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Straight White Males oppressed by blog post

So straight white science fiction author dude John Scalzi has created a bit of a hubbub amongst straight white dudes on the interwebs with a blog post called Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.  The post, later reposted on Kotaku, is basically an attempt to talk to fellow dudes in their own language about the concept of privilege “without invoking the dreaded word ‘privilege,’ to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon.” (And they do.)

Scalzi’s thesis:

Dudes. Imagine life here in the US – or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world – is a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane, where most quests involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time. Let’s call it The Real World. You have installed The Real World on your computer and are about to start playing, but first you go to the settings tab to bind your keys, fiddle with your defaults, and choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?

Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.

Scalzi should have added “cis” to “straight white male,” but otherwise I’d say that’s fairly spot-on.

Of course, as Scalzi himself points out, life for straight white (cis) dudes is not always peaches and cream. They may have any of a number of disadvantages in life that make things difficult for them. They may have been born poor, or in a war zone; they may have been abused as children or the victim of crime or violence as an adult. Or faced any number of other problems and conditions and disadvantages.

Scalzi deals with this issue a little more obliquely than he could have, noting that some people begin the grand game of “The Real World” with more points than others, and that this can make a good deal of difference.

But do straight white cis males face disadvantages stemming from being straight white cis men? I honestly can’t think of any that have affected my life in any serious way, and these small disadvantages pale in comparison to the many advantages. Yeah, I had to register for the draft when I turned 18. Of course, when I registered there was no draft, and there still isn’t one, and the draft has virtually no chance of being resurrected in the foreseeable future, so I can’t say this requirement has affected my life in any tangible way.

As Scalzi puts it:

If you start with fewer points and fewer of them in critical stat categories, or choose poorly regarding the skills you decide to level up on, then the game will still be difficult for you. But because you’re playing on the “Straight White Male” setting, gaining points and leveling up will still by default be easier, all other things being equal, than for another player using a higher difficulty setting.

Anyway, Scalzi got a lot of responses to his post, many of them from straight white dudes outraged by his assertions. So he wrote a followup taking some of these critics to task. He was particularly amused by the criticism that by “picking on” straight white males he was being racist and sexist.

This particular comment was lobbed at me primarily from aggrieved straight white males. Leaving aside entirely that the piece was neither, let me just say that I think it’s delightful that these straight white males are now engaged on issues of racism and sexism. It would be additionally delightful if they were engaged on issues of racism and sexism even when they did not feel it was being applied to them — say, for example,when it’s regarding people who historically have most often had to deal with racism and sexism (i.e., not white males). Keep at it, straight white males! You’re on the path now!

I am sure there are many gems of obtuseosity in the comments, and in the Reddit thread on his original post. But it’s Friday night, and I have a  migraine — which sucks, but it’s not because I’m a straight white cis dude —  so I’m going to let you guys find them for me.

EDITED TO ADD: Thinking a bit more about Scalzi’s central metaphor here, and I don’t think it completely works: he assumes that obstacles other than racism, sexism, and homophobia can be explained as the equivalent of having started the game with fewer points. But it you have, for example, a disability, that’s something that makes you life harder every day; it’s more akin to raising the difficulty level than to starting off with fewer points. (Not to mention that you’re likely to face bigotry because of it as well.) This doesn’t erase the privileges a straight white male with disabilities gets from being straight, white, and male, of course, but it does ratchet up the difficulty.

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Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Polliwog — ok that makes sense, the movie Faramir is willing to obey his order to return with the ring until he sees just how evil it is — he might be noble, or just scared of the nazgul. From what you said though book Faramir is just that noble.

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

All right, I definitely need to reads the books again. I can’t recall at all how Faramir’s actions differ.

The biggest change is that Faramir in the books not only never takes the Ring but never considers taking the Ring. There’s no holding the hobbits captive, no trying to convince him to let them destroy it – just “oh don’t worry, I don’t want that evil thing” as soon as the topic is brought up. He’s also generally a better person – among other things, movie-Faramir has Gollum beaten up; book-Faramir explicitly tells his men just to watch Gollum, not to hurt him.

