5/25/18

The Problem With Grey Morality

     
         I'm starting a series on this blog, it's called The Problem with ____. 

         In these posts I'll obviously be talking (writing) about the problem with a stereotype, character arc, or story line in young adult, so that should be fun. I've already written a post in this series without even realizing it, and it is called The Problem with Bad Boys if you haven't read it yet.

                   Grey morality is when something is neither fully good or bad, or something that is debatable on whether it's good or bad.

                    Now, I am a conservative homeschooled Christian, so one would think I wouldn't like grey morality at all, but I actually sort of do. 

                    I like to be conflicted, I like it when characters are complex. Real people aren't simply good or evil, so why should characters be? 

                    So why am I writing a post with the title The Problem with Grey Morality

                    Because I think it's being taken too far. 

                     A good example of this is the Avenger's movies, now the Avenger's franchise gets edgier every movie, don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Avengers, but they do love grey morality. 

via: pinterest, I do not own any rights to this image, all credit to the original artist.**

                    It works for them too. Avengers is edgy, but not too edgy for the majority of more conservative families, while still being out there enough to not be considered "prude". 

                    In some ways I read and watch stuff like this and I'm okay with it, but sometimes things still stick out to me and make me re-think. 
                    
                    The problem is, we blur lines between good and bad too much. True, not everything's black and white, but at the same time, not everything is grey either, and thinking that everything and every sin is debatable is, frankly, pretty foolish. 
                   I remember this quote from The Series of Unfortunate Events, even though I haven't read that series since I was around nine: “People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.” 

                 This quote really stuck with me, because the main villain used it to argue his case and to turn people to his side, I remember being disturbed at how reasonable he was when he stated it and how people found themselves agreeing with him and thinking that it's okay and normal to be a little evil. When in reality it's not.

             There's no real excuse for evil, in the end it is something that shouldn't be glorified. I liked how the book showed how dangerous it is to see only the grey areas. 

                 The literary world is full of grey spots, as well as in real life, but at the end of the day there is a line between light and darkness if we look for it, and it's a line that really shouldn't be blurred without care. 

                  When it is blurred there is always more trouble and conflict than necessary, and we as writers shouldn't forget that when creating worlds. 

What are your thoughts on grey morality in fiction?

Happy Writing,

42 comments:

  1. This is a subject I've always found interesting.

    I play around with grey morality quite a bit in my current series. I'm not doing it to try to make a case for why the villain is RIGHT, but I am trying to make it clear that people are complicated and don't always have a cause they're going for. As an author of fantasy, I LOOOOVE stories where it's just like "there's a good guy and a bad guy and the plot is good-vs.-evil." That's one thing I've always enjoyed. But, when I make my villains human, they have to BE human to some extent..which is difficult.

    Glorifying the evil within, though? That's not something I've ever been a fan of.

    Nice post! Very thought-provoking.

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    1. Yes, I like grey morality when it is presented like that too.

      It's scary when evil is glorified though.

      Thank you!

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    2. in the POV of a poet , I struggle with keeping clean content, especially the total poetical theme of all my poetry, which is kinda clear as I post It on my blog.

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    3. I can see how that would be hard, but I often find that the more subtle messages are the ones that hit the hardest and stick with me the longest.

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  2. Oh, my this is so good! I loved ASOUE and remember having similar thoughts when reading that part of the series... those books, those silly, are really analogies of our modern day society, in my mind.

    And same thing with Avengers. Love them... yet cringe. Ugh.

    I so agree with you... and that's why I try to write clean conflict... you have the ugly, but it all glorifies God. Great post!

    keturahskorner.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you! I'm not a big fan of that series, but it did have a lot of important themes in it. ^_^

      Ugh, same. :/

      Thanks for reading!

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  3. I honestly thought you were gonna do a rant about why grey mortality is bad and WE ALL NEED TO AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE!

    But...you didn't do that at all. And in trying to find a point I disagree with, I'm coming up short. Nice post, Gray Marie. You surprised me, in a good way am I agree with everything you said. I love grey morality (Teresa from the maze runner is my favorite), but I agree that it can and is being taken too far.

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    1. I can see why you would think that from my track record of rants. ;D
      But yeah, I actually like grey morality when it is written right and in moderation.

      Thank you! Teresa is such a complicated character, she's honestly one of the only things I liked about that series.

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  4. Did you go see Infinity war in the theaters? I heard it was really sad.-Jose

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    1. Yes, I did. It was amazing and awful at the same time, you're in for a surprise.

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  5. "There is no real excuse for evil, in the end it is something that shouldn’t be glorified." YES YES YES. This quote is perfect. While I love the Avengers . . . yeah, those movies, especially the last one, are edgy. Looking forward to the rest of the series!

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    1. Aw, thanks!
      Yeah, I've been noticing that, it's so sad.

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  6. So true! I look forward to seeing the rest of the series. <3

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    1. Okay, I didn't comment enough about this post earlier because of all the stuff going on in my head (as I'm sure you can imagine) but you have so much wisdom beyond your age. I love how you talk about how having grey morality in a book is good, but how it shouldn't be glorified or overdone. Or even accepted as fact. This applies to so much right now.

