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Toxic Fandom

Toxic Fandom

Kelly Marie Tran was a mostly unknown actress until she landed the part of Rose in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (SW8EP8).

As I have written, Rose the character, was three points short of useless and completely unnecessary. A simple explanation of the plan to the heroes would have avoided a lot of bad film-making, and absurdly convoluted actions and plot MacGuffins..

That is Rose, the character.

As I also wrote, Kelly Marie Tran did a fine job with the role. And now it seems that some so-called Star Wars fans have decided to harass and intimidate her to the point of leaving social media (Instagram, specifically). Remember, the character sucked, the acting did not (or, not beyond the level of the usual Lucas-style direction, but that is on the director). I don’t want to repeat this, but it really seems like there are a lot of people missing the point.

Character bad. Actor not bad.

This is part of the problem in fandom these days. We have come to believe that creators are somehow beholden to us…no, that isn’t it. That we, the fans, control the property they created. Hint: we don’t. We didn’t when Vader was revealed as Luke’s father (and yes, that was hotly debated at the time), we didn’t when Lucas gave us Jar-Jar Binks and the wildly racist Trade Federation, we didn’t when needless works like ‘Shadows of the Empire’ happened…or the Yuuzhan Vong dropped a moon on Chewbacca. We didn’t at any of these points, and still don’t.

Yes, we have the right to have expectations, to be disappointed, angry, frustrated, or hurt when things go in ways we don’t like. Yes, we have the right to complain about this, and wail and cry about it. Yes, we have the right, and perhaps even duty, to hold the creator responsible for their creation, and if we feel that their vision is too far from our own, we have the right to be mad, and quit consuming the content.

But we do not, ever, have the right to demand that the creators follow our vision of their creation. Their. Creation. Not yours, not mine, not ours. Theirs.

Part of that creation is including the characters they want to include. If that means characters we find annoying, unwelcome, unattractive, or whatever, that’s our problem, not theirs. And they don’t have to apologize for it. So, when Rose Tico was added to the plot and script of The Last Jedi, we had no say in that. Rightly. When Kelly Marie Tran was cast to play the part, we had no say in that. Also rightly. When the character turned out to be a poorly drawn, unnecessary, and ill-conceived part of the movie, we had no say in that either. But that is anger, disappointment, frustration, or whatever at a character. Attaching it to an actor is crossing a line.

Star Wars fandom has had this issue for some time now. From the irrational hate directed at Jake Lloyd to the current vitriol directed at Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran, there is a dark side to this fandom. I believe this is symptomatic of a larger problem in the SF/F community as a whole, but that’s another post for another time. In the SW universe, fans have the annoying habit of believing they are owed something.

Pro Tip: We. Aren’t.

Look, short of those who devote large sections of their lives to this, I am one of the biggest SW fans out there. It was the first movie I ever saw, in 1977. So, yeah, it is a thing. And yes, I was not in love with the prequels, or Last Jedi. And yes, I want a higher grade product, and have my own ideas on where the series and property should go. Like any fan. And, like the vast majority of us, I understand that I am not being consulted, and have precisely no control over this. Some folk didn’t get the memo.

So what to do about this? Really, the only thing we can do is confront it head on. And not just people attacking actors for choices and such not their own. Confront people who insist that any creative property bend to their will. Remind them that if they want that, they need to create it, and while criticism and venting is good, and welcome, there is a line. It is hard to see, sometimes, but it is there. We, as fans, have a responsibility to police ourselves, and find ways to make the best of low-quality product (including celebrating high-quality product more than we bemoan low-quality). We need to do this because we stand to loose more than the creators do.

What would Star Wars Celebration be without guests? Think about that. If we, as the mainline fandom, allow the lunatic fringe to push the actors away (and once them, who is next?), why would they appear anywhere for the fans? Of course, they get paid, and it may even be in their contracts, so there is that motivation. But do you think that Kelly Marie Tran, if she is cast in a future SF/F property, will have that included? Force her to meet the fans…many of whom would be gracious and welcoming, but who may have come to scream at her? Would you do that? I wouldn’t.

So, be passionate about the property. Be engaged in the community. But don’t be toxic. Don’t attack actors for the sins of the writers or directors. Don’t be a dick.

Origins Game Fair – Where Discourse Is Unwelcome

Origins Game Fair – Where Discourse Is Unwelcome

First things first. I don’t have a dog in this hunt. I was not planning on attending Origins, and never would have, as it is in Ohio, and I simply won’t go to that state unless absolutely necessary. So this doesn’t impact my plans in the least.