Faramir in the movie version of ROTK is fine, but Faramir in TTT is just…not Faramir.

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

Polliwog — ok that makes sense, the movie Faramir is willing to obey his order to return with the ring until he sees just how evil it is — he might be noble, or just scared of the nazgul. From what you said though book Faramir is just that noble.

Yup. Noble and fundamentally humble – the Ring is always most tempting to people who crave power in some way, which is why hobbits (who mostly just crave peace and quiet and a nice filling dinner and maybe a fireworks show, that’d be nice) are the best people to bear it. Faramir doesn’t particularly want fame and glory and power, and Boromir, while generally a good and noble and heroic man, does.

(Incidentally, Boromir comes to the Council of Elrond because of a vision – Faramir’s vision. It’s strongly implied that Faramir should have been in the Fellowship instead of Boromir, but that Boromir went to the Council instead both to keep his little brother safe and because as the heir to the Stewardship he should have the honor of big important journeys like that. When Frodo meets Faramir and realizes all this, it’s one of the most quietly tragic moments of the story, since the implication is that, had Faramir gone to the Council instead as was originally intended, the Fellowship might still be unbroken and Boromir would be alive. Making Faramir just as capable of being tempted really, really undermines that.)

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

(BTW, my apologies if I’m boring everyone to tears rambling on about LOTR like this. It’s just one of those topics I know too much about not to blather on a little bit. :-p )

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Polliwog — ooooh, that makes much more sense >.<

The hobbits like ale and pipeweed too, Bilbo specifically says it's a misconception they only love food 🙂 (but yes, they're a peaceful quiet sort, and egalitarian enough to explain how Pippen is both nobility and not interested in the ring)

Regarding Boromir's death, it'd almost be weird if all the fellowship lived, considering how many people die fighting alongside them — at least Boromir dies in a heroic way and not just another nameless corpse on a battlefield. He even floats home iirc.

Kyrie
Kyrie
8 years ago

He even floats home iirc.

In movie number one, they send him to fall in the waterfall, so I don’t think so. But maybe in the books? I read them a long time ago, and was always confused between characters, so my memory is all blurry.

Which is why I really enjoy reading you all on the subject. 🙂

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Kyrie — even in the movies — I have no clue how his boat lands right side up with him in it, but they show Faramir finding the boat and their father has the broken horn in Gondor. Yeah, I just rewatched that scene to make sure that wasn’t one of Faramir’s visions, but he specifically says the boat washed ashore.

Kyrie
Kyrie
8 years ago

I just rewatched the first, planning to watch the others and holy crap, the small boat survived the fall? And the body is still inside? I guess it can be attributed to the elves’ magic, though.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

oooh maybe, I hadn’t thought of that — but yeah, it does, the scene in question is when Faramir first starts talking to the hobbits, towards the end of the second movie

DM
DM
8 years ago

Nanasha-

If you’re having trouble finding a fantasy novel to love, you might try going to your local library and asking to talk to someone who does reader’s advisory. RA librarians are there to help out with exactly the sort of situation you described.

Also, your library probably (like, 99.9% chance) has a subscription to NoveList, which is the most amazing thing on the planet. It’s a giant database of books which have been cross indexed by RA librarians to help people find “read-a-likes.” You can search by title or author which will bring up lists of similar works and writers, or even descriptive terms and subjects- so a query might go something like “female centered, character driven, richly detailed, fantasy.”

Good luck finding something new. 🙂

ENelke
ENelke
8 years ago

Hi, usual lurker here, but this thread about fantasy novels is getting just too interesting. I have to admit that I had never thought of Tolkien’s novels this way, I read them in my chilhood and, since then, they just became a part of a mythology. I didn’t analyse the works from a perspective of class and society. Therefore, reading these analysis is like discovering a new layer of meaning.

