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Have we gotten past the point of "They just misunderstand it"? - A discussion about the responsibilites of creators

Fudgepuppy

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,712
Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb has several times mentioned that he has no interest in watching Breaking Bad, as he's seen enough of the shit meth causes. I believe this is a fair reason, as I wouldn't insist an abuse survivor to watch anything that deals with sexual violence.

With Breaking Bad, you have lots of people that idolize Walter White as a cool guy, much like how people look at Tony Montana.

Whenever this happens, people tend to say "yeah but those people are completely misunderstanding those characters and stories", which IMO is absolutely true. Walter White and Tony Montana are to me obviously some heinous people that more act as a character study and cautionary tale about the dangers of becoming power hungry and misguided. Neither of the characters have any moments that redeems them entirely, absconding them from their horrible acts.

With today's climate, I've read, heard and seen a lot more pushback against the concept of "they just misunderstand it". People who say "Wolf of Wall Street was irresponsible as it motivated tons of horrible people that never got the point of the story". The argument is that creators have a responsibility when it comes to what they put out to the world. That no matter the intentions, the results are what counts.

I feel torn about this, because I don't want any creators to be afraid to portray difficult situations and people, because certain individuals will be weaponized from their lack of understanding and critical thinking. At the same time, there have been times when I've thought "this is not the time or the place for this kind of story considering today's world, and I wish they had done it differently to critique today's world."

What's your opinion?
 

Bradbury

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,077
it´s a trick question. I think yes creators have responsabilites about how they use some subjects, but at the same time some assholes will go incredible lenghts to misinterpret a work of art, like red pill movement or people saying they live is a movie against "jews secret control of the world". I think every creator has the right to work with themes they think are difficult, but they have to put the work and don´t be an asshole when people critisice them, looking at you Todd Phillps.
 

ILikeFeet

Member
Oct 25, 2017
24,674
when you get shit like this, some folks just intentionally want to misunderstand it.

 

BDS

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,342
when you get shit like this, some folks just intentionally want to misunderstand it.

Small brain: Childhood is when you idolize Batman, adulthood is when you realize the Joker was right

Galaxy brain: Childhood is when you idolize Batman, adulthood is when you realize Poison Ivy was right
 

foggy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
11,837
Art doesn't have to sermonize if it doesn't want to.

There's also a crucial difference between stoking flames and holding up a mirror to humanity/society/whatever's uglier side.
 

tokkun

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,633
I'm still waiting for Gary Gygax to take responsibility for converting all the kids to Satanism through Dungeons & Dragons.

Or for Stravinsky to apologize for The Rite of Spring causing the downfall of civilization.
 

CloseTalker

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,684
It's tough. I have a friend who, god bless him, loves to watch movies, but just isn't the brightest when it comes to films. He gets the text, but if there is any layer of subtext he generally just doesn't grasp it. What's worse is he thinks he does get it, and considers himself a die hard "film buff". But as an example, his first remark after seeing Call Me By Your Name was "So, was the little one gay the whole time? Cuz he was with that girl", which is a question that even if it did have a clear answer, the answer doesn't matter to the point of the movie.

All this is a long way of saying some people just aren't good at deriving the intended meaning from art. Everyone has different strengths in life, and being able to see through metaphor and symbolism to get to the artist's intent isn't something everyone is good at (whether they'll admit it or not). And that's totally fine, but I don't think it's on the onus of the artist to dumb down the message to the broadest strokes possible. If the point (or at least, a point) of art is to hold a mirror up to ourselves, then that mirror has to be true, warts and all. It's then up to the audience to do the work to try to understand what's being said. And sadly, a lot of people simply don't want to look that hard.
 

RDreamer

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,738
They're not misunderstanding the character, they just think horrible shit can be cool.
 

Palantiri

Member
Oct 25, 2017
345
A creator cant be responsible to those who will not be critical of the work created and themselves. If you just consume it with no intention of deconstructing it and your relationship with it, then you will likely just use it to justify your existing position. I am thinking of the examples you provided, or the other thread about movies being misinterpreted...

A creator is absolutely responsible for evoking and provoking if that is their intention. If a critical analysis of the work finds the intention to be subversive or destructive then the creator must be held somewhat responsible for its effects on society. Here I am thinking about that Rick and Morty thread, Fox News, Ben Shapiro et al. or examples of revolutionary writings and art

In one place or time subversion can be a good, other times, a bad. But at no times should one be held to account for the willfull ignorance of others.
 

ILikeFeet

Member
Oct 25, 2017
24,674
Small brain: Childhood is when you idolize Batman, adulthood is when you realize the Joker was right

Galaxy brain: Childhood is when you idolize Batman, adulthood is when you realize Poison Ivy was right
it helps that Poison Ivy is less an outright villain nowadways
 

Fisty

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,945
Yeah I think it's the power fantasy that people "aspire to" or relate with in those examples, not exactly the heinous acts. It's just cathartic to see someone break all the rules that you have been to scared your whole life to break, and to do so with style and witty one-liners.
 

voOsh

Member
Apr 5, 2018
1,203
Education is the answer. Art should not have to be limited because people will misinterpret it and go on to to do evil/immoral/unethical things. For example, the people who idolize Walter White have completely missed some of the larger points of Breaking Bad. They think he's cool because he transformed from a ho-hum schoolteacher to a badass drug kingpin. But they disregard that in the process he ruined the lives of everyone around him. This "choice->consequence" theme was clearly depicted by the creators and it's not their responsibility if some missed it. Censoring art because people are dumb is a dark timeline.