Rant ex Machina #01: Is just a show.
Welcome to the first official Rant ex Machina, the official column of verbal abuse by Cartoons Dammit! Editor in Chief. I’m Dave “Machina” Reynolds, and you’re not. Last Friday I gave you all a little Halloween reading material list, so now that we’re through with that, let’s get down to some actual topics at hand. (By the way, expect a new Rant ex Machina every Monday.)
Now I’ve been a part of many, many fandoms in my years on this Earth and I can tell you that fan boys and fan girls are universally stupid. They’re prejudgmental and somewhat rude. Now of course we’re talking about a vocal minority here, but as we all know, the presence of a loud minority is more prevalent than a content majority. (Ask any Transformers fan about that!) For the most part, we’ve learned to shut these vocal whiners out. Like the people who every week go onto the episode review in the DCAU Forum and right away you know they’re going to complain about the show, no matter if the show was good or not. Granted everyone is entitled to their opinions, but after repeated performances of this type of attitude, it becomes almost a required role. That person has to hate it because it’s expected of them. There are many different factors in this rational. It could be because the person is upset that the creators of the product they’re watching is doing something than what they expected. (Usually the case.) Or it might be that they like the attention to come out against what everyone else is liking and give their deeply motivating review of “It sucked because it was lame!” (Way too common a case, especially for little emo teenagers who can‘t figure out you‘re supposed to cut down the wrist and not across it.) And of course there’s those cases by professionals and aspiring professionals who quite frankly feel “I could do better” so they’re mad because someone who’s not them is doing this. (You have no idea how common this is too.)
Or even that they think they’re a bigger fan that you are so you should listen to anything that spews forth from their piehole.
For a quick example of this dickery, a few months back I was living in Atlanta. Now due to a slight speech impediment I have, I tend to pronounce the “SS” sounds as an “SH”. (Yes, I even pronounce Jazz as “Jash” and Ass as “Ash”. Fortunately I talk fast and soft so no one really picks up on it a lot.) Well, I was talking about Joss Whedon’s amazing run on Astonishing X-Men with a few other people and out of nowhere this guy who I was living with at the time interrupts me (which no one likes having done to them) just to tell me “It’s JoSS not JoSH.” Now of course I knew this… I can read credits. He could have politely said “Excuse me, but you know it’s pronounced Joss, with two S’s right?” In which I would have politely told him about my slight speech impediment. But instead this guy interrupted me and talked down to me like I was a retard, just to tell me how it’s pronounced. So at that point in time, I made it my sole purpose to pretty much mispronounce Whedon’s first name around him whenever I could.
But nevertheless, as fans we somehow block this all out and manage to trudge forward through the feedback and comments, looking forward to that one post or comment that may just be a fun conversation in the making. You know… The whole point of a discussion forum? And of conversation in general. (Otherwise we’d have a billion posts of “lol, that was so cool!” or “I like this movie!” or “STFU!” which I can tell you right now is not indicative of higher cognitive reasoning.) Now, I don’t know about you… But there’s one comment that is almost always made when a conversation is struck up that just irritated the living hell out of me. It’s when a show, comic, movie, book, or whatever, does something that makes you curious. And like a good fan, you want to discuss things like “What was in Robin’s briefcase in that episode of Teen Titans?” or “Are Pippin and Merrie from Lord of the Rings a gay couple?” Basically, topics that are fun and mentally progressive to the art of conversation and toward building friendships. And some pompous, self centered jackass steps forward like he’s enlightening the masses from his high horse and says something similar to this line:
“It’s just a show.”
I hate that. And I think you do too. The whole point of discussion when it comes to topics like these is essentially what creates a fandom. You think people would be as devoted of X-Files fans if they weren’t sitting there wondering was Mulder crazy or right? You think people would still be watching 24 if they weren’t wondering how Jack Bauer was going to survive after getting electrocuted and killed? It’s fanaticism like this that makes a fandom so strong and great. Whether it’s wondering who’s the Robin under the mask in Teen Titans, or if Doctor Girlfriend is transsexual or not… It’s these sort of things that gets fans talking and conversing among each other. And sometimes, the creators take notice of these things and even join in on the topics with the fans. (And I got to say there is nothing in the world that’s cooler than seeing Bruce Timm pop onto a forum and talk to the fans after an episode of Justice League.)
But when that afore mentioned jackass comes out and says “It’s just a show.” all that’s telling us is that this guy is unable to shed the ever present bonds of reality and temporarily give themselves over to a narrative, where you can become empathetic to the characters and want to mentally make them more whole in your mind's-eye to enhance the overall experience. (Or in layman’s terms, “get into a show“.) They have nothing to contribute to the conversation and is trying to sound smug and above us all by reminding us that we’re reading a comic, or watching a show, or listening to music or whatever. LIKE WE FORGOT THIS FACT?! Christ, I cannot explain how unintelligible a person sounds when they say that. And it’s not always “It’s just a show.” Sometimes it’s less informative, like saying “Ha, I knew it!” when a mystery was resolved. Hey, dip head? Why don’t you share with us how you knew it? It’s even worse when someone just copies and pastes Wikipedia articles to prove a point, like we all don’t have access to the damn site or do not know how to follow a link. It’s like they haven’t even been paying attention. Our opinions aren’t worth 30 seconds of reading but we should all stop and listen to these people, because their short and terse comments are the answers to all our questions? It’s the same kind of irritation that you get when someone corrects your pronunciation in a demeaning manner.
You see folks, deep down, we’re all relatively smart people. And we don’t like someone talking to us like we’re morons, especially when it involves something as trivial as fandom. And coming out and saying “It’s just a show” is the equivalent of saying “You’re stupid for liking something.” And just like that guy who gave me grief over Joss Whedon’s name… We’re going to ignore you, and even do just the opposite, even if you are right…
Just because we’d rather be wrong than to agree with a dick.