About fantasy novels that do not follow the male-centric perspective, have you read something from China Miéville? He is part of the New Weird crew, along with Neil Gaiman, and he integrates quite a few non-normative characters in his stories.

Ithiliana
8 years ago

@Aegenti: Two of Tolkien’s closest friends from childhood died in WWI. Four of them went; two survived (which is actually better than some of the stats in some of the regiments). At this time, many of the unts were composed of men from the same area/village/etc. If you want a fantastic work on Tolkien’s war years, try JOHN GARTH’s TOLKIEN AND THE GREAT WAR.

It’s heart wrenching (and makes use of a lot of recently declassified material on troop movements).

One of Tolkien’s jobs in the army was training horses — he had a real gift for working with nervous/young horses.

Also, he wrote that Sam was based on the batmen he knew in the army (working class men who served officers who were of a higher class).

Sam’s father, Hamfast Gamgee, was a gardener at Bag End before Sam was — Hamfast remembers when he was a lad and Mr. Bilbo came home from his quest — that was when he was working for an earlier gardener. Yes, it’s an English thing–Tolkien said repeatedly that the Shire was based on the English rural countryside where he grew up.

Also, the hobbits are more modern (waistcoats, tea, diction, mail delivery) compared to the more medieval areas of Middle-earth (Rohan almost pure Anglo Saxon, etc.). The more modern hobbits are a guide for the reader into the medieval cultures of Middle-earth. The modern (meaning Tolkien’s lifetime) and medieval layers carry over to warfare: the epic heroes (Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, Legolas) fight one type of war; Sam and Frodo being led by Gollum through the Dean Marshes are just like the troops in WWI (poisonous air, enemy in the sky, dead bodies in the ground–those sections read very much like narratives by the men who survived the Battle of the Somme).

Ithiliana
8 years ago

@Argenti: sorry for misspelling above.

Re boats to Valinor and chronology.

If you look carefully at the Appendix (the last chronological event in the story is the statement that “it is said” that Legolas took Gimli with him to the Undying Lands), a lot of stuff is ‘as reported.’

A fantastic element of Tolkien’s style (rarely done well by imitators) is that there are all sorts of recreations of medieval (and I’m talking earlier middle ages, 400-600 not high middle ages in 1300 plus) chronicles and manuscripts. So a lot of what is reported in documents outside the novel proper is reported as “it is said” without it being authortatively stated by an omniscient narrator (which is a convention of the novel, a very late narrative form).

There are contradictions. There are gaps. There are stories of manuscript history (many people skip the prologue, but it’s effectively a medieval historian’s introduction and report on sources). Tolkien was not writing a ‘fantasy novel’ (that genre didn’t exist as a category then). He was writing in the voice of a modern scholar who has translated old materials (including various versions of Bilbo’s journal which became the Red Book of Westmarch which was a set containing three volumes of Bilbo’s translations from the Elvish–which is an allusion to the SILMARILLION material).

It’s brilliant — but noticeable unless one re-reads carefully to analyze such things.

Ithiliana
8 years ago

@Boromir’s boat: I gotta go to work but I gotta talk about Tolkien.

Boromir’s body is put into the boat, with weapons of his foe, and sent over Rauros Falls (to keep it from the orcs who would despoil it); Faramir has a vision/seeing of the boat filled with silver water (light) going down the River (spacing out on name, too early, argh) out to the Sea.

The physics here are affected by Tolkien’s spiritual world–Boromir’s body is protected and taken to the Sea, into the West (Valinor) — because he redeemed his fall.

seeing Boromir’s body and the broken horn allows Faramir to in effect verify Frodo’s story of knowing Boromir, plus it is one of the understated spiritual elements (Tolkien didn’t want institutionalized religion, or over religion–the story is set in a pre-Christian Germanic world, but the mythology of the SILM is like the 9/10 of the iceberg that is under water).

Ithiliana
8 years ago

Faramir

The change in Faramir’s plot line is along with the deletion of Bombadil and the deletion of “Scouring of the Shire” one of the biggest change Jackson made in the film–but I haz no time to talk now.

