Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Geeks and Cyber-Bullying

Everyday, in and out it's the same thing from geeks around the world.  Attack, attack, attack.  Superior to all so let's make the world burn for not bowing to our will.  Enough's enough.  This is causing more damage than helping.  We're creating and showing others how to cyber-bully, we're laughing at it.  We're dancing over tearing others down just for the sheer thrill of tearing them down.  We're becoming the bullies we claim to fight against.  These acts are starting to infect real world actions now.  Youth seeing others delight in the destruction of others are now forcing their wills onto people in the real world because of the examples set.  Politicians thinking this is the will of the people are taking their actions too far in revoking rights from others and trying to control women's bodies too.  It needs to stop.  It's getting out of hand.

I've mentioned before I was a fansubber for a long duration.  I was.  I was DHawk then DororoHawk then Dororo and then Talon of TV-Nihon fame.  Names that progressively changed over time as to avoid confusion and then users unhappy with being banned for trolling or trying to cyber-bully.  I've long since foregone any ties to the group though after an inside upset where we both were going opposite directions and personally I felt the atmosphere was getting rather toxic.  Not that the fans were any better with their spiteful demands and attitudes either, though there were some shining examples of appreciation too.  Overall it was a common thing I saw.  Others were constantly delighting in the dismantling of "stupid."  They attacked others, used any excuse to rally against another for no reason.  Broke server rules over and over again with impunity just to torture users with nickserv commands that'd force them to disconnect because the users were new to mIRC.

It was essentially a hobby among a lot of them to revel in being mean and having superiority complexes.  Every mistake was something to tear apart because their own lives were so menial or trivial.  So the only way to make that better was to tear down others.  I left and haven't looked back for that reason.  I'd been with the group since 2004, I left in October 2011 over standing up against power abuse against the fan base and those in charge continually delighting in being bullies to users for no reasons but their own inflated egos.  Abuse that was reminiscent of the very things the group was trying to move away from after having a turbulent leader for years that intentionally caused flame wars all over the internet. For a time that former leader who-shall-remain-nameless was the Toku fandom's cyber-bully all wanted to avoid, feared, or hated.  I've never feared his wrath, but I also again will not name people like that unless it serves a point beyond public shaming.  I did not want to see the group turn back into that, but slowly enough different users were growing into new hims to fill the void and delight in destruction of the very people that looked up to them.  I attempted to raise these concerns about how the group was falling into old habits, but they fell on deaf ears.  It was obvious they didn't care or want to change how they treated others.  I've never returned to that group either, so I couldn't tell you if they've since changed(though recently I've heard they claimed to have, but again they've made that claim at least once a year since they formed).  There are a handful of amazing people and artists from there I've kept in contact with, but for the most part that level of toxicity is not something I want in my life.  They were fans that took out their frustrations on other fans for no reason other than they were there.  It'd be tragic if it weren't so pathetic.

It's a common thing among geeks though.  They lord their superiority over others like they are better than everyone.  They're not.  While many areas of the geek world still to this day uses terms wrong and make up their own definitions for them, all anyone can do is gently try to correct them and explain it nicely.  When a war of condemnation and superiority starts, no one wins or can win.  Everyone just looks silly.

Many geeks were teased in high school, some teased even younger, some still teased even after by those they admire.  Sadly though, the fans are no better.  By accepting it, they make it worse.  By perpetuating it, they show they think it's okay.  Many fans and creators alike are the very things they claim to hate.  They tread too dangerously over the line of becoming the thing they profess they're fighting against.  They snap at those that don't fall in line to their opinions, but they also snap at those that dare try to speak differently.  They've lost sight of what the line is.  They've lost sight of how to articulate it.  This is why more and more geeks are getting a bad name.  On one side they clamor for all they deserve over others, while on the other they look upon their own actions with impunity from arrogance and ignorance.  They can't have it both ways.  If you are called out for being a jerk, and you know you are being one, tone it down.  If you are called out for actually standing up for what's right, turn it up.  Society needs to not accept ignorant negativity.  Constructive criticism and critiques are one thing, but actively tearing something apart with delight is just asinine ego stroking that can make you look like an ass.

George Lucas and Star Wars for example.  Before selling the rights to Disney, he officially stated "Why would I make any more when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?"  That was the fans saying this to him.  Not fans unhappy with story points, characters, or with script choices, but fans who personally attacked his character as a human being for his artistic choices.

