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I mean you could argue that Dove is just trying to advertise to the people who are fed up with the unrealistic standard of beauty set by the beauty industry

kind of answered your own question here

I'm really not sure how mentioning this IGN page on some random Internet discussion forum as an example of how bad this problem is would actually harm any progress.

note how we've been talking about it for two pages now instead of something that isn't a waste of time

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Andy, I do think there's a line between criticism and advocacy (or, on an extreme end of the spectrum, propaganda)... criticism would be primarily interested in the merit of a work; advocacy would use

Well said; I just don't view it as zero-sum, nor do I view "hardcore" gaming as something that necessarily needs to evaporate to let the medium truly flourish. It can't be the standard-bearer for the

The nuance is that he doesn't believe that belief has anything to do with it, and that a person's actions are inseparable from their character or that there is any belief beyond what is in accordance

I don't understand why the "it's for profit!" argument keeps being brought up as an excuse. Most people are aware that pretty much anything a company does will be related to making money somehow, so it's sort of irrelevant to bring it up.

If a company dumps toxic waste into the ocean it's probably to save money on waste disposal costs, but it's still a very shitty thing to do!

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if ign is getting flak from you people for advertising to males, should cosmpolitan get flak for advertising to females?

because i think that's sexist.

cosmo once had a sex tip that involved telling a woman to grab the genitals of her man and, in so many words, beat the shit out of it, including "vigorous twisting of the shaft."

I don't think cosmo advertises to females so much as it advertises to psychopaths

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cosmo once had a sex tip that involved telling a woman to grab the genitals of her man and, in so many words, beat the shit out of it, including "vigorous twisting of the shaft."

I don't think cosmo advertises to females so much as it advertises to psychopaths

Bit of a derail, but I heard this amusing theory about the sex tips in the cosmo. Since its primary target demographic is single women who are looking for a partner, the cosmo has a vested interest in keeping as many women single as possible so they keep reading the cosmo for new tips. That's why the sex tips are so awful, they are intended to actually be turn-offs!

BTW the cosmo and other women's magazines do tend to be pretty sexist.

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Just because something caters to a specific demographic at the exclusion of other demographics doesn't make it inherently problematic. Otherwise Tyler Perry's everything is all sorts of wrong. It's more problematic when there's a vacuum - when one group is being catered to, and another is simply not. Or when a demographic centered around an activity - like video games - is assumed to be 100% male when in fact it's a little more diverse than that. It's not a LOT more diverse than that - YET - or I'm relatively convinced they'd be marketing differently.

Capitalism.

It's a little axiomatic, but this boils down to a "things will change when they've actually changed" argument. You're talking about an underlying shift in the medium that's going to take longer than it should, but will almost certainly occur to some meaningful extent as games become more and more pervasive. It's also worth noting that equilibrium may not be - probably is not - a 50/50 split in the gamer demographic. You have to allow that, for any given interest, or metric, in any given demographic, there can be meaningful, innate differences. It's plain-old unscientific to assume that any given activity or predilection would, in the absence of "evil cultural pressures", still end up being equally appealing to either sex. Then again, you also can't sabotage yourself into thinking that the status quo can't be improved - or, let's say, manipulated - to be more inclusive.

There will probably always be games that cater to stereotypical male/female interests. I'd argue that's a good thing.

The endgame some folks seem to have in mind is a world where everyone is identical, treated identically not only by the law but by all art and media, all games are certified politically correct, and we've achieved some state of equilibrium where no one is ever offended or even potentially offended by anything. I'm a liberal, I believe in equal rights under the law, but in the world of entertainment, that sounds like a sanitized, soulless wasteland of good intentions and shitty art.

The newsflash here is that we're animals. We're biological. We're not equal, or perfect, or consistent, or born free of ingrained attitudes about a lot of fundamental aspects of social interaction. We're often at our best when we learn to overcome these realities not by ignoring them, or pretending they don't exist, or pretending they're part of a huge conspiracy by THE MAN, but rather when we play to our strengths AND our weaknesses and learn to adapt. That doesn't mean sanitizing video games, or boycotting ads targeting men, it means doing more to bring women into the fold, employing sensibilities appropriate to the era. It's far more additive than subtractive, and it doesn't start with advertisers.

