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Old 2013-06-27, 10:12   Link #1
CJ_Walker
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Cultural reactions to sexual portrayals in anime

So, I'm an American.. . .I was watching Dance in the Vampire Bund yesterday.

I got to episode two before I dropped it, and this was because of the scene where the female loli character has the MC rub lotion all over her . . .NINE YEAR OLD NAKED BODY, and he puts his hands down into her nether-regions. . .

Since I'm NOT into that kind of shit, I almost threw my keyboard at the monitor(thank god it missed)

Anyway I figured there would be a lot of outrage so I checked on MAL's forums. . .and guess what I saw.

People were PRAISING the episode.

wtf?

One comment really got me: "This episode was crazy! Japan has gone far out in American terms but we here in Europe would tolerate this kind of thing more...we are after all more mature"

What?

Can any Europeans comment on this? I'm actually shocked this show even got made. . .like wtf who writes shit like this?

Shows like this are what make me hide the fact that I'm an Anime fan to friends/coworkers in real life.

Last edited by relentlessflame; 2013-06-27 at 16:23. Reason: Thread title edited to be more neutral, removed flamebait comment
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Old 2013-06-27, 10:20   Link #2
GDiddy
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Sorry, but I have to agree.

I watched the first episode and got immediately squicked out by the little eight year old dancing nekkid as a jaybird. I know she's supposed to be thousands of years old but....HELL NAW.

I'm American, but I think the reason why European fans weren't squicked out by the nudity is that Europe is more comfortable with nudity then Americans are. Don't get me wrong...I have no problems with nudity, as long as it's done tastefully. And in anime, the stuff I watch or read really doesn't have anything like that anyway(at least not too often).

However, if not liking a nude 8 year old, even though she's supernatural, shake her rear makes me a prudish 'Murrican......oh well. *shrugs* So be it.

It squicked me out too in Nisemonogarati but at least
Spoiler:
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Old 2013-06-27, 10:31   Link #3
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It's frustrating. Particularly when it's pointless fanservice mixed in with a good story.

Like Railgun season 1. Way too much naked fanservice of middle school girls. Who even finds that titillating? If it weren't for that I'd probably re-watch it occasionally.

And that's what people seem to think anime is. Which is surprising to me, because I thought people would think of Voltron and Speed Racer as the mainstream image of anime, but I guess not.

I find that if a person gets down on me for anime I just show them the first episode of Bunny Drop or Cross Game and say: "These are the types of anime I watch." After that they usually don't give me too much trouble about anime.
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Old 2013-06-27, 10:48   Link #4
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It's the pervert/prude dichotomy, which is a false dichotomy. The internet in general suffers from this, but the online anime fandom in particular suffers a lot from it (probably because of the nature of some anime content).

The idea is that everybody gets pigeonholed as either a pervert or a prude. If you express dislike over any sort of animated sexual content, for any reason, then out comes the "prude" label.

The thing is that not everybody is turned on by everything that's of a sexual nature. It doesn't make them a prude, it just means that certain animated sexual situations are unappealing and/or disturbing to them. The same person who dislikes Dance in the Vampire Bund might love Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. So it's not a question of prudishness, it's a question of different taste.
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Old 2013-06-27, 11:11   Link #5
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I bet it's one of those "but she's really 500 years old stuff". I have no real comment because I haven't seen this, but it's Shaft, and it wouldn't be one of their first shows to have pedo vibes from it. >.>

Quote:
So is Child molestation a "thing" in Europe now or something?
That's not even funny as a joke, and I'm not sure why you'd even ask such a question just because a European MAL user said it? No civilized modern country would ever condone anything like child molestation, and to make the leap from some cartoon of animated children to actual children is still too large of a leap.

In fact why did you make this thread to generalize to Europeans? Europe's a pretty large place you know. I understand that geography and Americans run like oil and water, but please more awareness and consideration of people from other places please!
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Old 2013-06-27, 11:15   Link #6
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It's fiction. It may be morally reprehensible, but it's still fiction, and no one is forcing you to endure it. People who do shitty things in real life? They deserve punishment. That's the line I draw.

Is some of it obscene/exploitative? Absolutely. Some of it is genuine art, but of course that's always going to be subjective. But that's really no different than violence or other social taboos when used in fiction.

Also, as a moderator, I'll take this moment to state that if the discussion goes out of control I will not hesitate to close it and issue punishment if needed. Please keep this civil and thoughtful.
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Old 2013-06-27, 11:27   Link #7
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Yeah, I was seriously offended more by 'EUROPE SUPPORTS CHILD MOLESTATION' than anything....


