Texts. Some of our assigned stories and films depict at least one character who is different from his or her fellows in a distinctly science-fictional way—this character is an alien (extraterrestrial), is at least partly artificial (a cyborg or an entity with AI/artificial intelligence), or has an affliction (a disease or physical condition that does not exist in the real world, at least not yet). For convenience, think of these characters as being exotic others. Write about three or four (no more) assigned texts with a major character who is exotic in this way; you must include Gattaca and at least one short story.
Background. In today’s America, intolerance of difference has been a consistent problem; many people in this country are openly racist—they exhibit what Stuart Hall calls overt racism—and the more insidious version, inferential racism, can be found in society and all over the Internet. Homophobia and transphobia also seem to be on the rise; the country is seeing a rash of hate crimes based on race and LGBTQ status. Also, the pandemic is exposing classism in ways that are hard to ignore. Furthermore, legislation directly or indirectly working against all of these groups is increasing.
In his assigned essay, Kyle Munkittrick argues that science fiction can “[make] us more open to strange forms of sex and sexuality.” His specific claim can be the basis for a somewhat different and more expansive argument, that science fiction, through exotic characters, can encourage all readers and viewers to be more accepting of difference, period.
Argument. Does science fiction with exotic other characters have any power to nudge intolerant Americans toward greater acceptance of difference? (In other words, apply the expansion of Munkittrick’s idea to Americans who exhibit overt or inferential forms of intolerance.) As long as you write about three or four assigned texts, you may qualify your position by arguing about certain types of SF or certain types of characters or a certain cross section of the targeted group of Americans. (Note that you are not being asked about substantial change, just a beginning or a small shift.)
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