aesmael: (nervous)
Last night watching Eureka one of the guest characters was supposedly Australian, except his accent was awfully all over the place. Left us wondering why they didn't just cast an Australian for the role. That, and an earlier episode of Frasier reminding that the trend in casting for trans women is cis men for laughs, cis women for pity, gave renewed impetus to write this intended post.

There is a lot of under-representation in our fiction, and in AV fiction often when a member of a marginalised group is depicted the part will be played by a member of a dominant group. Women are usually no longer played by men, although roles are limited. People of colour are usually no longer played by white people (but still too often), although roles are limited and frequent opportunities are taken to white-wash works and replace characters of colour with white characters. Trans characters are nearly always played by cis actors - almost always a trans woman is depicted and if she is an object of humour or ridicule she is played by a cis man; if we are supposed to feel sympathy for her she is played by a cis woman. Disabled characters are played by abled actors faking a disability in most cases.

Consequently many people advocate for better representation, like the outcry against the Avatar movie being transformed from one inhabited by Asian characters into one where a small band of white heroes saves the world (the one being directed by M. Night Shyamalan, not the one by James Cameron, which looks to be Super Space Colonialism anyway), or that people with disabilities and trans people should be cast to play the roles which represent them. I've also seen some backlash against this from among the people in question. At least wert trans people playing trans roles, people have argued that if we have that happening the actors will get typecast as 'trans actors' and their careers will be stalled due to being restricted to trans roles in an industry where there nearly are no trans roles. I would be unsurprised if there were similar protests elsewhere.

I don't think that should be the case though. Would it actually happen? I suppose it might, although given the current situation where cis actors play cis roles and cis actors play trans roles, and so on, it still seems like an improvement over no representation.

What I would like to see, in addition to more representative casting for existing roles is more diverse casting for roles which are not specifically marked as 'minority parts'. I am not inclined to agree that, for example, the aspirational goal for trans actors should be to play cis roles. I don't see any problem with such casting, but nor do I see a reason roles shouldn't accommodate the actors cast for them. It happens a lot in response to protests against things like white-washing of characters of colour, so why not turn it around?

That is, they tend to say "This character doesn't need to be Asian (or disabled, or female, or whatever), the story has universal appeal, so why can't ey be played by a white man?". (and again, often when people are arguing for the universality of a character or story's appeal seems to be when they are reaching for a straight, white, etc. man to represent this universality) So why not the other way round? We don't call straight men typecast if they only play straight men. Nor white men, nor abled men, nor cis men... but most roles are written for them. Unless the story actually depends on the character being one of those things, what would be wrong with casting someone else and tweaking the role to fit? Explicitly not meant to be about turning characters into gimmicks, because being not a straight white abled cis man isn't actually a gimmick, it's being also a normal kind of person who happens to not be that kind, and there's plenty of variety everywhere. Very rarely does the character actually need to be that man, so it is suspicious ey usually is.

Since I don't believe any group of people other than 'talented and / or skilled actors' has a monopoly on better acting ability than others, this leaves the conclusion that there are other factors than 'ability to play roles' involved in why most people we see in films and television aren't women, a third of them don't have disabilities, less than one in ten is other than straight, or why most of all of these people are white. If we were casting strictly to acting ability and weren't so biased in our conceptualisations of what people ordinarily are, I think our working actor demographics would be very different.

And of course, we aren't yet in a position where changing things in the other direction would be fair. It is after all the problem at hand.
aesmael: (haircut)
Lately I have been noticing people arguing over what science fiction actually is. That is hardly unusual; such arguments are a major preoccupation of just about any interest-community of people.

It does seem however that a lot of people are talking about two different things when they say science fiction. Science fiction as setting, where the story takes place in a 'recognisably science fictional' setting (presumably space, something otherwise future, or alternate history in most cases [contemporary invention or oddity as term for others?]), versus stories which include a not-impossible, not-part-of-present-social-reality idea as a fundamental component.

