

I have some questions/concerns about the principle, which seems to be broadly espoused on Tumblr (or anyway on the social-justice Left end of Tumblr), that characters with identity X should only be played by actors with identity X.

There are some cases that seem to me to be clear-cut. Characters of color should not be played by white actors. Trans characters should not be played by cis actors. So far, so good.

Sometimes, though, I see people saying that gay characters should only be played by gay actors, and that seems oddly limiting. Does this rule also go in the other direction – should gay actors only play gay characters? I don’t think I’ve seen people suggesting this (though I have seen something analogous, on which more anon). I don’t think people generally have a problem with gay actors playing straight characters (that does, after all, expand employment opportunities for gay actors), so maybe the principle should be restated as: characters with marginalized identity X should only be played by actors with identity X.

So now we come to the next tricky case: non-Jewish actors playing Jewish characters. As a white-appearing Ashkenazi Jew myself, I am not at all bothered by non-Jewish white actors playing Jewish characters: Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto; Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine in Captain America; Al Pacino as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and Roy Cohn in Angels in America; Meryl Streep as Ethel Rosenberg (FFS, Tony Kushner, a Jewish playwright, wrote the roles so that the same actress would play both a Mormon mother and Rosenberg). (Incidentally, it seems to be popular to have Italian actors playing Jews; must be the Mediterranean noses.) These are great actors and their portrayals are not caricatures.

BUT in the wake of the Hydra Cap controversy, I was seeing people complaining not only about non-Jews playing Jewish characters, but about Marvel “erasing” the Jewish identity of Jewish or part-Jewish actors in the MCU, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman, and Robert Downey, Jr. To which I say: huh? Please, let Jewish actors play non-Jewish characters and let it not be a thing! I honestly feel better when people consider Jewish and non-Jewish white people to be indistinguishable. Twice I have been identified as Jewish by non-Jews on the basis of physical characteristics, in contexts which did not make it obvious, and it was scary. The only people who know what to look for are the people to whom it matters, which is typically only fellow Jews (fine) and antisemites.

Which brings me to the next question: can members of one marginalized group play characters in another marginalized group? It’s definitely not OK that Benedict Cumberbatch, a white man, played Khan, an Indian character, in the new Star Trek; but in the original series and movies, he was played by Ricardo Montalban, a Latino man. And that kind of thing is not confined to the ‘60s: in Rosewater, Gael Garcia Bernal, a Mexican actor, played an Iranian character; and I’m pretty sure Maziar Bahari, the real person whose story the movie was based on, was involved in its production and didn’t have a problem with this casting choice. Is this an example of “all brown people look alike to white Hollywood”? Are other Iranians/Middle Easterners OK with it? And if we insist on casting preserving the ethnicity of the character, how fine-grained is that principle? I think Memoirs of a Geisha took some crap for having a Chinese actress play a Japanese character, but I haven’t heard criticism of the new Star Trek movies for casting a Korean actor (John Cho) as a Japanese character (Hikaru Sulu). Indeed, in the Korean-made movie The Handmaiden, Korean actors played Japanese characters, so we can’t always blame it on white people not being able to tell. (And don’t shoot me for saying this, but I think there’s closer common ancestry between Korean and Japanese people; in any case, the languages are related, but neither is related to Chinese.) At some point, it seems, insisting on ethnic matching fetishizes small differences.

Last issue: disabled actors playing disabled characters. It seems good as a general principle to cast actors with the same disability as the character: deaf actors playing deaf characters, actors in wheelchairs playing characters in wheelchairs, actors with Asperger’s playing characters with Asperger’s. Does the principle apply to characters whom we see both pre- and post-disability, like Charles Xavier/Professor X, or super-powered disabled characters like Matt Murdock/Daredevil? I haven’t actually seen criticism of those casting choices, so maybe there’s consensus that identity-matching wouldn’t be feasible. What about characters with severe intellectual disabilities or psychosis, such that there probably aren’t actors with the same disability? Hollywood definitely needs to be more responsible about portrayals by consulting people with extensive knowledge and experience of those conditions. But is it any better for an actor with high-functioning ASD to play a low-functioning ASD character than someone not on the spectrum at all, since the experiences are still very different?

