How Fanbros Stifle Critique

A screenshot of The Simpsons in which Comic Book Guy stands behind his shop counter telling Bart "Without a doubt the worst episode ever"[Possible indirect spoilers for ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.]

Here we are on the Internet in the year 2020, so I’m going to take the leap that my readers do not need a primer on toxic fandom and the entitled fanbros who engage in it. We’ve seen Gamergate rise and fall and be subsumed into the Alt-Right and Trumpists; heard the howling shrieks about “Fake Geek Girls“; and seen them gatekeep everything from Sherlock Holmes to Steven Universe with weird trivia demands. They are the ones I tend to think of as the ‘acquisitive’ fans, who care immensely about canon and trivia and feel like they can take ownership of the act of liking a franchise, in contrast to the ‘creative’ fans who create art and fanfiction and tend to use their fandoms as a joyous jumping-off point for other work.

We’ve also seen them absolutely shit themselves trying to shut down any critique of the things they love (and believe therefore are Objectively Excellent). We’ve seen them scream “feminism is cancer” at Anita Sarkeesian until their throats are bloody with hate. In this respect, how they stifle critique is obvious and direct, and even outright stated as an objective. This is not the kind of stifling I’m going to talk about; instead, I want to examine the subtler stifling of critique that happens if someone in part agrees with them. [Read more…]

Living Mythos: Molly Grue’s Mistake

Screencap of the scene from 'The Last Unicorn' where grizzled, cynical Molly Grue meets the Unicorn for the first time. She says, "Where were you when I was new?"I’ve held off on this sort of topic a little. Now that I come to think of it, the reason for that is actually a sort of faint internalized shame, so now I am going to take a dose of the medicine I offered in my previous post and go for it.

Starting today, I will from time to time dip into one of my favorite topics under the title ‘Living Mythos’: pop/geek culture and the philosophies and life lessons found therein. These will be sort of straddling the line between personal reaction and cultural criticism.

“The Last Unicorn” is a 1982 animated feature produced by Rankin-Bass based on the eponymous 1969 book by Peter S. Beagle. It is a quirky, slightly deconstructionist high fantasy musical that stands a good chance of breaking your heart. [Read more…]

Love What You Love

Phoenix Fan Fusion Attendees, by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia CommonsPZ Myers recently ran a post about generations, or rather on how the generational differences cited are largely marketing babble and not terribly true to life. I don’t disagree with this post in any real particular; after all, insofar as generational cohorts exist at all as we know them, they’re an emergent property of World War II – the Baby Boom being the huge birth rate spike following the war, and other generations being largely defined in relation to them. But while the generations themselves are not terribly real, the zeitgeists they are associated with (despite also having more than a little of marketing machinery in them) are.

Because time inevitably keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future, I am now an old. I’m from the messy area on the charts where various pundits and pontificators don’t necessarily agree what grand generation I should be sorted into, Gen X or Millennial. One of the main defining characteristics of Generation X, described as early as in the book that popularized the term, is a jadedness and world-weariness (formerly) in excess of their years; this is the generation whence came grunge music and ‘Empire Records’ and Kevin Smith’s movies, and also the popular notion of ironically loving things. It’s the generation of believing the world is such a bleak place that anything wholesome is perforce naïve. Millennials, conversely, re-popularized unironic joy, and loving a Thing because it’s the Thing not because it makes some kind of insightful (or worse ironic) comment. [Read more…]

Sunday Fakespeare: Ipsos Custodes

Shakespeare's WardA couple of years back I helped write an interactivetheatre piece based on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. We found out I have a talent for the old Elizabethean iambic pentameter, and – inspired from also being involved with productions of “William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back” around the same time – I started doing a silly fun thing which I will share on some Sundays here: converting famous moments from pop culture into Shakespeare! See if you can recognize it, some are easier than others.


RÖTSCHRECK
Upon this morn, the roadway’s neatness soiled
for there in woeful state the carcass of
a hunting hound was laid, its lights drawn forth
by carriage passage cruel, tale told by
a wheel’s trace writ in blood. This borough fears
my step, reviles anon my comp’ny, for
’tis I who has its truest visage seen.
Its coachways are in truth but poison’d troughs,
these troughs replete with sickened borough’s blood;
the ditches shall in time coagulate
and in the flowing gore shall vermin drown.
The rot and filth, the refuse born of sin
of fornication vile and murder foul,
shall burble forth above their darksome loins
and then the whores, the kings, the sinners all
shall turn their yellow mien to heaven high
and in their terror shriek “Have mercy, lord,
and set us free!”, and I shall whisper… “Nay.”