I've seen a few people over the years frame it as "Can you reskin the story for a different setting or genre?" and if the story can be so reframed, it is not science fiction.

I was going to suggest a couple of things. 1) That by analogy with other genres this could be made to look absurd (frex, that a historical drama could be given a contemporary setting with an analogous set of conflicts, relationships and resolutions this would not mean the original piece never was a historical drama to begin with). 2) That there are likely very few, if any stories which absolutely cannot be made to work in an analogous story that is not science fiction.

After some thought about how to make those arguments I became less sure. What about mystery stories? If there is not a mystery to be solved, then we do not have a mystery story, even if the plot centres on, say, a crime and the people investigating it (although there are certainly mysteries which play with structure by making whodunnit not the central puzzle or sometimes not a puzzle at all - the mystery is elsewhere in those, yes?). And mysteries are very versatile in setting, can be combined with just about any genre and still work, so long as they still have that mystery, that puzzle to be solved. That's precedent. Maybe idea science fiction can work in that sense, requiring a core of genre that is largely untranslatable (with exception perhaps made for the sibling genre fantasy). As for point two, well, I just don't know if it is true or not, and don't care to try and establish either way definitively, although I suspect it is untrue depending how 'very few' is defined.

Now I am wondering if this might be the case for other genres too, that there are stories which are incidentally of that genre and stories which are necessarily of that genre, depending whether it can be successfully translated to other genres or not. I suspect we'd mostly end up with multi-genre blends if we tried that.

Mm. What obvious thing is next for rambling about?
aesmael: (haircut)

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

I like writing stories. You like reading stories. Do you like my stories enough to keep reading them?

This is not intended as a personal question. The 'I' is generic, so is the you.

Automated story generation. It is an idea I first picked up from 1984, where stories were mass-produced by machines to keep the proles sedated. Since about then I've considered such story generation a plausible, likely sort of eventuality. Included it in some stories no one yet has read. I don't see why there couldn't such production of stories unless we turn out to be living in a dualist or otherwise supernatural sort of universe.

Typically I see it as a bit of a personally bleak prospect. Writers as a set of humans obsoleted by an equivalent or superior source of fiction. Today I wondered about parochialism, and maybe for some time people would prefer stories written by humans because of the sort of prejudices that lead them to say only humans can make stories worth reading, humans have creativity, humans have something ineffable that sets them apart. Maybe some would like reading the stories of those they knew or liked. I wonder in such a scenario how likely it is human authors would still develop a following.

*meaning here stories made by (nonhumans made by humans to some degree of antecedence)

aesmael: (tricicat)
I am often inclined to say, if post-sporting interviews are always reiterations of the same formula, the same questions and responses, then they are pointless and may as well not happen.

But, what if this ritual serves some purpose? What would that be? Do we get repetition of form questions and form responses because the audience punishes variation? Or, is there a different purpose this structure fills?
aesmael: (just people)
This was originally composed as a response to a guest post at Questioning Transphobia:

Lately I am increasingly inclined to be critical of 'empathy' as applied to autistic and neurotypical* people. We might say autistic people lack empathy because they often do not have an intuitive understanding of people different from themselves, thoughts, feelings, motivations and actions. But then, it seems to me neurotypical people display an equal lack of empathy toward autistic people - they say autistic people do things for no reason, are 'mysteries', are 'unable to relate'.

So I suspect neurotypical people are not actually more empathetic than autistic people, but most people are like them and so they have a lot of opportunities to be accurate in attributing motive, feeling, desire, etc. who operate largely similarly to themselves. But they also happen to be the majority, or at least are in power and presented as default, so 'empathy' becomes 'ability to relate to and understand me'.

Actually, given the way people are treated across borders of culture, identity, physiology, am inclined to question whether empathy as it is claimed to be is much expressed at all.


*here used to mean 'not autistic', despite my interpretation of neurodiversity as being broader than merely autism; such an interpretation unfortunately leaves me without the clear and easy way to express this which neurotypical originally provided.
aesmael: (just people)
The urge to deny previous love is strong, perhaps that by making it false we bolster claims of present feelings true and eternal.

