Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fire the Comic Book Community

Hello to all my fellow comic book fans and fellow enthusiasts of all things geek. I am here today to let you in on a little public service announcement: You all suck. Seriously, it's true. Highly generalized (I'm sure a lot of you are actually pretty dandy folks), but still filled with true. You have become monstrous and parasitic with all of your fervor and it would almost be hilarious if it all had not reached the disgusting levels that it has. Your continual desire to be constantly outraged at the things you profess to love borders on a level of masochism that even I - a master of the S&M arts of tearing down the things he professes to derive enjoyment from - tip my hat at your screaming self-importance with your claims of "fandom" as you rally against essentially everything that goes on in our little, fantasy world.  I'd almost feel more contempt for you if it wasn't being overwhelmed my pity when I realize that, at the end of the day, this is mostly being aimed at how grown men and women write fictional characters (or direct fictional characters brought to life on film) and how absurd and petty a notion that is in reality. 

I'll pull back on my vitriol a bit now to at least say this: I get it. If but just on a base level of attachment I understand some of the "concern" of how these imaginary beings we grow up with and that exert some influence on our development are handled by the people that shape them for our current consumption and sculpting of the next generation. Hell, just before I decided I've had enough of this #firerickremender bullshit to start moving my fingers across the board to make this post, I was drafting up a piece where I wanted to talk about how I feel a little "out of the loop" given the way a lot of the publishing lines are drawn these days. Regardless, I understand the comfort of continuing to read about characters that have been with us all our lives on the page and the thrill of watching them on the big screen, shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of our fellow nerds that gleefully (or even begrudgingly) plopped down fifteen bucks for a ticket that helps justify our misspent youths. With that said, you fuckers need to get a hold of yourselves and grow up a little bit; some of you a lot bit. 

Quite frankly, outrage is too easy these days because all it takes is some schmuck with a mad on and a keyboard (huzzah, I realize I could be a hypocrite here!) and the right wave of bored people who want to yell at each other via our bandwidth tubes. There's outrage over a football team name. Outrage over what some dumb, racist fat broad with a butter fetish said over two decades ago. Outrage over how tiny the girl they cast to play Wonder Woman is and how it doesn't seem like she's bulking up enough. Context is also a lost fucking art form it seems as well. What of those three things I just mentioned doesn't seem like the other? Not that discussions on all of these subjects don't have their own merits given the right forums, platitudes, and implications in a vacuum. That football team name could be offensive to a lot of people whose ancestors were brutalized as this country grew; maybe we should talk about it and see if that should still be a thing? Tons of Fun with a Southern Drawl said some dumb, ignorant stuff but it was years ago, raised in a culture where that shit is, sadly, not uncommon but she has a pretty broad following so maybe we should hold her accountable to the point of her losing her primary source of income? I don't know, that's some pretty damn grey area there if you ask me. It warrants talking about for sure but I think on a lower scale because, overall, I don't think her career really matters all much in the grand scheme of things but we should all take the time to discuss personal accountability and how it can affect our careers now that our lives are just that much more out there thanks to social media.

That third example though, seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you people?

We're throwing outrage at a girl who was handed a job, now has to and will do it to her best ability (assuming she's as professional as you would hope someone on that particular level is), but doesn't live up to your standards of the fictional being she is getting paid to portray, even though you have yet to see her attempt at the character? Outrage over the sole production photo of Henry Cavill back in the Superman costume and how dour it looks. Continued outrage over Ben Affleck as the Batman and the guy from the social network being Lex Luthor. Outrage, outrage, outrage!! over a movie you will all spend money on anyway and that in ten years will just remember as that thing you may or may not have enjoyed for two and a half hours of your life and wonder what they'll be doing with the reboot or who they will cast as any of those characters I just named this time around. And that will be followed with more outrage, because why not, unless maybe by the grace of god aliens will have invaded the Earth and we'll have more important things to worry about than movie adaptions (and I pledge my fealty to you here and now oh wonderfully dome-headed ones).

