Because I’ve seen a few posts trending towards “you should think about the ways you’re complicit and feel bad about it,” and because I grew up in a religious system and went to a high school that emphasized feeling guilty as a virtue and never touched on fighting oppression and making the world better for future generations, I’m gonna push back hard and say that feeling guilty is literally worthless.
It’s neither bad nor good. It’s what you do next that matters.
MJ Paxton on.
They’re right and they should say it.
And while this attitude is certainly prevalent elsewhere, I’ve really noticed the way it’s crept into fandom in the last few years. Both in the sudden over-abundance of eat-your-vegetables-style meta posts,1 as well as in certain trends in fic tropes, particularly around “redemption” or “fix-it” fics that involve a transgression-guilt-absolution cycle2 between hero-villain pairings that focus solely on interior emotions and give zero attention to, like. Any actual concrete actions said characters could do to address whatever bads Villain Character did wrong in the first place.
And, like. Fair cop; teens and young twenty-somethings having bad takes on Twitter/Tumblr/the AO3 is not, like. Critically the end of the world or anything. But I do think the sudden rash of this stuff is reflective of a growing change in culture in general–in both progressive and conservative circles–and I Do Not Like It, in part because it reflects a moral worldview I find not just alien but also kinda… reprehensible? It’s a morality of helplessness, but of intentional helplessness; one that privileges feeling bad (in the “correct” ways) over any actual material effort. It is the morality of white fragility; so long as you cry pretty enough, and confess to enough “sins”, you’re absolved.
And I just… yeah. Hard pass.
- “You’re only ~allowed to like Whitecock Juggernaut if you acknowledge it’s Sinful by reblogging X Photosets of Designated Woke Pairing per day” which is, like… yikes. For so, so many reasons of yikes. [↩]
- As opposed to, say, a more active one of transgression-realization-action which I’d argue used to be far more popular. [↩]