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Author Topic: "Apolitical, Escapist" Pieces Lead Directly to Totalitarian Regime  (Read 1677 times)

Faemon

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I found this of film critic Siegfried Kracauer's A Psychological History of the German Film (published in 1947), the cultural and ideological climate at the time that honed and defined the core philosophy, and how that applies to Stateside entertainment media.

According to that video summary, at least, the case studies of interest weren't the intentional propaganda pieces, but fluff pieces intended for entertainment...how even those were still propaganda, because even those reflected the values of society at large.

Near the end of the video, the narrator satirizes the dismissal of the idea that entertainment media could have such an impact through a rant about how "But we know who the bad guys are..." And I think, but wait, yeah, a whole lot of people in Western civilization are supposed to know who the bad guys are by now, if only subconsciously. Rue dying in the 74th Annual Hunger Games was pretty obviously a Very Bad Thing. Kurt Hummel's bullies in the earlier seasons of Glee were obviously Bad People. Nazis haven't gone out of fashion as faces for Captain America or Indiana Jones to punch. Sure, everyone is going to take every aspect of a piece in ways that can sometimes be so different than what a not-even-unskilled creator intended to convey, or what the majority of the audience makes of it, but I couldn't quite follow the final rant to the end.

One quote that did catch my interest, though, follows:

It's not like any amount of censorship or cultural policing would've stopped the rise of the Nazi party. It was, after all, what the people wanted.

From a secular perspective, I think that makes a lot of sense. It's popularity that puts the pop in pop culture. (Although I do believe that some insular censorship can do odd or manipulative things to people's minds as likely as whatever impulses that censorship represses just comes out to push back at censors in unpredictable ways, just like media exposure to some things nobody can be ready for can sometimes get brushed off as "didn't understand it the first time and so forgot it right away" or sometimes become a lifelong trauma.)

From a pop culture pagan-witch perspective...what is this all for, if it can't change awful things for the better, or put out new and helpful things into the world? What are we for? :(

Were just a few passing thoughts, I'm not still sadfaced about :p But I hoped that any pop culture pagans here would find the video and/or the ideas as interesting as I did.
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Darkhawk

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Re: "Apolitical, Escapist" Pieces Lead Directly to Totalitarian Regime
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2016, 11:22:29 am »
Quote from: Faemon;200144
From a pop culture pagan-witch perspective...what is this all for, if it can't change awful things for the better, or put out new and helpful things into the world? What are we for? :(

 
Culture and desire are not inevitabilities.

Yes, pop culture, including the light stuff, shapes and expresses things, but it doesn't do so in one direction.  And it's complicated, deeply complicated.  I mean, one could argue that the presentation of Nazis as go-to villains in pop culture has cartoonised them and, with the loss of the generation that remembers the reality, has made it more plausible for "ironic Nazis" to not be obviously reprehensible.  I suspect that argument is actually really sound and could be strongly supported.

The creation of pop cultural stuff, among other things, creates the possible.  If the only stuff that's out there is the ironic detached who cares who lives and who dies stuff, then that's going to be the only thing in the popular imagination.

One book, one show, that's not going to change the universe, but it might change a few people's universes.

Related reading:
http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/12/13/how-to-create-art-and-make-cool-stuff-in-a-time-of-trouble/
http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/12/15/andrea-phillips-the-high-goddamn-responsibility-of-fiction/

I wish I could recall where I saw the article about Dragon Age 2 as the story of a refugee working to better their adoptive city, and the fascinating conversation the article author had with a Brexit voter who could not perceive any real-world political parallels.
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SunflowerP

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Re: "Apolitical, Escapist" Pieces Lead Directly to Totalitarian Regime
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2016, 02:10:03 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;200148
I wish I could recall where I saw the article about Dragon Age 2 as the story of a refugee working to better their adoptive city, and the fascinating conversation the article author had with a Brexit voter who could not perceive any real-world political parallels.

 
it contained that anecdote, among others, but was about far more - and is highly appropriate to this thread. It can be found here.

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Faemon

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Re: "Apolitical, Escapist" Pieces Lead Directly to Totalitarian Regime
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2016, 08:50:13 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;200148
Culture and desire are not inevitabilities.

...

One book, one show, that's not going to change the universe, but it might change a few people's universes.

