The “geek” world has been disappointing lately, with the behavior of many so-called “fans.” We’ve become a reflection of the divisive politics and hatred of mainstream society, but with the mentality of the Comic Book Guy or Francis.
To be fair, it’s not like this is a recent problem; we’ve seen this in everything from Gamergate to Sad Puppies, and even tabletop gaming has its own issues. The reaction, however, of Marvel and Star Wars fans has reached new heights of disgrace.
Coordinated efforts by these “anti-SJW” groups to lower the ratings of movies like Black Panther or The Last Jedi is terrible enough. Now the trolls and bigots have gone as far as cyberbullying celebrities and industry leaders, to drive them into seclusion, out of a job, or worse.
You would think pop culture is looking as grim as the State of the Union. Despite all the steps forward we’ve made toward inclusivity and diversity, the gatekeepers seem bent on poisoning (or destroying) anything that doesn’t fit their homogeneous vision.
Luckily, like the millions marching in countless protests, the same intolerance for intolerance appears to be on fire in our own corner of nerdery. It also seems like it’s not just the fans, but the industry itself is standing up against the unwashed masses.
When Star Wars geeks, apparently suffering such cognitive dissonance they were able to ignore the Jedi Code, chose to harass Kelly Marie Tran off Twitter, Rian Johnson had some words:
Similarly, sexist, misogynistic “fans” threw a fit when Doctor Who chose to regenerate the main character into a woman. The BBC had no problem stating that they weren’t backing down, and that such changes had long been canon (and expected).
The latest volley back at the haters focused on the reveal of Battlefield 5, which has a female character on the cover and allows players to use women. After their rampant misogyny, and apparent ignorance of history, EA’s chief creative officer responded:
“And we don’t take any flak. We stand up for the cause, because I think those people who don’t understand it, well, you have two choices: either accept it or don’t buy the game. I’m fine with either or. It’s just not ok.”
It’s nice to know that the battle for geek culture isn’t just one side versus the other. The war is skewing well against the anti-social justice crowd, who face not only their fellow geeks but also the pop culture industry itself.
The more these haters and bigots rail against inclusion, representation, etc., the more the producers, writers, and designers seem to do the opposite and cater to diverse audiences purposefully. One author for Polygon summed it up quite nicely:
“People threatening to walk away from these fandoms while they’re being horrible, only to be told that it might be better off if they actually do walk away, is a positive development.”
To those worried this fight will go on forever, even with the support of the industry, I’m more optimistic.
I recently looked at my young son’s yearbook, where they polled the elementary school, “What was your favorite movie over the past year?” Their response?
- Black Panther
- The Last Jedi and A Wrinkle in Time (TIED)
- Wonder Woman
Although we can’t promise that this preference generalizes to other counties or regions, I like to think it indicates the trends of a new generation. While Xennials and Millennials are fighting the battle for a diverse and inclusive geekdom, it’s the nerds of Gen Z who’ll inherit a new world and social norm.
The future of pop culture couldn’t look any brighter, even if wearing shades.