Monday, March 06, 2017

"It's Impossible To Predict What May Offend The Internet"

Horizon: Zero Dawn looks like it could be cool. But, despite the fact that it works hard not to be "offensive"* in the current hyper-sensitive climate, it's apparently not sufficiently inoffensive for some. Apparently it's been accused of "cultural appropriation" for, e.g., using the word 'tribe':
Vice’s Waypoint asked Horizon’s narrative director John Gonzales what he thought about the criticisms. He responded saying the developers took great care to determine the vocabulary that would be culturally appropriate. He also noted they took bits of culture from tribal cultures around the world, throughout history.
“That said, with the kind of culture of the Internet that we have right now, it’s impossible to predict what it is that may offend,” Gonzales said. “Certainly we were not intentionally being insensitive, or to offend in any manner.”
   What Gonzales says is true in a way, but false in a way. It's false in that it is possible to predict what will offend the PC left: everything offends them. Is x a thing? Then x offends them. Even today's PC orthodoxy will be declared un-PC tomorrow or next week or next month. That's how this game is played. Two relevant things:
[1] PC/SJs are driven by the desire to be PCer-than-thou. It's more-or-less a religious cult, and you gain status by being purer/more virtuous than others, by the lights of the cult. So the quest for purity/status gives ambitious PC cultists a motive to "find" some counter-revolutionary flaw in even in the purest expressions of PC. 
[2] PC/SJ is driven by postpostmodernism on the intellectual side, ergo they employ the method of quasi-literary speculation. There are basically no standards of argumentation other than: say some approved things about gender, race, and similar things, eschew actual reasoning/analysis, and end with a politically-correct pseudo-conclusion. Other than those rules, the method is one of free-association. There is no predicting what the internet left will find offensive in the sense that: they are unconstrained by any actual rules of reasoning. Since they just make things up, for any p, they can claim to find p offensive...and, in fact, can claim to find both p and not-p offensive.
    It really is like dealing with criticism from the craziest religious crazies. You can't take it seriously, because there's virtually no rhyme or reason to it. One important type of social organization--especially in fantasy and sci-fi--is a tribal one. It is absurd to declare all fiction that represents any tribal social order verboten. And it's absurd to declare it verboten to use the word 'tribe' to represent tribes. The PCs/SJs have a crazy theory. There's no more reason, objectively speaking, to take them seriously than there is to take religious crackpots seriously. Though there is, sadly, a prudential reason: religious crackpots have little cultural clout anymore, and what they do have is waning. Nobody who matters to people like game developers expects anyone to take right-wing crackpots seriously. But we're all expected to take left-wing crackpots seriously. Being accused of the non-existent sin of "cultural appropriation" by some idiot is no more significant, morally speaking, than being accused of blasphemy by some idiot. It's like being accused of demonic possession or witchcraft. It's a cracked concept. But can have dire consequences.
   Ok I'm going to stop complaining about this kind of nonsense so much.

* This is sort of a misuse of scare quotes, but 'offensive' was the all-purpose term of disapprobation for the paleo-PCs of the '80s-'90s, and the term has been ruined for me ever since. (It was the rough paleo-PC analog of the neo-PC "problematic.") So I distance myself from it thusly.


Blogger Pete Mack said...

I suspect you need a gentle reminder that anecdotes don't make for good social science. It's true for postmodernism. But it's also true for people who criticize--say--feminism without also studying the less extreme cases. Are there problems in feminism? Yes, just like there are problems in any segment of society. But when it comes to mainstream feminism, it largely looks like this:

8:13 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

How'd feminism and socialism get in here?

9:28 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

Because (a) the people at LGM identify as feminist and (b) this is by and large how they talk about gender. For that matter, it's how my mother does, too.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

Also, too: read the comments. It's by and large how they read too, and that's a significantly larger sample.

10:43 PM  

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