Edited by djpretzel
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Just because something caters to a specific demographic at the exclusion of other demographics doesn't make it inherently problematic. Otherwise Tyler Perry's everything is all sorts of wrong. It's more problematic when there's a vacuum - when one group is being catered to, and another is simply not. Or when a demographic centered around an activity - like video games - is assumed to be 100% male when in fact it's a little more diverse than that. It's not a LOT more diverse than that - YET - or I'm relatively convinced they'd be marketing differently.

Capitalism.

It's a little axiomatic, but this boils down to a "things will change when they've actually changed" argument. You're talking about an underlying shift in the medium that's going to take longer than it should, but will almost certainly occur to some meaningful extent as games become more and more pervasive. It's also worth noting that equilibrium may not be - probably is not - a 50/50 split in the gamer demographic. You have to allow that, for any given interest, or metric, in any given demographic, there can be meaningful, innate differences. It's plain-old unscientific to assume that any given activity or predilection would, in the absence of "evil cultural pressures", still end up being equally appealing to either sex. Then again, you also can't sabotage yourself into thinking that the status quo can't be improved - or, let's say, manipulated - to be more inclusive.

There will probably always be games that cater to stereotypical male/female interests. I'd argue that's a good thing.

The endgame some folks seem to have in mind is a world where everyone is identical, treated identically not only by the law but by all art and media, all games are certified politically correct, and we've achieved some state of equilibrium where no one is ever offended or even potentially offended by anything. I'm a liberal, I believe in equal rights under the law, but in the world of entertainment, that sounds like a sanitized, soulless wasteland of good intentions and shitty art.

The newsflash here is that we're animals. We're biological. We're not equal, or perfect, or consistent, or born free of ingrained attitudes about a lot of fundamental aspects of social interaction. We're often at our best when we learn to overcome these realities not by ignoring them, or pretending they don't exist, or pretending they're part of a huge conspiracy by THE MAN, but rather when we play to our strengths AND our weaknesses and learn to adapt. That doesn't mean sanitizing video games, or boycotting ads targeting men, it means doing more to bring women into the fold, employing sensibilities appropriate to the era. It's far more additive than subtractive, and it doesn't start with advertisers.

I agree with DJP.

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The endgame some folks seem to have in mind is a world where everyone is identical, treated identically not only by the law but by all art and media, all games are certified politically correct, and we've achieved some state of equilibrium where no one is ever offended or even potentially offended by anything. I'm a liberal, I believe in equal rights under the law, but in the world of entertainment, that sounds like a sanitized, soulless wasteland of good intentions and shitty art.

I really haven't seen anyone in this thread argue for equality quotas and censorship as you seem to imply though, which kinda makes this part of your post a strawman. In fact, different people in this thread have repeatedly stated that the goal should be to generate awareness throughout the community and hopefully nurture self-examination among both creator and consumer.

I'll speak for myself here, but the DiD trope to me isn't just offensive from a gender equality perspective. It's also a huge sign that the writer is either lazy or a hack.

I want to have a gaming culture where if a writer wants to include a DiD archetype in a story, they are at least *conscious* of the social implications of the trope, and preferably take it in some interesting new direction rather than playing it straight (again, see Prince of Persia 2008 ). That is my 'endgame'.

Edited by Tensei
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Just because something caters to a specific demographic at the exclusion of other demographics doesn't make it inherently problematic. Otherwise Tyler Perry's everything is all sorts of wrong. It's more problematic when there's a vacuum - when one group is being catered to, and another is simply not. Or when a demographic centered around an activity - like video games - is assumed to be 100% male when in fact it's a little more diverse than that. It's not a LOT more diverse than that - YET - or I'm relatively convinced they'd be marketing differently.

Capitalism.

