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Death of the Author or: Does intent matter?

(3 Posts)
VestalVirgin Sun 11-Sep-16 18:08:00

This was mentioned in the porn topic, but I wonder in how far it applies to other media.

As I write fiction, I am especially interested in how this applies to satire. If I write a story that parodies transgenderism, and people take it at face value (as supporting transwacktivism), have I then contributed to the problem? Or will the intent shine through in some subconscious way?

To me, most of my writings are as obviously ironic as "A modest proposal", but it seems that one really has to suggest something as horrible as eating babies for there to not be a group of people who really support that point of view.
( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law )

Explaining the joke makes it less fun, obviously. And can actually be dangerous if one is parodying transwacktivism. I prefer to leave me some room for plausible deniability.

I (perhaps mistakenly) believe that portraying anything accurately, with all context, will have the effect of educating people.
If I show misogyny in writing, and accurately show what it leads to, if I portray women as people - do I still perpetuate misogyny as long as I do not condemn the misogyny in my writing?

And those people who do not pick up the cause and effect connections between misogyny and all the bad things it causes, do they feel their misogynist ideas confirmed? Or will there be subconscious doubt?

I am a big fan of literature bloggers that really get their teeth into the subtler sexism and racism that is present in lots of books, and I agree with them that introducing a female character as great hero but never having her do anything heroic, say anything clever, etc, perpetuates misogyny.
Now I wonder if this is also true the other way round, or if that's different because "everything nourishes what is strong", as Elizabeth Bennett once put it.

Ethelswith Sun 11-Sep-16 19:01:56

When I studied lit crit, the focus was on the text and its effect. Author's intention was way down the heap of things to look at (to the point irrelevancy, unless there was record of the intention and even then only as comparison to effect).

But prevailing theories change, and that was a while ago.

Lorelei76 Sun 11-Sep-16 21:57:14

I think I know what you mean
I have sort of been in that position with my writing and I think the difficulty is, if there is any way that some people might not see the joke, there's a problem

So while I agree it makes it less fun to explain the joke, at some point I had to because I didn't want anyone to go away from that book thinking that I thought certain things were acceptable. Is that what you mean?

In that way, it's up to you - if you would be happy to have that possibly happen and then have someone ask you about and open that debate, then that's different. Of course there's always a section of readers who will never discover that you were being ironic...

I have enough times when I wonder if something on the news is a joke or I read a post here that I think is a joke and it isn't. So I would always want to be clear about what I was saying.

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