August 21, 2013

Through Being Cool

In the past few weeks, I was part of an online conversation on a social network (or, "the intertubes", as the teenagers say) where one active fan had indicated a lack of support for another organization's activities, and a third wondered, "Why can't we all just get along since we love the same thing?"

(Yes, I'm deliberately being oblique, because I want to avoid singling people out, especially with what I'm about to say)

Ironically, one of the things that bothers me most about geek/nerd culture is the automatic lack of critical thinking - that somehow we are automatically "above" such petty things because "we like stuff". That somehow, we should always get along for no other reason other than....well, we're nerds, and that we're this homogenous group that meets a certain set criteria rather than, say, a diverse group that shares certain traits. In regards to this conversation, one of the organizations involved has a high respect for its particular fandom, running its events professionally; the other runs a variety of events for a variety of fandoms, claiming that it's the "be all and end all" for each fandom. (Call it the "Wizard World School of Fandom", focusing less on the overall event experience and more on "volume, volume, volume", treating geeks/nerds as a commodity).

It permeates its way into discussions of media - rather than looking at how things work as a whole, there is this sense that any aspect of plot, direction, writing, etc., is some kind of personal offense rather than simply "something that doesn't work". (When you experience another's online temper tantrum around a plot twist in a movie....well, it's enough to want to reach through the internet to deliver a splash of cold, hard truth). It's almost like a dysfunctional relationship - instead of seeing things as they are, we see them as perfect, and how dare anyone criticize it? (Or, even more perversely, we join in the we-must-fire-this-particular- person argument because the only problem with a given piece of media is....well, all down to one person, rather than allow that person to have their own creative agenda. As someone who is engaged in more creative endeavors, I admit to some trepidation - but I also think that we need to collectively gain some perspective.

(Speaking of creative agenda, I have to admit - my offline activities have resulted in me spending less time on this blog, but it also means that my blogging can be more focused on championing those things that I enjoy, and that I can go off on rants like this. And yes, I'll fill you in on some details early next week).

As a side note - can we all agree to lose the term "nerd blackface"? It is offensive on so many levels, as well as being insulting, inaccurate, and disrespectful towards an entire group of people who actually have experienced discrimination and who have had their rights violated on a consistent basis. I believe in respecting everyone, but some well-needed perspective: I can honestly claim that no one has ever burned a TARDIS in front of my apartment simply because I was a Doctor Who fan. For me - and others - to suggest likewise with such a term is simply preposterous.

Yes, I've been rambling, but what's the point? Perhaps it's this: I'm tired of being part of a subculture that sees itself as entitled to its own opinion. As a group that prides itself on its intelligence, I'm a bit concerned about the lack of critical thinking. I'm tired of the use of "feels" as a noun. I'm tired of my fellow fans, geeks, and nerds placing unrealistic expectations on each other, and not calling each other out on shenanigans.

In short, I'm through being cool, to quote Devo.

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