kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
[personal profile] kaberett
& specifically on the topic of Fiona/mittens, with thanks to [personal profile] sebastienne for giving this particular set of thoughts shape (though naturally all remaining errors and infelicities are my own)--

My Thing about Fiona -- for those of you who don't watch this show, she's autistic -- is that her body language is right, but I spend quite a lot of time going NO YOU DON'T (at the dialogue) or YOU KNOW BETTER THAN TO BEHAVE LIKE THAT IN PUBLIC.

Her body language is right, right enough for me to read her without really thinking about it and right enough for me not to wince about it.

But "I prefer the term neuroatypical" -- augh. Writers, you tried, you really obviously tried, but no (unless this is a thing about US autism culture that I've somehow managed to completely miss). And similarly her explanation of what autism is made me wince a bit. (And that is why I am referring to her as autistic rather than as her in-universe stated preference of neuroatypical, because "neuroatypical" makes me wince and I Don't Want To. Obviously if she weren't fictional I would be respecting her preference.)


I started out feeling digging-heels-in-resentful about her refusal to tell Sherlock that the sky is green, with this being presented as Evidence That She Cannot Lie because Autistics Cannot Lie, because that's not how it works, but then [personal profile] sebastienne astutely and lovingly pointed out to me that the main reason I'm not watching Steven Universe is that I get restless-anxious-unhappy about gem fusions (malachite is what happens when you add water to azurite, show, that isn't how alteration and reactions and stoichiometry): it's not that I can't say that Malachite is what happens when [spoiler] fuses with [spoiler], it's just -- why would I. Why would I want to. Yeah, alright, fair cop.

And that's what she says: No. I don't want to.

And I wince at the way in which she tells Joan, abruptly, that because Joan was late (by three minutes) she'd started working, and because she'd started doing a piece of work she needed to finish, and -- as Joan said she'd just get a coffee, then -- I've finished now.

And the way that she says "Say you're welcome", when Joan smiles instead of responding verbally to her thanks.

And the way she says to Sherlock "This is hard and now I'd like to stop", and leaves.

Because those are all to some degree representative of how I think, but they're also ways that I have learned that I absolutely do not act in public if I can possibly help it -- where "other autistics" do not, by and large, count as "public", so yes, okay, her interactions with Sherlock are one thing but her interactions with Joan are quite another.

(She wears clothes that are soft and drapey and in a range of neutrals.)

(And the way she says no to Sherlock, then pauses and expands her scope from the immediate and clarifies not right now.)

So on balance I feel kind of conflicted about her as a character, and a lot of that boils down to cringing away from the internalised ableism of "this behaviour will be punished", and the rest of it is that I want to earnestly sit her down and ask why she says "neuroatypical" and in the absence of that I want to ask her writers and then Earnestly Explain At Them -- which means that I'm getting caught on the edges of something that very nearly feels Right.

(Also -- and just so we are absolutely clear -- I am 100% here for her having brought pie and wine and flowers for Joan as a romantic overture because she wants to date both of them. And I am very, very much hoping she doesn't end up dead.)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-03-12 12:00 am (UTC)
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
Why would they assume we can't lie? idgi.

I don't think "neuroatypical" is a USois convention. If nothing else, because I invariably (this post excepted) only encounter the word in terms of "it's a logical counterpoint to 'neurotypical' but also it's confusing in a way that 'a/theist' isn't because the single letter that marks the contrary statement being made is in the middle of a long word where it might get lost, instead of at the front of a mid-length word where it's easily spotted".

(no subject)

Date: 2016-03-12 01:18 pm (UTC)
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai

Huh. Weird.

:)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-03-12 02:58 am (UTC)
recessional: a small blue-paisley teapot with a blue mug (Default)
From: [personal profile] recessional
I haven't seen it, obviously, but thoughts from what you describe:

- what you've described as her behaviour I would parse as "a couple steps more autistic than I am (and thus one or two steps literally less ABLE to fake NT) and does not have how people work as a fixation, plus was probably identified young enough to have some basic protection but not given skillful enough intervention to have a full set of social graces based on WHY we have social graces* (rather than having it drilled in)."