It's a little axiomatic, but this boils down to a "things will change when they've actually changed" argument. You're talking about an underlying shift in the medium that's going to take longer than it should, but will almost certainly occur to some meaningful extent as games become more and more pervasive. It's also worth noting that equilibrium may not be - probably is not - a 50/50 split in the gamer demographic. You have to allow that, for any given interest, or metric, in any given demographic, there can be meaningful, innate differences. It's plain-old unscientific to assume that any given activity or predilection would, in the absence of "evil cultural pressures", still end up being equally appealing to either sex. Then again, you also can't sabotage yourself into thinking that the status quo can't be improved - or, let's say, manipulated - to be more inclusive.

There will probably always be games that cater to stereotypical male/female interests. I'd argue that's a good thing.

The endgame some folks seem to have in mind is a world where everyone is identical, treated identically not only by the law but by all art and media, all games are certified politically correct, and we've achieved some state of equilibrium where no one is ever offended or even potentially offended by anything. I'm a liberal, I believe in equal rights under the law, but in the world of entertainment, that sounds like a sanitized, soulless wasteland of good intentions and shitty art.

The newsflash here is that we're animals. We're biological. We're not equal, or perfect, or consistent, or born free of ingrained attitudes about a lot of fundamental aspects of social interaction. We're often at our best when we learn to overcome these realities not by ignoring them, or pretending they don't exist, or pretending they're part of a huge conspiracy by THE MAN, but rather when we play to our strengths AND our weaknesses and learn to adapt. That doesn't mean sanitizing video games, or boycotting ads targeting men, it means doing more to bring women into the fold, employing sensibilities appropriate to the era. It's far more additive than subtractive, and it doesn't start with advertisers.

I don't think I've ever agreed more.

Can we end this thread now? I think it's dumb.

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I really haven't seen anyone in this thread argue for equality quotas and censorship as you seem to imply though, which kinda makes this part of your post a strawman. In fact, different people in this thread have repeatedly stated that the goal should be to generate awareness throughout the community and hopefully nurture self-examination among both creator and consumer.

Well, folks were saying Cosmopolitan was sexist, and the objection to the IGN page was that it was targeting men. My point is that it's okay for women to read Cosmo, for Cosmo to target them, & for IGN to target men (boys) - the goal you articulated there sounds great and lofty and what not, I'm all for generating awareness & self-examination, I just don't think hating on easy targets is the right path, and also there's a certain cross-section of the population for whom awareness and introspection usually won't play a persuasive factor, and demonizing their taste as being unaware/uninformed just ends up being condescending.

I'll speak for myself here, but the DiD trope to me isn't just offensive from a gender equality perspective. It's also a huge sign that the writer is either lazy or a hack.

Is it really that offensive? In a vacuum? Really? You can slice and dice it a number of ways, but as you said, it's usually employed as a cliche, echoing fables of the past. There's certainly room for execution that is neither lazy or hackish. There is nothing inherently wrong with a male rescuing a female, it's just overused. The overuse in and of itself is what people find dangerous - any single example shouldn't be knee-jerk offensive, but the trend could be construed to have subconscious effects. That's the theory. If you want a glass half full version of this, let's see... in the DiD universe, the damsel is often depicted as flawless, worth saving, and "above" the physical combat that is nonetheless required to emancipate her. Men are either agents of antagonism - kidnappers - or agents of restoration - rescuers - and all of their myriad efforts at best result in a return to the status quo. None of it would have been necessary in the first place - no distress - had it not been for men. Players are persuaded that risking life and limb to rescue the "damsel" is a worthwhile venture - far more offensive if they just found themselves another princess - but probably more historically accurate! You CAN do worse. It's not great, but I'd temper my indignation. It's also usually employed in a clearly fantastic sense, clearly echoing fables from the past.

I want to have a gaming culture where if a writer wants to include a DiD archetype in a story, they are at least *conscious* of the social implications of the trope, and preferably take it in some interesting new direction rather than playing it straight (again, see Prince of Persia 2008 ). That is my 'endgame'.

I think we're getting close. I see this trope being employed specifically to harken back to fables, and the past, and in a reductionist, clearly non-realistic context that doesn't focus on verisimilitude or grant characters - male OR female - much depth. That CAN be okay, provided the focus of the game doesn't revolve around your belief and relationship with those characters. In circumstances where it does, while there are still many instances of "male rescuing female," I think the helpless/distressed angle has greatly diminished and is seen as outdated.

