The Instigator
nrw
Con (against)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
Fiveiron
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points

Western literature's common depiction of Africa and other places is not destructive.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Con Tied Pro
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/12/2007 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,498 times Debate No: 300
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (7)

 

nrw

Con

Western literature (mainly the US) has fallen into an obsession with a sort of "disaster pornography." People have become too used to viewing the problems in places abroad on their televisions, in their newspapers and magazines, etc. The people in the US become addicted to this image because it makes problems seem far away and unable to hurt themselves. Images of disaster in the comfort of our own homes create an illusion of safety because the problem is happening somewhere else. We feel more safe even than if the problems were not displayed, because, if problems are not shown, we can more closely feel the possibility of it happening to us. We discuss and think:
"Oh, look how bad it is OVER THERE." This "us - them" mindset is what sometimes perpetuates these problems even further - we for some reason trick ourselves into thinking that we should not get involved, that we should not help; when, in fact, we should do SOMETHING.

A prime example of this is Africa. What did you think of when reading the name of that continent?

A geographic region?
Black people?
Deserts?
Jungles?
Wild Animals?
Danger?
Poverty-stricken tribes?
People living in huts?
AIDS?
Genocide?

Most likely, due to modern literature and media of the West, these would be the top answers in a Family Feud-type game show survey.

These common misconceptions are destructive for everyone. They hide people from other truths, it creates a false sense of safety, and it hinders action to solve problems abroad.

I am not advocating that we ignore problems in Africa. I know there are problems in Africa, and I think more should be done to help alleviate them. The debate here is that Western literature's depiction of Africa as a whole is destructive. We need to stop only seeing the continent as a "big desert/jungle with poor, hungry, disease-ridden, black people living in huts all dying from HIV/AIDS." We should at least be able to focus on the positive aspects of Africa AS WELL. It contains some of the worlds most developed nations, the problems are not continent-wide, and they do not stem from the primitiveness that we all think exists everywhere in Africa. We need to realize this AS WELL. Only then can we isolate and stop the problems at the source occurring in certain parts of Africa, and other places, today.
Fiveiron

Pro

Essentially the con argument is that western media and literature causes a sort of "disaster porn" that causes people to become desensitized to the situation at hand- otherwise known as compassion fatuige: this is destructive.

However, at this point I disagree. I do not think that Western literature causes any sort of destruction. First, I will start with stating that it is not so much of a misconception as a clear accurate picture of what is occurring. When I think of Africa, I do not feel that it is hopeless, but rather that it is in a terrible predicament.

The situation in places like africa are not being overlooked, and the United States and other nations stand at an all time high as far a foreign development assistance goes. Obviously government officials are capable of recognizing the problem and trying to solve that problem. If this is so, it is obvious that despite western literature which often depicts gross realities, has no negative effect, and perhaps even a positive ones.
Debate Round No. 1
nrw

Con

It is not that the depictions are a misconception - it is that they cause negative results. Even if EVERY SINGLE claim made by the Western media about Africa's problems are true, it is still destructive because the literature only focuses on the negative, and not the positive. This puts Africa on the other end of the "us-them" mindset, causing the problems to become THEIRS and not OURS as well.
If Africa was depicted more evenly, the problems were more isolated, and positive features were also made known, we would be more knowledgeable of the reality of Africa. This enables us to solve because recognition of the specific issues is the first step.

You think that Africa is not hopeless, however in a terrible predicament. That's fine, and probably true. I'm guessing neither of us have ever been to Africa. However, my arguments still apply. As I said above, the mindset will still exist when literature refuses to fairly depict Africa. The feelings of a fake sense of immunity from disease because the diseases are "in Africa" will still exist when we use damning rhetoric like "Africa is the global hotbed of AIDS." Even though AIDS might be prevalent in Africa - the rhetoric is destructive in that it oversimplifies the situation and damns the entire continent as a whole.

You say the situation is not being overlooked because the US and other countries support development assistance.

