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An Impressive Takedown of Martin's Song of Fire & Ice - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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August 27th, 2011

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02:58 am - An Impressive Takedown of Martin's Song of Fire & Ice
I am both impressed with and entirely agree with this article about George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I know quite a number of people who like these books, so 5 or so years ago I tried the first one, I got around 40 pages in, flipped ahead, and stopped. Too grity, way too much rape, and it generally felt like something with the same level of social enlightenment as Howard's Conan novels, except with comics writer Marc Millar's level of brutal grittiness - way too much gritty sword-wielding male power fantasy, combined with even more brutality made to look like realism, and this article says all that far better than I ever could (in part because I never managed to get past page 40 or so of the first book + extensive flipping ahead.
Current Mood: impressedimpressed

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Date:August 29th, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)
But if you never write things from the perspective of "the bad guys", you give an impression of them as an obvious monster or a distant Someone Else that no normal person is at risk of becoming. That hides the fact that a lot of the folks doing such things were really just ordinary people. Like the Stanford prison experiment and Milgram's experiments on obedience showed, even normal and ordinary people can be made to act in a pretty bad way if your social norms say that it's acceptable.

This. So much this.

Firstly, we need to understand and accept how we, too may be the bad guys, if we want to have a hope of not being pushed into becoming bad guys should we ever meet with the same kind of pressures. We should understand that just because we mean well doesn't mean we won't be doing something wrong. And to do that, we have to accept that villainous people are just as much people as we are.

Also, I mean, I know I keep bringing up Lolita, but I really like that book, and I think one of the good things about it is that it allows you to empathise with a child rapist. A lot of people feel uncomfortable with this: "How can I be empathising with someone so terrible? Now I have to consider that he's an actual person..." And that's a good thing, I think. To be perfectly honest, I wish there were more books like that, and I wish that people who were uncomfortable with empathising with someone like that would read the PoV of bad people until they stop feeling uncomfortable. Because we should be empathising with bad people. They deserve it, too. They deserve it just as much as every other human being deserves it.

Empathising with a bad person? Does not mean you're going to suddenly think those bad things are okay. Rather, it does mean you're starting to accept people who do bad things as also being people worthy of personhood. And that is really absolutely essential. Just because someone does bad things, or is even a bad person, doesn't mean that we should turn around and be bad people back to them by not acknowledging that they're also people. Two wrongs don't make a right, two dehumanisations don't correct each other, and so forth.

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