I have been having a great time watching Sense8 on Netflix. It’s a terrific concept for science fiction, and the way it is executed is very original and thought provoking, and often quite funny (at one point they even do a riff on classic Marx Brothers material).

I was curious to see what others thought, so I went to the comments section on IMDB. I was surprised to see a sort of war going on there. It seems that some of the commenters didn’t like it because, they said, it promotes an LGBT agenda.

I hadn’t noticed that, so I started watching more carefully. And I became a bit confused, because nowhere in the episodes I saw (I’ve watched about half of them so far), does anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or transexual ever denigrate or attempt to influence anyone else’s sexual orientation.

So I started wondering — what exactly constitutes an agenda? Is it simple existence? If I am black, am I promoting a black agenda? If I am Jewish, am I therefore promoting a Jewish agenda? If I am Italian, does that mean that I am promoting an Italian agenda?

And if that’s true, then what exactly would I need to do, as a black, Jewish or Italian person, to not be promoting a black or Jewish or Italian agenda?

6 thoughts on “Agendas”

  1. If I may assume those people are like many people I know and know of:

    I think they define “Agenda” as an attempt to change someone’s opinion on a topic, either through outright activism, or by representation that supports the desired opinion. The thing about pointing out an Agenda is you claim the person “pushing” the agenda has that intention/motivation. In the case of activism, that’s a pretty straightforward claim to make. But representation is trickier.

    Say you take the portion of our population that believes homosexuality is abnormal. If they come across representation of homosexuality as a normal part of life, they have a few options. They can question their own beliefs about it. They can decide that the representation is incorrect, and that the people behind that representation were just honestly mistaken. Or, they can believe that the people behind the representation intentionally included homosexuality as a normal part of life in the story because they want others to believe it’s normal, too.

    So, I think people who take the third option get upset, because they feel that they’ve caught someone trying to manipulatively subvert their beliefs. Sadly, if someone’s dead set on feeling that way, the only way to “stop pushing your “Agenda” is to change the representation until it matches what they believe.

  2. CC: How could it ever be legitimate for anyone to expect somebody else to represent their own self as abnormal?

    For example, do I, as a person from a Jewish background, have an obligation, if I write a book or produce a TV show, to show myself the way an antisemite would see me? And if I don’t do that, is it legitimate to accuse me of pushing a Jewish agenda?

    And what about your own life CC, your own beliefs and background, whatever those may be. Are you “pushing an agenda” if you simply chronicle your own experiences of your own life without taking into consideration the world view of whoever might think of you as abnormal?

    For example, suppose you happen to know that there are radical Muslims who are offended by your (let’s say) Christian view of the world. Do you have some obligation to paint yourself, in any description of your own life, as abnormal, in order to properly honor the viewpoint of those other people?

    And if you don’t then agree to describe yourself as abnormal, is it legitimate for somebody to accuse you of pushing an agenda? Of course not.

    I feel strongly about this partly because those were *exactly* the sorts of opinions that helped “legitimize” the killing of quite of my own relatives not that many decades ago. So when I read your last paragraph, my mind automatically translates it into that context:

    “So, I think people who see somebody representing Judaism as a normal part of life get upset, because they feel that they’ve caught someone trying to manipulatively subvert their beliefs. Sadly, if someone’s dead set on feeling that way, the only way to “stop pushing a Jewish Agenda” is to change the representation until Jews are shown as abnormal.”

  3. Sally: It’s only a “counting by 2’s” agenda if I’m trying to get other people to count by 2’s. If, for example, I were to discourage others from counting by 3’s, then that would indeed be an agenda.

    In fact, I have no problem with anybody counting by 3’s. Live and let live, I say!

    Though I must admit I find powers of 3 to be extremely odd.

  4. I’m just joking, Ken, riffing on how you described people having agendas above by being.

    I am well aware that you have no “counting by 2’s” agenda…

  5. I knew that — I was joking too! Sorry, I thought finding powers of 3 to be odd would make it clear I was just being silly.

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