Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Most critics of fiction seem to believe strongly in Nuture over Nature.

You may or may not know that within the world of psychology there is an ongoing debate about why people are the way they are, called Nature vs Nurture.  Are we who we are because of what we've experienced, starting with how we were raised? or is that simply how our Brains are wired?  Or is it a combination of both?

And even though most people take that third option, they still want to debate whether it tips one way or the other.

But the way fiction is critiqued seems to show a clear bias towards Nurture from critics and anyalists.  Now in fairness this largely starts with how many successful and influential writers have clearly strongly advocated for Nurture in their writing, and their writing is what many critics are taught as examples of how it should be.

This kind of overlaps with the over reverence for Deconstructions.  Which comes from the philosophy that certain unconventional character traits can only be the result of some kind of trauma or abuse.

This is part of why I'm so often at a disconnect with critics.  I'm seeing people criticize something I like by saying "they never explain why these characters are this way".  Or praising something that I feel wasted to much time on backstory by saying "It's so great to see this character trait being given an explanation for a change".

Though perhaps it's unfair for me to bring this debate into it.  Because even if I fully agreed with Nuture over Nature I'd still be like "THAT'S NOT WHAT THIS STORY IS ABOUT, WAIT FOR THE DAMN PREQUEL!!!!".

In fact given my history of praising Prequels as an art form, you might be surprised to see me be so critical of the Nuture argument.  But the Prequels I like reflect a decent balance between Nuture and Nature.  Anakin Skywalker was influenced by his experiences, but he did not start out a blank slate.

And then there is Lupin III The Woman Called Fujiko Mine.  What I love about this Prequel is how it starts out seeming like your generic Deconstruction, "obviously a woman would only behave like a Femme Fatale if she was horribly victimized" to in the end say, "NOPE, she was like that all long, deal with it".

I watched a video on YouTube praising how Lucky Star deals with familial relations.

Lucky Star is one of my favorite Animes, and I do like how it depicts all it's relationships, so for that I like and recommend the video.

But this video also expresses an annoyance at how other High School set Animes write around the parents (western shows will also do this, "Out of Town" is a meme in the PLL fandom).  I have always been fine with that, a tv show only shows us 20-40 minutes a week of the characters lives.  When I was in school I had no friends and still spent way more time then that away from my parents.  The parents aren't who I watch Cute Girl shows for, in fact I like them best when it's possible to imagine that the male gender doesn't even exist.  (Yet SciFi stories explicitly based on that premise tend to bore and disappoint me.)

This video and even more so it's comments talk about how important it is to show how our families shape who we are.  And that annoys me, who I am can't be logically explained by my parents.  My ideology doesn't resemble theirs enough to say I simply became them, but isn't opposite to theirs enough to say I'm just rebelling.

But this is at it's most annoying when it's applied to the Anime Tsundere, where I see comments like "the tsundere schtick is handled well when the trope is treated like a mental hangup bordering on mental illness."-a YouTuber calling themselves Char Azanbel.

You see, I've paid enough attention to the world to know that the Tsundere isn't unique to Anime.  It can be traced back to Shakespeare at least.  Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing describes Beatrice's feelings for Benedick thusly:
By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think
of it but that she loves him with an enraged
affection: it is past the infinite of thought.
Skye Sweetnam had a song called Tangled Up In Me where she was basically singing about being a Tsundere.  That whole common idea you've heard that if a girl was picking on you on the playground it probably means she likes you, is exactly what the Tsundere is based on.  It's only become so well categorized in Anime because we Otaku obsess over categorizing everything.

It is common in fiction because it is a damn near universal experience.  We've all been a Tsundere towards something at some point, before I started writing blogs I would hide much of the fiction I enjoyed.  Frankly I think Digibro is a Tsundere towards Sword Art Online, I think secretly he loves it, but can't admit that to himself because it breaks those writing school rules he worships.

So Asuka from Evangelion keeps getting praised as the best written Tsundere. I was unable to find her likeable regardless of her backstory, and that's as someone who's bias is always to favor the female characters.  So I get sick of seeing Asuka praised for being Traumatized, while Rin Tohsaka is considered just a visual novel cliche by "educated" critics. And Kagami ignored for being from an Anime that isn't story driven at all, but that's what I like about Lucky Star.

What amuses me most however.  Is when these critics who are generally just as Liberal as I am are applying this Nuture bias to every character trait but sexual orientation.  But remain deeply offended at any suggestion that Homsoexuals aren't born that way.  My position on being "born that way" or not is first that it should be irrelevant towards Gay Rights, or whether they are viewed as human beings, or whether it's a Sin or not (I strongly believe it is not).  But I firmly agree we can't control who we're attracted to, but that goes right down to an individual basis. And every sexual preference I have also has it's exceptions, from gender to hair color.

So my point is.  Quit caring so much about why a character is who they are.  And just enjoy them for who they are.

No comments:

Post a Comment