And, to reiterate, I understand this on that primal basis. These things hold a dear place in our hearts. I spend several hours a week typing up pieces about these characters and books for a pretty popular website (that is even renowned for being @$$holes about this shit, huzzah again!) and have spent plenty of time in forums weighing the pros and cons of these character turns and editorial directions and on and on. When an adaptation of a character you identify with sucks it's a bit of a downer because we have all invested so much into this hobby and art form over the years. But you also know what? Every time it sucks it's going to be all right because, regardless of current status quo's and regimes, there's always the old material we hold dear and always the potential for new material in the future that will reignite our fondness for those properties. I don't want to say we should not debate and discuss, or voice excitement and disappointment, but that the clamor should always have a context and a conscious.

But, because we can't fucking have nice things, instead we decided to call for a prominent writer's head on a pike because, well, the O-word.

#FireRickRemender was quite possibly the dumbest thing I woke up to this week, and I follow sports and politics pretty heavily. Because someone who doesn't know how to follow along with a comic book assumed a character that, even though she just announced she was in her twenties (and yes, I get a lot of this involved time jumping shenanigans and we saw a lot of her in her teens, but still, CONTEXT PEOPLE!!), was still assumed to really be in her teens and banged The Falcon and they were all "ew" about it. And, because the Internet loves some outrage and hash tagging fucking everything, some supposed journalists for places like The Examiner and whatnot, who also don't apparently understand context (and, really, the fucking Examiner is covering this shit now?) decided to run with that flag as soon as it was raised. So because statutory rape that didn't really happen but is TOTALLY KIND OF IMPLIED if you read it the way you want to was a thing,  part of the community decided to call for a man's livelihood. Given the ridiculousness of these claims I'm going to put forth one of my own right now: The person who started this really didn't get the statutory part mixed up, they're just racist and felt icky seeing sex aftermath between a tiny white girl and a large, muscular black man. See how easy this shit is? And a not insignificant portion of comic book readers went straight for their Disqus generated guillotines and their insipid hashtags and demanded a man's head. For a group of people raised on reading books with characters whose main purposes were to teach acceptance and tolerance, we apparently love our witch hunts. And as hypocritical as even I may have been over the years with some of my pieces, this nonsense (at least within the confines of our community) is at a FOX News playbook level of amateurishness.

There are things we should always discuss as a community and how we want to present ourselves. Maybe we should discuss how, now that comics are way more mainstream, that they may have gotten too "adult" even with material like this in the first place, since it's going to be kids like we used to be when we first got hooked and that will continue these stories beyond us. When Orson Scott Card was penned in to write Superman stories, that was a real debate we should have had, because an UNMISTAKABLY and VOCALLY intolerant person was about to become the mouth piece of the most tolerant character possibly in the history of fiction was a real discussion point. Should it have cost him the job though? I have my opinions on that and so do you and we should all discuss them rationally. The "Women in Refrigerators" movement, as it documented for years, showed there was an unhealthy trend showing up in our comics and we needed to have a frank conversation about how it, as a primarily male driven industry, needed to start presenting itself to the female world. I personally think we are infinitely better now that we have had that discussion and hope we can have more like it as the community grows and the industry evolves.

#FireRickRemender was not a discussion. It was one person's misconstrued distaste turned into a hunt for page clicks by others who were just looking for an excuse to write something attention grabbing,  even as just a roundabout way to knock down Remender himself a peg for not liking his work or what he's currently doing the character of Captain America himself. And you know what? At least there's some merit that last aspect because of that attachment I have talked about several times now. If you think a current take on a character is not doing that character justice or seems out of place, talk about it. Or bear it out and hope the next guy or gal (and there will be a next one shortly in today's industry) will be more your style. But demonizing for the sake of demonizing will get us nowhere. Look at our political climate today. If you do not have a factual point for your crusade to rally around, all you are going to do is entrench the other party. And as far as that is concerned, don't think you scumbags whose response to these trumped up allegations were the standard assortment of "I hope you get raped!" and "Let's personally hunt this person down for that thing they said online" aren't an exceptional level of sub-human that I am ashamed to sit amongst in those theaters at those film releases. If you are able to even insinuate that nonsense in base "it's the Internet so I'm not accountable!" snark form then you have no claim to any of that emotional fan attachment to these characters in the slightest. Because the first step in showing your dedication and fandom to these characters is stand up for the ideals that they shaped in you over the years as you became the human that you are today. And if what you have become is capable of such corrosiveness, then you have no right to this community, or any collaboration of human beings for that matter. You stand alone in your own pool of bile.

