I'll come up with something in a minute.

Framing the Dicussion

It occurs to me, a part of the problem we’re having lately is in how we frame discussions. People get tired of being told they have to watch this or have to read that. Particularly when they’re told that it’s a formative thing and what the hell is wrong with them that they haven’t read/watched that yet? I still haven’t read Catcher in the Rye, but I’ve managed to get along.

I think the problem is that most of us end up saying something like “OMG! You MUST watch/read this to be considered a person.” but really we mean “If you want to have an informed discussion about this, it’s helpful to have at least consumed these things.”

I think we need to work harder to make sure we’re conveying the second message there.

September 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Don’t bitch to me about the pumpkins

So, I’m at Einstein Bros. bagels this morning, right? I was tired, and hungry, and just mildly pissed off at being awake and in pain at that hour of the morning. Nothing an asiago bagel with cream cheese can’t handle, or at least help. So I’m standing in line and the guy in front of me… a pumpkin killed his family at the tender age of eight. That’s the only thing I can come up with, because he was bitching about the pumpkin flavored cream cheese like it was a personal slight against him on the part of the Einstein Bros. bagel company.

“Look at this fucking shit.” He opined to his companion. “I fucking hate pumpkin. Why the fuck do they have to put it out every year?”

His friend was trying to was trying to calm him down, explaining that he wasn’t actually required to have any, but he wasn’t having sense today, he was bitching about pumpkins. The kid behind the counter was looking sort of annoyed and worried, the guy’s friend looked sort of worried, and I can only think I was looking pissed. This isn’t rare, I often look pissed. Even when I’m not pissed, I look pissed. It’s just how my face is shaped. The guy was going on and on and I found that I was thinking a statement to myself that it would be fun to say.

“It’ll be gone by mid-November and no one’s forcing you to have any, so shut the fuck up asshole.”

I then looked at the kid behind the counter again, who was looking at me with face agape. Something seemed slightly off in the atmosphere of the room as well. Nothing you could put your finger on, just… something. I then looked at the two guys, who were looking rather stupidly at me in their suits and ties. It’s at this moment that I think “Yeah, it sounded sort of loud when I thought that, must have actually said it out loud. Fukit! Imma own it.”

The pumpkin hater is looking at me as if I were, myself, a pumpkin and I just decide to look back. Only now I’m allowing my face to look as annoyed as I feel. He was a big lad, but he was soft, and I do nasty for a living. After about three seconds he took two steps back and looked at the other kid behind the counter and didn’t say another thing until he left. I’m sure he had a great deal to say once he was out of my hearing, but that was the point. Thing is, he’s an asshole and a coward and all it took was a guy who could happily slice his face off while humming show tunes to shut him up.

Those of you who follow me on twitter or facebook, know what happened next. I sent out a small missive that explained that guy could shut the fuck up. For 90 days out of the year, people who like pumpkin stuff are happy. If you don’t like it, no one forces you to eat it. And then… it happened. While looking at my phone I saw another person explaining why Twilight sucks and the people who like it suck and I got pissed. Particularly since claiming Twilight isn’t very much like Harry Potter using Harry Potter’s rules is like bitching that a can of cola isn’t a web shooter. A little champagne cork popped off the bottle of rage I keep for special occasions.

Because… you know, you could have done anything. You could have saved a child’s life, you could have written a Broadway musical, you could have given a hand job to an elderly vicar, fixed an elderly neighbor’s car, learned to play the banjo, done something useful, but you didn’t. Instead, you once again bitched about someone daring to like something you don’t care for and telling them they were stupid for liking it. Hoo-fucking-rah for you. You have proven once again that positive reinforcement is a meaningless set of sounds as far as you’re concerned. What a fucking waste of a fucking life you fucking lead. Why not do something positive? Why make someone feel bad for liking something? What sort of piece of shit are you? Isn’t there some kind of apocalypse virus that could use the oxygen you’re wasting? You know, so it can grow strong and wipe out the human race? Something useful, not like what you used it up doing.

