Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Words We Use Are Strong, They Make Reality

(I may be showing some age by the titles of this and the last post, but heck.)

I'm not going to link to it, because I found it by accident, and it's old, and I don't want to dredge up something from someone's archives and fling it through the WFA mill (though that's been pretty moribund lately). What I saw does bear thinking about, however.

Looking on Google Images for something completely unrelated to anything I talk about in this blog, I happened on an old-timey advertising image, and followed it to its page, which turned out to be the blog of someone who's previously been linked to on WFA and/or Journalista for their comics commentary. The image was, as I recall, from the 1940s, or thereabouts, and featured a pair of young girls in their underwear in their bedroom (so I guessed from the minimal background), possibly in the process of changing clothes. One girl was entirely topless.

The blogger described the scene as being innocuous when it was published, but "creepy" today.

Now, think about that for a minute.

What's changed?

In 1940-something nobody would have thought twice about the image, but now in the Naughties people go, "ohhh, how creeeepy"? Why? Has the intent of the illustrator somehow changed in all this time? Do we now understand that the artist was some sort of pervo, lusting after prepubescent girls in their underthings?

Is it that we think there's more pedophilia lurking in the hearts of citizens now than there was sixty-odd years ago?

Or is it that we, as a people, are today just freaking obsessed with pedophilia and have some burning need to point out any instance of children being depicted as anything less than fully-armored clothed?

The blogger obviously thought something was wrong, but how did they come to that conclusion? Were they themselves a pedophile, and reacted to hidden lusts within them to understand that yes, the ad was pimping children to people's taboo desires?

See, nowadays people know how pedophiles think, so they know what will "trip their triggers", so they know when something is "creepy" even when it was harmless for decades.

While I'm at it: Man, if I were Supreme Ruler of all the universe I would institute a ten-year ban on the word "creepy" for those who discuss/review mass media. It falls out of peoples mouths/keyboards far too readily, a pre-fab label for people who don't like something but can't be bothered to truly dissect and understand what it is that makes them feel bad. "I read that one issue of Power Pack, and you know, creeeeeepeeee."

I hereby decree that using the word "creepy" makes you fail and diminishes the validity of anything you write. In fact, I'll go further and say that if your main criticism of any work is that it makes you feel uncomfortable in some way, but you are unwilling or unable to analyze those feelings of yours in detail, then that's extra fail and just don't talk to me.

Or maybe I'm just not in tune with modern hyperbole. Yes, I'm going to dredge up something I've discussed twice before, so you know it must be annoying me still, on some level, but when someone calls a picture "gross" these days, do they really understand the word, are they using it in proper context, or are they just looking for maximum snark value? When in the same comments section someone mentions images that make their "stomach turn" (you'll have to go back a couple posts and follow links to see what I'm referencing; today I'm too lazy to hyperlink), are they really describing a true physical reaction (in which case, how sensitive is that?) or are they just trying to emphasize their distaste so you know how tsk-tsk appalled and disapproving they are?

I dunno. I just wish there was a better, more reasoned sense of proportion out there, you know?

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