Oh I hadn't even thought about the X-Men comparison, but that's a great point. Erik, the Jew who suffered in the Holocaust, propagates mass genocide. I certainly understand why, especially this week, people in the US don't want to hear arguments which seem to excuse racism, or suggest that it isn't a serious problem for pocs in America, but I think the point here is that TW is an allegory for hate based on biological differences. We each (validly) see the discrimination we have known.
It’s not that the arguments excuse racism, because they don’t
it’s that they turn around and say everyone has the capacity of being racist, and when racists get in power you get institutionalised racism
not one or the other but BOTH
the problem with this argument means that they then themselves become racist - but they use terms like reverse racism etc
Yes a white person in the US will not know the same problems as a POC in the US but that is the US centric model, and does not apply to the world (which seems a strange idea to them) and other places have the same problem but base it more on ethnicity than obvious skin colour
they call it prejudice - but any prejudice based on race/ethnicity etc is racism
so if they are prejudiced against the white people for bringing in the system - although the system is fucked and cruel and wrong and needs to go - then they too become racist
do you see the problem
they’re going around like being a racist is the absolute worst thing you can be but it doesn’t apply to them
in which case the word hypocrisy does
so having been goosed on their racism they react with violence, they give threats of violence and tell you to go kill themselves rather than admit hey this is wrong and I have been wrong
there is nothing wrong with being wrong as long as you’re willing to go - hey i fucked up how do i fix this
it’s not mistakes that define us but how we learn from them, and someone who learns about this problem from tumblr is getting a very skewed education, they’re compounding a problem not by supporting it but by trying to institute the opposite - crush the white/straight/cis/whatever rather than going - hey how can i be not an asshole
we all make mistakes - it’s human, we will all say something that’s offensive, the point is to learn from it
not to accuse someone else of being a white supremacist
the fact that a lot of them don’t like that the metaphor is there (and it’s not just a metaphor for race but any kind of disenfranchisement which is why it’s powerful, Scott could be the closetted gay, the person given HIV who resists it and denies it and turns on those who offer him support, he could be the woman who always supports the man and screws over the feminist movement - he could be any of these things and that’s the point) because if it is there it means that they are wrong
the fact that a very racist trope, the so-called “white savior” trope applies to Scott makes it worse - they’ll be frothing at the mouth now - and that’s the issue - not that scott is or isn’t racist
or that I am, or am not racist - I try my best not to be which is all I can do
but that if the metaphor is there, if they are supporting a bad person - does it make them a bad person, does supporting a racist make you a racist
no - it’s a metaphor
but does their naive arguments that racism is something that can’t affect a person unless that person is supported by the government mean they are more likely to be racist - just against the enfranchised
but the problem is that people are not supported by the racist government (and it is racist) but instead that the people support it
racism is a problem of people - but government, that’s what strong people do when they can and they come up with justifications of what is right - like yeah it’s okay to slaughter the jews because they have all the money, or yeah we can burn clever women - they’re witches, or we can enslave those people - they’re black.
You see how it works - you need to put racists in power to get racist government which then shifts education to keep the racists in power
but it always starts with people
but summing it up like that means that they have to face the truth - that in this case, for refusing the argument that racism starts at home - that they are wrong.
I have an enormous ethical problem with people who refuse to acknowledge Teen Wolf might be an allegory for othering. They don’t even have to agree it is in the end, once the argument has been had, but to not even engage with the idea and yet still be willing to call other fans out for their perceived isms is hugely hypocritical in my opinion.
By saying people are imagining the narrative of othering within the show, rather than taking the claim seriously, it gives the text a pass for something that’s hugely problematic.
It’s not exactly unusual for SF/F to use this technique, so it’s not unreasonable for people to see it in the text. It’s not like the idea is a radical new one or anything for this genre. Dismissing it as ridiculous is an unreasonable position in this context.
For the sake or argument, if this use of allegory really is unintentional — because that’s the obvious counter-argument — then using the kinds of generic tropes which lead people familiar with the genre to read it into Teen Wolf is a problem in its own right, and we should be discussing it.
But if the text really is talking about the consequences of systemic othering, as so many SF/F texts do, it should be held to a high ethical standard, in my opinion. The relative harm versus relative benefit of such an allegory should be discussed in all seriousness, because it does have the potential to do harm if it’s poorly executed. Many people think Teen Wolf is poorly executed, so this is a genuine concern.
Here are some of the many ethical questions the text raises for me. Is it okay to cast an actor of colour as the putative hero, and then write him a “white saviour” arc? That’s a really fucking important question. As is, whether it’s okay to make all the rapists women, when women are overwhelmingly the victims of sexual violence in the real world? Or here’s another good one: is it okay for your PR to misrepresent the show to a teenage audience, by erasing all mention of the complex allegory about hate crimes?
My answer leans towards “No” to the last one in particular. I think the others deserve a really thorough chewing over, along with many others in a similar vein.
On the more positive side: does the potential benefit of the text as a coming of age narrative based on such important issues outweigh the inherent problems?
As more and more of the allegorical pattern is coming clear, I’m leaning towards thinking it could be a really valuable text… if it weren’t for the PR.
To refuse to have these conversations, to blame readers for seeing these themes instead of the author for writing them, gives Davis a giant pass to do whatever the fuck he wants. Sure, Barthes, death of the author, etc, but that does not actually mean no-one writes the text or has any ethical responsibility for it. Giving authors a pass for their problematic shit is not okay. Refusing to even consider the proposition the text is deploying this kind of allegory is not okay. Using the PR line that the show is about naked abs and love triangles as some kind of absolution for the text’s problems is also not okay in my opinion.
In case you haven’t guessed yet, I’m angry about the erasure of these issues within fandom’s conversation at this stage, for exactly the kinds of reasons you discuss, Athena, although I don’t entirely agree with your take on race politics. That’s something worth a fandom conversation too, I think, if we can ever get past our tendency for communal deafening silence and shaming.
Our communal silence endorses systemic oppression by refusing to acknowledge it when we see it, even if its within people we want to admire. Especially then, maybe.
It’s easier to say the text is “badly written” and hope the problem goes away.
It doesn’t go away, though. Oppression never just magically disappears because we want it to.
I couldn’t agree with you more, cupid.
I’m not here to tell anyone how they should enjoy a TV show, movie, book, etc. That’s for each person to decide on their own. That being said, however, the recent attacks on meta writers who have voiced critical readings of Teen Wolf are just ridiculous.
Fandom’s very nature is to analyze and comment upon media in a way that mainstream producers and viewers cannot or will not. That’s a fundamental aspect of critical consumption, and to deride it because you disagree with the particular opinions of the fans speaking out undermines the unique and differing perspective you’re trying to advocate.
I especially like your mention of Barthes here, because, yes, the text derives meaning from the reader, but as you say, it isn’t as simplistic as ‘the author is dead’ argument. Especially in serialized media aware of its own fans, it’s a process of co-creation. The author of the text creates the product with an awareness of its consumption and reception. JD can no more operate in a vacuum than we, the readers, can watch TW without our personal experiences coloring the text.
The ethical questions you propose, the various topical readings meta authors give us, they contribute to the creation of the text in a way that is different but not lesser to its actual production.
And that’s exactly the way fandom should function, in my opinion.