This claim is exactly why our oversimplified view of Africa as a whole is destructive...
When we think in the mindset like we do now - we throw money at Africa like we do now. This, even though it might be good in some instances, is not solving the problem and actually creates African dependency on the US. (When we inflate their economies, even if they become stable, they will not be able to survive on their own if we stop giving aid for any reason because the proportions are not equal or make sense in newly developing economies.) Furthermore, when the US gives money now to "fix" things like poverty, it goes through governments in Africa. This oversimplification causes more problems in places like Zimbabwe, where the corrupt Mugabe regime is proven to steal the aid in order to prop up his ruling party, continuing the cycle of poverty and violence in that country.

These responses that yield negative effects are the result of the current depictions of Western literature oversimplifying the problem.

On the flip side, we fail to yield positive effects because of the current mindset. Our president REFUSES to give aid to certain clinics in Africa because they do not follow "our morals" because they fund abortions as well as medicine and treatment. Clearly, Mr. Bush knows what is better for Africa than Africa itself. We also refuse to intervene in Darfur because "we cannot solve violence in all of Africa." This depiction of rampant violence throughout Africa has caused us to fail in places like Darfur. Fine, it might be a bad idea to stop all violence in Africa at once, but we can attempt to stop the genocide IN DARFUR.

As I stated before we need to recognize the source of the problems, and not blame it on Africa's primitiveness. We need to isolate certain problems and help in whatever way we can. This way, it will actually be effective.
Fiveiron

Pro

Fiveiron forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
nrw

Con

Go ahead for round 3 - we'll just make this a 2-round debate instead of 3, round 2 doesn't count - you were busy...
...
..
.
Fiveiron

Pro

Fiveiron forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by nrw 9 years ago
nrw
haha its alright, i do policy debate too
Posted by Fiveiron 9 years ago
Fiveiron
sorry I didnt make the time limit, I was much more focused on prepareing for a policy debate district tourny.
Posted by AREA 9 years ago
AREA
Even countries without violence in their official anthems probably have dozens of unofficial ones they call "patriotic songs". Whether their National Song has violence or not may depend on when they became independent, or how peaceful their conditions were from 1700-1960 when most of these songs were written...
What I find most of interest is when native writers write on their land for foreign audiences. If you are writing for them, you must play to their interests, and preconceived notions, yes? Those books then win international literary awards? And what kind of books then win local literary awards? If they win internationally, then do you think these "stereotype carriers" must surely have an advantage locally, all because of the international market?
Posted by nrw 9 years ago
nrw
alright - now I see what you are actually talking about, I will take that into consideration during the next round.
Posted by gack1224 9 years ago
gack1224
At this point the debate has reached an early clash and climax. One side argues that Africa is not as bad as it seems while the other does. When there is no clear empirical evidence on either side other than some bland examples, it is hard to tell who is winning. I simply am recommending that you try citing experts in the field that could lend weight to your arguments.
Posted by nrw 9 years ago
nrw
man this debate is about whether the lit is destructive, not whether the lit is a fact or not... what are u talkin about?

maybe just an example of evidence that is oversimplified - but not like articles arguing for me, thats dumb lol, id rather do the work

thanks for the comment tho
Posted by gack1224 9 years ago
gack1224
It would be a much clearer debate if you both cited evidence showing your point of view. You cite rational and reasonable arguments but empirical evidence is necessary when proving a fact (give an example of disaster porn (article) and give an account of life in Africa or something). Use primary sources.
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by U.n 1 year ago
U.n
nrwFiveironTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture.
Vote Placed by Aziar44 8 years ago
Aziar44
nrwFiveironTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Vote Placed by JimmyKerr 9 years ago
JimmyKerr
nrwFiveironTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by thevoter 9 years ago
thevoter
nrwFiveironTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by revleader5 9 years ago
revleader5
nrwFiveironTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by UBERdude63 9 years ago
UBERdude63
nrwFiveironTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by nrw 9 years ago
nrw
nrwFiveironTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30