genre fiction fans are becoming like the Tea Party

I’m looking forward to seeing The Avengers, but I loved this review by Andrew O’Hehir. I think O’Hehir’s take on the dynamics of comic book fans and the broader culture are exactly right.

at what point is the triumph of comic-book culture sufficient? Those one-time comic-book pariahs are now the dominant force in pop-culture entertainment, and their works are deemed to be not just big but also relevant and important…. It’s a neat little postmodern trick, actually, to simultaneously position this movie as the most central pop-culture event of 2012 and insist on some kind of edgy, outsider status that renders any and all detractors as pipe-smoking William F. Buckley squares, defending a nonexistent Establishment.

Predictably, some of O’Hehir’s commenters take great offense to his review, and equally predictably one calls for his firing. I expect passionate disagreement, and I look forward to reading some in the comments. But I do think that there’s a huge tension between the commercial dominance of comic books, sci-fi, and video games and the continued efforts of fans to assert that they are an oppressed minority. I’ve been working this beat for awhile. (Here’s the kinder version, here’s the inflammatory screed version.) One of the virtues of O’Hehir’s review is that he demonstrates how this notion of “bias” against these genres (which is another way to say “different tastes”) actually results in worse media for genre fans; the bar is set so low, in order to appease the all-powerful comic book fanbase, that mediocrity gets celebrated like it’s greatness.

When I look at the broad culture of “fandom”– sci-fi fans, video game fans, comic book fans, etc.– I see a disturbing familiarity with the Tea Party. Both groups enjoy great power and cultural prominence; both commonly make complaints about oppression that simply cannot withstand scrutiny; and crucially, both seem far more invested in being recognized as marginalized and oppressed than in being freed from their supposed marginalization and oppression.

There’s no liberal media. There’s no throngs of community activists holding the Tea Party down. There’s no conspiracy between NPR and ACORN to steal their guns, take their money, and give away their jobs. But if such things existed, I do believe that most Tea Partiers wouldn’t change it if they could. They seem to take such great satisfaction, even identity, from the notion of their exclusion and oppression.

The stakes here are, luckily, much lower. But the dynamic, to me, is the same, and it’s equally unhealthy when it comes to genre fiction fans. The question that O’Hehir asks– how much commercial triumph is sufficient?– is not merely a rhetorical one. I’ve never heard an adequate explanation from fans of comic books or sci-fi what they would take as victory. Our pop culture is flooded with products aimed at them, our Internet commentary is chock full of analysis of those products, and our mainstream press now spends far more time considering video games than opera or ballet or theater. If what people are looking for is recognition from “high culture,” then they’re bound to unhappiness; there is no such thing anymore, if there ever was.

But then, maybe being bound to unhappiness is the point.

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147 replies
  1. 1
    k488 says:

    You can take this a step further – it’s the same dynamic amongst the Christian conservative movement.

  2. 2
    Jason says:

    I never made the fandom = tea party connection, but I do have to say that I agree with everything in this post — I’m afraid fandom does deserve its reputation of celebrating mediocrity and elevating works which, at best, should be guilty pleasures, to the level of high art in reactionary defiance of an alleged “mundane” culture that persecutes the nerds. Thomas Disch said it best in his essay “The Embarrassments of Science Fiction”, where he argues that SF is essentially an adolescent genre — a branch of children’s literature — and its most devoted adherents quite rightly deserve their reputation, if adults, of people who never quite grew up.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    This has got to be the most WTF post I’ve read on this blog.

    (Although, to be fair, I’m not part of the comic book or tea party culture.)

  4. 4
    Egg Berry says:

    @Jason:

    SF is essentially an adolescent genre—a branch of children’s literature—and its most devoted adherents quite rightly deserve their reputation, if adults, of people who never quite grew up.

    Wow, throw out the flame bait early in this thread.

    ETA: Is it Salon or Slate that is the contrarian site?

  5. 5
    El Cid says:

    On the other hand, they’re going to be making big budget, splodey-boomey movies, and there has to be some source material.

    What, do people think that absent comic book or pop-sci-fi fan-beloved sources it will be $300 million dollar special effects versions of Jane Austen?

