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Topic: A dangerous recommendation

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Subject: A dangerous recommendation
Date Posted: 7/25/2013 11:55 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2007
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I know that any preface of the sort you're reading now runs the risk of building up expectations to the point they can never be met ~ in this case it's a risk I think I have to take here. I wouldn't if this were my website (I don't have a website) but the PBS membership runs the gamut from ultraconservative to maximum freak and contrary to all evidence it has never been my intention to offend anyone, even if I'm willing to take the risk once in a while where I think the thing in question is worthy. So:

I stumbled across a short story in graphic (comic) form -- it's been making the rounds and some of you may have seen it already of course -- but I speak plainly when I say it is one of the most impressive pieces of creative writing I have ever encountered. It hit me like slap in the face, punch to the gut, whatever simile rocks your world. It rocked my world. I unhesitatingly call it a flat-out masterpiece of storytelling art to the point where, even after seeking advice about whether or not to proffer it here, I find it impossible not to share. It is surpassingly resonant and deep for its misdirectional form: even snakes in the grass can be cute; even tears can be beautiful.

The thing that causes all this hesitation is the subject matter, which some may find problematic. ETA: now that the cat's out of the bag, here it is: this work references, but does not actually depict, child abuse.  But art is art, and provocation is a perfectly legitimate aim for much of it and its practitioners.

So all that in hand, proceed at your own risk. You will either appreciate it as I do, give a hearty meh, or understand why it makes me nervous. You have been warned.

Meet Clarissa.



Last Edited on: 8/10/13 1:19 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 7/25/2013 12:30 PM ET
Member Since: 3/22/2007
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wow, crying,

Date Posted: 7/25/2013 3:52 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
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This recommendation needs to come with a more specific subject matter warning -- namely that those who are sensitive to issues related to child and/or sexual abuse should beware of Greg's selection.

Date Posted: 7/25/2013 8:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2007
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I bow to your authority; still, that is a bit of a spoiler, and I preferred it sans specifics. Part of the impact is this very aspect. I did warn people as clearly as I thought necessary.

Date Posted: 7/25/2013 11:49 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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I think this warrants a trigger warning, sorry. 

It is very powerful. BTW - there are a bunch of other Clarissa comics if you're interested. Juson Yungbluth's site is here.

 

Date Posted: 7/26/2013 1:05 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2007
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I think this warrants a trigger warning

I get it, and I know this is not my site to participate in without considering other people; but -- my problem with this concept is twofold: as noted in this case, the subject is very carefully placed and handled in the story by the author with great artistry and skill, and if that's the story as he presents it (and many respond to it) who are you to countermand his craft? Indeed, in truth this is about a lot more than the clinical facts of the events, which you'll note are not part of the tale. It's a cartoon. If it is powerful and upsetting, that is to its credit, no?

The bigger issue I have is that everything is a "trigger" for somebody. Once you start specifying things, how can you stop? It's this worrying outlook that leads to what is now decried almost universally as politically correct behavior.

People post pictures all over the web of horrific animal abuse because they hope to create outrage that leads to action. I am guilty -- that is the only word -- of being one of those animal lovers who simply cannot bear to see these images, which I attempt to block as much as I can, scroll past as quickly as possible, etc. They do not create action in me because they are overwhelming. They are a trigger for me. And I have railed against them and called for the people involved to post warnings and links, rather than actual images. This is exactly what I tried to do here without crossing the plotline. Rather than posting the graphic itself, or just the link, I offered a lengthy warning that it contained problematic, provocative, nervous-making material. This from me -- a smallish something of a known entity here as a bit of a provocateur with a high tolerance for envelope-pushing. Had someone asked what's it about? I could have responded in a PM and they wouldn't have had to subject themselves to it if that was their preference, leaving others to encounter it as I did, blind and maximally impactful.

If there's a line in between these stances I hope we find it someday, for the next bit of art for art's sake.

Lastly, note that caviglia posted the link to Jason's other work. Who knows what subjects lurk there that you think deserve a warning? Why is your un-warninged link OK, while my hyper-warninged link not?



Last Edited on: 7/26/13 1:10 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 7/26/2013 8:15 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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I did not look at your link. I know that some graphic stuff can be great art. but for me cartoons no matter how neat are not literature.



Last Edited on: 7/26/13 8:16 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/26/2013 8:49 AM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2010
Posts: 4,177
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Greg-

Your OP was fine in its content and warnings. I agree, the short story was one of the best pieces of writing I've read; and the graphics conveyed the message superbly.

Thank You For Sharing.

-RD

Date Posted: 7/26/2013 11:05 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2007
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for me cartoons no matter how neat are not literature

A very sweeping statement indeed. I'd have to say that dismissing Peanuts or Doonesbury is to shut yourself off from a lot.

Do you like movies? Ultimately, what's the difference between movies and cartoons, except the technical?

Date Posted: 7/26/2013 11:35 AM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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I suspect we're not all using "trigger" in the same way.  What Caviglia and I are talking about is a true trauma trigger, which means that the content in the cartoon can, in some people, cause them to experience symptoms of PTSD or other related emotional/psychiatric issues.  There are hundreds of thousands of new victims of sexual assault each year (source), and there are a number of PBS members who have stated they fall in that category.  To not warn them of the potantially traumatic nature of the cartoon you are promoting that everyone should read is ... unkind at best.  This is not "PC gone mad".  Folks that can be literally sent into a psychiatric tailspiral by exposure to that type of material need a better warning than "some of you may find this problematic", which sounds more like members won't agree with the author's religious beliefs, or abortion stance or some other philosophical viewpoint.  This is particularly true given the power of the cartoon you've linked, Greg -- not only is that subject matter there, but it takes you completely by surprise, then won't get out of your head.

