There are several blogs and communities scattered about the internet dedicated to analyzing popular fiction for themes relating to social issues such as gender roles, racial stereotypes, sexuality and religion. And for much of the year, these blogs and pick apart the various books, comic books, television programs, movies and stories that compose our culture and teach humans about the universe.
And for much of the year, these blogs and communities are assaulted by visitors who admonish them for wasting their time with fiction. Visitors who tell them that it doesn’t make one bit of difference that a fairy tale heroine doesn’t ever talk to other women without shoving them into an oven or that the only reason two black people ever talk in that comedy is to discuss the craziness of the main white character or that the gay guy is the only one who doesn’t hook up by the credits or that there are no non-terrorist Muslims in this season and so on. Visitors who tell social issues bloggers to get off our asses and help real people rather than discuss fiction, as though we never do anything worthwhile in real life and as though they do.
Ignoring all of the other problems with that argument, I still wonder why it is that when we do find a spot where real life and fiction collide–fandom relations–our comment sections are still filled with dissent. We’ve wasting our time since assault is already illegal, we’re trying to implement a fascist gynocracy on convention floors (I’ve been compared to Hitler within the past 24 hours), we should just use violence to solve our problems…etc… Such arguments give the impression that many of the people who tell us we are wasting our time when we review for social context are simply trying to kill the discussion and avoid examination of their attitudes and behavior.
Perhaps that’s an unfair conclusion, I haven’t gone through everyone person by person to determine who is saying what and who said what earlier. Maybe this is an entirely different crop of dissenters and the earlier ones were just people who didn’t think in the abstract. Maybe the earlier visitors are cheering this on. Most of both crops are anonymous anyway.
It still amazes me, though.
After John DiBello’s open letter hit the memelines, I was dumbstruck by the resistance to his suggestions. I’ve seen arguments that our problems are better solved with violence next to arguments that since murder isn’t specifically prohibited at a convention ass-grabbing shouldn’t be specifically prohibited either. John’s letter has been picked to pieces and skewed, revealing a fearsome aspect to nerd culture. Just look at last week’s comments and try to pick out which commenters I think should never be alone with a woman. I’ve yet to see a post on someone’s blog trashing John’s stance, but the comment sections are incredible. Why is there so much the energy put into fighting a two lines in a convention booklet and a designated spot to find a security guard?
Surely since we as a community are seen by the world at large as basement dwelling mouth-breathers, an official statement that we as a community will not tolerate stone age dominance displays between strangers in the dealer’s room at our largest community gathering can only be considered a positive step. Surely a formalized complaint system will help to distinguish frivilous matters from misunderstandings from serious breaches of acceptable human conduct.
Surely everyone can get behind that.
I guess not.