How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

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writinggg
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How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#1 Post by writinggg » Thu Nov 27, 2014 9:46 pm

For my game , I am planning more characters out. I want to mention some serious topics like how people can have similar ideas but just be on different rational levels, because I consider this important for people to know.

I have had this idea for days, but I'm not sure how I can make it not offensive. I was thinking about having two teachers who are in a similar group but dislike each other, and one is a rational and regular person, while the other is a extreme vocal minority in their ideas. I don't want to offend anyone, so please keep that in mind.

It involves childfree people ,who I have nothing against of course (especially since I'm not old enough to know if I will have children one day), but every group has a vocal minority .

Here is how the two teachers act (I will put this in a spoiler) :
-Rational Lady : Is OK with kids/teens and understand them as individuals , does not want to have them because she just does not consider it necessary to her life, treats everyone with kindness.

-Irrational Lady : Does not like being around kids/teens, does not want to have them because she thinks they are all bad, nags everyone about how they are bad, a little bit ableist to children in special education.

Of course, they will be characterized by other things as well. This will not be the only topic they clash on...

I will also do something similar with religion, but before I even try to think about that in detail, I need to get some help with this.

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#2 Post by Mistik » Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:49 pm

I think it's all in the characterization. Just make sure you make characters, with motives, goals, reasons, and multiple dimensions to them. Some people may get offended, but many a fiction writer have written something taboo.

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#3 Post by Enigma » Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:01 pm

Remember, someone will be offended no matter what unless you stick to the safest possible subject matter. This isn't an excuse to be insensitive to an issue rather a warning that you won't please everyone, just try to handle the subject in a respectful way and you should be fine.

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#4 Post by writinggg » Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:04 pm

@Engima And Mistik :


Thank you! Even though I know that SOMEONE will get offended, I am still planning my best to make them clash on different subjects, and I plan to make them as 3-dimensional in character as possible. I still am worried about being offensive, but I kinda feel like as long as the rational one is there and is meant to do more than just say rational versions of what the ill rational character says, then it's not offensive. I do write offensive things that are not meant to be taken seriously, but I want to tread as lightly as possible with this game since this game is actually meant to be taken seriously.

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#5 Post by blankd » Fri Nov 28, 2014 8:01 am

It's not so much of "offensive" but by the sounds of it these are a pretty neatly cut on who will likely be favored.

Have you considered "mixing it up" a bit where it's not such a stark dichotomy? I bring this up (and forgive my ignorance on most of the context) but I've met some very nice people who were incredibly ableist when it came to children who had special needs. I've also met some people who detest the idea of children and dealing with "bratty" children but were some of the most upstanding and proactive people when it came to them (children) being protected and feeling safe.

It's possible to have all kinds of people and personalities but the only time I've really seen a "kinda" mixup is often played off as a cheap twist.

You're of course, more than welcome to leave these characters as is, but when there is such a clear cut "winner" in a situation like this, it can lead to shallower conflicts or even come off as heavy-handed depending on context.

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#6 Post by Loona » Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:13 am

You're outright labeling a character as irrational - while her attitude on the topic may not be pleasant it may just be a matter of her focus being in other issues, and her particular and more recent experiences with the topic at hand being negative, and therefore she may keep her distance and act dismissive about those, which might allow her to be more thoughtful and considerate on issues other characters don't bother with at all.

Everyone is rational to some extent, they just aim their thoughtfulness at different directions, and in the process turn their back on others.
Last edited by Loona on Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#7 Post by raistlintg » Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:15 am

Don't forget to state at the beginning of your game that the ideas of the protagonists are not yours.

I don't think your game can be offensive since it's argument vs counter-argument.
The only risk is if you show obvious sympathy for one character or one idea above the others.
Or if one character uses injures or insults.

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#8 Post by papillon » Fri Nov 28, 2014 12:21 pm

As Loona suggested, when you present these characters, there is a baked-in question of "Why?"

A character who exists only to be wrong and to show how much less wrong the other character is... is not an interesting character.

Why does one person feel that all children are bad? There are lots and lots of possible answers to that question. Obviously none of them are going to be what you might call 'rational' because no matter what your situation is, it's still not true that all X are evil, but having an answer to that question helps you understand more about the character, which can help you figure out how she'll react when challenged on her views.



To throw out some random possibilities:
Alice is infertile. The doctors couldn't find any reason for it, either. It's a medical mystery. Her partner at the time wanted kids more than she did, and she agreed to try, and they'd been trying and trying without success, wasting a lot of time and money... and then when it became clear that it would never work, they broke up so that he could have the family he wanted. Alice is astoundingly bitter about the whole concept of children and makes snide comments constantly about how stupid people are for being obsessed with squalling poo-monsters. There's nothing lovable about those horrible creatures, why should anyone want them? Especially if they're 'broken'. Sour grapes all the way.

Betty had a difficult pregnancy which ended in the birth of a severely disabled son and Betty herself in the hospital for a long recovery. She never managed to bond with her child properly, possibly because of the pain she was in at the time, and secretly felt like he was a horrible ugly monster that had been foisted on her. Her son died as a toddler, and she could only think it was a relief - for herself. She never could really care about how he felt. So, after all this, she's repulsed by the idea of ever becoming pregnant again and tries to talk others out of it, but she absolutely does not want to talk about her own private shame and guilt, so she may invent stupid reasons why all children are bad in order to deflect attention. She also tends to freak out in the presence of disabled children because it brings back bad memories.

