Being a critic and being a fan

In my latest for Big Think, I argue that – in many cases – fandom runs counter to proper criticism.

This can be about films, comics, games, whatever. Passion for the thing can blind us to its flaws, making any form of negative criticism (or, indeed, adaptation) tantamount to an attack in passionate fans’ eyes.

Reasonable, justified criticism is essential to the creative process, which leads to the creation of better, beautiful things (it doesn’t need to be the case that today’s artists are better than the Leonardos of the craft, but it does mean today’s artists try to be and this can be aided by pointing out flaws in the Masters’ works).

Passion is great but can become poison. Sanctifying anything, it seems, is usually a bad move.

Nerds, (fake) geeks, sluts and other “words”

“Geek”, “nerd”, “fake geek”.

I just can’t understand these terms. I see them a lot, usually used harshly and usually at women.

I’ve not been able to find out what people (read: usually very angry dudes) mean when they use these terms. I’m not seeking a definition as they see it, only; I’m also looking for a reasonable and justified basis for which to use “slut” and “fake geek (girl)”. To me, these terms are either describing imaginary creatures or they’re useless.

That same apparent logic that targets “fake” geeks could be used by those who like athletics, sport, photography: What makes comics and video games all of a sudden domains where we’re required an entry exam?

But then I don’t even understand the use of the terms “geek” and “nerd”, let alone the awful descriptions “geeky” and “nerdy”. What do they mean?

When superheroes are the biggest things at the box office, when GTA V is making $800 Million after 24 hours, can we finally recognise that these cloisters of religious protection have long been abandoned (hint: you’ll not find a lot of religious believers on this network for example)? These monkish attitudes and religious observations about your favourite fictional figures was something we should’ve given up, I thought?

I hope we do so, since claiming “geek” this and “nerd” that seems prone to tribalism rather than inclusion. I’d rather just love something and be glad that someone either does to or wants to. If they hate it, that’s also fine. Why would I want a world filled with people who all think or agree with me on everything – especially matters of creativity? Creativity thrives on freedom and freedom comes alive from civil clashes waged in the war of disagreement.

Can we please send these terms – all of them – to the gallows?

UPDATE: Apologies for unnecessarily hostile, swearing and uncharitable comments below. I’m not sure why ire is necessary.