Yet, right now you're probably nodding and thinking "good, he shouldn't do more."  You sir or ma'am, are the exact problem.  It's not just Lucas that faces this.  Michael Bay with his Transformers movies is being hit repeatedly with the same bile magnified tenfold that Lucas had gotten.  It's fine to have complaints about various  elements, but discuss them with why.   Recognize the film as part of serial installments that many holes could be filled in later for overall world progression.  People for the most part don't care though.  It's bad.  It's different so it must be bad!  It has plot holes!  Everything it changed is a goof!  It's a mistake!   Michael Bay is a monster that raped my childhood because I didn't like it!  The list goes on and on with worse words than that.  Audience confusion goes straight to "everything about what I saw was mindless drivel because I personally didn't understand it!"  They use chant phrases like "raped my childhood" and more.  Geeks, if anything, know how to overreact with passion.  The new Ninja Turtles being produced (not directed) by Michael Bay is another prime example of this all over again.  The white wash claims of the Last Airbender are another.  M. Night Shymalan people outright delight in personally attacking repeatedly for his work.  They call him racist and worse for a film that only had one of the four elements actually changed and it wasn't even to Caucasian! (The Water tribe is an entirely debatable opinion point, but the Fire Nation change though is an actual change.  That's not to say there weren't other large issues, but very few ever talk about those instead opting for the off base racial commentary instead.)  We impose what we think properties should be whether they are or aren't, and then tear it apart when it doesn't match this alleged ideal.  Yes people should speak up when something's genuinely wrong, even detrimental to others, but we shouldn't be angry when we are ignored when we're wrong.  Stop pouting about that like you were slighted and invalidated.  It's their vision, not yours.  Let them tell their story.  Then discuss the points of it that you would like to see elaborated on and what worked or didn't for you.  That's not what geeks do though.  They preemptively lash out like it's theirs to control.

When victories are won that needed to be like XBOX 1, they compare it to other aspects of life whether it's applicable or not.  A video game console revoking your freedoms of your purchases and invading your privacy is one thing(it is a hardware medium to allow media consumption), harping on entertainment you don't know anything about is another entirely(this is someone's artistic work that they are creating).  These two do not equate whatsoever.  You're not instigating change for the better with media, you're hurting it instead.  Creators do listen to fans quite often, but they listen to fans that raise valid concerns and elaborate on them with kindness.  They rightfully disregard the ignorance and arrogance that's completely off base.  They have to.  It'll wreck their properties otherwise.  It'll wreck their vision.

The 2004 live action film Casshern from Japan directed by Kazuaki Kiriya gets the same flack. Many call it an effects spectacle with no substance, missing entirely the heavy anti-war messages throughout the film.  US distributors didn't help that opinion much by cutting one of the key scenes that brings the point home and sets the rest of the tone of the movie.  One scene in a person's vision can make or break the message they are pushing within a film.  In this instance it was also one of the most beautiful and poignant scenes littered with phenomenal technique usage scattered across a camera cut montage.  Yet for the American release, it's sitting on the cutting room floor.  These are just directors who get slammed repeatedly for choices in entertainment they worked extensively hard to bring audiences.  Directors and creators alike who want to share their vision of their ideas with the world for them to enjoy as much as they did in making it.

The bile and venom gets worse as you wade into comic book films.  X-Men religiously gets the same complaints thrown at it.  It gets worse even, fans outright call 20th Century Fox and those involved all kinds of derogatory terms for not just giving the rights back to Marvel.  A business choice that if they did would mean no more X-Men character movies for a long while for anyone as Marvel's slate is already quite heavy as is to the point they've had to shelve other films like Runaways (Small Faces).  So at minimum if Fox had done as fan's request, we wouldn't see a film for any X-Men until 2023 maybe if we're lucky.

It still gets worse though.  Fans and geeks alike berate other geeks and fans for liking what they like.  They call them bad people, and worse derogatory remarks for daring to enjoy something different than them.  It's fine to enjoy what you enjoy of art.  That's what makes it art.  We should always discuss aspects and merits of it too, but we should not attack others personally over their taste unless it is an actual danger to another of high magnitudes(snuff films or other intentionally abusive or cruelty influenced mediums and actions).  What right does anyone have to call another a bad person, or make them feel like a bad person for enjoying the music they enjoy, the video games they enjoy, the movies they enjoy, and more just because it disagrees with  someone else's opinions or taste?  While we should recognize certain elements of properties that are problematic, those points should be educated to others about.  Preaching to others that Twilight is evil and bad and you are bad or have no taste for liking it does nothing but alienate people.  If you educate them about what is problematic in it though about what it teaches girls to accept as okay from those that claim they love them, maybe the point could actually be heard and understood.  Maybe it could be accepted for what it is, a film and commentary on common social issues many ignore, instead of touted as a new age fan girl religion.  In fact there is a whole fan girl movement that recognizes Twilight for what it holds within, but still enjoys it.  They can easily discuss the ramifications of the various aspects insinuated more than any hater could, but yes they do still enjoy the films for what they are.  The rest of society though needs to learn to stop attacking people, and start learning to communicate clearly and appropriately.

Those are just companies and Directors.  That's just simple fan fervor.  Not excusing it, as it is what it is.  It's still cyber-bullying on all accounts.  On the people fans look up to though, the ones they admire and look to for guidance,  for intelligence, those turning against them can be worse and even more tragic and damaging.