Cathy's best friend in high school got pregnant as a teenager and everything went horribly wrong. She tried to get an abortion but was bullied and harassed by activists shoving pictures of dead and dismembered babies at her. Maybe she died in a botched operation, maybe she dropped out of school, but for whatever reason Cathy lost her and was infuriated by the emotional manipulations of the "pro life" lobby, and in response steeled herself to be as hard-hearted on the subject as possible. Who cares about a few dead babies anyway? Grind 'em up and use 'em as fertiliser. (Needless to say, this upsets some people!)

Deborah's annoying, over-meddling mother has nagged her for years to settle down with a nice man and have some nice babies like a good girl should, which is not what Deborah wants for her own life. She's taken to counter-acting her mother by bitching constantly about how much children suck, and fails to realise that this makes her every bit as annoying as her mother, if not more.
That's just a few off the top of my head and they're all pretty simple ideas that would need more to them, but they're also pretty different from each other even if they all end up sounding annoying and irrational to the person who interacts with them.

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#9 Post by czxcjx » Fri Nov 28, 2014 2:12 pm

My old history teacher told us countless times she never ever wanted to have children ever. The difference though is that she's, in the opinion of most of my classmates and me, one of the best history teachers out there. Actually not wanting to have a child and hating teens don't match. Rather not wanting to have a child and hating to have children results from never wanting to take up the responsibility of having a family, which is a very adolescent mindset. She was cynical and humorous and was more like a friend than a history teacher, but she also eventually divorced her husband and eventually quit teaching at our school.

So basically there's no easy way to do it. Even if you write a bad family background, an exaggerated strawman is still a strawman.
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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#10 Post by papillon » Fri Nov 28, 2014 2:22 pm

Rather not wanting to have a child and hating to have children results from never wanting to take up the responsibility of having a family, which is a very adolescent mindset.
I'm not sure if I understand your post or not, but if you're suggesting that all people who don't want children are suffering from a particular mental failure, you're being more of a strawman than they are. :)

I really couldn't tell if that's what you were saying or not, though, so if I got it totally wrong, apologies!

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#11 Post by writinggg » Fri Nov 28, 2014 2:25 pm

Thank You For Your Comments! I'll answer as many as possible :

@blankd : I do want to give them more in depth personality, so I will really take this in mind. Also (putting this in spoiler) , :
I'm not sure if it's right to say this but since I'm African-American, I have Asperger's Syndrome and live in America , I can hope that my thoughts are not too off base. But I consider ableisim to be on-par with racism in that it has certain levels, but each level is bad and can go from minor discrimination, to unfathomable violence. So I just don't believe that anyone who is an ableist is a very nice person. They can still be nice, but they have a dark side in their personality.

Then again, I just might be scarred by seeing to many comments on news articles when a parent kills their new-born for having Autism or Down Syndrome or anything, and people have sympathy for the parent because they assume that the baby would have never been able to do anything on their own/would have been to hard for the parent

@Loona : You are right. That is wrong of me to not think of something in her past that was negative to cause her to be this way, and I should make her more positive on other topics (maybe she could disagree with people invading other's business/not believing other people's life choices that are different from their own, which is something that child-free people commonly deal with. Or maybe she could do something like fight for animal rights. Anything really.).

It's just that I don't want to make a mistake that many things like books and TV do all the time (which is not give a single hint at a character having a positive trait, then pull something out randomly that feels like it was thought off in two seconds)

@Raistlintg : I will do that! I didn't think of it before, but it makes things so much easier!


@Papillon : Thank you for answering!

I am still worried that I might be giving a character an excuse when not every time someone thinks something, it comes from a life experience. Sometimes people just think things because it's what they feel in their hearts (that is so cheesy to say :lol: ...). For my rational character, she knows that every one of any age is different, she just plans to never have children because she does not find it necessary. But still, I will look into giving the illrational one a good back-story.
Last edited by writinggg on Fri Nov 28, 2014 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#12 Post by RotGtIE » Fri Nov 28, 2014 2:32 pm

Unless your name is Ayn Rand or George Orwell, I would not recommend that you attempt to weave a political statement into your story.

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#13 Post by writinggg » Fri Nov 28, 2014 2:34 pm

RotGtIE wrote:Unless your name is Ayn Rand or George Orwell, I would not recommend that you attempt to weave a political statement into your story.

I would like to at least give it a try. The only political statement I want to give is "accept people for who they are, and don't stereotype a group of people". I'm asking questions so I can get this right. :D

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#14 Post by papillon » Fri Nov 28, 2014 3:03 pm

Yeah, it doesn't have to be a Tragic Back Story, just -something-, even if it's nothing more than 'kids puke all the time and that's gross'. :)

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Re: How Do I Manage To Not Be Offensive In This Situation?

#15 Post by blankd » Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:30 pm

So I just don't believe that anyone who is an ableist is a very nice person. They can still be nice, but they have a dark side in their personality.
That's kind of what I mean by mixing it up because not every person who has an -ism will be as neatly cut as being evil in other aspects of their life. It also puts into perspective how some people can commit these aggressions to other people but "sill be allowed" to hold these views by people not of that group.

Hopefully that makes sense.

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