Monday, June 11, 2018
Toxic nerdistry: We're not watching the same thing and we're not on the same page
It was somewhere around the second season of The Sopranos that I realised I wasn't the same show as my mates were, because they seemed to be only into it for the sex and violence - and there was loads of both - and I was in it for the thoughtful study of the death of the American dream, (although the sex and violence certainly helped, as well).
I never really judged anybody for this. That's the way people watched that show, and it was good enough for them, but I just felt a little sad that they weren't there for the transcendence, just the bullet in the head. It just felt like they were missing out on the shit that made that story so fucking good, the poor bastards.
On the other hand, I don't feel any sympathy for anyone who watches a bloody Star Wars films and comes away with the idea that it's all right to personally insult and attack the people involved in making it - especially one who provided some much need colour into the universe - just because the story didn't go the way they wanted.
That's not sad. They're just fucking dickheads.
I just don't get how people can watch a Star Wars movie and walk away with the idea that it's okay to harass an actor until they have to shut down their friendly social media presences. Are we watching the same thing? Are they identifying too much with the rabid space nazi fuckheads? Because those films make it pretty fucking clear they are not good people, and should not emulated in any way.
How can people who put down 'jedi' on their census form think it's then okay to break out the racist and sexist vitriol from behind the keyboard? How can they be so blind to the obviously positive effects that having someone who isn't another white male play a major part in a blockbuster, or how many people it inspires to join in on the fun?
While there are occasional stabs at real depth in these films, these things are still always going to be kids movies, and are pretty fucking simple morality tales. If you go around spitting at people from other cultures and genders, you're the fucking bad guy, dickhead. And bad guys in these films get a lightsabre in the face, or a space torpedo up their arse.
I get so many of my own ethics and morals from these thick, throbbing slices of pop culture, especially the dumbest superhero comics. I don't think I'd ever be able to tolerate a bully, or put up with societal injustice, even if I never gave a shit about Superman, but it doesn't hurt to have some four-colour guidance.
But the toxic nerd is just such a repulsive thing, and makes us all look bad, and as a hetrosexual white male, I'm fairly disgusted that almost all of it comes from my crowd. We really have to do better.
I remain an ally of anybody who stands up to this bullshit. I don't talk about social justice issues a lot on this blog, mostly because it's not my fight, and nobody needs me to stomp all over it, no matter how well-intentioned that stomping is.
I offer all my love and respect and support to anybody who fights the good fight, but I'm not going to make it all about me. There's enough of that around.
Still, as awful as people can be online, it just doesn't stack up with what I see in real life. There is the odd loudmouth nerd at the comic store saying slightly inappropriate things, but all the nerds I know in real life are generally nice people.
I sold off some comics at a tiny nerd convention the other day, and everybody I was dealing with was absolutely polite and funny and a pleasure to deal with. There were shy kids, dorky dads, and a goth girl who was only just starting to read Sandman because she always thought it was her Dad's comic. The organisers were marvelous people and other vendors were incredibly helpful and encouraging. It was a dorky little community that was nothing but welcoming and fun.
I can only hope this is the way of the future, and that the people making the loudest and most obnoxious noises are just a minority, whose volume hides their pitiful truth. The sooner we all grow up a bit, the better.