- the neuroatypical thing is . . . .something that I'm almost sure is DOYLISTICALLY them totally dropping the ball and somehow inaccurately parsing "autism" as a word that IN GENERAL we find unpleasant/we want as a community to reject, but which I could see Watsonianly entirely by accident because for this particular character she encountered the term in an activist or supportive space and latched onto it and her brain has Decided that it is the Correct Term For Her.

Or possibly she imprinted hard on an interpretation of "autistic" that DIDN'T apply to her.

Which . . . like. Is a thing that happens with the auties in my family, at least. My father cannot let go of the Definitions of "right" and "left" (politically) that he imprinted on in university when he first really encountered the world. He cannot internalize that the landscape is different than the people who were honestly ostriching about Mao and the bad shit Mao did (for example) for the sake of Being On The Left.

For me it's the word "friend". Like these days I'm pretty good about being fully aware that words are mouth-sounds that we assign consensus meaning for the purpose of causing the thoughts in our head (or as close as possible) to manifest in someone else's head, but as a child I imprinted on a very fundamental meaning of "friend" as it applies to me being a friend and I can't really get it out. (Which means it's one that I am very miserly with because the obligations it places on me are actually not really healthy in any way.)

Like again I want to reiterate that I would be shocked if that level of nuance and complexity were what the writers were doing, but . . . .as you know bob, I often give two shits what the writers are doing right up until they fuck up and I get hugely upset and perseverate on how everything in the universe is WRONG NOW OMG.



*aka "you don't order someone to say 'you're welcome' because this makes you appear as if you are attempting to control them and/or entitled to their obedience, and that is not appropriate." Which really all kids should be taught this way, but.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-03-12 08:17 pm (UTC)
recessional: a small blue-paisley teapot with a blue mug (Default)
From: [personal profile] recessional
Yeah. I sort of assume that she was IDed as a kid, because in my anecdotal experience those that are her level of autistic who AREN'T tend to have Major Flinch and Startle Reflexes: like, they assume they're just Broken like you and I did, but can't fix it even as much as we figured out how to, so they either get really aggressive and angry about it as a persona, or they get super flinchy and withdrawn and quiet (or both, depending on the situation). Whereas when identified there's can be some level of protection and identification and explanation from adults ("no dear you're not broken you're autistic"), while at the same time if those adults aren't really well-educated, things still get taught by rote or by "because you have to", when it comes to social graces, and often as adults that then hits a wall of FUCK IT I'M A GROWNUP I DON'T HAVE TO PANDER TO NT BULLSHIT ANYMORE.

Whereupon you get things like ordering someone to say thank you, or informing them they're late, when it's actually kind of hurtful to do so, because social graces never got parsed as "something we do in order to be kind to one another", but rather as "arbitrary and often dishonest bullshit NTs do because NTs are weird." (Which: if I weren't literally fixated on "HOW DO PEOPLE WORK" and also narratives that have to feature people, this could EASILY have been me, because so many social grace things really did/do seem like WEIRD RANDOM INCANTATIONS, because, well, some of them ARE at this point because their function has drifted profoundly from their original form. BUT. That's not why we HAVE them.) (I digress).


Yeah, I think . . . that's part of the "autistics can't lie" issue? Like, we also actually tend to either develop the ability to lie (effectively, anyway) much later than other kids, OR we are doubly confusing because we don't actually parse the line between fiction and reality (a friend convinced her preschool teacher that she had a sister in China and a whole long and rather implausible chain of events, because her fiction/reality line was more or less non-existant at the age of four, and while she was telling the story she TOTALLY BELIEVED IT, despite being emphatically an only child and also as white as milk).