And now that I've spent too much time talking about what is wrong with Comic Books, I'm going to go back to reading them and reminding myself what's right about them. I would encourage you all to do the same and continue to come together in rejoicing over how awesome "Guardians of the Galaxy" looks so far. Cheers...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shut Up and Like What You Fucking Like

I have officially decided I am a tired man. Tired for many things in general - our political climate, the selfishness I think we're all exposed to daily, physically and self-inflictedly given how I run myself ragged in a normal week - but I am mostly fatigued because the more I look around it seems like we cannot bother to enjoy things. More specifically, we cannot enjoy our things because there are other evil and despicable people bothering to take solace in things that aren't the same things we like! Sometimes, even worse, they try to like the same things but are doing it years after we did and now that it's become more "mainstream"!! The horror, the horror, etc, etc. And I, as a retired "King Jackhole of Caring Way Too Fucking Much About Experiences Other People Were Having" whilst I was in my mid-twenties am here to say an emphatic "Who gives a fuck?!" It may be in some abysmally inane way the zeitgeist of the times with our constant barrage of social networking and Internet forums and comments page upon comments page to be continually jacked into what people are doing with their free time (I am also guilty of this in a "I need to check into this thing I'm doing on an app so people can ask me about it if they want feedback because I love giving feedback on stuff I enjoy!!! mannerism) but it needs to stop. When your enjoyment of a piece of art/entertainment/media or what have you is being compromised by people putting their relaxation efforts into something you deem of a "lesser quality," then it is way more likely than not you are one who needs a shifting of priorities, not this waste of human flesh who needs raped for their fandom that you speak of (assuming you speak of it in standard, spiteful Internet vernacular).

As I just said, I say all of this and speak of its truthiness (and, holy fuck, I just realized that word did not autocorrect as I typed it and that is pretty great) because I've been there. I am a consumer of things. It is what I do. When I finally bear down on trying to reach that mythical "relaxed" state I usually do it through artistic media endeavors. I buy at least fifty different comic book titles a month. I read anywhere from a dozen to twice that in novels a year. I keep tabs on probably fifteen different television shows, play upwards of twenty video game releases a year and on and on and on. Essentially, when I finally  do bother to wind down I like to do so by disappearing in what other people create because I respect and appreciate what creative people do to lighten up and/or inspire this world. Unfortunately, this did not used to be the case because I, as a frustrated and angrier version of my current self, was for some fucksakingly moronic reason frustrated and angry that people liked "bad" forms of media, unlike everything I liked which was, of course, the pinnacle of the medium because I just knew that much more.

Basically, I was an asshole. Not to be confused with @$$hole, which I definitely am, but has its own connotation that is probably more misunderstood than it deserves to be these days. See my last posting from months ago about my thoughts on being a critic in relation to what I'm typing here now. Anyway...

I'm bothering to type all this because of that fatigue I alluded to earlier. Because, try as I might to not be "jacked in" to social media 24/7, I am on it enough and exposed to a solid amount of material written about the matter to see that, for some reason and after years of being the "shunned people" geeks have now turned on each other. Now that we live in an era where hallowed pieces of the perennially loser stuff like "The Lord of the Rings" and properties like Batman, Superman, and the Avengers are featured in movies that make more than half the nations of the world, all that has really developed instead of a "Yay, all this stuff I enjoy is perpetuating! I should enjoy this while it lasts!" sense of pride is a pissing match between who is "more geek." A culture that has traditionally been bullied is now the bully amongst themselves. Girls apparently enjoy Doctor Who now (and may or may not have been lured in by David Tennant being absolutely dreamy) and that is an affront to the geek culture of "WE ARE THE SHUNNED AND LONELY" that everyone brazenly wore while getting stuffed in lockers all the while. Get over yourselves, all of you. You all sound like that "Murica for Muricans!" exclusivist crowd, that proudly totes an attitude of "fuck you, you can't enjoy the wonderful things we have because we're scared it'll impact our lives even though it really won't at all" and revels in its elitist shunning. And, really, who wants to be in the same grouping as Arizonans?