Am not trying to pick on Greg here -- he's introduced a fascinating author and a powerful piece of literature.  But, for the sake of mental health, some folks should not view it, period, and they're entitled to be warned about something that might impact them so severely.

Date Posted: 7/26/2013 12:26 PM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2010
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Just a simple query about "trauma trigger".

Is it possible that just the mention of child sexual abuse could set off the trigger?

In essence a trigger warning trips the trigger?

-RD

Date Posted: 7/26/2013 1:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
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Rob, I'm not a doctor, but since those words are rarely uttered independently of a discussion, then I'd say it is possible it could trigger, since you have discussion, and mental images, and every person is different in what they think of when they hear those words, and how those mental images impact them.  I don't know for sure, though, and it is an interesting question.

It would be, though, the lesser of 2 evils to provide a warning (and possible trigger) before a trigger-likely person views the warned material (with much more likely triggers).

Date Posted: 7/26/2013 2:10 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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A very sweeping statement indeed

a sweeping statement yes. but only a statement of person opinion. most people have one or two of those just as I do. I don't claim any particular weight for mine.

as for closing myself I think you may have misunderstood my post. I read many cartoons. Calvin and Hobbes was a favorite for many years. and Peanuts. I have seen scholarly articles written about Charlie and Lucy and his repeated attempts to kick the football. I view these cartoons as cultural history. not literature.

Date Posted: 7/26/2013 4:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,542
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I don't get what is so great.   Normalizing child sexual abuse by calling it art may seem sophisticated and cool, but really it is not.

Date Posted: 7/26/2013 4:32 PM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2010
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Normalizing....seriously?!?

How in anyway does that Normalize it?

-RD

Date Posted: 7/26/2013 5:13 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2007
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I suspect that what Pamela means (and by all means correct me if I'm wrong) is that it is a subject so inherently evil that its qualities should not be distracted from or diluted by being made part of anything other than direct condemnation -- in short, any form of artwork involving it is inherently in such bad taste that it should be preemptively, er, aborted. This is one of the grand questions of the what is art? variety and there is no answer, and there never will be an answer, only personal opinion.

Date Posted: 7/26/2013 6:00 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
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Perfect Greg.  I would add that the use of comic book format is especially offensive to me in this regard.   

Date Posted: 7/26/2013 7:06 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2007
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I think that there is a distinction between comics (Peanuts, Garfield and the like) and the graphic novel (Maus comes to mind).

See, when a person thinks comics / comic book format, you're (however unconsciously) preparing for jokes and puns and to be entertained, usually in a humorous fashion.

A graphic novel may resemble a comic book, but that is where the similarity ends.  A graphic novel (bio, memoir, whatever) tells a story, but doesn't have to (and often doesn't) do so in a funny jokes and laughs theme  In Maus, Art Spiegelman uses the graphic / comic format to tell a story about his parents' involvement with the holocaust in WWII era Europe.  He does play around in a semi-humorous fashion by making the Jews mice, and cats are Nazis but it is a quite serious story of life and death.  It is a heavy topic and one that Spiegelman takes seriously; he doesn't lob many jokes.

Clarissa is a graphic short story.  That's all.   It tells a story of a little girl with themes of abuse and neglect.  I really doubt it's meant to be funny in the same way that Garfield is funny.

Thanks for sharing the story, Greg.

>>>getting off my English degree soapbox.



Last Edited on: 7/26/13 7:08 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/27/2013 6:21 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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I had a friend who worked in the children's literature section of a university library. They collected a lot of current children's books for academic reasons. I was really surprised to see some of the graphic novels that arrived there. Some of them seemed pornographic to me. very explicit drawings of various sex acts. some natural, some not.

Date Posted: 7/27/2013 9:19 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,542
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Ok, let's split hairs.  It is not correct to use the word 'comic' but rather 'graphic short story'. 

And an aside to Greg.  Yes, thanks for sharing the story CHOKE< CHOKE<GAG.  Now I will always think of you as twisted beyond repair to think this is a great anything.

Date Posted: 7/27/2013 10:16 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2006
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I thought it was extremely powerful.  I agree with this - This is one of the grand questions of the what is art? variety and there is no answer, and there never will be an answer, only personal opinion.

 

Date Posted: 7/28/2013 11:22 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2007
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Now I will always think of you as twisted beyond repair

"Now?"

Date Posted: 7/28/2013 1:13 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
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Now.

Date Posted: 7/28/2013 1:26 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2007
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Well you are late to the party, methinks.

Date Posted: 7/28/2013 5:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
Posts: 8,022
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Thank you for adding the trigger warning, Greg.  That was very considerate of you.

Poignant.  There's a lot going on there.  The author/artist did an excellent job of getting the point across without being graphic. 

Also, I disagree with Pam.  This comic in no way "normalizes" this behavior.  The creator was obviously trying to express the how horrible this behavior is.  The stuffed animals abandoing ship represent two things: her not being able to value herself because of the abuse and others not valuing her enough to defend or help her.



Last Edited on: 7/28/13 5:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
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