If I could have said those things and meant them then, and now feel them not... it is not a transition pleasant to contemplate concerning current relationships. I think perhaps the recoiling embarrassment felt is to disbelieve the present might be as fleeting fragile as the past has been.

Though we hope it not to be.
aesmael: (haircut)
The article is mainly about dyscalculia and models of how humans count. However, what I found most interesting was the boxed out bit at the end.

It suggests that people growing up under different counting schemes will perceive numbers differently. In the particular example given, people whose language counts only up to five appeared to relate to numbers in a logarithmic way, rather than the linear number line English speakers typically default to.

I am always nervous reporting from sources like New Scientist; I tend to be especially worried there will be inaccuracies or misleading aspects... but I am not so dedicated nor so competent / resourceful as to be able to investigate all that interests me thoroughly, so I trust other sources to process and present information for me for the most part. Like with the previous post and many details which could have been scrutinised more closely.
aesmael: (Electric Waves)
Since recently finding some slight ability to organise my time - this is how I have been able to be cleaning - I have also been using this new-found time to catch up on things I have let get away from me. This includes email and LiveJournal comments; I stopped making a policy of checking those in March 2007, so there is a fair bit of catching up to do. I think you can imagine.

Last night I deleted 34 pages from my Hotmail inbox and have since moved on to Gmail. Why? Because there have been things I wanted to reply to but had set aside for 'later' and because I want to get rid of distracting clutter, have most available what I most want to be there.

Doing this has also stirred up a few memories. Like when my cat died in 2006, before I had met anyone I still am in contact with. Or the different styles of presentation and identity I have (and still) cycle(d) through. Right now I am up to my first, self-introductory post in [livejournal.com profile] transgender. It was surprising (fun and interesting) to see who replied and how many of those people have been or became ongoing contacts, often for reasons unrelated to that post.

[livejournal.com profile] jaydestwilight, who was regular on my flist until vanishing. Is considered something of a prototype for the artistic, mysteriously ethereal and vaguely snobbish.
[livejournal.com profile] udonman, was someone I met prior to joining LJ, the only contact I had here for about a week, and at the time we were tending to being an item. But we have nearly no contact these days.
[livejournal.com profile] ftmichael surprisingly did NOT give me a list of resources. That may have been the only direct interaction we had.
[livejournal.com profile] aki_no_kaze was someone I wanted to add for a long time after, but did not because I felt I needed to 'justify' that sort of thing.
[livejournal.com profile] kittymink. I still don't know this person.
[livejournal.com profile] xtractdthoughts. Nor this one.
[livejournal.com profile] anti_peace_riot, AKA [livejournal.com profile] varinobo. Was a mutual contact for a long while before defriending me without explanation.
[livejournal.com profile] ishottheserif. It seems we have been on hugging terms much longer than I realised. May have been the first person I gave ~public textual hugs to.
[livejournal.com profile] whimsical_esper. Someone I added for being awesome elsewhere, not realising we'd previously met!

So done I bow, and bid adieu for now.
*vanishes 'mid smoke again into the depths of history*
aesmael: (tricicat)
(especially without commentary)

However:
Most people like to imagine themselves big novels, 800 page doorstops that include forty fascinating characters buzzing around each other, major crisis and triumphs, maybe even a world scale event like a war or a natural disaster in the background. All of this preferably described with panache and poetry by a Russian master like Tolstoy or a French wordsmith like Proust. But the truth is most of us live 243 page lives, if that. There are only a few major characters in our stories, maybe a mid-level crisis or two, certainly some triumph or tragedy sprinkled throughout, but none of it profound or interesting enough to demand more pages, more explication, more background. Thoreau famously said most people live lives of quiet desperation. He could just as easily have said most lives can be summed up effectively in 200 page novels written by adequate midlist authors.

Sometimes I just want to show people stuff.

Sigh

2008-11-06 11:48
Now for at least the next four years, whenever white people are disappointed in the US President, we can look forward to them saying "... and this is especially bad because he is black and should know better."