Edited by djpretzel
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Well, folks were saying Cosmopolitan was sexist, and the objection to the IGN page was that it was targeting men. My point is that it's okay for women to read Cosmo, for Cosmo to target them, & for IGN to target men (boys) - the goal you articulated there sounds great and lofty and what not, I'm all for generating awareness & self-examination, I just don't think hating on easy targets is the right path, and also there's a certain cross-section of the population for whom awareness and introspection usually won't play a persuasive factor, and demonizing their taste as being unaware/uninformed just ends up being condescending.

Is it really that offensive? In a vacuum? Really? You can slice and dice it a number of ways, but as you said, it's usually employed as a cliche, echoing fables of the past. There's certainly room for execution that is neither lazy or hackish. There is nothing inherently wrong with a male rescuing a female, it's just overused. The overuse in and of itself is what people find dangerous - any single example shouldn't be knee-jerk offensive, but the trend could be construed to have subconscious effects. That's the theory. If you want a glass half full version of this, let's see... in the DiD universe, the damsel is often depicted as flawless, worth saving, and "above" the physical combat that is nonetheless required to emancipate her. Men are either agents of antagonism - kidnappers - or agents of restoration - rescuers - and all of their myriad efforts at best result in a return to the status quo. None of it would have been necessary in the first place - no distress - had it not been for men. Players are persuaded that risking life and limb to rescue the "damsel" is a worthwhile venture - far more offensive if they just found themselves another princess - but probably more historically accurate! You CAN do worse. It's not great, but I'd temper my indignation. It's also usually employed in a clearly fantastic sense, clearly echoing fables from the past.

I think we're getting close. I see this trope being employed specifically to harken back to fables, and the past, and in a reductionist, clearly non-realistic context that doesn't focus on verisimilitude or grant characters - male OR female - much depth. That CAN be okay, provided the focus of the game doesn't revolve around your belief and relationship with those characters. In circumstances where it does, while there are still many instances of "male rescuing female," I think the helpless/distressed angle has greatly diminished and is seen as outdated.

Well, first of all, as Ash said, a lot of the minor examples that have recently been brought up (such as the IGN page) are indeed symptomatic rather than fundamental. They're obviously not as big of a problem as, say, the gender pay gap, but I think it's still worthwile to examine them, if only to hit home how pervasive sexism can be. So I don't think it really is 'hating on easy targets'.

It's honestly hard to gauge for me if the DiD trope is harmful in a complete vacuum (i.e. entirely discounting its history, origins and connotations), but really, outside of a theoretical example it's not gonna be within a vacuum. You're right that the frequency and the gender imbalance of the trope is arguably the most offending aspect, but even on a case by case basis I often find that the damsel is just used as an object to drive the plot rather than as a fully fleshed out character, which I think is problematic in and of itself.

That's why I find it hard to look at it the way you proposed: even if the male characters in your example fall within those archetypes, they're usually still actual characters rather than objects of desire. You know? They *do* things. The damsel just exists to give the protagonist and the antagonist the incentive to move the plot along. Though of course you're right, we're talking 10-20 years ago with these examples and we *have* come a long way since. I'm interested in seeing how the next video turns out for that reason.

Edited by Tensei
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I think we're getting close. I see this trope being employed specifically to harken back to fables, and the past, and in a reductionist, clearly non-realistic context that doesn't focus on verisimilitude or grant characters - male OR female - much depth. That CAN be okay, provided the focus of the game doesn't revolve around your belief and relationship with those characters. In circumstances where it does, while there are still many instances of "male rescuing female," I think the helpless/distressed angle has greatly diminished and is seen as outdated.