Second things…I am very torn on this, as I am, at my core, a free speech absolutist. I believe that there should be no limits on speech, and have written at length about that. In brief, I believe that you should be allowed to speak, and operate your businesses, as you see fit – including discrimination against potential customers – without governmental interference or censure. The flip side is that you must also accept that the population may not support you, and you must not be saved from failure by the government either. Thus, I respect Origins Game Fair’s right to invite whomever they wish, and disinvite (as rude as that may be) whomever they wish. This is their right, and their excise of this right is nothing to comment on. While I think their decisions are poor, and will harm them in the long run, it is their right to do so, and I respect and defend that right, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.

But.

There is the issue of the now-deleted tweet from Origins announcing the removal of New York Times bestselling author Larry Correia from their guest list. First, by deleting the tweet, it looks like they are either covering up, or ashamed of, their position. That is one of my main complaints about the modern world, and maybe worth a post in itself. We no longer seem to even have the courage of our personal belief, of our convictions. See books by Lars Walker for a better look at that than I can give just now. That is one issue, but the real issue, the kicker, as it were, is the wording of the tweet itself:

Third paragraph. Last sentence. “We focus on fun, not discourse and controversy”. Emphasis mine.

Discourse. Webster’s defines this as

  1. verbal interchange of ideas; especially : conversation
  2. formal and orderly and usually extended expression of thought on a subject
    1. connected speech or writing
    2. a linguistic unit (such as a conversation or a story) larger than a sentence
  3. a mode of organizing knowledge, ideas, or experience that is rooted in language and its concrete contexts (such as history or institutions) critical discourse
  4. archaic: the capacity of orderly thought or procedure : rationality
  5. obsolete: social familiarity

So, Origins, per their executive director, is not a place for a verbal exchange of ideas, conversation, or civil discussion. While I expect he meant to use the word ‘discord’, that isn’t what was written. And I think that is revealing. By refusing to honor an invitation to a man who is considered by all who have met him to be a great person, kind, gracious, gentle, etc. (disclaimer: I have never met him, but know people who have), and then saying ‘we don’t want to be a place for conversation’, Origins shows a staggering intolerance of diversity.

The simple reality is that the political position occupied by the sort of people who screech about ‘unsafe’ (and do explain how that is in any way accurate….I’ll wait) is also all about the refusal to engage in any discourse with anyone not of their specific group or flavor. In this, they haven’t exactly progressed past their origins in the early 1800s, and demonstrate they still love a good lynching. In civil society, ideas are to be discussed, to be considered, and to be accepted or rejected on their merits – not because some screeching stain says they make her (in this specific case, it was a her – isn’t always) feel, somehow, unsafe. As if someone holding a different opinion is unsafe. This back to the absurdist position that somehow conservative speech is violence, but liberal violence is speech. I am neither alone nor original in stating that 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual.

So what is a thinking person to do (and yes, in case it isn’t obvious, I am excluding the sort of person who thinks this is right or good from the set ‘thinking’, not ‘people’) when confronted with this kind of idiocy? What is the correct response? Again, no dog in the hunt, but I think the correct response may look like this:

  • Boycott Origins. In all ways – do not support them, their sponsors, their allies, their friends, their ConCom’s businesses. You want to make this personal, on your head be it. The vendors are innocent in this, and don’t deserve to be caught in the insanity Origins has started. If you know they were there, and see them elsewhere, proceed as normal – this is not on them. Sponsors…that’s different.
  • Promote the competition of all the above – boycotting is step one. Always look at the second step, and that is to move any business from the supporters of the position you disagree with to their competitors. It isn’t enough to just not shop there…
  • Under no circumstances encourage, condone, support, suggest, or hint at any kind of violent response – even in metaphor, jest, ad absurdum, mockery, and so on. The enemy – and they have declared themselves so – chooses when to take this as an actual threat, and when to not. Hint: if conservatives say it, it is a threat, if they say it, it isn’t (even when it is by any reasonable standard).
  • Do patronize conventions where banned and disinvited authors are welcome. Be active in those communities, and keep the good cons going. Since they want segregation so badly, we can give it to them.
  • See #3…really, not even in jest. With the fallout and discussion in full froth, Mr. Correia posted that he awoke this AM to reports that people in his Facebook group made bomb threats. I suspect someone reported his wife, for the ‘nuke em’ post she made. This is how deranged the enemy is. Just think for a moment about that.
  • Strike back in their forum and manner. So Origins kicked Mr. Correia. And by doing so removed the only non-white guest from their convention. Make some noise about that! No women, no POC, only white males! How dare they – isn’t that making us unsafe? Or whatever their position is. Use mockery, as they cannot stand being mocked. Subvert their own methods and practices. We have a true spectrum of people who are on our side, people they claim have more valid voices…use those voices to make it impossible for conventions like Origins to function. Use their weapons to orchestrate their downfall.