ETA 'white'
aesmael: (just people)
This is not right. A system that so fails and neglects those who have damaged themselves in its service, does deserve their service. It needs to be fixed. People do not deserve to be abandoned or fobbed off for financial convenience.

And the stigma surrounding mental health issues needs to go away.
aesmael: (Electric Waves)
They both photograph stars and analyse the image, attempting to discern such information as life history, companions, or time and manner of demise and contribution to future generations.
aesmael: (tricicat)
It's a funny thing being an immigrant. If you get a job you are awful for taking jobs away from fine, upstanding members of [nationality], but if you have no job you are a worthless drain on welfare sucking the system dry. If you are a person of colour you do not even have to be an immigrant.
aesmael: (Me)
Old link, but with a timeless sort of quality.

Just two:
#25 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2007, 03:50 PM:
"This is the internet, not real life!" (Therefore I can be nasty in ways I allegegly wouldn't in person or on the phone, because in writing on the net is somehow exempt from normal rules of courtesy and politeness. Personally I want to kill fucktards who use this one.)

#26 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2007, 03:55 PM:
"I challenge you to show me where I said [X]."
"You're quoting me out of context."
"That's an ad hominem attack."
"I don't understand what you all are so upset about."
"You seem to be taking this rather personally."


Fucktard, now there however is a word I could do with out.
aesmael: (haircut)
Bored with that titling system. Let's leave it blank for now.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars
  1. Thoughts on Day One of the DNC [Maybe I should amalgamate all the Scienceblogs postings under a single heading. I find something vaguely distasteful about this and the last post from here. Maybe it is an air of self-congratulation.]
  2. Effete Hollywood Elitists for McCain


Google Reader Shared Items
  1. The Future of Books [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Was expecting "E-books: Yea or abomination?" Instead, Pretty.]
  2. Laser pointers banned in New South Wales after rash of attacks on pilots [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. But I want one.]
  3. Super Mario Girls [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Cute, yes. Not everything needs to be done with sex appeal in mind though. And since when are "fluffy clouds with faces and bubbly turtles and blocky landscapes" unmanly? But I like the picture.]
  4. Cat 5 wedding rings help nerds couple [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. I, uh, don't know what these actually do.]
  5. Moe Angel with Headphones [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Cute cute cute! *save*]
  6. Bioware devs debate whether Wii is part of gaming [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. It seems an odd question to me, since the Wii seems clearly a device for playing games, but the post is just a quick summary linking to an interview. No, wait. That was a preface too. Interview here. There are lots of words there at the beginning but I am not entirely sure these people are saying anything... a bit like reading some Post-Modern discourse. It seems like an interesting question though: what counts as gaming? I want to say "playing a game". This talk of narrative... that seems like something else to me. Something called 'narrative'. Describing the experience of playing a Wii as "toy-like", or making a distinction with sports such as tennis, this seems to me like an attempt to mark gaming as a particular kind of experience, a particular approach to an activity. I think what is being gotten at is a degree of seriousness and immersion. I think it probably does constitute a bundle of approaches, any subset of which can apply at a given time, and what the Bioware folks are talking about constitutes one of these subsets. Although reading to the end of the page I think I misunderstood them a bit. I am being vague because I am tired. Possibly follow up later with input from others?]
  7. Celebrate Mario Kart Wii with alternate karts, Wii wheel substitutions [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Funny.]
  8. Working NES squeezed into ... an NES cartridge [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Wow, neat! This title messes with my ideas of how it should be pronounced.]
  9. SIU responds to anti-feminist email [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Oh, wow! It feels so rare to see such a desirable response, it can get disheartening.]
  10. The Fag Bug is back! [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. That's a pretty creative and great response to vandalism. Interesting seeing the change in tone of people's responses between the first post, in which Erin Davies starts her mission, and the second post, in which it is revealed she is getting a book and film deal out of this.]


