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Otherkin in the Arts.
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Post: #1
Otherkin in the Arts.
Those of us who've been on an otherkin forum longer than a week have seen at least one thread or journal entry where people discuss otherkin references in music, movies, books and sometimes other arts as well (or at the very least, a thread where people guess what the kintype of celebrities or family members are).
This can be viewed as harmless fun, sure, but there is something to be said about how it can indeed be more than a little harmful.
Most artist have a sensation, a message, a thought, a something behind their art and it's more than a little rude to change what that something is without the authors/artist's permission. A good example of this would be if someone took the book Animal Farm by George Orwell, since the book features intelligent animals that use language communicate between each other, across species, and used it to display the differences between the various types of therians, as well as the difference between therians and humans. Some might even go so far as to suggest that that particular book was reality where they come from and call it a reference to how animals of their world communicated amongst themselves. There's a great problem with this that is that the book was written as a political satire on the events in the USSR leading up to WWII when communism rose to power and then became corrupt under the practical dictatorship of Stalin.
This is a rather extreme example, I am aware, but it does reflect this behavior nicely. The desire to find some mirror of one's own beliefs in the words of others can lead us to warp and misrepresent their works. There are authors out there that specialize in satires and produce phenomenal work that can hit us all at home and feel familiar to every last one of us because it represents events of this world and that alone can drive us to feel it might mean something more.
There are many enough of us within the otherkin community that write, draw, or otherwise create, that we should all know very well that we would be greatly angered if someone took our art and used it for something completely different. How hurt would we be if we drew a picture of a lovingly embracing couple depicted in their respective trueforms and someone would use it for the cover of a horror book that made either one, if not both, of the kintypes represented, out to be right monsters? What gives us the idea that we can do a similar thing in the opposite direction by taking a song about feeling restricted, artistically, by one's general surrounding and make it out to be about the horrors of being an angel unable to fly? What gives us the right to take an novelist who's not only well known for his level of research, but his dedication to get it right, and suggest he must be kin, since he got it right enough?

There is also the thing to take into account that works of art are meant to touch us. Books, movies, songs and even paintings are built around archetypal representations of things we face every day. Who hasn't heard of the fallen hero? The former leader made servant. The drunken P.I. or jaded police officer? (How many of you just saw Bruce Willis in your head, covered in dirt and blood and saying "yippee kay yay motherfu**er" in his raspy and tired tone of voice at the end of a Die Hard movie?) Is it so hard to believe that if we see ourselves (or even just want to see ourselves) as this archetype that we might find ourselves identifying with his character so much we feel like the character mirrors ourselves? It's not hard for us as human beings to build up our whole identity around an archetype and we would do well to remember what archetype closest fits our selves (or which archetype we idealize the most) just to remind ourselves not to be dictated by our preferred archetype to the point where we forget to accept the parts of us that just don't fit it.

We all know that no one should build their kintype and/or whole identity on something that someone else tells them, that no one "can" know who/what you are but you as this is a matter of personal identity first and foremost, and yet we engage in a game-like approach to who else is possibly, probably, or even certainly kin, awakened or not, not just in our own immediate surroundings where we might have some chance of guessing who amongst our loved ones may have been previously incarnated as a non-human, but even amongst others, especially celebrities, that we have no chance, what so ever, to really know anything about with complete certainty beyond the basic facts of their physical form. That is to say, we can know that a celebrity is X years old, Y centimeters (or feet and inches) tall, and Z number of pounds or kilos, and either male or female, anything beyond that does involve a lot of guesswork and assumption even beyond what is already involved in our assumptions regarding those that are closer to us.
Whether or not we are otherkin isn't a factual thing, not even for those of us that have had more than one instance of this-life evidence that we're right in our beliefs, it's still very much a belief and a portion of identity. Like it or not, we can not say with one hundred percent certainty that we "are" something else than human on any level or not, we simply consider ourselves so, believe that we are so, and choose to identify with it.
What give us the right who merely believe that we are, on some level, not quite human, for one reason or another, to even jokingly suggest that someone else might also be otherkin, only not aware of it or outspoken about it? Many of us find it offensive when people tell jokes that suggest that all men are unintelligent or brutish, or all women are frail and stupid and fickle. Many of us would take offense to a similar game when we'd joke about who's gay and who's not gay amongst celebrities since it would be entirely rude to presume to be able to decide who's of what sexuality when it comes to people you don't know, so why is it okay to play a guessing game of who's the reincarnated elf/fairy/dragon/whatever when you don't know that either?
Is it because we're so eager to associate ourselves, by hook or by crook, with people we want to be like? You notice that no one plays a game of what kintype with serial killers.
Is it because we associate us with the kintype these people (or the character they most often portray in movies) most resembles us (or we would most want to be)?
Is it all just a joke? And if so, would we really want otherkin, not to mention the years of introspection we've put into our own identities (each or collectively), to be taken so lightly as to be the main subject of a light-hearted guessing game of imposed identities on people who might never have even heard the word?

Should we be okay with people putting otherkin connotations with things that might be, or be meant to be, completely ordinary, human, earthen, things? Should we just get along with the jokes and call it all innocent fun?
I do understand that it's almost all meant to be "innocent fun" but this light hearted approach complete with movies that are deemed good/bad based on how they portray our kintypes, and the suggestion that everyone cool is otherkin can sometimes go overboard and touch hands with those that suggest that everyone who displays certain traits are, in fact, otherkin and those who don't aren't true otherkin. How many of us have seen people use that term? How many of us have been told that we aren't true otherkin simply because we accept that we're human?
Not to mention the simple fact that this game of calling things kin simply because we like or identify with them is the quickest way to appear just like the delusional roleplayers we've been called.
From where I sit, the tolerance of the misrepresentation of others and their work is probably the biggest problem in the otherkin community as a whole.


(Feel free to post this essay, as a whole, with my signature, where you will, or quote the essay with link to it as well as assigning the quote to me.)

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"Those who can't approach discussion with a basic level of intelligence and maturity shouldn't expect to be taken seriously." ~ Qualia Soup
2008-12-25 19:10
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Post: #2
Re: Otherkin in the Arts.
I'm sorry I haven't read this full essay. If there are points you've covered that I haven't read I apologize, but I'm writing this between packing things for a move today.

I can understand your resentment about placing labels (of any kind) on people who may never have heard of the label itself, or applying one point of view to a piece of work that may have been intended to mean something completely different. However, art is something that often does mean different things to different people.

Using your example of the art piece of two otherkin in trueform. If I drew a piece like that, and someone used it for the cover of a horror novel making them seem like monsters, I'd be more upset that they would use a piece that I created without asking my permission or giving me any money or credit (because this seems like what would happen if they used it that way). If instead I posted it on the Internet or showed it to friends, the meaning of the piece to them will most likely deviate from what I intended. Maybe the friend or commenter was really angry about something. There is nothing, aside from any talent I may have for facial expressions, to keep them from thinking that the two figures are in a titanic struggle against each other. Their interpretation wouldn't be what I intended, but it could be valid in their case.

In some cases, we can ask the creator of a work what the work means for/to them, and we can agree with that interpretation or not. But at the end of the day, any work of art, any piece of poetry, any symbol whatsoever has the meaning we assign to it.

I can understand when a singer says, "This song is about a time in my life when a close friend died and I started making poor choices." But the song may resonate for me when I was Awakening and the mistakes I made before I found who I was. Or it may resonate with when I lost a friend, not to death, but to them moving or simply not being around as much any more.

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2008-12-26 21:48
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