    Good lord, they made 3 gigantic international blockbuster movies based on transforming robot toys. Right now a blockbuster stinker is coming out based on the Battleship board-game.

    Not to mention that nearly every time they try to make a big movie of a really well-written science fiction story or novel, they manage to screw it up badly. Not every time, but nearly every time.

    It’s partially generational — you have people helming movie-making who grew up wishing that someone would do these comic book characters they loved correctly.

    Maybe having accomplished that, there will be a period in which this built-up-since-childhood impulse will run itself out.

  6. 6
    Nathaniel says:

    @Jason: All sci-fi is adolescent and childish? While such “childish” fare is ascendant now, is it any surprise that there lingers a legacy of defensiveness given such pointlessly dismissive comments?

  7. 7
    c u n d gulag says:

    This is one of the reasons that I don’t go to movies anymore.

    It’s all techo BS, with things blowing up, and car chases, and aliens, and heroes and supervillains.

    I can’t find the story anymore, or at least a good one, in the midst of all of the techno-wizardry.

    And yes, I’m getting old.
    HEY! Get off my feckin’ lawn, you kids! Oh, look, a Bogart movie on TCM…”

  8. 8
    Jason says:

    @El Cid: What, do people think that absent comic book or pop-sci-fi fan-beloved sources it will be $300 million dollar special effects versions of Jane Austen?

    Well, of course, that’s silly. But there used to be smart SF movies with higher pretensions. “2001” and “THX-1138” and “Blade Runner”, and, perhaps, “Gattaca.” No longer; they’ve been crowded out by “Matrix” clones. I can’t remember the last time a genre movie came out that engaged the brain in even second gear. It really is the triumph of the 14 year olds.

  9. 9
    geg6 says:

    Heh. Well, you’ve stepped in the shit now, Freddie. This joint is polluted with sci-fi fan bois and grrrls. Myself, I cannot think of a more boring genre (with the exception of comic books) and used to think I was a sci-fi geek because I love Star Trek in all its iterations (especially Next Generation). But I have discovered I am not because I have yet to finish a single sci-fi book I’ve ever picked up due to my fear of dying of boredom. I don’t talk about my loathing for the genre because anyone who does is immediately slammed for their lack of taste and intellectual heft. Sci-fiers think they are the most brilliant people in any room and that the rest of us are just mental midgets who can’t possibly appreciate the brilliance and social and political commentary behind such literary and cinematic masterpieces as Dr. Who.

  10. 10
    El Cid says:

    @Jason: Those movies were the rare exceptions themselves. There are extremely intelligent special effects movies — did you see Pan’s Labrynth? I’ve long had an interest in the Spanish civil war and its aftermath, and the movie had one of the best portrayals of it I’ve seen. Caveat being that director del Toro is from Mexico, but it certainly was an international hit.

    How many 2001’s were there ever?

    It doesn’t matter the source material chosen — only a few really great movies will be made of them.

    I actually think that the number of pretty to really good movies coming out now — and even more so for TV — is up. It’s just that the cineplex system only emphasizes the giganto-hits. Those are also the few widely reported and media-saturated.

  11. 11
    Freddie deBoer says:

    This joint is polluted with sci-fi fan bois and grrrls

    You’ll notice I posted it very early in the morning.

  12. 12
    El Cid says:

    @geg6: I wish more grownups would recognize that whatever their ‘thing’ of interest is, a large part of it and perhaps most is that it ended up being their ‘thing,’ and others will have theirs, and you don’t have to so instinctively learn theirs nor vice-versa, and you don’t have to try and justify it either.

    If I happen to find some genre excruciatingly boring but that there really is something of quality there, I don’t have to go on tirades about how my X is sooooo much better than their Y.

    On the other hand, that’s not so broad a ‘cultural relativism’ that I would refrain from hating and mocking the moronic. I.e., the “Left Behind” type right wing Christian fundamentalist schlock for morons.

    But who knows? Perhaps there’s a true genius ready to put out the first masterpiece of a horrid genre. I doubt it, though.