Gmail Web Clip clickings
  1. David Wain Moves From Wainy Days to Role Models [Who is this guy? Why do I care what he does? I fear curiosity clicking from gmail has gotten the better of me...]
  2. Time to "Free the Airwaves" [Google would like people to be activist on their behalf.]
  3. Top Fun Date Ideas [These are not romantic? My idea of a going-somewhere date is to do something we will enjoy, so these seem more like standard date ideas than special fun ones. Admittedly I have been on very few dates in my life, but this makes it seem like something which is supposed to be very restrained in ways which are not interesting to me. At least now I know what an Interpretive Center is.*]


Respectful Insolence
  1. "To kill and cure cancer, you must first understand it" [Orac is as ever verbose.]


Signout
  1. The luxury of time [I've not encountered this blog before. This is... fascinating. Not much to say because processing.]


Uncertain Principles
  1. It's 4am [Labs are not supposed to be flooded. Unless you work in underseaology.]


My assignment is as done as it is getting, so I sleep now. Test in five hours.

*This whole response reads like something which I would respond to in someone else with scorn, as if they are trying to show off how special and above ordinary concerns they are. Ah well.
Child ---> New human.
aesmael: (haircut)
A couple of days ago I read something which gave me pause. A person was describing eir experience with dissociating and I recognised much of it as things I do. Things I had regarded as ordinary, commonplace and unremarkable experiences. I did tend to think of these experiences as personal failings, lapses in discipline to be overcome. This view has not necessarily been discarded but now there are competing perspectives.

This relates to a reason I started writing here. I do not know what an ordinary experience of life is like. I do not know if other people experience memory or thought in the same ways I do, or as each other. There appear to be many assumptions I make about what is ordinary or commonplace which do not match with observation; observation leads me to believe this is also true for most if not all other persons.

One reason I started this journal was hoping that sharing my own understanding, my own processes and self-awareness and hypotheses, other people might be inspired to do likewise. This journal is in part a project aimed at increasing understanding and awareness of humans and the variations of same.

It is not something I have been especially diligent about. Months have passed in which I did not remember that this was even an idea I had. It is far from the entire aim of this journal, which could be summarised as 'whatever I think it is at the time someone asks'.

I have also not been diligent about openness when I have written of such things. Although there is plenty I am willing to write openly of in a public or semi-public way there is also plenty I am not. It can shift wildly depending on how comfortable or safe I am feeling at the time and at least one thing I am not writing openly about in part because I do not know how to do so coherently. Interesting to see what is comfortable being said and when.

Back to dissociation. I talked about this a bit with [livejournal.com profile] pazi_ashfeather, did some cursory poking around on Wikipedia. Although I had seen the term many times in the past I had not yet performed any investigation of what it is or means. Good enough for a start, perhaps.

Of the articles I looked at, one of the most interesting covered depersonalisation disorder. Much of that seemed quite familiar although not so much that I would leap to self-diagnose on the basis of an encyclopedia article.

What struck me most was the description of not feeling in control of speech or movements, or feeling detached from thoughts or emotions. It put me in mind of the story Learning to be Me by Greg Egan, as well as some of how I think the world works. I do not believe is an 'I' which makes decisions, or that people make decisions at all. Rather, I tend to think of consciousness as a phenomena which arises incidentally and normally experiences itself as making decisions in an illusory way. In this light I might describe people diagnosable with depersonalisation disorder as 'extra sane' for being able to perceive how things actually are.

Still, it does suggest a new perspective.
[livejournal.com profile] aesmael: *explains worldview / theory of mind*

Person B: That's, uh, that's depersonalisation disorder. Not everyone has that.

[livejournal.com profile] aesmael: Oh.


Another thing I noted while looking at these articles was the variety of my response to details of them. Some sparked recognition of similarity, some other things not sparking so and passed over, while a few provoked angry insistence that they were not me at all. So, interesting.
aesmael: (Electric Waves)
"So good, you will want to share it with everyone."
aesmael: (sudden sailor)
How does a person know when to break up with, end a relationship with another person?

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