I'm no expert, but while we can get much insight on a work's possible meanings by understanding its context, I think the work can and should also speak by itself to some extent.The context helps give the ideas a name, a history, relationships, that give better understanding, but not all of the undersating. At least that's what I think.

@PaladinQuinn I think if we are consistent enough in viewing such things in a historical context, it will no longer be reductive. We are operating in a historical context, too. The messages put forth from the past are not immediately invalid, and keeping an eye on the culture that produced it can help us recognize the framework we're still constrained by.

@PaladinQuinn My take is that separating something from its history for your own purposes is appropriation.

The question then becomes "for what are you appropriating it?"

When a marginalized group, say, appropriates slurs used against them back into positive in-group identifiers, this is good. A marginalized group is empowered.

But when, say, a Christian makes LITERALLY EVERYTHING into an allegory about Jesus to proselytize, this is bad as it benefits the oppressor.

@PaladinQuinn Therefore it is our job to weigh the impact of divorcing something from its historical context, in community with others, and make a best-judgment on how to handle it.

Appropriating OCC into a funny philosophy meme? Probably fine.

But if someone were to do the same with, say, pictures of civil rights leaders? Not ok.

@PaladinQuinn We'd need the perspective of Jewish peoples and other groups oppressed by the third Reich to answer that. I'm neither so I defer to them on that one.

@PaladinQuinn Actually I forgot that they were awful to disabled people, so I guess I CAN weigh in.

While I have laughed at the downfall memes (particularly when they came out), I think they normalized Nazism in an ultimately unhealthy way by minimizing the danger of Nazis in the 21st century. As we now know, this was a mistake. So I don't think they're the best way to empower the marginalized anymore.

I'd still want to hear from others before concluding though.

I don't know where the meme is from but I understand it

Therefore the last frame is wrong

@PaladinQuinn @ashfurrow I say I'm not going to read them so it doesn't matter. :^)

I understand the meme without any clue what the context is. Also, Baby It's Cold Outside is creepy even if you genderswap it, which is something I just heard on Christmas radio at a cafe

Re the song, full understanding of possible historical contexts doesn't make it less creepy, despite what the author of next semester's technical writing textbook claims. (I hate him already and am taking it as an I'll omen for the class )

Re the meme, I'm not sure I need context for two white guys arguing over a thing that only white men could think needs to be argued about. The past always informs the present, but cannot and should not supersede it because it is by definition past.

@DialMforMara @PaladinQuinn aside: i think what i've concluded with "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is that even if we take the past into account does that mean its good to play on public radio consistently every year? If something becomes "Timeless" shouldn't it be judged as we hear it without the context of history, and if it is rooted in its time should we be broadcasting it over and over every year since the context is rapidly lost each passing year.

Exactly. It's not timeless, but if we treat it like it is, we have to assess it relative to any time period it appears in

Related: this cafe's mixtape also included a modernized cover in which the guy understands the girl's concerns, helps her get ready to leave, and wishes her a safe drive home at the end

@PaladinQuinn this choice is up to the reader. An artifact can be analyzed as an attempt by its creator to communicate something, or repurposed for arbitrary ends without attempting to understand its history. Or both. For example, you could read a newspaper and then use it to line a bird cage.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

We are a Mastodon instance for LGBT+ and alies!