passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)
[personal profile] passerine
[Rant. May be NSFW. Warnings: sexual language, people being stupid about mental illness.]

So. I'm not a part of SPN fandom at all, but there's been enough on my reading list about the issue of using the Haiti earthquake as a backdrop for two white boys finding themselves and each other and having Deep Meaningful Buttsex(tm). I agree that there is a certain arrogance to thinking that such a thing is a brilliant idea, and that no, it's not brilliant at all, and that some of the things that have been pointed to within the fic are particularly bothersome to me, such as the reference to Creole speakers as "gibbering" and "jabbering". (That's where my linguistics geekery shows, I guess.)

In the many other posts about this, I've also seen reference to some people using gendered insults directed at the poster of the upsetting fic. And no, that's not appropriate either. But there's a big difference between "WTF were you thinking?" and "STFU you stupid cunt!" Which, you know, shouldn't need to be said...but apparently does, because much of the criticism I've seen of the latter seems to believe that the former is its moral equivalent. And, well, no. And you know, I actually do get that there are legitimate grounds for concern about silencing women, because historically, there is a very long tradition of women (especially women writers) being silenced or being mocked into obscurity, etc. I just don't believe that every criticism (or even very harsh criticism) of an otherwise-privileged woman translates into an attempt to silence either that woman or women in general, just as I don't believe that "Dude, not funny!" equates to CENSORSHIP ONOEZ.

I've already posted, also, about the whole "being who you genetically are" nonsense and why it's wrong-headed and cruel. Short version: I don't particularly think that it's a good thing for my spouse to have to cope with his brain trying to kill him on a regular basis, when there is a medication that efficiently puts a stop to that particular problem. I'm also really tired of people who think they understand depression because they cried for a lost pet, or ADD because they lost their wallet once and had to get all their cards replaced and worry about identity theft, telling other people that a) they shouldn't take their meds, and/or b) that there's Nothing Wrong With Them Except Moral Weakness And Laziness And Negativity, therefore Thinking Positive Will Fix EVERYthing!

So, with those things as background, there is then what I am encountering repeatedly in my own corners of the 'net-world. I wrote about a few variants on this theme two years ago. Specifically, I'm seeing a lot of people wanting to write, "My character looks crazy but really isn't because of $SPECIAL_SNOWFLAKE_REASON! So tell me what horrible things the medications my character would be forced to take will do!" or wanting to use a DSM diagnosis as shorthand for character development, or wanting (in a modern-day setting) to have a character locked away in a mental hospital for $CONVENIENT_PLOT_REASON, despite the character's condition in no way justifying such a thing, and as if there isn't a severe fucking shortage of beds as it is.

I can answer these questions. Sometimes I do answer these questions - point people to CrazyMeds for info on specific medications and their potential side effects, talk about my own knowledge (personal as the SO-of-patient and professional as someone who has some indirect oversight responsibilities for such things) of hospital conditions and protocol, point out a possible alternate DSM diagnosis for someone who really seems to be barking up the wrong tree with the one they're using, etc.

I'd like to ask a few questions, though. Mostly, I'd like to ask why the "my character isn't REALLY crazy!" plot device is getting so much use and being so badly handled. Because really? If your character has a $SPECIAL_SNOWFLAKE_REASON why observed psychiatric symptoms aren't the real thing, this STILL a) is probably causing SOME significant level of distress to ether the character or the character's associates, because b) it would never have come to the attention of a mental health professional unless this were the case. Sometimes, some writers actually don't drop the ball with this, but if your character is being caused by whatever to act or appear to act in a way consistent with a mental illness severe enough to justify involuntary medication, then whatever-it-is WILL have an effect on your character's mental state, possibly enough of one to in and of itself cause a real mental health problem (even if not the one that it appears to be). The Perfectly Sane Protagonist whose brain is occasionally taken over by a Scary Crazy Person is NOT going to withstand this and remain Perfectly Sane - in fact, the more the person prides him/herself on being Perfectly Sane, the more shattering this will be.

I'd also like to ask why a collection of symptoms equate to a personality in the minds of some writers. Because, you know, it's not like all of us that have ADD (to pick on myself for the moment) spent our school careers being disruptive class clowns, and then grew into cheerfully immature scatterbrains who can't be relied on for anything important ever but who don't care so it's no big deal. Or that we like ourselves this way, so we sell Ritalin on the black market for your character to purchase for that critical all-nighter. I'd like to ask why every temperamental artist needs to have bipolar disorder, or why artists need to be temperamental in the first place. I'd like to ask why many an introverted, stoic character suddenly is "high-functioning autistic" or else has Schizoid Personality Disorder. Flat stock characters make for bad writing - to turn the stock character into a stereotypical Crazy Person of whatever flavor-of-the-week is to add the insult of flat, uninteresting writing to the injury of hurtful stereotypical portrayals.

Date: 2010-06-26 05:00 am (UTC)
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] staranise
Sadly, something tells me you've written this rant without seeing this piece of tripe.



passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)
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