Gwendolyn Kansen published a piece in Slate about how fictional characters help autistic people learn to socialize.
I can relate to following a dubious social script to make friends. I looked up to the It Girls in shows like Popular and movies like Clueless. I loved their flashy clothes, their witty banter. I tried to be like them. It really didn’t work. But I do feel like it helped me in some ways: I had a clear, if warped, set of guidelines to follow, which gave me the confidence to get out there and put myself into the world. I failed boldly, which gave me the courage to try again. For some autistic people, we need someone to teach us how to act because we don’t know instinctually. But eventually we figure out enough cues from the real world to balance with media. Eventually, we learn what’s real.
I mean, yeah, I’m sure watching movies about Shaolin monks avenging their masters affected me.
I think the truth is more disturbing than what Kansen describes.
First, everyone learns how to behave and what to think from the media. I dare say that most people in our society subconsciously expect life to be a movie or a porn clip. People are trying to reenact scenes they’ve watched.
Second, people never learn the difference between what’s real and what’s not, unless they learn to be very critical of the media.