Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Real Number One Way That Self-Hating Fans Make Genre Entertainment Worse

Relax, you're not an idiot for liking this.

Would you like to know the worst thing about comics? It's not the unethical treatment of creators, it's not racial and gender stereotyping, it's not the dominance of one genre over an entire medium and it's not the bloody New 52. The worst thing about comics (for me, anyway) is this...
Sometimes, when creators and big companies are falling into bad habits again and again, somebody needs to take their keys away. It takes a lot of self-respect to keep from being an enabler. It's easier just to let it slide one more time — to let a comic book company reboot its universe for the hundredth time, or have Satan go around annulling people's marriages. Or to pretend that the billionth contrived crossover is as interesting as the millionth was. It's hard to be the person who launches an intervention and helps everyone to say no to more movies based on random toys, board games and other weird bits of IP. (Like we said earlier, junk food is awesome. But some kinds of junk food are just better than others.) This is probably the ultimate sin of the self-hating fan — being an enabler, and not expecting creators to clean up their acts.
The above quote is from an article on io9.com and is, ironically, the number one point on a Top Ten list of "Ways Self-Hating Fans Make Genre Entertainment Worse". What a condescending and patronising view of her fellow fans this author has! She alludes to DC's New 52 and Marvel's Spider-Man: One More Day in the above passage and then implies that anyone who likes these comics (and comics of that ilk) are suffering from a lack of self-respect and are incapable of objectively deciding what they like and do not like! She goes on to write "It's hard to be the person who launches an intervention and helps everyone to say no to more movies based on random toys, board games and other weird bits of IP." Actually it's surprisingly easy to be the person who "launches an intervention", if by "launching an intervention" she means "bitching on the internet". Lots of people do it. I'm doing it right now.

I've got some sad news for this author. If someone's a fan of, let's say the Transformers movies, I think it's very unlikely that some article on io9 is going to "help them say no" to that particular movie franchise. It might surprise the author to hear that most fans don't need anyone's "help" in deciding what they do or do not like. It's just possible that your average fan of the Transformers movies aren't deluded tools of the Hollywood machine, they just like films featuring big explosions and Megan Fox's arse and have deliberately chosen to spend their cinema money according to that taste. They're not stupid, or ignorant. They weren't on their way to see a Herzog double-bill in their local art-house cinema but then got conned into seeing Transformers along the way by a shiny poster. They just wanted a giant robot slug-fest. And yes, to use the author's analogy, I understand that "junk food is awesome, but some kinds of junk food are just better than others". But we just have to accept that some people like the cheeseburgers and some people like the Tits 'N' Guns 'N' Plothole-Burger and that doesn't make them any stupider, or you any cleverer.

This patronising attitude is not unique to the author of this article. It can be found all over the internet, especially regarding comics. Take for example this blog, that accuses fans of the writer Dan Slott of sycophancy for taking Slott's side in an online disagreement, and compares them to "Tea Party protesters who earn working-class wages but subscribe to Ayn Rand Objectivism nonetheless." For a start, this was a silly message board argument and comparing it to American politics is an absurd exaggeration. Secondly, we are once again seeing on display here the offensive notion that other fans are deluded idiots who don't know what's good for them!

Sadly however, 'sycophant' is a word that these condescending tits like to bandy around. What possible motive or reason would I (or anyone) have to be sycophantic towards Dan Slott or Geoff Johns or Joe Quesada or Dan Didio, or anyone at Marvel or DC? Do these bloggers think that I think I'm going to get a job at DC Comics if I say I like the New 52 on Twitter? Could I possibly be saying these things because I actually LIKE the New 52, or One More Day or whatever? Could it be that I don't have some desperate desire to suck up to a comic book editor that I'll never meet and I just like a comic that YOU DON'T!? Heaven forfend!