      *sidenote: Thank you for being an awesome friend. <3 I can't thank you enough.

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    2. Honestly, I can't even imagine all that has been going on in your head with everything that's been happening, so I understand completely! <3

      Wow, thank you, that means a lot to me to hear that. <33

      Thank YOU for being an amazing blogger friend, Ivie! The blogosphere would be empty without you.

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  7. As long as evil isn't presented as good, I'm okay with it. The lines have to be there though. Great Post!

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  8. Great and interesting post. Loved it. Thank you.

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  9. The main series I can think of that features this is Six of Crows. While experiencing gray morality was interesting, it certainly made it hard for me to actually root for anyone.

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    1. Yes, I had a hard time getting into those because of that reason as well.

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  10. Ah, yes, I loved this post, Gray! Very deep and true.(and btw, even though I haven't been commenting recently, I have been reading all of your posts in my inbox. I'll try to do better about commenting ;)

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    1. Thank you! Don't worry about it, I am the worst at commenting on your blog (mostly because it's harder on wordpress for me), so I totally get it!! ;D

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  11. This is soooo interesting!!!! I am looking forward for the next post !!! Good Job <3

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  12. I agree with you 100%, Gray. I think people have blurred the black and white a little too much and we need to stop treating everything subjectively and remind people that there are objective truths!

    Wonderful post!!

    Catherine
    catherinesrebellingmuse.blogspot.com

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    1. Yes, if we stand for nothing we'll end up going alone with everything.

      Thank you!

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  13. (For some reason my comment didn't get published...but I'll repost it.)
    I agree with you that you shouldn't overly stretch Grey morality, however sometimes greyness is good to have, especially when your trying to show that your villain is as human as the hero, however I wouldn't go as far as to say that the villain was right to do the thing that they did. However though you don't want your villain to unrealistic...

    But I agree with you, Gray Morality should NOT be overly stretched.
    -Quinley

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    1. Very true, people are never fully one thing, and it's very important to remember that!

      Thank you for reading!! ^_^

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  14. I think it’s important to show that there aren’t people who do all bad things or people who do all good things, and that’s probably not too controversial. I agree with what you’re saying that every action that’s sinful is bad, but I do think that you can have situations wherein intentions are important to look at. Someone does something bad while intending to do good, and while the action remains bad, the effort prior to the bad thing is still good. Two shows in particular in which characters are constantly doing both good and bad things (or simply being reasonable or unreasonable) are Backstage (which you might like) and Freaks & Geeks (which may or may not be to your taste). A lot of times, especially in Freaks & Geeks, decisions are being made that can only be made, from a Christian standpoint, through the guidance of the Spirit of truth, and without being in those characters’ shoes, we’re unable to actually know if decisions made were good or bad. You get into some situations wherein a parent is asking a child to act in some questionable manner and the child is refusing. Where is the line for honoring the father and mother? Even if it’s a very strict line and the child is definitely in the wrong, that parent can still also be in the wrong. With Backstage, you get to see that all of the characters are trying, though perhaps not trying there best, to do good, yet they’re continually being bad friends, jerks, etc. The characters you love become characters you’re a little disgusted with, and the characters you’re a little disgusted with become characters you love. But all of them fall into a gray zone, and sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s right or if anyone’s right or partially right in any given situation or episode.

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    1. Yes, I agree that it is important to show that mistakes are made, but so often I see those mistakes shown in a good light instead of showing how hurtful mistakes can be.

      I haven't heard of Backstage, or Freaks and Geeks, I'll have to check those out now.

      Grey Morality in that sense it good, it shows that humans are humans, thank you for pointing that out.

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    2. Ah, yes. The whole “learning experience” thing can definitely be mishandled. And, honestly, I don’t read as much YA (especially not contemporary YA) as you, so I can only speak in more general terms and from my own experience. Boy Meets World (another TV show), I think, did an excellent job of keeping the ship pointed straight without having to play with gray morality too much.

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  15. LOVE THIS SO MUCH AS I LOVE ALL OF YOUR POSTS

    Nabila | Hot Town Cool Girl

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  16. I think the longer I live, the more I realize that things are not black and white. thats something Ive been thinking a lot about. nothing is as clear cut as I once thought.

    Im like you. I grew up christian and conservative. I thought everything was black and white. I thought grey area was the sign of end times. I thought when people stopped seeing things in extremes, we would be in trouble.

    but now...now I disagree.

    grey areas fascinate me in storytelling because they remind me so much of my experiences in the real world. very rarely do I see clear cut situations where there is an obvious right and an obvious wrong. sometimes I think that keeping grey areas in mind helps me to be more forgiving. because not everyone sees things the same way that I do. we all perceive the world differently in all sorts of colors. when I see something as "obviously wrong" I can think that maybe someone else sees it as "obviously right."

    I dont know if that made sense. anyhow, this was a very interesting read. thanks for sharing your insight.

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    1. I can see why they fascinate you, and I agree that not all grey areas are bad. It is amazing how we all have different perspectives, but somethings aren't as simple as a differing opinion either in my mind. But I do see why you would think otherwise, the world is a complex place for sure.

