I remember, as a child, reading – and watching – science fiction that filled me with a sense of adventure and excitement, but also left me feeling weirdly uncomfortable with the attitudes of some of the characters. I couldn’t quite articulate what was wrong. There was often a thread of hopeful, scientific and social advancement, mixed with beliefs that seemed so far behind the times. The attitudes may have only been 10 years old but they felt ancient to me.
As I grew older, I started to recognize them for what they were. Sure, I wanted to “be the hero and win the love of the most beautiful” etc, etc. But not in a space-Western “cowboys vs. ‘injuns’” kind of way. And the whole “damsel in distress” was pretty stupid and limiting after a while. I don’t want to give anyone a pass, but I think it’s very difficult to see “wrongness” when everyone else around you is either too complacent or too afraid of seeming “different” to say “Hey, the emperor has no clothes!”
(Increasingly, I’m seeing a similar shift now with veganism and its kin: The fringe of “weirdos” is now getting mainstream enough to be in Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts, and there’s an increasing awareness that the lives of animals and the state of the environment are important enough that maybe we should feel guilty about bacon. On the other hand, the Neanderthals, climate change deniers, etc. are fighting tooth and nail, their extinction.)