In closing, remember to remain true to yourselves. There is nothing wrong with a convention making an unpopular choice – they have that right and must be encouraged to exercise it. To do otherwise is to be the next in line for the boxcars. Forgive them, as we are called to do. But also remember we are not compelled or called to support them either.

On The Subject Of Pride

We heard an awful lot about how hateful the white pride movement is this past weekend. And have been hearing it for at least a year, probably longer. I tend to tune it out because in my experience the people most likely to shout about the evils of white pride are the same ones extolling some other form of identity-based pride.

And that confuses me. Has for at least a decade and a half. Probably longer.

I have never understood the concept of having actionable pride in things you have nothing to do with. Not being ashamed, yes, that is a good thing, and to be encouraged across the board. But pride?

I did nothing to be born white, male, straight, brown haired, etc. And no one else did either. You have nothing to do with your gender, race, nationality, skin tone, whatever. Nothing. At. All.

You didn’t achieve anything, sacrifice anything, or overcome anything to be born whatever you were born. Your parents may have. You may overcome things later in life, but the action of overcoming, of succeeding, of achieving…that is something to be proud of.

Not the genetics your parents brought into play.

I long believed that people who fostered this absurd pride in things they had nothing to do with were at least a little defective. Either they were prone to claim achievements they had nothing to do with, or raised by ignorant people who did the same. Of late, that has had another factor added to it.

They have nothing else to be proud of.

It may be judgmental, but there it is. If I get violently upset because of some moronic ‘racial pride’, I must not have anything else to feel proud of. Alternately, it also seems that a lot of the people manifesting this mental defect expect to be treated as somehow superior because of the incidence of their birth. As if that makes them, well, anything special.

Pro Tip: It Doesn’t.

If you want to be treated as exceptional, be exceptional. Be better at a thing. Be creative, be innovative, be a success. This modern conceit that says someone can claim superiority solely because genetics made them black, white, Hispanic, Asian, male, or female, is damaging to both the individual and the society as a whole. It is the root of eugenics, which was evil, twisted, and wrong the first time around.

This Is How It Should Be

This Is How It Should Be

Which, yes, means it doesn’t. But this is simple, and we can’t seem to pull it together enough to get the simple stuff like this right. It makes me worry. I see so many examples of the kind of things that make this list feel needed every day. It is, in fact, the main reason I would have dropped all social media, if I didn’t need it for work. Yes, it’s that bad. I can’t seem to grasp how this is so easy to ignore – and how many people insist on acting against the simple ‘duh’ level reality I am talking about.

So, here is my list of things it’s past time to realize:

If the other side does it, and you think it’s wrong, it’s wrong when your side does it too.

If your side does it, and you think it’s good, it’s good when the other side does it too.

Your side is not all saints.

The other side is not all sinners.

It is good, right, and just to call out those on your side who are bad actors.

No one is all of anything. Hitler was a decently talented artist, and loved his dogs.

You aren’t all of any one thing either…

Objective truths exist – wrong is wrong, regardless of who did it or why. Or to whom.

Speech is not violence. Violence is not speech.

Hold law enforcement to a strict standard, the same laws they hold us to.

Politicians are not heroes. Or stars. They are, at best, ineffective middle managers who have delusions of superiority. Stop lionizing them.

If you define everyone on one side as evil, expect some of them to become evil. If you make it clear your side thinks an entire demographic is stupid / uneducated / worthless / second class (or lower), you can expect them to hate you in return.

We used to at least try to get along, we should look at that again.

Give it a try…you might be shocked what happens.

A Fisking…

So, I saw this posted, and decided it was too good to not fisk a bit. My comments in <<brackets>>. I cannot verify, and do not suggest, that this represents all supporters of Black Lives Matter (I know it does not), but it does claim to speak for the leaders. Make of that what you will…

Lessons from Fidel: Black Lives Matter and the Transition of El Comandante

<<Transition? Thought he was dead, not trans…>> We are feeling many things as we awaken to a world without Fidel Castro. <<Relief that one more Communist dictator is gone?>> There is an overwhelming sense of loss, complicated by fear and anxiety. <<Why? For what possible reason?>> Although no leader is without their flaws, we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante. <<Defend forced reeducation of gays! Defend restrictions of speech and art! Defend oppression! Defend totalitarianism!>> And there are lessons that we must revisit and heed as we pick up the mantle in changing our world <<If you assholes are ‘picking up the mantle’ from Castro, you really don’t care about black lives – like I have suspected all along.>>, as we aspire to build a world rooted in a vision of freedom and the peace that only comes with justice <<Therefore the struggle in Cuba is different. There cannot be a civil rights movement. You will have instantly 10,000 black people dead. 1>>. It is the lessons that we take from Fidel. <<I know this one! Kill all who oppose you, set up forced labor camps, discriminate against blacks…oops>> (more…)

So, It’s Trump

graphic from cnn.com

Well, didn’t see that coming. Like a lot of people, I simply underestimated Trump, and it looks like that was a mistake.