Can you rely on people not having a relationship with these characters? The whole point of a game is to be interactive. If a little girl can feel frustrated enough with Donkey Kong to want to play as Pauline instead of Jumpman/Mario, doesn't that suggest that in some way, she is identifying with the characters and has a relationship with them? If there is such a relationship, there should to be greater creative responsibility in the gaming medium as to what sorts of images developers feed their consumers, even with games as "reductive" as what you're describing. That doesn't mean distilling games into generic, "politically correct" plots with uninteresting characters--which no one in this suggested we should have, by the way. It does mean getting developers to think in ways that are more creative and would ultimately result in many games with different sorts of characters, thus diluting the damsel in distress' prevalence.

I agree with DJP.
that's why he's the boss 'round here
I don't think I've ever agreed more.

Can we end this thread now? I think it's dumb.

This sort of cheerleading adds absolutely nothing to the discussion in this thread. If you have nothing to contribute or dislike the thread, don't post in it. I don't post on this forum often, but I'd prefer if we could get a decent conversation in when I do.

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Can you rely on people not having a relationship with these characters? The whole point of a game is to be interactive. If a little girl can feel frustrated enough with Donkey Kong to want to play as Pauline instead of Jumpman/Mario, doesn't that suggest that in some way, she is identifying with the characters and has a relationship with them? If there is such a relationship, there should to be greater creative responsibility in the gaming medium as to what sorts of images developers feed their consumers, even with games as "reductive" as what you're describing. That doesn't mean distilling games into generic, "politically correct" plots with uninteresting characters--which no one in this suggested we should have, by the way. It does mean getting developers to think in ways that are more creative and would ultimately result in many games with different sorts of characters, thus diluting the damsel in distress' prevalence.

One, I'm not sure how prevalent this particular trope truly is, anymore. Two, you're dealing in the highly uncertain realm of the human psyche. I can't "rely" on people not having "relationships" with PINEAPPLES... The human brain is weird. Trying to anticipate & study its reaction to playing a (barely) male plumber saving an (incidental) princess from a giant turtle-dragon thing by stomping on mushrooms and what not, well... we're not there yet. We don't have the science, and may never. If you want to speak conclusively about the net effects of these things, you can't, you can only suppose.

And I'm not saying that such supposition can't be beneficial, but it can (and does) go way overboard, and speaks from a position of nearly laughable certitude. Let's say for every single game out there, you offer a choice of a male or female protagonist, equally equipped in every way, shape, and form. Now what you're doing is forcing the choice of gender upon every gamer, which you could easily make arguments towards being equally destructive. Are two choices enough? Mario's Italian, and my Austrian-Welsh roots are offended by a lack of an option I can identify with. Or, you're contradicting (or exposing) my transgender inclinations, and indoctrinating me into your boolean-gendered artifice at a young age!!

Great counter-examples have been there from very early on, by the way. Ms. Pac-Man - I'm sure she'll get picked apart by feminists for being too effeminate because THAT BOW... but her mechanics & capabilities are equal to that of her male predecessor. Hell, in the localized version of Doki Doki Panic - aka SMB2US - Peach is not only a protagonist, she kicks ASS with that hover jump.

How much do we need? What's the quota? Who's keeping track? And how is picking apart obvious cliches making any sort of progress? When have we achieved "success"?

It's not a zero-sum game. Princesses don't have to stop being saved for there to be alternatives. Game developers with stories to tell will be the ones to effect change, and I don't think their stories will be motivated by let's-change-the-world-by-talking-about-it-a-lot academics. Dys4ia is a fantastic, highly-creative example.

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I feel like your first paragraph, in one fell swoop, dismisses the entire fields of sociology and social psychology like they are worthless drivel. Like any sort of social science, that kind of information does not give us perfect answers, but it's the best we have to understand the world around us. I don't see why we should ignore it and give up on social progress because our information is imperfect. We don't need to have a precise vision of the world we want; there can be incremental progress in meaningful ways even without that (see: civil rights movement).

I'm really not sure where all this stuff from your second paragraph and on is coming from because literally no one in this thread is asking for a quota or forcing a choice in gender in all games. No one's advocating to force developers to do anything but think more critically about their own preconceived biases, so they might create more varied characters and plots. Picking apart cliches that reinforce archaic patterns of thinking makes people more self-aware when they create works of art. This doesn't mean that there can never be a female damsel in distress.