You would think geeks, of all people, would be less bigoted in their approach to the culture people consume. You’d think they’d be more tolerant and accepting about what makes people happy. But the sad fact is, they’re not. If you fall away from the accepted list of geeky things, you will get shouted at, mocked and treated like an idiot. And by what? By people who spent years getting shit for liking Dr. Who and Star Trek. By people who should know better, but strangely don’t. I know people who have left fandom entirely because they got tired of taking shit every time they got enthusiastic about something that didn’t meet with the Hive Mind’s approval. I’ve heard tales of people leaving a group in tears because someone decided to explain to them why they, as an individual, deserved to be killed for liking something that the other person hadn’t even read, but had heard sucked. And if I ever find that guy… just don’t let me find you asshole.

Now, it’s one thing to write a criticism of something, to explain why you didn’t like it. It’s okay to not like something, even to express that you REALLY don’t like it. You can even spend three pages of internet paper completely and utterly savaging something, if you thought it was going to be good and it turned out to be offensive. Hell, I’ve reviewed enough movies in the same manner a puppy expresses the fullness of its feelings on a slipper to allow that. However, once you’ve made your statement, and expressed your view, you are cordially invited to shut the fuck up about the matter. You said what you had to say, now let it go and get a life.

There is a difference between presenting your opinion, and just being a dick for the sake of trying to hurt other people. Constantly insulting something someone likes, is the second group. Constantly belittling people for their enthusiasm? Second group. Regularly decrying the quality of a product, without even asking why the person likes it, or suggesting something that they might enjoy more? Yeah, you’re gonna have to put “Second Group” on the form for that one. Live tweeting your insults while you’re in the movie on opening night, thereby ruining the experience for other people who paid to see that? Yeah, I’m GLAD you got thrown out of the theater and were told not to return ever. That person is a massive asshole.

Someone posted a quote on Facebook recently, that said something like “Geekery is about being enthusiastic about things we love, not decrying, not belittling.” and the very first comment to that quote that I saw was “Bullshit! I’ve never seen a geek like anything, they’re like hipsters, only they think they’re better because they pretend to be feminist or liberal sometimes.” and I found that to be just plain tragic. Because the geeks were supposed to be the good guys. But no, give them some time and they’ll be racist, slut shaming, misogynists, just as bad or even worse than any asshole you’d gleefully run down with your car. In fact, they’re far worse because they have the ingrained belief that no matter what transpires, they’re actually the victim here.

So there’s going to be some pumpkin flavored things. Maybe that’s not to your liking, but a lot of people do like it. It’s not hurting you, no one is taking away the asiago bagel. The salmon spread is still there. Likewise, no one is taking Dr. Who off the shelf and replacing it with Twilight. No one is burning your Harry Potter set and forcing you at gun point to read 50 Shades of Gray. Get over yourselves anyway, you are in no way the monitors for what is and isn’t good. Some of you people liked the Star Trek reboot for Fancy’s sake. There’s nothing wrong with liking it, but it does rather negate you from being ANY KIND of final arbiter. Not so much because of the Star Trek thing, but because there is no final arbiter. There might be some critics who are better than others, some who have a more informed opinion, but no one has the final say.

There is a place for criticism in art, even for emotional critics. After all, art needs emotion, but not bullying. Telling people they’re wrong, or stupid for liking something will only drive those people further away. Particularly when you’re mean spirited complaint comes from a place of ignorance. It makes you no better than the bullies many of you so often decry. Actually it makes you worse, because you know how it feels to be hurt. Now that you have some small amount of power, because a few of you are smarter than the people you’ve been insulting and can string words together more skillfully, don’t abuse that power. I’d like to still be able to respect a few of you, and I don’t like having to write you off as the same sort of mindless assholes that you are hypocritically complaining about.

So yeah, calm down about the pumpkin stuff. It’ll be gone by the end of November. Really, it’s the people who like peppermint I feel for. They only get their flavor for about 30 days and then it’s gone.

September 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment