What Does 'Western Culture' Mean?

Iron-And-Rust - [original thread]

Fans of "Woke" games tend to just yeschad.png any accusations made about their favorite game having political messages. This is one of the main reasons I think the "no politics" position is an inherently weak/losing one.

That's been my conclusion too. I think a much more fruitful method of attack is to just hammer home what your politics are. If you like professionals being competent, people being allowed to speak freely, civilization being a good thing, children and families being a good thing, humans themselves being a good thing, etc., then you shouldn't be ashamed about that. Should instead point to the media that has a message you disagree with and point out why, and point to media you like and point to why you like that instead.

I think that if you did this well, then it would be very possible to argue that the currently defined as "no politics" camp could easily frame themselves as the "morally healthy politics" camp, to oppose the "morally decrepit politics" camp. Like, to take an obvious moral value in the "healthy" camp: Truth and honesty. The "decrepit" camp will openly brag about inappropriately adding modern values (and things like women and inappropriate ethnicities) to historical narratives where they know that they're inappropriate, in order to deliberately mislead their audience about the past. It is incredibly easy to give an argument for why the people doing this are evil, and why we should instead be doing the opposite. Of course, that's not to say you can't have fiction where anything happens, but how acceptable that is should be proportional to how obvious it is that it is fiction.

And it doesn't have to be ham-fisted, right?

Like, take... let's do a super hero narrative, since they're inherently very simple. Do Aquaman. During one of the fights, he gets knocked to the ground during a bunch of explosions, and a giant bell gets knocked loose and falls towards a woman. Seeing this, he immediately leaps to save her life. It's just a few seconds, but it established very well that character's moral framework. He's not here just to fight people, he's here to save people, it just so happens that saving people usually conveniently involves a lot of cool fighting - but we shouldn't forget that the fighting is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. "This is how a hero is supposed to behave."

Then take something like the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies, the one with the vulture. Spider-Man's spying on some criminals, they see him, a fight kicks off because of him, and one of the mooks ends up getting flung off the ferry and into the water. What is Spider-Man's response? It was obvious to me, the scene was set up almost perfectly to demonstrate his most conspicuous trait (which is not his quipping): His compulsive need to save everyone. He should've... well, he should've let himself get hit by the car, in order to block it from hitting the guy. But failing that, and then realizing his mistake of letting the guy get hit, he should've immediately jumped into the sea after the guy, to save him. Instead, he doesn't even notice, leaves the man to die, and he engages the villains in a stupid pointless fight that splits the ferry in half. So he indirectly ends up killing at least one man, and almost kills everyone else on the ferry. But nobody cares. I don't think I've even seen or heard anyone mention this massive flaw in the movie's characterization of the character before, even though it's such a core part of his personality and character. Again, it's just a few seconds, but this is not how a hero is supposed to behave. If anything, Spider-Man in the Tom Holland movies acts more like a thrillseeker than a hero, which is especially perverse given how Peter Parker's heroism is - ironically - his biggest character flaw (something the Sam Raimi movies, Spider-Man 2 in particular, got exactly right). How do people not notice it being absent from the narrative? I think the term "morally decrepit" perfectly describes this.

Then we can look at something like Man of Steel, ubermensch Zack Snyder at the helm, with "Superman" carelessly murdering what must be thousands of people during his fighting. Yeah, no effort to take that fight outside of the city for the guy. He's not here to save people, he's here to do... something else. Never mind other flaws in Snyder's psychotic "hero", like how he breaks and destroys the world if Lois dies, or how he only performs the role as hero as a lie because (is it Lois who says it?) other people believe in the lie. Snyder's "Superman" doesn't like rescuing people. He is burdened by it, unwillingly. "Super hero" my ass.

Another conspicuous example is Captain Marvel, who seems to be doing what she's doing driven mainly by bitterness and her own ego, who abuses civilians and other around her, and who gleefully and unnecessarily murders thousands of her own former comrades during the climax of the film, as if she has no moral code whatsoever. Which I suspect is the case. While Snyder at least seems to at least have some kind of bizarre, if albeit decrepit, moral compass guiding him, the authors of Captain Marvel seem to just be evil people, if this is how their image of a "super hero" behaves. The character's straight out of something written by Garth Ennis, except without the apparent realization that she is evil.

Like... it's so easy to argue that stories about super heroes who enjoy rescuing people (and who do it for selfless reasons, not selfish ones) in need are "morally good" stories, while stories about "super heroes" who hate it, or do it for their own pleasure, are decidedly not "morally good", but instead people are arguing that what I here have labeled "morally good" is actually "no politics".

Of course, super heroes are just easy examples, because they're so uncomplicated and unnuanced. But you see the same thing everywhere. Even when writing "evil" characters, a writer who themselves isn't evil is capable of writing them while making it clear to the audience that the author still knows what is and isn't evil behaviour. You know that the characters in Ennis' comics aren't supposed to be people to look up to, actually you're mostly supposed to be disgusted and repulsed by them. But then you look at something like Captain Marvel, and you wonder... do these writers know that their character is evil? Does Snyder know that his "Superman" is, well... definitely not Superman? I don't think he does. I don't think he understands Superman at all.

Anyway. Snyder aside, I think this is happening because we take our politics or morality so for granted that we don't realize that is what they are, or - indeed - that they need defending.

I guess this lost ability for realization is part of what was lost in the loss of our religion. With its explicit moral framework, it's easy to detect when it's under attack. But remove all the explicit parts and suddenly it becomes hard to tell. It's the same thing people do with things like e.g., "western culture". What does "western culture" mean? Almost nobody's able to give you an answer to it at all, even though it's actually incredibly important. So people end up saying inane things like that there actually is no such thing as western culture. And then you don't realize when it's going away.

It's like somebody's filling the room we're in with carbon dioxide and we don't realize anything's wrong until... well, we'll never realize it, because we'll be dead. Small mercy, I suppose.