Edited by Ab56 v2 aka Ash
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I feel like your first paragraph, in one fell swoop, dismisses the entire fields of sociology and social psychology like they are worthless drivel. Like any sort of social science, that kind of information does not give us perfect answers, but it's the best we have to understand the world around us. I don't see why we should ignore it and give up on social progress because our information is imperfect. We don't need to have a precise vision of the world we want; there can be incremental progress in meaningful ways even without that (see: civil rights movement).

I vastly prefer evolutionary psychology. -ologies with social agendas, well, it's less about the -ology and more about the -ism at that point, isn't it? "Worthless drivel" is rather harsh, but the answers are often not just imperfect, as you say - they are downright projected... Studying the world with a bias towards bias is almost guaranteed to result in biased findings of bias. Shocker.

As for incremental progress, absolutely. That's part of why I was saying that focusing on corporate advertisers made little to no sense.

I'm really not sure where all this stuff from your second paragraph and on is coming from because literally no one in this thread is asking for a quota or forcing a choice in gender in all games. No one's advocating to force developers to do anything but think more critically about their own preconceived biases, so they might create more varied characters and plots. Picking apart cliches that reinforce archaic patterns of thinking makes people more self-aware when they create works of art. This doesn't mean that there can never be a female damsel in distress.

First, people are advocating all sorts of things and throwing all sorts of labels like "sexist" etc. around, so that's where my stuff comes from. Second, we've got a fair share of variety going on in gaming right now, the art form is blossoming, and that's a fantastic thing that doesn't seem to need babysitting, to me. Third, you're assuming complete lack of awareness to begin with, when implementing some of these tropes could actually be conscious decisions, and in making this assumption you are somewhat diminishing the creators. Fourth, if assumptions about lack of awareness and critical thinking are indeed accurate, you're replacing a supposed vacuum with a specific agenda that is too singularly articulated and too convinced of its own ultimate priority over other concerns.

Of course, I can't argue that picking things apart & analyzing them can and does have value, and that awareness of this type can inform & transform art for the better. That's a no-brainer, and in chiming in I don't want for a minute to suggest that I feel otherwise. But doing that with an overt agenda, a reductionist rubric, and so many assumptions, and in many cases with so much misguided certitude... to me, for me, it often has the opposite effect from what's intended, and I recoil at what amounts to venting and animus, in the guise of critical analysis.

Edited by djpretzel
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^^ Can you please post actual content or not post at all?

anyway,

First, people are advocating all sorts of things and throwing all sorts of labels like "sexist" etc. around, so that's where my stuff comes from. Second, we've got a fair share of variety going on in gaming right now, the art form is blossoming, and that's a fantastic thing that doesn't seem to need babysitting, to me. Third, you're assuming complete lack of awareness to begin with, when implementing some of these tropes could actually be conscious decisions, and in making this assumption you are somewhat diminishing the creators. Fourth, if assumptions about lack of awareness and critical thinking are indeed accurate, you're replacing a supposed vacuum with a specific agenda that is too singularly articulated and too convinced of its own ultimate priority over other concerns.

I think you're going to have to be more concrete with defining who the people are that advocate the things you are arguing against. I can't emphasize enough that I don't want quotas, censorship or 'mandatory' gender equality in videogame writing, and I think pretty much everyone in this thread is on the same page in that regard.

If we bring it back to the video for a second, it's mostly focusing on gaming a few decades ago. What Anita does is identify a particular trope, give a few examples, and explains why she thinks it is/was a bad thing. She's not explicitly advocating anything either.

Of course there is more social awareness in videogame writing nowadays, but it's still not perfect, and there are still quite a few bad apples. And again, nobody is advocating any kind of 'babysitting'. At most it's, as I said, an effort to make writers more conscious of what they are doing and consider the use of the trope from different perspectives.

And what is the alternative if you don't assume a lack of social awareness on the part of the writer? If a writer consciously includes an element in a story that he fully understands to be problematic, isn't that way worse? Us assuming a lack of awareness is basically cutting the writers some slack through the application of hanlon's razor ("Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained through stupidity/ignorance")

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