  13. 13
    Mike Dixon says:

    Really, this represents the cultural dominance of comic book properties. The fanbase for the printed books themselves is at an historical low, with top sellers usually below 200k (http://www.comichron.com/vital.....omics.html).
    The gripe of comic fans, I think, is that these brand names that they’ve been supporting for decades are not necessarily being adapted ‘wrong’, but that so few of the people who go to the movies, buy the video games, etc. get around to consuming the source material.

  14. 14
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @El Cid: Most movies, most books, and most music just isn’t very good. It does matter what era. People tend to remember the good from the past because it is memorable and forget (for the most part) the dreck be cause it is forgettable. It is harder to do that in the present because is immersed in all of it and, as a result, the quality work gets overshadowed by the sheer quantity of dreck.

    All this being said, I still intend to see “Dark Shadows” when it comes out.

  15. 15
    Cassidy says:

    @Nathaniel: Yet most of the commentariat will cream themselves when the next episode of Game of Thrones comes on. Pro-tip guys: just because it has boobs and fucking doesn’t mean it isn’t good old fashioned fantasy.

  16. 16
    Nathaniel says:

    @Cassidy: I honestly fail to see how your comment is germane to mine. Is Game of Thrones supposed to represent the entirety of genre fiction and thus disprove my argument?

  17. 17
    Middlewest says:

    Holy shit, you deserve everything matoko throws at you. Why not just post a picture of yourself sucking your own dick and get it over with?

  18. 18
    Gromit says:

    But I do think that there’s a huge tension between the commercial dominance of comic books, sci-fi, and video games and the continued efforts of fans to assert that they are an oppressed minority.

    What, you can’t fathom a marginalized minority whose cultural contributions are nonetheless heavily exploited by the mainstream? Really? Because that only happens all the time.

  19. 19
    Cassidy says:

    @Nathaniel: Not at all.

  20. 20
    Nathaniel says:

    @Cassidy: Then I am honestly confused.

  21. 21
    Marc says:

    @Freddie deBoer:

    Fans, whether genre or sports, are passionate about what they enjoy. There’s no sin in that.

    A legitimate grievance comes from reviews that are contemptuous of entire genres, as opposed to badly executed examples of those genres. There are some prominent female reviewers, for example, who detest fantasy in general and fill their reviews with attacks on the sort of people (presumed to be men) who like things that they don’t.

    This is very common in sci-fi or fantasy reviews and it’s worse than useless. You don’t send an opera-hater to review opera and you don’t send a fantasy-hater to review Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. You send someone who knows enough about the subject to tell how it compares to other work in the field.

  22. 22
    Marc says:

    @geg6: There are all sorts of things that other people like that I don’t. I don’t feel compelled to tell them that my taste is better than theirs. You sound like my son, complaining that classic literature is too slow paced and boring…

  23. 23
    Craig says:

    You can imagine my annoyance when Joel Stein, “funny” writer, deliberately trolled the pop culture obsessives by writing in the Times that adults should read adult books.

    But, sure, Stein is being an asshole. The reaction is about what you’d expect. Successful troll is successful. Film at eleven.

    Indeed. Indeed.

  24. 24
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: “Most movies, most books, and most music just isn’t very good.”

    Theodore Sturgeon, a genre SF writer of some note, stated it thusly:

    “I repeat Sturgeon’s Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud. Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. are crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms.”

    This was written in the 1950s when SF, especially in the popular news-stand magazine form was basically extruded entertainment-like product, churned out to occupy a boring commute to work and be disposed of in the garbage later that day. Not much has changed today with five hundred channels on cable and nothing worth watching.

  25. 25
    Izzy says:

    @Marc: This. A thousand times this. As long as there are “reviews” that are actually just attacks at entire genres as being unworthy of the reviewer’s time, then fans of good work in those genres have reason to be pissed.

  26. 26
    geg6 says:

    @Marc:

    Heh. You make my point perfectly.

    I don’t give a shit about what other people read unless it’s something I am interested in. Read on! Just don’t come in my face and tell me how persecuted you are and how stupid and immature I must be to not like your preferred genre of movies/tv/books/music. It happens all the time, especially here on the internet. I was pretty glad to see Freddie calling out that crap. I guess unless my comment is one trying to debunk Freddie’s point, I should just refrain from voicing my own similar opinion.

