“this character did a problematic thing-” its a story helen, commonly including things like conflict and drama


namrekeya: Over the years, both through blogging and by sitting in classrooms, I’ve noticed this tendency to write off a scholar or writer’s work because they are in some way “problematic” or overall “not worth your time.” This piece of advice, I’m guessing, is passed around to save us the time of reading something we might not agree with, when we could be spending our time reading something “better” / more aligned with our current worldview. But this kind of thinking always leaves me with four main questions:

1. How in the world did you formulate your current convictions if not through trial and error?
2. How well-grounded are your perspectives if you cannot identify, in detail, why you disagree with something?
3. What benefit is there in branding an entire corpus (that intrigues you) “problematic” or “stupid” instead of potentially engaging with what is useful while being aware of its limitations?
4. Do you think you’re ever really done with the hard work of learning and evolving emotionally/intellectually?

I ask these questions so often because I grow increasingly disenchanted with and suspicious of a trend I’m seeing where certain people (self-chosen authorities) tell other people not to read or “bother” reading something because it doesn’t reach a certain standard of Ideological Purity™. My favorite thinkers and even friends hold an intimate understanding of everything they reject – which oftentimes requires long periods of serious and honest engagement with a subject before reaching a conclusion worth mentioning. (Marx would not have written three volumes on the mechanics of Capital – in such anatomical detail, equations included – if he did not take it seriously.)

I’ve said this before, but I’ll mention again that this is why I don’t answer questions on this blog along the lines of, “Your thoughts on ______?” Nothing worth engaging with is ever that easily digestible. And if I suggest a reading to you after you anonymously ask me for suggestions, and you come back with “I heard that it’s problematic” or “someone told me it’s not worth my time” I really don’t know how to respond. (Maybe this post is a start.)


It’s okay to have fictional characters do problematic stuff. Really, it is. Fictional characters are there to tell a story; not to be perfect paragons of virtue.

“Yeah!” some people will say. “It’s fine as long as you show that it’s problematic!”

And I’ll say: No. You don’t need to always do that either. We can’t expect writers to point out every moral misstep a character makes.

It’s okay to have characters do something problematic, and it’s okay to assume that the readers can see why it’s problematic on their own.


tumblr is so funny. ur meme is problematic. ur media is problematic. ur theorist is problematic. i only consume the most idelogically pure anything. in fact, i stay inside my room at all times, surrounded by pure ideology, and any time something is revealed to have the slightest whiff of problematics, i devour it whole, allowing my ideologically pure stomach acid 2 destroy its essence




I hate tumblr’s idea of ‘problematic’ characters so much.

An example of a problematic character would be a stock character of a marginalized group that’s reduced to a conglomeration of stereotypes that have a harmful effect on people from that group in the real world.

A problematic character is not a developed character with developed flaws and belief systems that people irl happen to be at odds with. It is not a character that interacts with other characters in ways that hurt them within the narrative. That’s what a story is. That’s what creating characters means. Developing a fleshed-out fictional person to serve a function within one’s narrative.

And characters that are solely mouthpieces for the creator’s own moral views and belief systems, regardless of what those views are, are bad characters, and make bad stories.

Storytelling is problematic, y’all.

#writing#problematic#stop having fun guys#there is none that is a cinnamon roll#not even one#all are problematic#storytelling: just say no   


spoiler alert: every single goddamn person on this planet is problematic in some way, because everything is terrible. congratulations. you’ve been enlightened with the secrets of the universe