❉ What’s with fandom’s rabidly reactionary contingent when so much sci-fi is progressive?
The disenfranchised, the dispossessed, the not-quite-fitting-in… All of these have always been a large component of the culty nerdy geeky stratum of Subbacultcha, but who knew that the Timewyrm would turn quite like this?
“Fear leads to anger… Anger leads to hate… Hate leads to suffering”
“It’s happening again…” as the foreboding tagline for those appetite-whetting early teasers for Twin Peaks: The Return kept on telling us. Only this time I refer not to surreal and near-inexplicable phenomena occurring in a rural US town that serves damn fine coffee. Alas and alack, no – I refer to yet another occurrence of my Youtube feed being clogged up by videos of the angry face of fandom. ‘Why I’m Done With Doctor Who’ is one of the most recent examples (and an almost amusing one, containing as it does in its intro the deathless statement “I’m not just going to stop making videos about it”. So, not that done with it, eh?), but there are spittoon-loads of the things: Goodbye Doctor Who!, The SJW Killing Of Doctor Who, The Vandalization [sic] of Doctor Who (there’s an almost identically-worded one on Star Wars to, because of course there is) and many, many more. They’re generally easy to spot by their liberal (not that that’s a word that most of these ‘Tubes [and yes, I mean that in the Scots pejorative sense] would like being applied to them, natch) usage of dog-whistle terms like SJW, AGENDA-PUSHING and WOKE all typed in patented ANGRYCAPS. Because that is the way in which barely coherent rage is communicated.
“I mean, of course it wouldn’t be true to say that genre fiction is all of a liberal and progressive persuasion… but cognisance of this fact doesn’t go too much toward explaining this recent almost daily deluge of screaming fits from some guy with a thumbnail pic of a fat man angrily facepalming whilst wearing a Boba Fett mask.”
Now, of course it’s unavoidable and almost omnipresent but that doesn’t mean that I have to watch these videos. I’m free to simply scroll past them, or click the ‘Not Interested’ option to disappear them just like Steven Moffat disappeared a female producer. I don’t have to watch them if I disagree with them – which I of course do – and these people, angry though they are, have a right to their free speech and their opinions. I’ll accept that, yeah. But it doesn’t answer the question that has been increasingly gnawing at the back of my brain like a Chekhov-starved Ceti Eel these past couple of years, namely “why are so many members of geekdom/SF fandom (call it what thou wilt) so rabidly reactionary?” With so much of the genre being, if not explicitly left-leaning, then at least progressive (I mean, what’s a novel or TV series about mankind expanding outward into the vast expanse of the universe if not a celebration of progress?), what is it about the fandoms of properties like Who, Star Wars and Star Trek – especially the latter, Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a Utopian future free of such capitalist concerns as money – that attracts a large contingent of people happy to spout misogynist and sometimes boderline sometimes explicit racist comments?
I mean, of course genre fiction is a very wide field and it wouldn’t be true to say that it’s all of a liberal and progressive persuasion. There’s Robert Heinlein, Gene Wolfe, Orson Scott Card, John C Wright(-wing) and the Sad Puppies (more on which anon) founders including Larry Correia and Brad R Torgerson – but cognisance of this fact doesn’t go too much toward explaining this recent almost daily deluge of screaming fits from some guy with a thumbnail pic of a fat man angrily facepalming whilst wearing a Boba Fett mask. Subscribe to his channel for more top content, such as PROOF That Liberal Illuminati Are Using TV To CONTROL Your CHILDREN, 50 Reasons Kathleen Kennedy Is The ANTICHRIST! and Stop Ramming Virtue Signals Down My Throat BBC!
Why do I get the feeling that most of the people ranting about the BBC ramming things down their throat may harbour secret desires to… have ‘the BBC’ rammed down their throat?
It all started with Gamergate, of course. Oh the joy, the very rapture unconfined that we all must have felt on behalf of the nerd/geek interface community when women like Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn were targeted by fellow gamers for the temerity to i) have opinions, but more importantly and unforgivably ii) be found in the possession of a vagina in a built-up area. The unexpected (for most of us, I should hope) of game culture with rape culture and the flurries of threats of violence of a sexual nature should have served as the first warning: the breach in the dam – the catastrophe auguring the tidal wave of hate that was to come.
The disenfranchised, the dispossessed, the not-quite-fitting-in… all of these have always been a large (if not the main) component of the culty nerdy geeky (was that the follow up to Truly Madly Deeply?) stratum of Subbacultcha, but who knew that the Timewyrm would turn quite like this? It’s symptomatic of so much in modern politics, whether it be people in the US turning away from mainstream politics to vote Trump or people in the UK voting for Brexit. But I, perhaps naively, hung on to the thought that we – we geeky few, we band of brothers/sisters/however you identify – were better than this, somehow.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought out a lot of stuff of course, not least the eternal cries of “Mary-Sue” from people who didn’t quite seem to understand what the term actually meant, and seemed to to think that it was a catch-all term for “female character that I don’t like”. Traction beams were engaged to a far more thorough extent with 2017’s The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson’s movie seemingly serving as tasty bait for the clarion calls and dogwhistles of the reactionary and easily unnerved. Actress Kelly Marie Tran was infamously bullied off social media by hordes outraged by her committing the offence of being in a Star Wars film whist being a woman, Asian, and in the opinion of certain Neolithic cellar dwellers, “ugly”. As if the offensive hysterical hyperbollocks of “raped my childhood” wasn’t bad enough.
Star Trek itself hasn’t fared much better in the last few years. Discovery has weathered quite a few criticisms in its first year, but the dangerous undercurrent is often there in some of the angry rants against it. I mean, I can’t claim to understand the mindset of people who will in all honesty and openness declare that they think that The Awful… sorry, The Orville is a better example of what a Star Trek series should be, but maybe they just honestly think that the franchise should only ever be warmed-over ’90s Rick Berman flavour dull Trek. But there’s a lot of stuff out there wherein you can just taste the distaste that the show has a black woman as the lead. It’s not for nothing that Sonequa Martin-Green’s Burnham has attracted at least 90% of the flak directed towards the show.
“Fear is the path to the Dark Side…”
The Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies campaign from 2013 to 2015 was a tragic circumstance. An out and out “anti-diversity” campaign to influence the Hugo Awards is a sad thing indeed. Even sadder that they actually had an effect. A voting bloc opposing anything they viewed as left-wing or progressive, it was the same kind of incoherent howl of disaffected rage that has led to modern life and politics being infected like some cancerous mycelial network of hatred, bile, fear and evil. The kind of people who complain about fandoms being “co-opted by virtue-signalling propagandists” and say “get woke, go broke”. I’d laugh if I wasn’t worried. The Incels and the Proud Boys (whose leader, Gavin McInnes, did something that he thought would “own the Libs” that made goatse seem quaint) and the insidious recruiters who prey upon fans with emotional or mental health problems. I know people to whom this has happened: people in emotional distress or at a low point of depression who have been ‘befriended’ by those who would “show them the way” and give them a sense of community and solidarity among the alt-right. Like the Gill Man, these creatures walk among us.
Why is there a contingent of cult fandom so eager to swap out their Michael Gambon for the almighty gammon? I wish I knew.
❉ NOTE: This article is purely the opinion of myself, the author, and may not reflect the views of this website. Any bile or trolling can be aimed at me and me alone at @ColdLazarou. I could do with a laugh.