Barb (rahirah) wrote,
Barb
rahirah

Musings on Talking Rabbits

There's a web cartoonist whose work I follow – she's written/illustrated two long series based on Scandinavian mythology. They're well-written and beautifully illustrated, and so when I checked in to her website recently and saw she'd done another stand-along short comic, I was very pleased. Unfortunately it is... not great. The art is beautiful, but the story is.. um. It's the story of a bunch of talking rabbits governed by a "World Council" which has instituted a "Social Credit System." Rabbit citizens get points for doing good things, and lose points for doing bad things. Points are how you qualify for food and lodging and so forth. In addition to losing points if you do bad things yourself, you lose points if your friends or family members do bad things.

Now, this has the makings of a fairly decent dystopian story. It's easy to see how such a system could be abused. The author felt the need to mix in a facile condemnation of consumer culture and internet influencers (the rabbits are all addicted to social media, and the evil World Council is in cahoots with a transparent analog of Amazon), but what made me roll my eyes and wish I had a physical copy to toss at the wall was that the primary way the evil World Council is shown to be abusing its power is that it persecutes Christians. First it makes reading the Bible worth no points, and then negative points. Horrors!

Now, aside from the worldbuilding (why does a society of talking rabbits use a copy of the human Bible? Shouldn't they be worshipping Aslan or Frith or something? Are these post-apocalyptic rabbits who adopted human customs? I have Questions. Also, since point-gaining and point-losing activities are all tracked by phone, why don't rabbits who want to do antisocial things just ditch their phones before doing them?) what got me about this was that there is absolutely no reason, in the context of the story, for the World Council to see Christians as a threat. The Christian characters don't DO anything subversive except read their Bibles, which are deemed unsuitable literature because they contain content that violates a checklist of "woke" items: racism, sexism, violence, etc. (Which kiiiinda makes me side-eye in retrospect a kerfuffle the author was involved in a couple of years ago, over the maybe-accidental use of racially insensitive language, and think perhaps it was not so accidental.) The final straw for the main Christian character is not any of the injustices perpetrated upon its fellow rabbits; it's the World Council releasing Bible 2.0 with the 'bad' parts edited out. The one character in the story who tries to help one of the "unpersons" who've lost all their points and are homeless and starving is not a Christian character.

(For someone who was, I presume, trying to make her Christian characters sympathetic, she did not succeed particularly well; they come off as smug and indifferent.)

Since the Christian characters don't do anything that would cause the World Council the slightest bit of trouble, the whole Bible 2.0 subplot seems to be there solely to make Christians out to be victims. Which, for a reader like myself, living in a country where evangelical Christianity is explicitly allied with the authoritarian right-wing party which is actively engaged in destroying and suppressing democratic institutions, but nonetheless plays the victim card every chance it gets, elicits a kneejerk assumption about the author's politics. (As does the heavy-handed anti-EU metaphor of the World Council.)

When I read the author's note at the end, it explained that in the last year, she'd become an (excessively zealous) convert to Christianity, and she was against the health passport idea that was being floated in the EU. Which doesn't necessarily mean she's a right-wing nutcase in the American sense, because the author is not American, and EU right-wing authoritarians have different sorts of intersections with religion than American ones do, and I am not familiar enough with the political factions in the Scandinavian countries to parse this correctly. So all I can say for certain is that an author I liked has started writing heavy-handed, didactic glurge.

I am not certain why religious conversion so often has this effect on peoples' artistic output, but it annoys me. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me
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