And this isn't because we "can't" lie so much as because Things Being Wrong Is Very Very Emotionally Uncomfortable, and the process of lying involves committing to a version of reality that Isn't True/Is Wrong/Isn't Real. And that stresses us the fuck out.

Which also applies to, like. BUT THIS WORD MEANS A THING. FUCK. NO I AM NOT TELLING YOU THE SKY IS GREEN. WHY? BECAUSE IT ISN'T GREEN. BECAUSE ME SAYING THE SKY IS GREEN MEANS BRIEFLY COMMITTING TO DESCRIBING REALITY AS BEING A PLACE WHERE THE SKY IS GREEN AND THAT MAKES ME UNCOMFORTABLE.

(This is also why I can lie just fine to people I don't know or respect, but get totally fucked up over it - even to the point of "why yes I am interested in this thing you are talking about" when I am so not interested, or "yes I agree with you" when I totally don't agree with you EVEN WHEN IT ISN'T IMPORTANT . . . because lying to them means making reality a place where I don't respect them? AND THIS IS UPSETTING.)

Which: I could also see the char being based off someone one of the writers knows? Or off several people the writers know? which is why what she does pings pretty Right because they do know this person and it's observable, but then things like the "neuroatypical" bit are weird, either because they're basing it on that known-person without deep critical analysis, or because they're NOT and don't quite have a good enough feel for how it goes in there.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-03-12 07:24 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] stephdairy
"Neuroatypical" seems to be used occasionally (but not, to judge by search results, very commonly) by folk on the autism spectrum on the Internet to self-describe, as well as being used by people with mental illnesses or other conditions. (Autism is clearly not something Fiona mentions or makes apparent at all in her online persona, or Sherlock would have been expecting it when they first met, so I don't think we have much idea whether she's part of any kind of autism culture.)

http://loudenoughtohear.tumblr.com/post/137884068255/an-autistic-reviews-fiona-helbron-from-elementary is another review I found which says some of the same things as you...

The Elementary writers are on Twitter, so you _could_ ask them, though Twitter is rarely a medium for deep nuanced insights into their writing processes.

(S)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-03-13 09:28 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
I follow a whole bunch of US autistic self-advocates on Twitter, and I don't think I've ever seen any of them use "neuroatypical", it's always either "autism", or "neurodiverse" if they want to spread the net a bit wider, or occasionally "on the spectrum" (tends not to be the more rigorous speakers, I think), together with the informal "autie" and "aspie". "Allistic" also seems to be making inroads where "neurotypical" might have been used near universally a couple of years ago.

So, as an informal datapoint, "neuroatypical" strikes me as atypical ;)

ETA this was meant to be a reply to Kab's 10:18PM post, but I clearly hit the wrong "Reply".
Edited Date: 2016-03-13 09:30 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-03-16 03:46 am (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
Thank you for this - now I have an idea as to what to look for with regard to her interaction.

Interestingly, I saw Fiona as rejecting Sherlock in favor of pursuing Joan.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-03-21 07:06 pm (UTC)
damerell: (brains)
From: [personal profile] damerell
Also, there is an obvious bug in the deductive process here, where we conclude that the murder suspect can't lie because they refused to lie when they already knew they were a suspect. I imagine under those circumstances even Nixon could do a reasonable imitation of a person of unshakeable honesty.

I laughed because my default "Mittens" is The Mittani, chief Goon [1] on EVE Online (and probably the most successful master of deception there), IRL ex-lawyer, etc., who does not resemble Fiona in the slightest - and is, given that background, an expert teller of giant porkies.

[1] As in Something Awful; my internal compass remembered them as fairly unpleasant but it turns out their parodies of bigotry got overtaken by real bigots on the Internet and now they mostly poke fun at Gamergate/Puppies/MRAs/etc. - something I discovered on reading Mittens' glorious excoriation of the 'gaters.

ETA re Nixon: although, as in the Bush days, Nixon now represents in comparison an improved situation where Presidents were _smart_ and crooked.
Edited Date: 2016-03-21 07:07 pm (UTC)

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