Look, I get having pride in your hobbyist jaunts. And I get poking fun at terrible things because, well, terrible things need not exist. In a world where we have instant access to literally any music you could want to hear from dozens and dozens of entry points, Justin Bieber should be a no name, let alone the biggest name. But, the rub is, there's people that enjoy that and it sucks they have no taste but, eh, that's their thing. Where you show your pride is by guiding them into a new hobby or better versions of it, not excluding them because you were there first when it wasn't cool.  Yeah, Bieber blows, probably literally, whatever, move that person into some classic crooners like Sinatra or the King. "The Twilight Saga" is a terribly written pile of vacuous drivel that probably sent womankind back decades as teen girls everywhere are shown it's okay to pine over whip thin boys with no personality while making no decisions for themselves, and yes, it sucks that's a billion dollar movie franchise, but that just means there's a lot of younger ladies out there (I say their soccer moms that also love this shit are too far gone to be saved but who knows) to be led to NetFlix and some "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" where they can get a better version of that romance with a female lead that's not Malibu Stacying the young, female audience.

And it goes without saying at this point but fandom is definitely one of those "we're all in this together" deals. Your hobby may be fucking quilting images of the Golden Girls in different time periods for all I know but if that's your passion then by all means delve deep. I have a closetful of beer that would satiate any two human beings let alone some jackass such as myself that is too busy being dainty about his waistline to fully enjoy it and I've got shelves full of enough dead tree that I'm probably responsible for a clearcut forest. But I've met some good people that way who just want what we all want, something to help us relax, something to be passionate about, something to bring us together and something that may even be a future for us by producing it ourselves and for fellow fans to put their dollars toward. If it's not hurting anyone, if it's not lowering the population's collective IQ with its inanity, and if it's bringing us all together, then why bother with the vitriol brought about on all these newcomers and open-minded can-I-join-in's? Oh, because it makes you less special for being their first. Piss-fucking-off.

Because that's the downside to fandom isn't it? At some point, if you've dug too deep, you're stuck in that hole. When all you do is live for a thing you become tied into that on a core level. If someone tries to love that same item then they're taking it away from you right? Your combined love can't possibly occupy the same space otherwise it all gets too big and POP! no more thing to sink your time, money, and energy into.

Or you could just get over yourself.

It's a big world out there and 99.9% of it is just trying to get by and artistic endeavors such as these are how we all accomplish this goal. Trust me, as someone with enough responsibilities to drown a politician and who never gets out into the world to be shoulder to shoulder with his comrades in liking things, it's nice to enjoy it all together. You make friends, you share experiences, you find like ground and find new things to focus your energies on and to inspire you in different ways than you were being so before. You could also lose yourself into your self-righteousness and wise anonymous rape threats on people for sharing a different opinion than yours on a piece of art fiction too, but what kind of pencil-dicked, no social grace having, still wets the bed at night because no one including their parents ever fucking liked them piece of shit would do something as lowlife as that? So go with the open and shared experience thing, trust me.

You've got nothing to prove about being "geek enough" and the most virtuous of those that wear that moniker are the ones who bring more into the fold so they can get the same joy out of these hobbies, not those that not only shun the newcomers but do so in the vilest of manners. Those people don't actually enjoy anything but their own self-indignation and we've fought too long to show the world all this cool stuff we like and that they could like as well to let them drag us back down into the Sarlak-like pits of social exile from which we climbed the past few decades. We can do and become better, just like all these pieces of created inspiration that exist for the express purpose of guiding us nudge us to achieve. Cheers...