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Ugh, stop twitching
i didn't say it, he said it
rants Posted 2003-01-24 15:41:15 by Jim Crawford
Perhaps my favorite scene in Signs is the one in which Morgan reads, from a book found in the “non-fiction” aisle, that aliens advanced enough to travel through space to meet us are likely to be vegetarian because they would see the benefits of such a diet.

That's a particularly clever jab (I hope) at a phenomenon that's been ticking me off a lot lately: authors inserting allegedly superior forms of intelligence, e.g. gods or extraterrestrials, into their stories so that they can preach platitudes like “violence never solves anything.” The quintessential example of this idiocy, as far as I'm concerned, is the director's cut of The Abyss. This probably isn't the place to go into it in detail, but damn, those omnipotent aliens sure are hypocrites.

Perhaps worse is when the author hides behind the mouthpiece. In a lot of cases, authors appear to be using characters to express opinions that they don't, for whatever reason, want to come directly from them. You can generally tell this is happening because it's a highly debatable issue and yet none of the characters in the vicinity of the speech have an intelligent response. The socratic method is a lot easier to implement when you're controlling both sides of the debate.

And when you straddle the line like that, noone can raise a counterargument with you, because “the views of the characters do not necessarily coincide with the views of the author.” But, guess what? Morons are still being convinced of your warped point of view -- sorry, I mean your character's warped point of view -- left and right, because of your portrayal of this character as intelligent.

Nah, now that I think about it, attributing your own opinion to a god is worse.

Unfortunately, when authors are more subtle with their preaching, the readers take over the job of infuriating me. Look at the fervor over Lord of the Flies. I've heard people cite it -- the book -- as “evidence” that humans are evil by nature. Far too few seem to realize that it's not gospel. It's just this one guy's well-expressed opinion.

You're gonna have to wait a few thousand years for it to be gospel.

[link to this] [See more on “rants”]

comments
but is it the case?
Posted by theexaltedkarphoozi on 2003-04-20 13:17:12
that ticks me off too when it's really the case, but sometimes it opens yourself up to write from new perspectives, incorporating new ideas/opinions into your works that aren't your own. for instance, in a book written about life from the perspective of someone like Imelda Marcos, the author might've been trying to grasp the concept of "You can never have too many shoes." It could be a tool for the author, not the reader, to adopt a point of view that he/she would like to adopt but doesn't quite know if he/she can, if it's worth it, etc...but by putting yourself in such a situation, you can try anything on for size and see from anyone's point of view.

however, using them as morals when you're doing this is just wrong.
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