As jackson said, since they’ve established the power of the big horrible ring over everybody, having one character suddenly go nope, not feeling it, and letting the Hobbits go, would ring sort of false (and in fact that’s one criticism made of Book!Faramir! he’s too noble to be beleved–although arguably he spends less time with the Ring than others do–the book makes it clear time of exposure as well as individual personality affects how much the Ring affects you).

Despite my love for the book, Faramir in the book was my least favorite characer (and I resented him marrying Eowyn for years)–but I adore movie!Faramir (conflict, angst, change, yay).

Plus, DAVID WENHAM fucking sexy.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Ithiliana — I have no competent reply to all that, that’s partly sleep dep, and partly that WWI just makes me mutter “Geneva convention” (as in “this is why we have the…”)

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Re: Boromir’s boat, the “it’s a myth” answer really does make the most sense, I’m too tired to parse the explanation though. It’s been years since I read the books, but I think I agree with you regarding Faramir, but more like he married Eowyn to a one off character than the (interesting) hatred of Boromir (he may redeem himself, but I can still hate him for it).

Pecunium
8 years ago

Argenti: Frodo says something, pretending to be the kids, about tell me the one about Sam, he was so brave; “I was being serious” “so was I” — their relationship is more complex than just hired help.

Yes, it was. Servants, unlike hired help, are a different class of employee; and in the age of households&dag; the servants had privileges which an employee would never have dared to assume. There is an old British aphorism, “No man is a hero to his valet”. Bunter, or Jeeves, or (odlly) Archie Goodwin (to Nero Wolfe, which are american stories; and the relationship is colored by that, but it’s more “household” than it is business, again, I digress), are all of a piece with Sam.

In filk (Science Fiction Fandom based around singing; and writing songs) the British Contingent’s “theme song”, the one they end evenings/events with, is about Samwise Gamgee, in no small part because Tolkien tapped into the mythos of Britain.

Pecunium — you were right they aren’t anything like the modern use of “lover” — I was thinking more like a “Boston marriage” without the modern assumption that included sex — but it could be just the sense that the families would always be interacting in a master-hired help sense and them being actual friends as well.

It’s more formal than Holmes and Watson, but it’s hard to explain. I’ve got a couple of people with whom I have (or had) such a relationship. What one feels one can call on them to ask is strangely limited, because one knows they can ask anything, and it will be, at least, attempted; therefore one doesn’t want to put unfair obligations on them.

&dag;which was dying it’s last death as a system in the age which ended when WW1 started [really, WW1 is the defining event of our history; there is a clear sense of before and after. The things which were fading, being replaced with other things… were slaughtered in the trenches, but I digress)

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

Plus, DAVID WENHAM fucking sexy.

This is pretty much what made me tolerate movie-Faramir despite disliking the changes. I could watch people pour oil over David Wenham all day.

I can see the case for “Faramir being this good is implausible,” but I’d counter-argue that, given that the whole story is fundamentally about the end of the age of elves and the beginning of the age of men, Faramir is there in large part to be a necessary example of the goodness possible from humanity. We have the Nazgul to show us how low men can sink; Faramir is there to show us how high they can rise. (Aragorn serves that function, too, but Aragorn is a little bit superhuman. Faramir is just a guy, subject to all the same human frailties as his father and brother, so to me, his ability to resist the Ring means more.)

cloudiah
8 years ago

I could watch people pour oil over David Wenham all day.

Yes. Although I wanted to like Viggo Mortensen more because Danish.

Also… Manboobz: come for the mockery, stay for the detailed literary analysis of LOTR

ithiliana
8 years ago

Polliwog: Very good points about Faramir in the book–but of course film is a different medium, and one could argue (as i have with my partner in an article coff coff) that generally speaking all the characters are “modernized” into characters more recognizable than epic hero counterparts for viewers in the film–that is, Tolkien modernized many elements in his novel (not an epic poem–and he could have written an epic poem–he did write a bunch of the SILM tales in epic verse, including OLD ENGLISH EPIC VERSE!@!!!!!!), and Jackson modernized even more.