And I loved A Woman Called Fujiko! I actually want to own it but Funi pushed it back...
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Old 2013-06-27, 11:34   Link #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solace View Post
It's fiction. It may be morally reprehensible, but it's still fiction, and no one is forcing you to endure it.
People complain about all sorts of things in the fiction that we consume - Why should this sort of content be any different?

One thing I really tire of is how when people criticize this sort of content it's automatically conflated into a call for censorship, when often people are just expressing a dislike of it. You can dislike something without thinking it should be censored. I mean, Star Wars fans tend to dislike the Prequels quite a bit, but I haven't seen any call for them to be censored - Do you see my point?
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Old 2013-06-27, 11:36   Link #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solace View Post
It's fiction. It may be morally reprehensible, but it's still fiction, and no one is forcing you to endure it. People who do shitty things in real life? They deserve punishment. That's the line I draw.

Is some of it obscene/exploitative? Absolutely. Some of it is genuine art, but of course that's always going to be subjective. But that's really no different than violence or other social taboos when used in fiction.

Also, as a moderator, I'll take this moment to state that if the discussion goes out of control I will not hesitate to close it and issue punishment if needed. Please keep this civil and thoughtful.
True, the gap between reality and fiction means that said actions don't equate the same amount of moral outrage.

Vile thoughts do not equate vile actions when not realized.

On the other hand, although we understand the severity of the situation is greatly reduced in fiction, it's also not nonexistent, and is potentially sidestepping the issue.

But some lines are more clear cut than others. Nudity alone, in most cases is subject to debate. Even in "prudish" US, we do not consider nudity in itself to be obscene. Gratuitous nudity of very young characters for nothing other than "fanservice" is another issue. It would be very hard to really explain the need for that in the Nanoha movies, for example.

It's not enough to go out and carry around pick up signs. But sometimes it's just annoying enough to warrant some complaints.
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Last edited by Archon_Wing; 2013-06-27 at 11:39. Reason: fuck double negatives, but don't fuck anything else in fear of the moral police
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Old 2013-06-27, 12:07   Link #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solace View Post
It's fiction. It may be morally reprehensible, but it's still fiction, and no one is forcing you to endure it. People who do shitty things in real life? They deserve punishment. That's the line I draw.

Is some of it obscene/exploitative? Absolutely. Some of it is genuine art, but of course that's always going to be subjective. But that's really no different than violence or other social taboos when used in fiction.

Also, as a moderator, I'll take this moment to state that if the discussion goes out of control I will not hesitate to close it and issue punishment if needed. Please keep this civil and thoughtful.
There is a difference between dealing with certain subject matter, and actually showing it on screen as the main attraction.

Historically such events took place of screen. It's only in the last 50 years or so that there has been a big push to depict all the details. Has storytelling significantly improved in the last 50 years? Not that I have seen.

Also, I think there is a significant difference between depicting young children as sexual objects and a mere taboo. Any story that includes young children being sexualized ought to depict it as a great evil, because it is evil.

Some works do this, but do so using a "show don't tell" method that can be very disturbing, (eg Lolita). Does Dance in the Vampire Bud fall in that category? Somehow I doubt it.

Furthermore I am tired of this catch-all "violence" category. There is a huge difference between gore, or violence shown for violence sake, and the depiction of violence as used by the good guy to defeat the bad guy.

One violates the moral code, the other actually upholds the moral code. Completely different situations that are collapsed in to one term.

Nor is the "it's just fiction" really a good defense. We spend a huge amount of our lives telling and listening to fictional stories. Fiction is important. Good fiction is good for us. Bad or corrupt fiction is bad for us. Maybe there are no physical effects, but there is certainly a spiritual effect. Why else do we spend so much effort looking for good stories if they don't do something good for us? If good fiction benefits us spiritually, then it follows that bad fiction is bad for us spiritually.

Now you can make the libertarian argument that people must choose between good and evil for themselves, and that as long as no actual specific people are hurt, society shouldn't interfere. But that argument is very different from claiming that the works are harmless. Nor does it imply that we are obligated to withhold our moral opprobrium from such works.
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Old 2013-06-27, 12:18   Link #11
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For whatever it's worth when Dance in a Vampire Bund came out on DVD in France I was shopping at a fnac store which is really mainstream,the anime part of the store was showing DIVB on TV screen and that scene in question came on, I asked someone working at the store if costumers ever complained and nope,though apparently some costumers were just bewildered at the idea of the scene being a turn on for some but they weren't outraged or anything.
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Old 2013-06-27, 12:18   Link #12
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Old 2013-06-27, 12:47   Link #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
People complain about all sorts of things in the fiction that we consume - Why should this sort of content be any different?