      Thank you for your thoughts, Faith!

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  17. COMERCIAL CINEMA IS CULTURAL INDUSTRY...SOAP OPERAS, COMICS TOO...IF YOU SEE THE STRUCTURE THAT'S NOT EVIL GLORYFIED...THEY ALEWAYS REPEAT DISCRETLY IDEOLOGY ( HEGEMONIC VISIONS ) THERE'S LOGIC , BECAUSE FICTION IS FREE, BUT IN THIS PRODUCTS ( PRODUCTS OF COURSE) THEY GIVE TOPICS TO PROTECT MAINSTREAM.SEE FOR INSTANCE "PULP FICTION" : A REVOLUTIONARY PIECE.NO NO, IT'S NOT. THERE ARE PONTS OF RETURN THAT PRESERVES THE AMERICAN "IDEAL" INSIDE. IF YOU CENTERS APPEARENCE YOU DO NOT SEE THE BEYOUND STRUCTURE. WE WANT A NEW CINEMA. NOT A TRICK.I SAY THIS,THAT I'AM BRAZILIAN,AND NOW WE ARE DOMINATED BY FUNDAMENTALISM, MOSTLY NORTH AMERICAN. IT'S INSIDIOUS. PERVERTED.AMERICANS DO NOT ESCAPES FROM CORPORFATIVED VISIONS.A GRAY CINEMA, REALLY WOULD BE SOMETHING THAT MAKES A RADICAL TRANSFORMATIONS ON MANIQUEISM, A CHEAP WAY TO SEE THIS LARGE WORLD. THE LEGENDARY DOGMAS OF THIS "CRISTHIANISM",IS SOMETHING GRAY: GIVE GIFTS, BUT CREATES FEAR AND ETNOCENTRY. WRITTERS AND GOOD WRITERS GIVE THE RADIOGRAFY OF LIVE, BUT IN MOVEMENT.BUT THIS IS NOT THED CASE. THE LIBERAL VISION COLLABORATES TO OPEN MINDS ( SEXUALITY, DISCRIMINATIONS, NEM WAYS TO SEE HUMANITY)BUT FAILS ( OR NOT ) BECAUSE CREATES AN ILLUSION.WE ARE LIVING A FALSE REALITY; THAT'S IS MAINTEANED BY POWER AND ITS DISGUISES.SO, A BOOK AS "THE GREAT GATSBY" IS REVOLUTIONARY. DO NOT GIVE SIMULACRES OR ANODINES VISIOSN. HERE IN BRAZIL WE USSUALLY SAYS : "THE MONTAIN IS MORE TO HIGHS; THE OCEAN, MORE DEEPLY ABOVE. THANKS. COME TO RIO. IT'S A NICE PLACE. SEE YOU. JORGE SUNNY ( WRITTING ON RECANTODASLETRAS/AUTORES/JORGESUNNY (JSUNNY ).EXCUSE ME CAPITULARS ; I'M NEAERSIGHT, AS MAGOO, THIS GREAT CREATION.LOVE.

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    1. I couldn't agree more. It's disturbing the underlining agenda one can find in pop culture. There is too much proof to deny that we aren't being brainwashed in some subtle way, fifty years ago in America it would've been a scandal to have so much swearing and sex on TV for all ages, now it's normal. We are all being desensitized in some way, and that's a scary thought.

      Thank you for your comment! I hope you can read this if you struggle with being nearsighted, I know the font on here is pretty small. :)

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  18. What I like most about grey morality and the sort of antihero that's become popular in the media is that many of us can see ourselves in these characters and in the way they operate and think. Because you're 100% correct - none of us are inherently all good or all evil - we are who we are based on the culmination of our live experiences (and maybe a little brain-wiring outside of our control!)

    I'm not always a good person. Sometimes I'm spiteful, vindictive, a bit of a troll, devil's advocate, etc. but I'm also patient, generous, a bleeding-heart liberal who wants everyone in the world to be safe and live life as their truest selves. And that conflict in me can make for some pretty wild-decision making sometimes.

    Do I see that in a lot of characters in popular media these days? Heck yes, and I think it's important because it gets us to thinking about why we are the way we are, what we really value in life and others, what's too far and what's not far enough, what pushes the envelope and why it needs to happen, etc.

    I'm rambling. The point is - I don't think we necessarily have "good" at one end of the scale and "evil" at the other, with a myriad of grey and silver shades in the middle. I think morality is more like a scatter-plot (I know you love those math terms, lol) because we all approach it from a different perspective, upbringing, and belief system.

    Example: I'm not Christian and I don't believe in the concept of sin. Our views or right, wrong, and morality are probably wildly different and don't fit on the same spectrum. Which is totally okay, because it prompts critical thinking and discussion. Woo!~

    /rant

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    1. Hmm, as a Christian my view is definitely a bit different, but I do agree that no one is inherently good or bad, I believe we have to battle the bad in ourselves daily in order to better ourselves, but I do agree that grey characters can be a good thing at times since the human mind is a complex thing. However, I do not think people being morally grey should be entirely encouraged in our media.

      Thank you for your thought-provoking comment! It's interesting to read about others views. :)

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