ARagorn: self doubting dude! (Boromir and Arwen there to bolster ego and reassure him that yes he CAN BE KING)

Faramir: more like Boromir (and in some ways, Boromir in interaction with hobbits at start ofjourney OMG adorable, more like Faramir).

B. gets Faramir’s line from teh book (MY KING).

Arwen more kick ass!

So one can debate whether it’s good/bad to do that–but it’s possible (in film adaptation theory) to argue that such changes are consistent across the text, for a reason, that can connect to context film is made in.

Actually, coff coff, I write all sorts of LOTR fic (including RPS threesomes with Sean Bean, VIggo MOrtensen, and David Wenham).

BECAUSE OMG SO SEXY. (I saw FELLOWSHIP 45 times in the theatres when it came out).

ithiliana
8 years ago

@Argenti: The fellowship remaining together.

Pippin and Merry at the end of their long lives (they rise in prominence as does Sam) hand their stuff over to their heirs and ride to Gondor where they are given a place by Aragorn’s side in the catacombs/tombs. *sniffles*

Dracula
Dracula
8 years ago

Also… Manboobz: come for the mockery, stay for the detailed literary analysis of LOTR

Indeed. And this, among other reasons, is why I love all of you. Seriously, ya’ll are awesome.

ithiliana
8 years ago

@Argenti: More about elves: Elrond’s annoyance his daughter wanted to stay, it made me assume she’d be the last of her people.

In Tolkien’s storyverse, like in the early Middle Ages after the fall of Rome, there is a sense that things will keep getting worse–that the great peoples and empires and deeds were in the past, and all that are left are their ruins (walking through Middle-earth seeing all the ruins is the world of northern/eastern Europe after the fall of Rome).

The Elves are the First Children of Eru/Iluvatar (God). They have their time on Earth (long and complicated and as Pratchett would say, myffic), and are leaving–as Galadriel says in book and I think film, she can choose to stay in the mortal world and diminish, or sail into the West and lose the land she loved (she was born in Valinor and left on the Great March).

Tolkein talks (essay on FAIRY STORIES) and elsewhere about how the cultural narratives people have of Elves/Fae/Fairie showed the diminishing from the warriors and heroes of the Germanic mythologies into, well, Tinkerbell.

He didn’t like what the Victorians did to fairies.

So I think he has that decline in mind.

The Human/Elven mixes (always male human, female Elf as someone else said) are a complex issue–basically Arwen and Aragorn are cousins, hee!

But the idea is that with this last human/Elven marriage, some of the Elvish spiritualities (and Elves are NOT pefect in Tolkien’s world–he was surprised by some of the responses) pass into the human race. But yes, no Elves; and the ending of Arwen’s tale is horribly sad for that reason.

I know at least one reader in the fandom who claims ARwen in the book AND film is braver than Eowyn or anybody else because she gives up immortality for love.

I spent a lot of time when the film first came out telling people complaining about Arwen in the film to read Appendix B because (except for the Glordindel rescue), a lot of what they show about her in the film is in canon (just not the main novel).

Mumble mumble people who don’t read the poetry either grrrumb.e

ithiliana
8 years ago

Not only mockery and LOTR but QUANTUM PHYSICS fer crying out loud. I didn’t comment because I’m a dud, but WOW, that was interesting to see.

Cool group!

LBT
LBT
8 years ago

Never read LOTR, can’t contribute to the conversation, so slightly-related thing people here might think is awesome:

At my undergrad college, they had a (very popular) course on the languages of Tolkien in the linguistics department. It was AWESOME. Sadly, I missed it and it’d been replaced with Klingon when I arrived

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

Polliwog: Very good points about Faramir in the book–but of course film is a different medium, and one could argue (as i have with my partner in an article coff coff) that generally speaking all the characters are “modernized” into characters more recognizable than epic hero counterparts for viewers in the film–that is, Tolkien modernized many elements in his novel (not an epic poem–and he could have written an epic poem–he did write a bunch of the SILM tales in epic verse, including OLD ENGLISH EPIC VERSE!@!!!!!!), and Jackson modernized even more.