One thing I really tire of is how when people criticize this sort of content it's automatically conflated into a call for censorship, when often people are just expressing a dislike of it. You can dislike something without thinking it should be censored. I mean, Star Wars fans tend to dislike the Prequels quite a bit, but I haven't seen any call for them to be censored - Do you see my point?
I never said people can't complain. Calls for censorship do tend to arise in taboo subjects however, because the nature of humans is to reject that which they find unacceptable, rather than understand or even tolerate it to some degree. History is rife with examples of literature being banned or outright destroyed because the dominant moral thought of the time rejected the content of those works.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
True, the gap between reality and fiction means that said actions don't equate the same amount of moral outrage.

Vile thoughts do not equate vile actions when not realized.

On the other hand, although we understand the severity of the situation is greatly reduced in fiction, it's also not nonexistent, and is potentially sidestepping the issue.

But some lines are more clear cut than others. Nudity alone, in most cases is subject to debate. Even in "prudish" US, we do not consider nudity in itself to be obscene. Gratuitous nudity of very young characters for nothing other than "fanservice" is another issue. It would be very hard to really explain the need for that in the Nanoha movies, for example.

It's not enough to go out and carry around pick up signs. But sometimes it's just annoying enough to warrant some complaints.
Fair points. Seems like you and Triple R are on the same wavelength.

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Originally Posted by Sackett View Post
There is a difference between dealing with certain subject matter, and actually showing it on screen as the main attraction.
Yes. One is exploitation, the other is not. Marketing is rife with examples of this.

Quote:
Historically such events took place of screen. It's only in the last 50 years or so that there has been a big push to depict all the details. Has storytelling significantly improved in the last 50 years? Not that I have seen.
I won't pretend I'm a good enough critic to judge the last 50 years of storytelling. Maybe in another 50 years.

Quote:
Also, I think there is a significant difference between depicting young children as sexual objects and a mere taboo. Any story that includes young children being sexualized ought to depict it as a great evil, because it is evil.
It's evil to you. Your morals. You believe that every story with young children being sexualized is evil, so every story that has such content must treat it as evil. I don't agree, I feel that limits the potential of story telling.

Quote:
Some works do this, but do so using a "show don't tell" method that can be very disturbing, (eg Lolita). Does Dance in the Vampire Bud fall in that category? Somehow I doubt it.
The funny thing about Lolita is that the person being exploited in the story is not the young girl.

Quote:
Furthermore I am tired of this catch-all "violence" category. There is a huge difference between gore, or violence shown for violence sake, and the depiction of violence as used by the good guy to defeat the bad guy.

One violates the moral code, the other actually upholds the moral code. Completely different situations that are collapsed in to one term.
What about American Psycho? Most horror movies? What if I wanted to make something like Saving Private Ryan, except from the side of the Germans? How about 300? The selling point of that entire movie is how awesome the smaller force is at killing the larger force. Even the logo is made of a blood splatter!

Violence is used as a catch all because it is rarely treated with the reverence of taboo that we treat it with in real life. It is liberally used in media, saturated even, and yet it's a reflection of our "moral code" in real life, where killing has so many different meanings and intents that sometimes it makes great storytelling to explore how we justify or condemn each instance.

Violence even has its own niche, taboo names. Snuff films. Gore Porn. Torture Porn.

Quote:
Nor is the "it's just fiction" really a good defense. We spend a huge amount of our lives telling and listening to fictional stories. Fiction is important. Good fiction is good for us. Bad or corrupt fiction is bad for us. Maybe there are no physical effects, but there is certainly a spiritual effect. Why else do we spend so much effort looking for good stories if they don't do something good for us? If good fiction benefits us spiritually, then it follows that bad fiction is bad for us spiritually.
I won't deny that fiction can be influential, but the argument you are making is far too black and white. Heart of Darkness. Faust. Dante's Inferno. War and Peace. Lolita. Uncle Tom's Cabin. The Bible. 1984. Animal Farm. The Telltale Heart. Huckleberry Finn. Pick an ancient theology. Grimm's Fairy Tales. Lovecraft.

The good and the bad. You need a balance of both. Without one, you cannot hope to understand the other, to appreciate, tolerate, or condemn. To explore the darkness means plumbing the depths of depravity that can only exist in the hearts and minds of your fellow men.