I don’t have any solutions here, but I am a philosopher, so I like principles and consistency and counterexamples and hashing out difficult cases.

Talk about yer damn feelings, people

Notes from reading one too many romances with inorganic tension because the leads won’t just talk to each other oh my god. But some of these go for nonromantic plots too – and it sure would be great to see more that did. Always write stories that give nonromantic relationships the weight they actually deserve!

But ANYWAY.

I love angst, I love dramatic reveals, I love emotionally constipated characters, I love all the things that usually accompany a “use your words” plot. But it is incredibly frustrating when the problem a character is creating becomes so much bigger than the problem they’re avoiding. So, as soon as your character begins to be unhappy because they have a feeling they “cannot” express, please consider:

Reasons for a character not to talk about their feelings with the object of said feelings that can be strong enough to drive an entire plot

  • Feelings which are inappropriate to the situation (usually romantic):
    • Superior/subordinate
    • In-laws, lovers of friends, etc
    • Enemies. Not rivals; rivalry is personal and surmountable. Enemies, who have third parties invested in them staying enemies, thank you very much
  • Well-founded (even if ultimately inaccurate) fear that doing so will negatively and seriously affect a valued relationship, romantic or otherwise:
    • Founded in social norms: “I can’t tell you I love you; we’re both women" (this isn’t fear of third-party consequences; that there would be an ordinary plot problem. this section is purely about the object’s reaction)
    • Founded in experience: "I can’t tell you I love you; I’m not lovable" (i.e. abuse. use with extreme caution)
    • Founded in the other person’s prior behavior, if done very convincingly: "I can’t tell you I love you; I tried [more than] once and you shut me down”
    • Founded in straight-up common sense: “I did a legitimately bad thing and you will think badly of me if I tell you my feelings about this”
  • Doomed circumstance
    • We’ll never see each other again, so let’s not admit how sad that is

Reasons for a character not to talk about their feelings with the object of said feelings that are strong enough to contribute to dramatic tension, but really can’t drive an entire plot

  • Characteristic reticence
    • Reticence is essentially a personality trait, but it probably came from somewhere, and it definitely manifests differently depending on the character’s background
    • Class conditioning (comes in many varieties): stiff upper lip, Stepford wifeliness, aristocratic dignity; toughness, survival mechanisms, nobody-cares-so-don’t-whine; etc
    • Gender conditioning (mostly masculine, but not exclusively): boys don’t cry, don’t be a wimp, strength is silence, etc
    • Habit: politicians or diplomats, the solitary, those with authority
  • Inexperience and/or youth
    • “I don’t even know what I am feeling”
    • “I’ve never done this before and don’t know how”

Reasons for a character not to talk about their feelings with the object of said feelings that just make everyone roll their eyes and want to smack them

  • Spite, pride, anger
    • This is where rivalry belongs
    • “I’m too Cool And Independent to love you” (not to be confused with straight-up common sense: a woman who fears marriage will stifle her independence isn’t being prideful. A character whose reputation or self-identification hinges on not admitting something, absent any other reason on this list, is. Danny Zuko, I’m looking at you.)
    • Withholding affection out of anger is understandable short-term, childish medium-term, and abusive long-term
    • Use these if you want the character to look bad, of course!
  • Laughably ill-founded fear of rejection
    • There’s no stigma, nobody’s committed any major sin, everybody’s in a relatively healthy mental place, and the other person’s given no strong negative signs
    • And if you sat down and thought it through for ten seconds with a little bit of empathy, you’d probably figure out why they did you give that negative signal that one time

Pleaaaaaase, writers of romance and fanfic, understand that purely emotion-driven plots are really hard to do and try to avoid milking more tension out of a given situation than it can actually sustain. That is how drama becomes melodrama. At best.

Have I forgotten any common tropes? Anybody have examples of stories that break my half-baked hastily-crafted ill-thought-out rules?