ARagorn: self doubting dude! (Boromir and Arwen there to bolster ego and reassure him that yes he CAN BE KING)

Faramir: more like Boromir (and in some ways, Boromir in interaction with hobbits at start ofjourney OMG adorable, more like Faramir).

B. gets Faramir’s line from teh book (MY KING).

Arwen more kick ass!

So one can debate whether it’s good/bad to do that–but it’s possible (in film adaptation theory) to argue that such changes are consistent across the text, for a reason, that can connect to context film is made in.

That makes a lot of sense. And like I said, overall I think Jackson’s trilogy were genuinely excellent adaptations, in spite of and sometimes because of the changes. (Not that I don’t love the books exactly as they are, but you’re quite right that different things work in different media – to use what’s probably the most obvious example, I certainly missed Tom Bombadil, but that sequence simply wouldn’t have worked on film the way it does in the book.) I think adaptation is generally a balancing act between faithfulness to the source material and making good use of the medium you’re in, and really the only two places where the balance tipped too far for me and broke into my enjoyment of the films were Faramir and the snap-decision-making Ents. I could happily have dealt with some changes to both (I’m totally fine with Faramir’s expanded daddy complex, for one), but the changes that were made just pushed past “reinterpretation” and into “ignoring the traits that make these characters who they are” territory for me. It’s like making a version of Moby-Dick where Ahab’s approach is “Eh, if we find the white whale and kill it, that’d be cool, but no biggie.” That may still be an interesting character, but it’s definitely not Ahab. :-p

(I do wish Jackson had left in the Scouring of the Shire, too, though not having it didn’t bother me per se – in that particular way, I’d say Jackson’s story is arguably less modern than Tolkien’s, since Jackson allows the Shire to stay utterly untouched, whereas Tolkien with his real-world experience of the devastation of war in the 20th century very specifically made it clear that nowhere is ever completely safe, and that fighting evil isn’t some “take out the Big Bad and then you’re done and everything is wonderful forever” thing, but an ongoing process. Seeing war as something you can’t ever be completely insulated from is darker, more real, and more interesting to me. That said, Jackson is very probably right that mainstream audiences would have found that ending bizarre, because we’re so used to stories that tie everything up in a nice climactic bow rather than saying, “it’s not over, it’ll NEVER totally be over, the best one can hope for is that you can keep evil at bay if you keep working at it.”)

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

At my undergrad college, they had a (very popular) course on the languages of Tolkien in the linguistics department. It was AWESOME. Sadly, I missed it and it’d been replaced with Klingon when I arrived

Geeky ridiculousness incoming:

The most awesomely, bizarrely geeky job I ever had was actually working as the official translator for a major performance of Howard Shore’s LOTR symphony – my job was to teach the choir what the words they were singing meant and how to pronounce them, and to give them some background on the languages, cultures, and context of what they were singing. It was kind of hilarious. (Also kind of sad, seeing as various choir members kept having questions like, “Wait, there was a BOOK of this story? Is it based on the movies?” *headdesk*)

cloudiah
8 years ago

Back to the original topic, which is in no way meant to discourage this fascinating continuing discussion of LOTR which I am enjoying very much, did you all see the New Statesman article on the MRM? Predictably, MRAs are swarming the comments section with their usual talking points.
http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/lifestyle/2012/05/mens-rights-zeitgeist

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Pecunium — ok, I think I sort of understand what you’re trying to get at then — it would explain then why Frodo doesn’t tell Sam he’s leaving until he’s actually leaving.

ithiliana —
“I know at least one reader in the fandom who claims ARwen in the book AND film is braver than Eowyn or anybody else because she gives up immortality for love. ”

IDK, I just really love Eowyn, she gets mad every time she’s told not to fight, and when it really matters, she goes anyways and saves the day big time. And that Arwen is All About Aragorn is kind of…too disney? Maybe she’s more a tragic character in the rest of her story though and LoTR just doesn’t show enough of her.