Quote:
Now you can make the libertarian argument that people must choose between good and evil for themselves, and that as long as no actual specific people are hurt, society shouldn't interfere. But that argument is very different from claiming that the works are harmless. Nor does it imply that we are obligated to withhold our moral opprobrium from such works.
I argue for free will. "The devil made me do it" is not an excuse. Or as they say, actions speak louder than words.
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Old 2013-06-27, 13:27   Link #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solace View Post
It's evil to you. Your morals. You believe that every story with young children being sexualized is evil, so every story that has such content must treat it as evil. I don't agree, I feel that limits the potential of story telling.
Such a comment needs no response.

Quote:
The funny thing about Lolita is that the person being exploited in the story is not the young girl.
That's not true. Humbert is an unreliable narrator, as we are consistently informed. The story is told from his perspective in which he claims that he is the one tempted and manipulated by Lolita. Objectively, even when given only Humbert's side of the story, Humbert was the one who exploited Lolita. The ending even explicitly states this, when Humbert admits that he was a maniac who deprived Lolita of her childhood.

Quote:
What about American Psycho? Most horror movies? What if I wanted to make something like Saving Private Ryan, except from the side of the Germans? How about 300? The selling point of that entire movie is how awesome the smaller force is at killing the larger force. Even the logo is made of a blood splatter!
Did I say that I favored these types of movies? No. Only that I resent them being lumped together with something like A Bridge Too Far or The Dark Knight as if all depictions of violence are the same.

Quote:
Violence is used as a catch all because it is rarely treated with the reverence of taboo that we treat it with in real life. It is liberally used in media, saturated even, and yet it's a reflection of our "moral code" in real life, where killing has so many different meanings and intents that sometimes it makes great storytelling to explore how we justify or condemn each instance.
The fact that recently there has been an explosion of gratuitous violence does make it okay. Nor is my opposition to such depictions of violence while being accepting of violence that conforms to the moral code of only being used to resist evil evidence of inconsistency.
Quote:
Violence even has its own niche, taboo names. Snuff films. Gore Porn. Torture Porn.
If you are talking about that kind of violence then say so. Use the specific terms not some generic "violence." I find such films to be horrifying and worthy of shame.

Quote:
I won't deny that fiction can be influential, but the argument you are making is far too black and white. Heart of Darkness. Faust. Dante's Inferno. War and Peace. Lolita. Uncle Tom's Cabin. The Bible. 1984. Animal Farm. The Telltale Heart. Huckleberry Finn. Pick an ancient theology. Grimm's Fairy Tales. Lovecraft.
I don't know Heart of Darkness, Telltale Heart, or Lovecraft, but why should I object to the rest of those? Each of them can be spiritually beneficial.

Don't confuse stories that are spiritually beneficial as requiring only happy uplifting endings. Nor does it mean that beneficial stories can't explore dark themes. However, such themes need to be contextualized and presented within the universal moral framework of civilization.

Tragedy is a great form of storytelling, and sadly under appreciated in modern times. Tragedy reminds us how breaking the moral code inevitably leads to damnation. The hero has a fatal flaw, or makes a fatal mistake - and that act leads to the destruction of himself and others. Tragedy explores some of the darkest aspects of life. Oedipus deals with incest, murder, and insanity. Yet Tragedy provides spiritual benefits through catharsis.

What does a catharsis have to do with naked underage girls having lotion rubbed on them? What does pointless breast grabbing between middle school girls have to compare to War and Peace or King Lear? Don't equate Macbeth with a snuff film.

Quote:
The good and the bad. You need a balance of both. Without one, you cannot hope to understand the other, to appreciate, tolerate, or condemn. To explore the darkness means plumbing the depths of depravity that can only exist in the hearts and minds of your fellow men.
Exploring darkness is fine, but darkness must recognized and identified as darkness. Pretending that darkness isn't darkness is not a valid story.

Read "Seven Basic Plots" by Booker. He explains it better than I do, but the major problem in art today is this fantasy that we can escape the traditional moral standards and find our own happy ending in moral depravity. Fiction that depicts such fantasies is as worthless as brownies made from horse crap.
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Old 2013-06-27, 13:38   Link #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sackett View Post
That's not true. Humbert is an unreliable narrator, as we are consistently informed. The story is told from his perspective in which he claims that he is the one tempted and manipulated by Lolita. Objectively, even when given only Humbert's side of the story, Humbert was the one who exploited Lolita. The ending even explicitly states this, when Humbert admits that he was a maniac who deprived Lolita of her childhood.
I'm gonna guess Solace was referring to the 1962 movie version?Because I got the same impression as him watching it, havn't read the book though.
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Old 2013-06-27, 13:44   Link #16
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Originally Posted by totoum View Post
I'm gonna guess Solace was referring to the 1962 movie version?Because I got the same impression as him watching it, havn't read the book though.
I see. That comments poorly on the film makers in turning the moral of Lolita so completely upside down.
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Old 2013-06-27, 13:45   Link #17
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Evaluating a work of fiction's right to exist based on some moral criteria is pretty much exactly what governments in the past have done to ban books that they felt were 'dangerous' to their regime. In many parts of the world it's still being done. A lot of those books are considered important works of literature today.

