Like sylvaine "I don't want to read about how awful people are to one another." Generally. I read a lot more unhappy stories when I was younger. I think that was part of letting in all sorts of experiences and discovering the world and learning to process and being a teenager and having all kinds of feelings. I've written -isms and despair in fic when those were part of my reality and things I needed to process; processing and expression and analysis through art is a thing.
I read more fanfic than pro work these days, and that's not unrelated to a desire to escape. I don't want to read someone's prejudices; I am less patient with that kind of bullshit than I used to be. I am more assertive of that not being worth my time. There's this thing that happens when you primarily read m/m and f/f fic - you don't tend to run into a lot of homophobia, which hasn't always been the case. I think that earlier fic is more likely to contain homophobia, that there was more of a sense of pervasiveness that led to that getting written into fic, that it was a carry-over from reality. Mind, I'm not actually that old and I haven't been in fandom for that long, and my first experiences with fic were also coloured with being a teenager and a feeling of otherness. There are stories I read then that I don't read now because I'm not interested in them; I'm interested in different narratives now.
In Stargate: Atlantis and SG-1 fandom DADT was a huge thing and source of angst and unhappiness in stories because it was also those things in real life. There was a subset of stories in SGA that I loved a lot that were about how DADT was shit. All of the stories that touched on DADT were about that a little, but the ones I loved were about changing the rules or had McKay berating politicians. Those were really satisfying stories for me. They were angry and hopeful and determined and about action. I believe in stories like that, that plot out change, and I want to see stories with -isms in them, just so that I can see it called out, because there's some shit that we need to talk about if we want to change it.
The corner of fandom I hang out in is pretty good for a lot of things, for being devoid of a lot of the terrible things that are part of my reality, but refraining from using "girl" as a pejorative is really not one of them. (There's this whole angry post in my head titled "fuck you, I was an awesome teenaged girl".) I am so tired of seeing that in fic. The thing is that, all of those fics where it doesn't happen, that show an ideal world in that way - where that doesn't get said or thought - don't call the people that say or think those things on their bullshit. There are a lot of instances of -isms in our culture that are so ingrained that we don't recognise that they're there, that need to be pointed out so that we can stop committing them.
There's a hockey fic that I love to pieces for its inclusion of Patrick Kane casually calling out a team mate for using "girl" as an insult, and it's great. It's so great, because it does two things: it calls out that language as problematic and it shows a way of dealing with that situation in real life, which is amazing.
I believe in stories and I believe in fandom. I believe in the way that they can transmit ideas that can change the world. I believe in learning, and I think that the stories that we tell each other matter.
I don't think that every story should contain that kind of teachable moment. I don't think that every story needs to and I think that that would be boring and trying, frankly, but I think that there's a place for those stories and those moments. I think that identifying and addressing -isms is a necessary part of turning our escapist fantasy into reality.
I also think that escapist fantasy is an important part of turning our escapist fantasy into reality, that when we write stories about people being good to each other we can teach people to be good to each other.
I believe that stories matter. I believe that representation matters. I get excited about lesbian romcoms, happy polyamorous films, diverse casting, people recycling in fic, and I get upset about hockey fights, because the stories that we tell matter, because media matters, because they make up our culture, because you can't tell me that the hockey fight culture of the NHL wherein it is largely acceptable to get angry and punch someone is completely unrelated to the two guys on the bus talking casually about the domestic violence they'd committed, talking like it was a stupid thing that they'd done on the ice. You can not tell me that the stories that we tell do not shape our views and that those views do not shape our actions; I will not believe you.
I get frustrated when people include -isms in their fic that don't get called out because by not condemning them you accept and encourage them. A lot of Generation Kill fic is really terrible for this, and it's full of -isms because the source is, because reality is, because one of the goals of Generation Kill seems to have been a kind of unflinching realism, and one of it's theses is that the military/war was full of shit. So a lot of the fandom takes all of those slurs and shit as characterisation and serves them up in fic without really calling the characters on it, and while that's maybe a choice that makes sense for the series it maybe isn't one that makes sense for that romance you're writing. Maybe I'm weird but I don't believe that you need to put an entire group of people down to write characters shooting the shit or that people need to be racist or whatever.
I'm never going to buy characterisation as a justification for spreading hate and awfulness. ...and I feel like this post has maybe accidentally turned into "Dear Generation Kill Fandom: judging the fuck out of you." I like Generation Kill Fandom a lot, but I really wish parts of it were less accepting of casual -isms in speech, because I think it's harmful and I don't want to read unpleasant reality in my escapist fantasy; I don't want my escapist fantasy to contribute to the unpleasant reality.
I went to the cinema earlier this month and saw this artsy historical film with an unhappy ending and all of these gross tropes and -isms in it. I sat in front of someone who laughed at the evil people being kinky, laughed at the trans person, laughed at the fat person and I got progressively angrier, because, look, that shit isn't okay. It's not.
I look to fandom as a place where things are okay and there's a reason that I get pissed when I read fic wherein a character uses -ist language or expresses -ist opinions and doesn't get called on it within the story and there's an authors note warning for the -ism and explaining that it's in character and doesn't reflect the author's opinions, because- you know it's wrong, and you're doing it anyway? A note doesn't excuse you. It doesn't actually work that way.
For one thing, that author's note is usually vague rather than specific, so it doesn't really call the character out on their bullshit, but it does work to cover the author's ass. I mean, they warned for -ist language, so obviously they're aware of all the -ist language in their fic, right? (No.)
Sometimes that author's note is the equivalent of "No offense, but..." That thing you're doing, where you're including -isms in your fic without also condemning it in your fic? You're supporting those -isms with your fic. It's hurtful.
The film I went to watch wanted me to laugh at the trans person, wanted me to think that the kink they showed me was weird and gross; it was a fat-phobic, trans-phobic, kink-shaming, racist, sexist film. I'm alright with -isms in texts; I'm not alright with -ist texts.
I think art matters. I believe in the importance of stories. I believe that the stories we tell can change the way we see the world, that we can teach each other to make the world a better place. I believe that if we keep telling those stories they can come true.
That's my answer to sylvaine's question, I guess. When will reality finally be my escapist fantasy? Maybe, after we've told those stories enough, they'll become true. *shrugs* (I believe in stories.)