And re the hobbits: nice, I am glad that they met up again, separating them probably permanently was what was irking me.

DragonsBeHere
DragonsBeHere
8 years ago

LOTR is racist and you really should stop. Where’s Rutee at!?

Kyrie
Kyrie
8 years ago

wut?
We should stop speaking about something many really because you said so?
And saying “it’s racist” without any argument, after all this extended and informed discussion on the subject, that’s just lazy.

jumbofish
8 years ago

LOTR is racist and you really should stop. Where’s Rutee at!?

Did it still sting to be called a racist? ouch! cry me a river.

Snowy
Snowy
8 years ago

Well if it isn’t our old friend TrollsBeTrollin. Sure do know how to hold onto a grudge, don’t you?

Mewthree
Mewthree
8 years ago

It’s weird that they think “your life is easier than a POC/woman/queer person’s would be in the same position” is some kind of mortal insult.

I think they’re hearing it as “your life is so super easy you’ve never suffered or worked at all,” which I could totally sympathize with if there weren’t hundreds of people constantly trying to explain that’s not what anyone said.

It’s because it’s disrespectful, presumptive, and not really true anyway. I mean sure, on a macro level, from a sociological perspective, sure. That is, if you took Average Man and Average Woman, it’s probably better to be Average Man. But sociology is the study of society… not individuals, and you can’t apply sociological principles to individuals. And that’s what Scalzi is doing… talking directly to his audience and saying YOU (you personally) are on the easiest difficulty setting. It’s rude and obnoxious, and doesn’t work, because everyone’s life is unique. There are many cases where it could, in a particular instance, be beneficial to be female, or black, or whatever. For example- and this is off the top of my head, because I just finished watching The Guild- Felicia Day. She seems nice, and she’s a good actress- but a mediocre writer at best. Most of the adoration she gets (and don’t bother denying it; it’s true) is a direct result of fascinated guys with geek-crushes on her. And yes, that translates into recognition, money, etc. So indeed, in that particular sense, it pays for her to be a (white; nerdy-hot) female. If she were male (or unattractive, or whatever) and remained on the same career path, she would not have the exposure she does now.

Scalzi is an ass. If you want to talk about sociological realities, fine; but those do not apply to individuals (or they may, but you can’t assert that they do in any given case, they are tailored to fit a macro lens) On a micro level, Scalzi doesn’t get to speak for anyone but himself.

Myoo
Myoo
8 years ago

@Mewthree

I mean sure, on a macro level, from a sociological perspective, sure. That is, if you took Average Man and Average Woman, it’s probably better to be Average Man.

That’s what privilege IS, and that’s what the article is fucking saying. It specifically addresses the fact that everyone’s life is different and that you can be a straight white male and still have your life suck. If you had bothered to read the article you would know.

Snowy
Snowy
8 years ago

Mewthree, as a white male (not straight) my life is definitely a lot easier then it would be if I was a poc or a woman or both. It’s called privilege, it doesn’t mean I’m a horrible person. It doesn’t reflect on the stuff I’ve been through in my life that was hard. Maybe you should read the actual article instead of fantasizing about Felicia Day.

jumbofish
8 years ago

Maybe you should read the actual article instead of fantasizing about Felicia Day.

This.

Polliwog
Polliwog
8 years ago

Mewthree, I love that your own helpful example of the benefits of femaleness is actually, “If you’re a woman who writes and directs and stars in your own highly successful, award-winning show, people will claim that the actual reason you are successful is that men want to fuck you.” Women: totally privileged, you guys!

Pecunium
8 years ago

Mewthree…. This was a discussion of a group. Go back and read it, and the comments made here (and there) about it.

When you have understood what was said, we will be more than willing to accept your apologies.