Regarding the 'image' of anime today being way more sexualized, that's mostly because of economic reasons. Fan service based shows sell well enough to justify their cost, and takes significantly less effort to create than more serious works of anime. They're also great for merchandising.
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Old 2013-06-27, 13:48   Link #18
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Originally Posted by GDiddy View Post
Sorry, but I have to agree.

I watched the first episode and got immediately squicked out by the little eight year old dancing nekkid as a jaybird. I know she's supposed to be thousands of years old but....HELL NAW.

I'm American, but I think the reason why European fans weren't squicked out by the nudity is that Europe is more comfortable with nudity then Americans are. Don't get me wrong...I have no problems with nudity, as long as it's done tastefully. And in anime, the stuff I watch or read really doesn't have anything like that anyway(at least not too often).

However, if not liking a nude 8 year old, even though she's supernatural, shake her rear makes me a prudish 'Murrican......oh well. *shrugs* So be it.

It squicked me out too in Nisemonogarati but at least
Spoiler:
You know, I almost NEVER pay attention to the OP lol I usually either skip it, or do something else until it's finished, or just not really pay attention to it. . .just kind of Zone out. . . I think that's going to change now, as I would have been like "Yup, nope, not watching this."
(I also see no point in 1-2 minute ops/eds. . .but that's another topic)

I'd say most Americans aren't too bothered by nudity, but that scene was faaaaaaaaaar beyond nudity, I was just shocked and a bit pissed, especially with the people on MAL having the whole attitude of "If you don't like it, its 'cause your an immature 'murican." Now some people would probably say "Well that's MAL not the anime community. . ." Thing is I've seen similar scenes in anime, and similar responses bashing people who found it squicky on even forums like this (although the scenes weren't as explicit as in that show)

I mean this show did not need that scene at all to make the story good. . .I was already intrigued as it was. Usually scenes like that are aimed toward a certain demographic. . .It was like the show was TRYING to insult me... I was mad on so many levels. . .This is not Lolita or TellTale/Heart of darkness or some grand novel that has disturbing scenes for a reason that's actually a main part of the story. It was just needless pandering to a certain demographic.

And people were applauding/insulting those who for with good reason found it unacceptable was just. . .wow. I just can't imagine anyone sitting down to watch that and being "ok" with it.

The whole Violence vs. Sex thing is pretty interesting, and probably isn't fair that we try to suppress sexuality but praise violence(simplifying the discussion about that but y you know what I'm getting at) It still doesn't help me get over stuff like that when it's aimed at children. . .I'd probably be upset if there was some hard to watch child violence scene as well(except for shounen. . .as nobody takes the shounen genre seriously. . .likes really everyone seems to hate shounen or laugh at it)


P.S. I haven't seen NisemonoShaftagatari and I don't plan to (bakemonopretentioustari was bad enough after 3 episodes.)
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Old 2013-06-27, 13:51   Link #19
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Originally Posted by Xion Valkyrie View Post
Evaluating a work of fiction's right to exist based on some moral criteria is pretty much exactly what governments in the past have done to ban books that they felt were 'dangerous' to their regime. In many parts of the world it's still being done. A lot of those books are considered important works of literature today.
Did you miss the fact that nobody in this thread has argued for censorship?

We're just saying that such stories should be subject to moral opprobrium. Why is that so controversial? Can't you disapprove of fiction even if you don't think it should be censored? Or are we just not allowed to voice our disapproval?
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Old 2013-06-27, 14:07   Link #20
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Did you miss the fact that nobody in this thread has argued for censorship?

We're just saying that such stories should be subject to moral opprobrium. Why is that so controversial? Can't you disapprove of fiction even if you don't think it should be censored? Or are we just not allowed to voice our disapproval?
You can voice your disapproval but there's actually nothing really more to discuss beyond that unless we want to change the topic to discussing what is morally acceptable. If so then we'd first need to establish whether there's some universal standard of morality that everyone is subject to.

Otherwise the thread is just going to devolve into people who don't like it complaining and the people who support it repeating stuff about free speech/market economics.
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