“Kind” Does Not Mean “Nice”

Lawful Good: It doesn't mean Lawful Nice.I have a Twitter account. Arguably that’s a bad idea, but it’s true, like my closing in on epic levels of caffeine consumption.

I mention this because I noticed a trend among bad actors trying to spar with me. My bio there includes the phrase “Anti-bigotry, pro-kindness.“, which transphobes and other terrible people regard as hypocrisy because it in no way prevents me from handing them their asses. In a fit of nigh-ironic coincidence, I was on my way here to post about this in response to a TERF tweeting Oh look, a pronoun person who preaches kindness. at me, but I arrived to find our own dear sweet Holms doing exactly the same thing, and of course getting his ass handed to him in response.

I have come to sincerely believe that the sort of people who do these things, who are capable of holding in their hearts genuine contempt for some demographic or other, don’t understand what kindness is or how it works. [Read more…]

Double Dactyl: Brexit

'Trusting Child' statue, by DieselHP, via Wikimedia CommonsLast night’s UK election in which the now unabashedly cruel and inhumane Tories won a clear majority for the first time in ages was disturbing and depressing. Odgraphix described it as “Higaldy-Pigaldy”, which reminded me of the double dactyl style of poetry since those start with a nonsense line, often literally “Higgledy-Piggledy”. So I think I’ll post such things from time to time on current topics, cuttlewise, and start with this one.

Heltery-Skeltery
Now the UK has a
Definite path ahead:
Brexit comes off

All due to racists
Electing a thoroughly
Authoritarian
Cold-blooded toff.

Justice Demands You Feel Better

'A Touch of God' by Jaap Joris Vens via Wikimedia CommonsA few words on mental health and the dystopia we’re not in:

I’ve been struggling lately. A huge weight of depression in a kind I thought long gone landed on me a few weeks ago. There was a huge difference from the old bad times, though: now I have tools that I know work to help against this. But for the last few weeks, I have also felt like I shouldn’t use them, like I didn’t deserve to feel better. Didn’t deserve help.

Anyone reading this who doesn’t outright hate me will immediately recognize that as also symptomatic. (Anyone reading this who does… what are you doing here? Get a hobby. Take up the oboe or something, sheesh.) Thing is, that doesn’t matter. It’s as real as anything going on inside anyone’s giant grey walnut can be. If you’ve been through this – in which case, hang in there, I’m sorry you are hurting – you know it can’t be argued away, not directly. Someone says you deserve to feel better, you reply ‘No I don’t and here’s why…’ and it gets more entrenched.

But what if it’s not about you at all? What if it is a matter of justice? [Read more…]

Going Down the YouTubes

TV Camera Operator, by Mitchell Hobbs via Wikimedia Commons

So, the Great American Satan alerted us here on FtB to the existence of a brief “Youtube Walkout”. For the next four days, until the 14th, we encourage you not to watch, embed, or especially upload content to YouTube. This is in response to their new terms of service which include the chilling clause saying that they reserve to right to “delete any account they deem commercially unviable”. That’s laying the groundwork to kick out anything they don’t deem to be pulling in ad revenue for them, which of course disproportionately affects small channels and marginalized voices. See Marcus Ranum’s analysis of this for more details and some useful links.

I agree with everything Marcus said there, but in fact… he didn’t go far enough. You see, it’s not just a matter of Youtube being even worse youtubery garbage than usual, which is saying something for a company that so egregiously polices, demonetizes, and hides queer content that they’re being sued for it. Twitter just announced new restrictions on content. Last December, Tumblr banned NSFW content and thereby took a chainsaw to their userbase and traffic. Facebook (and therefore Instagram) has always been shitty about queer content but now they’re willing to delete anything that even HINTS at queerness or sexuality.

[Read more…]

Message in a Time Bottle

Timepiece Monument, by Florin Huluba, via Wikimedia Commons

[CW: depression, verbal abuse]

I’d say getting email about one’s first post is a good sign that was a good post, and indeed that happened. For the sake of confidentiality I won’t say anything about who it was from or the remainder of the content, but they asked me two questions that I found interesting enough that they are worth another post:

Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell your parents about having a child with depression? (Or anything they did know that you’re glad they did know?)

Is there anything you’d want your younger self to know, if you could?

Those are difficult. And in some respects the answer is darker, I think, than the asker was hoping for. As I mentioned in that previous post, I don’t have major depression, I have c-PTSD, which presents with depression and a massively overwhelming inner critic as symptoms. That’s in my case, of course; those are extremely common symptoms among sufferers of c-PTSD but nothing is universal. As the name implies, however, complex post-traumatic stress disorder is not something anyone can be born with. Like its more widely accepted cousin PTSD, it is an involuntary reaction to trauma… which means answering these questions necessitates inquiring about the origins of that. [Read more…]