Related reading:
http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/12/13/how-to-create-art-and-make-cool-stuff-in-a-time-of-trouble/
http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/12/15/andrea-phillips-the-high-goddamn-responsibility-of-fiction/

Thanks for the links. I like that the first one made room for a lot of different approaches to art during difficult times, that creating art can both be a way to escape from the realities and a way to work with all the awful feelings that artists wade in. The latter seemed more of a louder version of the kind of media analysis that demands more awareness of cultural patterns so as not to perpetuate more of the same harmful junk, which is great (when it opens up less generic possibilities to explore, generates feedback for representation, carries readers out of the comfort zone, better for everyone) though I've personally found that same principle applied with unilaterally in fandom culture and that has even targeted for abuse and oppression the very same people this tenet's proponents presume to ally with. But I guess that's just one other thing that can happen when we let ourselves forget that it's complicated, deeply complicated.

The article linked at least goes deeper into not having the same power-structure pattern with different decoration and calling that change. The two links together, though, I find some space between an individual process (that maybe bad things in the world give an artist an impulse towards violent action against the embodiment or embodiments of those who are harming them, and that's more constructively held in artwork than enacting actual violence) and the cultural process (that maybe less violent, more negotiation-based content for conflict resolution would be better for the world.) There's something to be said for media as a reflection, and another to be sad about media as a model aspiration, and too much said when one's mistaken for another (or there's a third thing, like, I don't know, cautionary tale?)

And the article linked on the latter that Even sophisticated news readers can succumb to indirect pressure from an inundation of biased media, I think is worth re-linking here because the internalization process is a big part, I believe, though mostly it's just information processing if news media has the same effect and...

(From the article)
The media, he said — and particularly, the tabloids — should stop brushing aside accusations of bias with assertions that "their audiences are mature and sophisticated and can take what they say with a pinch of salt."

"By contrast, my findings suggest that even sophisticated audiences are indeed susceptible to manipulation," he said. "As such, the big lesson for the media is that it does have a responsibility."


(Wow, that actually had to be said. About media that doesn't even have an It's Fiction psychological and cultural firewall.)
Quote from: Darkhawk;200148
I wish I could recall where I saw the article about Dragon Age 2 as the story of a refugee working to better their adoptive city, and the fascinating conversation the article author had with a Brexit voter who could not perceive any real-world political parallels.

Quote from: SunflowerP;200155
it contained that anecdote, among others, but was about far more - and is highly appropriate to this thread. It can be found here.

The other anecdotes and speculations show the possible deflection points, I think. Relating that to the random gatekeeper not believing the heroes about the rising evil; Meadows took that as an opportunity to empathize with the fictional skeptic, despite initial anger that comes from being granted an omniscient perspective, but...for another reader, it could be more the Protagonist-Centered Morality of any work with a main character that's internalized. The skeptical gatekeeper is more often an annoying trope in the genre, less often an opportunity to consider a perspective other than narrative omniscience. What I'd found in that article was a predisposition to seek real-world parallels and opportunities to empathize, less so that the text itself is going to do the reader's thinking for them.

To put in D&D terms, then, maybe some ideas are like exploding runes that a mage with Read Magic would know what they say without detonation...and conceptual deflection points are part of that annulment, but then that's like it isn't incalculable, which I'd already mentioned could quickly become a problem.

Thanks for the link too! Anyway.
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DemeterDelusion

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Re: "Apolitical, Escapist" Pieces Lead Directly to Totalitarian Regime
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2016, 09:59:47 pm »
Quote from: Faemon;200144
I found this of film critic Siegfried Kracauer's A Psychological History of the German Film (published in 1947), the cultural and ideological climate at the time that honed and defined the core philosophy, and how that applies to Stateside entertainment media.


Oh, hey, that's Kyle Kallgren. Didn't know he still made videos.

Quote from: Faemon;200144
From a pop culture pagan-witch perspective...what is this all for, if it can't change awful things for the better, or put out new and helpful things into the world? What are we for?


Taking Kracauer's conclusions and haphazardly applying them to pop culture paganism feels disingenuous.*

The BTL video discusses a theory related to very specific moment and place in history that has had nearly 70 years worth of criticism/scholarship following its original publication. His theory is specific to early German Expressionism in film, which had a trend using of avant-garde stylism to evoke mood and emotion. It lent itself well to fascism because Germany itself needed catharsis to its own issues, even if a political message wasn't immediately apparent.

Meanwhile, modern media is different. When a new popular movie/book/game/etc. is released, it's immediately followed by accessible reviews, analyses, fan fiction, and reviews posted throughout the internet. By those standards alone, pop culture is putting new and better things into the world, even if it might not be reflected on the TV (or phone, or e-reader, or computer...). Such things might not be inherent to practicing PCP, but it seems like a solid detriment to the normalization of "awful things."

I think the better question should be whether or not PCP practitioners have a moral responsibility to expose themselves to critical/political viewpoints in relation to the media related to their path.

*On a side note, I'm exhausted and it's possible that I completely misunderstood the topic. PCP discussions tend to lose me on this forum.

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