But honestly, people. You’d think you woke up to hell on earth or something. Let me clue you in – this ‘how could this happen’ feeling? Yeah, it is how conservatives felt in 2008. And 2012. And we didn’t riot. Unlike leftists in Oakland. So, well played. Check your post history, and reread any ‘cope and move on’ posts you or others might have directed at us, and apply to yourselves. This not some end of history moment. It is a message. A loud one.

Hillary Clinton ran as the establishment candidate. Honestly, she couldn’t do otherwise, regardless of her desires. She has been in the inner halls of power since 1992. She has been #3 in line for the White House. She was the first overtly consulted First Lady. She was presented as the heir to Obama, and the guardian of his legacy.

And that is why she failed. Seriously. How do the Democrats not get this? Did they not see the kinds of focus Sanders received? Did they not need their rigged system to ensure the establishment candidate won the nomination in the face of the most anti-establishment electorate in US history? And yes, the superdelegate system is rigged for the insider candidate – just because Sanders chose to play in that system does not make it less rigged. Trump is the most outsider candidate ever – having never held any elected office before. This was the year of the outsider, which we should have seen in the massive rallies and crowds Trump and Sanders drew. Especially in comparison to the anemic crowds Clinton drew (especially in the primaries).

Despite the usual 20/20 hindsight, I figured that his support would not overcome the leftist fear-mongering about him. I was wrong.

To those who see this as the beginning of the inevitable revocation of whatever civil issue you hold dear, please, for the sake of everyone, take a civics course. That isn’t how this works. Never has been. Look to FDR – insane popularity, and when he tried to ram things through to do what he thought would help the most, he was blocked. Trump? Even his notional party doesn’t like him. Do you honestly think that he will somehow break Democrat resistance, GOP dislike, and popular opinion to magically deport everyone who isn’t white? Revoke every equality law in every state? End abortion?

Grow. Up.

  • Most of those are state laws, and the federal authority does not extend to state laws. See literally every state that has legalized marijuana. It is still illegal at the federal level, but holy crap, states can write their own laws! So if your state has passed any kind of equality law, nothing Trump does can change that.
  • If the President could handwavium laws away, don’t you think Obama would have done so? He hasn’t. As much as I think he was at best a sub-par President, even at his most arrogant (and he is absurdly arrogant “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” -New Yorker, 11/17/08) never managed that. It isn’t how the system works.
  • Pence may have religious objections to gay rights (ok, flat out does as far as I can tell). Trump has been accused of that, but a search of WikiQuote doesn’t show a single quote indicating any animosity. Not one. No use of the common slurs. A few about defending the LGBT community from Islamic terrorists / Islamists (where being gay is a death sentence – and that sentence is enforced in the modern world). But no slurs. So, again, relax. Your rights won’t be stripped away by a Trump administration. Also, see above on state laws.
  • No one is coming for your daughters, for Muslims, for illegal immigrants. Maybe we will finally join the rest of the world in enforcing our own border laws. But even that is doubtful – again, states like California simply don’t have the will to do so, and will continue to ignore border laws. But don’t expect any changes there.
  • And if you are upset about Trump’s comments about women (and wow, even a hostile media dropped those assault claims like they were made against Bill Clinton or something), remember who you supported as VP for eight years…‘Gropin’ Joe Biden.

Basically, it will be a challenge for four years, yes. So this is the left’s chance to show that they actually believe all the stuff they keep saying – I don’t think they do for a second. Leftists in my experience are more bigoted, hateful, spiteful, racist, and generally nasty than anyone else. So prove me, and millions of other conservatives, wrong. Act like you believe all that shit you keep saying. Work together, work across the party lines, be kind, be helpful, don’t hate.

I honestly don’t see it happening. The political left1 is founded on hate, built with spite, and rife with unrestrained bigotry. But the rules changed last night. So anything might happen…

 

 

  1. As a whole – I know may liberals who are not like this, but the movement writ large…very much so.