Rutee Katreya
8 years ago

The racism in LotR didn’t pass without comment. It was mentioned already, by the people who actually like LotR.

@Mewthree: You are a fucking slowbro.

It’s because it’s disrespectful, presumptive, and not really true anyway. I mean sure, on a macro level, from a sociological perspective, sure.

You do realize this isn’t an abstract claim that doesn’t actually mean anything outside academia, yes?

But sociology is the study of society… not individuals, and you can’t apply sociological principles to individuals.

This is a complete misinterpretation of what that means. It means studying about the society doesn’t necessarily tell us about the individuals in it. Except we’re not really talking about the individuals in it, we’re talking about how society reacts to them. White dudes don’t have it easier due to innate differences, it’s because society eases them into life.

There are many cases where it could, in a particular instance, be beneficial to be female, or black, or whatever.

And they’re never, ever equivalent. Fuck, ordinary employment will always, always trump free drinks.

If she were male (or unattractive, or whatever) and remained on the same career path, she would not have the exposure she does now.

Have you heard of Seth Green, off the top of my head?

Rutee Katreya
8 years ago

Seriously, fucking ignorant trolls. “OH THIS NERD WOMAN IS ONLY POPULAR BECAUSE SHE’S A WOMAN THERE IS NO WAY A DUDE LIKE THAT COULD BE POPULAR FOR BEING ADORABLY AWKWARD”. Yeah, because you assholes really keep up with dudes who are considered hot. Perfect fucking example of how men’s sex drives are considered important, womens’ aren’t.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Hey, I called it several pages back – these guys really do think that being considered attractive is the One Ring of privileges. If they want to fuck a woman, they think that means she must be super mega privileged and have a life that’s almost comically easy.

Their response to any counterexamples demonstrating the ways in which this is not true is always, always BUT MY ERECTION, IT IS NOT BEING TENDED TO.

Flib
Flib
8 years ago

…. can’t apply sociological principles to individuals?

What?

Sociology is not so neatly divided that it only considers some average of people. Social sciences are not that regimented that you step back and claim something else when using a different lens to observe people. Interdisciplinary bro, they bleed into each other (Econ, Anthropology, Political Science, and Sociology have all sorts of intersections, to name a few big categories)

Hell, if you actually still believe sociology only works as a macro lens I’m going to point at Erving Goffman and laugh in your face. A lot of different tools and conceptual models incorporate individuals and institutions. Hell, look at Risman’s “Gender as a Social Structure” for some gender theory examples.

Sheila Addison
8 years ago

I’m late to the party but I did try to follow up on the “so what am I supposed to do, feel guilty for having privilege?” question here even though I know a certain percentage of the questions probably weren’t asked in good faith. Perhaps some were, you know?

zmayhem
8 years ago

Also incredibly late to the party (er, also delurking), but this comment thread on the Kotaku re-post of Scalzi’s follow-up post is eerily, uncomfortably familiar. The first commenter is totally fine, but the pile-on that follows gets scarily unhinged, scarily fast, including the reappearance of a Manboobz troll talking point (or possibly just a Manboobz troll posting under a new pseud).

Obligatory LOTR books/movies comment: A long-ago gentleman friend noted both that he loved Tom Bombadil more than just about anyone else in all three books, or possibly in any book he’d ever read, and that Tom Bombadil probably would have thought it hilarious and delightful that he was completely left out of the movies.

Sheila Addison
8 years ago

The comments at Kotaku are a classic example of Anil Dash’s “If your website’s full of assholes, it’s your fault” argument.

Is there an obligatory LOTR comment requirement now? I thought it was cat videos.

[flickr video=7266481240 secret=ee408fd9f5 w=400 h=300]

I would offer “One does not just MEOW into Mordor” but the featured kittens are Rory the Nose, Leggs, and John Smith, and I understand it’s dangerous to cross fandoms.

Sheila Addison
8 years ago

Oh for crying out loud. Does clicking work???

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