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Hyperallergic's Michael Press is Dispelling the Myths Around the Hobby Lobby Antiquities Case:

Looting involves destruction and loss of information on a truly massive scale: not only do the objects themselves lose all contextual information, but after being looted, any object deemed valueless on the antiquities market will be discarded or destroyed. Looting pits may be quite deep, and all material located above the looted artifacts is destroyed or lost. This is one of many serious problems with collectors’ buying, and scholars relying on, unprovenanced artifacts – artifacts without a clear, traceable chain of custody back to an archaeological excavation.

But we must also remember that this is a case of theft. In such cases, the real loss is not “ours” as Westerners or as scholars. It is above all a loss for those from whom the artifacts were stolen — the Iraqi people.

How many games have I "innocently" played, where the point is to loot ancient and priceless artifacts and sell them? I don't think I can look at those the same way anymore. Sort of like how Nekopara goes from "creepy" to "terrifying" after reading Ewen Cluney's Nekomimi Land. This is outright cultural theft.

Content note: Family and religious stuff, plus innuendo

It's the kind of thing I would have wanted to tell my mother of origin about, since she went to Hobby Lobby all the time back when I lived with her. But she never really considered anything I said to her anyway, and Mormonism's very origin story involves a White Native American angel telling Joseph Smith that God wants him to claim and translate a supposedly-native record.

(Said record then goes on to talk about how awesome Joseph Smith is, and how God wanted Christopher Columbus to genocide people.)

It's not just in their religious backstory, either; Smith actually bought some funerary scrolls that had been looted from Egypt, and pretended to translate them into the Book of Abraham. And I say "pretended to translate" not because I disagree with its contents, but because they've published "fascimiles" of some of the writing and given completely inaccurate renditions of the hieroglyphs within, rendering Min, the phallic god, into the Mormons' Heavenly Father.

Who has a highly-visible erection while sitting on his throne.*


* Fig. 7, which is upside-down in this pic.

Date: 2017-07-16 02:46 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
It's a very good point that looting is a crime, and the baseline story-archetype of Dungeons & Dragons is one of 'adventurers' ruthlessly exploiting people.

I think that due to the flexible and collaborative nature of a tabletop (or LARP) RPG it's entirely possible to create stories that escape and/or subvert and/or complexify that set of underlying assumptions. That doesn't necessarily serve to 'redeem' D&D. But I'm not terribly interested adhering to the story of redeeming a Bad Genre by making Good Subversive Art with it, even though I likely will enjoy many of the latter type of works.

Even if one looked at, say, a set of gaming handbooks as static and essentially racist, colonialist, anti-history, that doesn't mean someone is necessarily a bad person for playing and enjoying the game. To someone who, like me, carries around a lot of white privilege in the USAian context, I would advise caution in promoting any problematic RPG (and they are mostly problematic), and also looking for opportunities to diversify their media consumption, but I would not try to tell someone that they could not like the thing. To anyone else, I would refrain from giving advice.

Any piece of media read/played/watched/etc interacts with someone's life contexts along the way and forms only a small component of their overall story; for some people, a problematic work may still be a positive, even transformative experience. Or it may reinforce some really problematic memes. Or, likely, both.

Nothing is value neutral. But that's like saying that plants grow in soil; the decay and growth and cross-pollination and cross-contamination and symbiosis are all going on at once in the ecosystem, and what survives and thrives is too incredibly complex to entirely predict, and a healthy plot of plants that one likes really cannot be achieved by weeding out everything else, though there may be things pernicious enough to need gotten rid of.

It's okay to be picky. It's okay to like something problematic. It's okay to be critical of one's past (or present) blinkered tendencies, and look for ways to change course. Yet but I think there is rarely much good produced out of self-condemnation, or the externalized self-condemnation that is stating that certain works/genres/tropes are bad. But then again - certain pieces of media really are bad, hateful and seductively prejudiced and prescribing wrongful actions. It's complicated.


Date: 2017-07-16 05:27 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
>> I don't think I can look at those the same way anymore. <<

To me, that is a 100% legitimate *personal* reaction which you can absolutely have because your feelings have changed with new context gained. An "I" statement. And not the same thing AT ALL as telling someone else they should or shouldn't like a thing. I'm sorry if I implied the latter with my comment before.

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