Comic book fans like to worry about attracting new readers. They fret that things like prices, clich├ęd story-lines, lack of ethnic diversity and Catwoman banging Batman are going to put off potential new readers. But for me the thing I find most likely to put off new fans is seeing a patronising, condescending and superior attitude coming from older fans about what to like and not like. So by all means, disagree with my tastes in comics or films. Lambaste, berate and criticise comics to your heart's content. It's important that negative views of art and entertainment are shared. I'm sure someone will listen to your advice when heading to the comic shop and I'm sure that enough negative reviews of something could cause a company to rethink their strategy. It's important that your views are heard. But don't assume that your opinion, as well informed as it may be, is the objective truth and don't tell me that I'm "an enabler" or a "sycophant" because I like stuff that you don't.

Because the "Number One Way That Self-Hating Fans Make Genre Entertainment Worse" isn't when we fail to "recognise that we're being an enabler". It's when we fail to recognise that we're being pretentious, supercilious arseholes.

5 comments:

  1. Well said, Paul. I'm so sick of comic book fans thinking they're better than everyone else just because they're comic book fans.

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  2. A quicker way of saying this would have been "JUST SAY NO" and she has a point. When a shitty behemoth of a comics company decides once again to reboot the fuck out of everything, just say no. I did. Crisis was bunk (controversial, but it ranks as one of very few comics I had to force myself to finish. BORING!), Crisis X was bunk, Zero Hour was infinitely bunk, 52 was an entire year of bunk , and the New 52 is as vapid as a certain Emperor's New Clothes. Alas I'm giving Dire C*nts loads of money through (partial) digital reissues, but I could give less of a shit about the Spew 52.

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  3. OK, I just went back and re-read that article and though I hate to admit I agree with you, the writers a dick. Apparently the only way you can enjoy anything faintly "cheesy" is in an ironic manner. Because otherwise you are wearing "rose tinted glasses" and being "unrealistic". I hate old Dr. Who as much as I hate new Dr. Who, I'm pretty equal like that. But I do appreciate that because something does not have what we consider modern production values does not mean you cannot appreciate it on its own merits rather than snarkily loving it cos it's patently shit. One of my favouriute movies is Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and I stand by it 100%. Not ironically, not snarkily, not meta-referentially. It's just good and old-fashioned and brilliant and fun. You don't have to be a dick to enjoy something that predates you, but I guess it helps if you're that particular cumwad. (For the record, I generally like io9, but they dropped the ball on this).

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  4. Lex, you don't like the New 52 but would you go as far as to say that people who do like it are "enablers" who don't know what's good for them and need to be "helped" in to better comics? Because that's what this article is saying.

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  5. Hi, sorry I'm late back to the party. I was parking the Lexmobile...

    Hmmm, that was a rant I went on wasn't it? I believe I may have been drunk (hope that timestamp isn't GMT!). That said, I stand by what I said. I do my best writing, and ranting, when drunk. Like Grant Morrison. Except with wine instead of psycho-active chemicals wrapped in cuttings from New Scientist.

    To your "point". Er, I've just had lunch so stop forcing those words in my mouth. I neither said nor implied any such thing.

    What DO I think? Actually, I don't really have much of an opinion. For once. You see I'm entirely comfortable with the fact that the world is full of people who aren't like me. And don't like the things I like. I accept, and EMBRACE it! I've jumped OFF more bandwagons than I've jumped ON. Not because I'm elitist (that's true but irrelevant), but because by the time everyone else has joined the party I've already been there a while. And, oh, what's that? Something glittery in the corner? On to the next. Yeah, I'm talking rubbish. But I like to rant. And I might say something like "if ONLY the world would try Blood of Dracula they would see what an awesome comic it was" but I'm GLAD it's so obscure it's never been republished and no-one knows what the f*ck I'm talking about. Any f*cker can "discover" Preacher. There's 800 bloody copies of each volume in stock at Forbidden Prices at ALL TIMES. Fnar, he made him put his cock up his bum. Yeah, that's real visceral alright. Not clever though is it?

    Sorry, where was I. Oh yeah, right we like different things. Agreed. Thank god. And it's cool that our "likes" intersect and we can OCCASIONALLY agree. But if EVER we don't disagree on something for over 10 minutes then GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

    Sorry, what was the topic?

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