Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Fandom and Arrogant Entitlement

So there's been a lot of talk lately about the racist and sexist assaults on cast members of the new Star Wars trilogy. In particular, one witless coward who runs a Star Wars hate page on Facebook (but of course claims to be a "true fan") has taken credit for driving Kelly Marie Tran off of Facebook, and for orchestrating the bot hacks and review bombs on Rotten Tomatoes that subverted the ratings for The Last Jedi. Of course, he doesn't have the balls to post under his real name, because that's how Social Media works. Say whatever you want and hide behind a false name so you don't have to suffer consequences for it.

He also, incidentally, stated that John Boyega and Kathleen Kennedy were next because, "it's time to restore straight whit males to prominence in science fiction and fantasy," and that "We will force Kathleen Kennedy and her feminazi agenda to step down," and "...force Disney to restore Legends to its rightful place in canon."

I don't even have words for that. It's...wow. Yeah.

People like that need to be removed from the gene pool, that's all I'm going to say.

The Culmination of a Problem 


But honestly, this is only the culmination of a problem that's been going on for quite some time in fandom across the board. A recent meme went up that went something along these lines (bear with me: I'm paraphrasing, here):

The Stages of Fandom
1. I love this!
2. I own this!
3. I must control this!
4. I cannot control this; I must attack this!
5. I hate this!

Certainly this is a generalization and given how much money the current Star Wars and Marvel films are making, the vast majority of people are loving what's going on with it. Still, there's this sense among a vocal sect of the fanbase that is not only making the entire experience of fandom toxic, they are giving the rest of us a bad name.

A friend of mine from the Rebel Legion costuming group recently opined, "Nobody hates Star Wars like Star Wars fans," and he's so right. It's even bled into the groups themselves, which has led more tha a few people to walk away. I myself let my membership in the RL lapse, but there were a wide variety of reasons, and cattiness was only a small part.


The Arrogance of Fan Rage

The worst part about this is the sheer, arrogant, self-importance of a lot of these people. I had a discussion recently online about fan rage, and I pointed out that someone said to me, "Why don't I have the right to rant about how much something sucks? Why is your love of it okay and my disdain wrong?"

I responded, "Because we live in a world that's already too negative, angry, and toxic. My love is bringing positivity into the world. Your negativity and inability to let other people enjoy things is only making the problem worse, darker, and more negative."

This is where it gets good. Someone actually responded with the following:

"That's bullshit. I'm not just some butthurt fan hater. I have fifteen years of experience in film, and I could spell out a well-argued, well-thought-out argument about why these new Star Wars films objectively suck. I'm not just whining, and it's my responsibility to do just that, because it's time we stopped standing for the culture of mediocrity that Hollywood is forcing upon us, and in turn force them to start producing reasonably good films."

I'll be honest: That's some self-important bullshit right there. If you actually think: 

1. That your Facebook post is going to "end a culture of mediocrity in Hollywood,"
2. That your fifteen years of experience in film outweighs the literal decades of experience held by the various people making these films.
3. That your Facebook post is somehow going to get to Disney and make them go, "Holy SHIT, that guy's right!"
4. That there is any such thing as an "objectively" good or bad film

Then quite frankly, you're a self-important asshole who might have the right to a social media account, but you don't deserve the voice it gives you. That shit is the height of hubris and arrogance.

I saw someone else claim that the "failure" of Solo: A Star Wars Story is "what happens when you piss off the entire fan base."

1. Solo isn't a failure. It's broken even and made a profit. It just hasn't made a billion dollars. Funny thing about this--the media "benchmark" for it breaking even keeps getting raised higher, every time it meets the prior benchmark. For example, originally it had to make $300 mill to break even. As soon as it hit $300 mill, these sources all suddenly went, "Oh, no, it has to be $500 mill!"
2. Once again, given the sheer numbers that TLJ pulled in, Lucasfilm and Disney have absolutely not "pissed off the entire fan base." Just a few people who think they're more important than they are. 



Shut up and Move the F*** On

Look, nobody's requiring you to love everything that comes out. Nobody's even requiring you to like everything that comes out. But when your reaction is to take to social media and attack the people who are enjoying it, attack the cast and filmmakers, and pump yourself up with importance and power that frankly, you don't have, you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. 

It's not your "responsibility" to point out to Hollywood why their films are bad. It's not "within your power" to end a "culture of mediocrity." When you make stupid statements like, "making a billion dollars does not equate to a good film," you're showing your naivety, ignorance, and arrogance. In point of fact, by the only metric that counts, making a billion dollars does equate to a great film. Your personal assessment of its artistic merit...wait for it...doesn't matter. At all. 

If you don't like a film in a franchise, don't go see the next one. It's that simple. Vote with your wallet. That's the only way to show Hollywood their movies aren't good. It's not bitching on Facebook. But for Chrissakes, shut your goddamn mouth about it. Do you have the right to your opinion? Yes, absolutely. Do you have the right to express it? Yes, absolutely, and I'll fight for you to keep that right. 

But just because you have the right to something, does not mean it's a good idea to exercise that right. What you're doing? It's not exercising a responsibility to communicate with Hollywood. 

It's bullying. Pure, and simple. And that shit is unacceptable. 

If you don't like the latest movies in the franchises, guess what? There's literally dozens of sci-fi and fantasy films released every single year. Walk away and go find something that does appeal to you. You'll be much happier, and you won't infect everyone else with your toxic brand of fandom. 

In other words, Star Wars, Marvel, and DC aren't for you anymore. Suck it up, cowboy, and move the fuck on. 

2 comments:

  1. Jason, the latest star wars movie (and I say this as a film school graduate who has never claimed to be a particularly big fan of SW) does really suck on multiple levels. Well Yoda was Cool, but the rest... sheesh, it was transparently awful and nonsensical. Fans have every right to be incensed. I certainly agree that anyone crossing the line into misogynistic elitism is wrong in a very wrong way, but fans expecting trope continuity and a sensible plot certainly have a right to voice disappointment. But really that's neither here nor there. What I find particularly confusing about your post is the ironic attack on opposing voice as "negativity" and "self important arrogance" when that seems to be an apt description of your entire post. I don't mean this in any confrontational way, but I don't see any difference between your claims and theirs in terms of who is being self important or arrogant. Frankly, and especially when it comes to aesthetics, I take everyone to have the right and to consider their voice important - yours too.

    Your last bit about moving on though is good advice. I have no interest in paying to watch preachy nonsense dressed in special effects and a forced plot. I guess Disney will pump out a few more of examples of its take on the SW movie - apparently that "Solo" movie has come and gone already from what you wrote. Maybe some year down the road one of them will be free on Netflix and if I'm bored I'll put it on, or maybe I won't bother.

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    1. It "sucks on multiple levels" IN YOUR OPINION, not objectively. I, too, am a film school graduate, and I disagree with everything you say about it, including fans "having the right to be incensed." There was nothing awful, nor nonsensical, about it whatsoever. You're also supporting my exact argument with the arrogance of your own complaints.

      The old, "you're just as bad" argument doesn't fly. It's just whiny and the same old, "I have the right to express my hate" bullshit that's creating the toxic environment that is giving all of fandom a bad name to begin with.

      So thanks for that.

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