Marvel themselves is where I'm going to have to point this one out.  They have been known to make this mistake too.  While at times I've wanted to apologize to certain elements for my own remarks towards their previous behavior as it in many cases was no better than their actions, I do have to still point out many instances of how certain elements treated fans was cyber-bullying.  Flat out, it has no excuse.  They attacked, trolled, and reveled in treating others poorly on the internet.  This element attacked others in their own digital homes so to speak, and while yes it may have been in defense of other creators, it is still not an excuse in how they did it.  The same can be said of other creators who have done the same to other areas of the internet and other people.  Some try to hide it behind their own walls of security for forums or double speak on twitter or you name it, but it's the same.  They took delight in cyber-bullying for what they felt was a slight against them or just bias.  They do personal attacks aimed at others without a care in the world because of their status.  That doesn't make it right.  The fact is they still personally attacked fans and users.  They are no better than the bullies they proclaim to want to stop.  I'd grown silent about these actions in recent years, and slowly they changed thankfully, or for now at least seemed to have.  They matured to better.  It made me happy to see that in recent days for the most part when checking up on if things were still the same.  They seemed to start to channel all that stuff elsewhere and away from those that admired them most.  Certain voices got quieter on the internet.  A calmness took a better foothold.  Though Marvel always has stood up for those that needed something to believe in, sometimes they forgot there is no age limit on that.  Sometimes they remembered that too though and grew from it.  They've even started a new youth and family oriented initiative called Share Your Universe to highlight and expand on this shift to help inspire their younger fans and the fans with families.  A place where hopefully the creators and editors will keep themselves in check since it is for children and families.

Personally I had to stop reading Yahoo and Huffpost reviews for the same reason.  The authors of various show recap pieces were getting meaner and meaner.  It was feeling more and more like we were watching two entirely different shows, but they just kept feeding the fan hate.  Reviewers delighted in tearing down Once Upon a Time for alleged mistakes that were in the show about Henry and the curse that weren't even there.  Supernatural reviewers were delighting in tearing down the writers attempts to establish a growing new generation of hunters and how dark that life can truly become but why there's still hope.  That even though people have fallen during the war, those closest even, more were standing up to fight and were winning.  All these stories had points they were building.  The reviewers of them though stuck to their micro points to dismantle them with reckless abandon for daring not to follow the vision they the fan had in mind it should do.  Most often without having examples from within the show universe to back it up, whereas the shows were following their own preset rules for these worlds that have been steadily established throughout. This is the thing to constructive criticism for serialized media.  It should contain precedents established within the confines of said serialized work to help establish the basis of your points.

This is why sometimes fan interactions can harm a show or comic.  If creators listen to some of these complaints they start to get lost about their own vision by deviating to appease ignorance.  There are other times though where it can benefit.  Some fans do bring up valid discussion points many haven't thought of before.  Those are not things to dismiss.  They are things to ponder and explore, see the possibilities of and even give thanks for.  This is why discussion with clear communication is needed without derogatory or inflammatory phrasings.  Discuss the points and help educate the fans about what they may have missed or the questions they may have.  Many shows these days are quite rapid fire.  They present information nonstop throughout.  So if you got up to use the restroom or grab a snack or drink, you may have missed the exact point you're complaining about wasn't in the episode itself(which is not an opinion then, it's just ignorance).  Like one reviewer's complaint about the Supernatural episode Girl next door with how Sam knew where to look for the fox demon.  The scenes prior to it had a map montage of past and present that explained the techniques Sam used alongside where and how he learned it.  So the complaint was actually remedied by the show itself, but ignored by the reviewer to continue on the tirade of ripping it apart as they had done previously.

I've personally made that mistake myself though.  I have tried to avoid personal attacks with any commentary I've made preferring to stick to the quality of the work itself.  The times I've strayed, others have helped set me right and I've looked back to correct, or set straight myself.  There are creators though that don't fall under this, and never will.  They carry empathy in all their words and choices.  They phrase it just right so that it can be scathing but at the same time it's constructive.  These are the kinds of creators you don't want to piss off.  They dance the line like a fine ballet, making sure no one can touch them.  I'm in awe of some of their moves.  They truly are talents that can't be imitated or impersonated.  A shining example of how to get points across without actually doing anything at all.  No tricks, no ploys.  No insults.  Just pure them and their fun.  It's one of the things that has made me become in awe of Marjorie Liu's work, among the others I see this skill with, though it's starting to get rarer and rarer it seems.

The thing is, all of us, all people no matter our status think we're above reproach.  We claw away at claiming justice without actually looking at what that means or what we're saying.  Many don't even understand where the lines are or why they are there to begin with.  We claim superiority over others, and brow beat those that don't agree with pure animosity without any facts.  Instead of it being about the clarity and quality of the work, it becomes a matter of personal pride and how-dare-they-say-thats.  Falling squarely into the trap of becoming the very monster they were probably tormented by as a child, or throughout their own lives still.

It's sad really.  Even tragic.  For every good deed done, thousands more are done to others without a care.  Karma doesn't work like that though.  It's called the 3 fold rule.  For every bad deed comes back onto you in triplicate.  I know my sins.  I know my mistakes.  I recognize them for what they are and always have.  I am no better than anyone else nor have I ever claimed different, but I will not bow to hypocrites or ignorance ever again either though.  Especially ones that do not understand the difference between personal attacks and analyzing the work itself.  Though yes, they should all remain in friendly debates and discussions.

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