    I never once said that my taste is better than anyone’s. It’s my taste and that’s all I’m saying. You have yours and sci-fiers have theirs. But generally, only the media dominating sci-fi/fantasy/comic book fans get so butthurt as to bully people into shutting up about differing opinions.

    Like I said, you make my point perfectly.

  27. 27
    Taylor says:

    Comic books as a medium is dying out. The move of the DC comics staff to LA is the signal for where their future lies: as producers of properties that can be turned into popcorn movies. Of course this will mean that increasingly creative decisions will be constrained by the bean-counters. I expect that it is only a matter of time before Disney moves Marvel to LA. If you think about the cultural sterility of LA, this is really sad.

    I find this post remarkably obnoxious, in light of where the industry is going. If you want to talk politics, who do you think is the intellectual father of the Occupy movement (and in doing so has accomplished far more than all the years of intellectual masturbation at this site)? It is not an accident that the kids were wearing V for Vendetta masks.

    Of course, Alan Moore hates all movie versions of comic books, because for him comics are an inherently more mature medium. Don’t confuse the cozy liberal fantasy of V for Vendetta the movie with the original “comic”, which was a serious anarchist manifesto. Or check out the post-modern deconstruction of the superhero myth in Watchmen (don’t waste your time with the movie, which missed the main point), or the brutal sexual politics of From Hell (again, ignore the movie which made a popcorn movie out of Jack the Ripper).

    There’s lots of dreck in comic books, just as there is in any other kind of cultural medium. But blanket dissing the whole genre just demonstrates to everyone that you’re a pseud, and a wanker at that, since the medium you diss has already accomplished far more politically than you ever will with your writing.

  28. 28
    RossInDetroit says:

    A good story is a good story no matter where it comes from. Comics have many good stories over the last 20 years precisely because those fankids grew up and instead of abandoning the genre demanded better product. And that drew excellent talent because it was worth doing. Mike Mignola and Neil Gaiman would be top shelf writers in any format. And there are a dozen more making a living in comics who wouldn’t have found it worth their while in the Golden Age. Comics have never been better than they are now and the best stories deserve wider attention.

  29. 29
    Craig says:

    @geg6:

    Sci-fiers think they are the most brilliant people in any room and that the rest of us are just mental midgets who can’t possibly appreciate the brilliance and social and political commentary behind such literary and cinematic masterpieces as Dr. Who.

    (Citation needed)

  30. 30
    Hawes says:

    Let’s not forget that one group dresses up in ridiculous costumes and parades around looking like fools. The other goes to ComicCon.

  31. 31
    geg6 says:

    @RossInDetroit:

    There is one comic book legend that I can stomach. That would be Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor. But he’d be just as great without the comic art. He was wonderful.

  32. 32
    Kirk Spencer says:

    If SF enjoys “great power and cultural prominence,” why aren’t SF movies the plurality of releases or movie dollars collected? Why aren’t they the plurality of genre sales of books or represent the plurality of television (all channels)?

    I do think the genre has some power by being both different and (as a whole) optimistic. Other genres tend to be one or the other but not both. Horror is different, not optimistic. Romances, mysteries, and adventures are optimistic but not usually different. All four have larger genre representation.

    But it receives a great many slings and arrows, ranging from complaints of its unreality and dismissal as children’s fare through complaints that it has far more power and cultural prominence than it should.

  33. 33
    zattarra says:

    I think the problem here is that the comic book movies are now actually divorced from the comic book market. Everyone I know is going to go see The Avengers. And probably many will greatly enjoy it. But when I tell my co-workers I have a complete collection of Avengers comics dating back to 1963 they look at me like I’m some form of nutjob. Tell them I go on vacation to a 3 day comic convention in Chicago and I’m deemed strange. Tell them I’ve gone to San Diego Comic Con 5 times and it’s cool. Comic books as pop culture is acceptable in movies, video games, kids halloween costumes, etc. The actual source material is still considered something adults shouldn’t be involved with.

  34. 34
    RossInDetroit says:

    @geg6:

    That would be Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor.

    The movie was pretty great, too.
    I’ll stand behind Gaiman as a superb storyteller, but he’s probably not pure ‘comics’.

  35. 35
    geg6 says:

    @Craig:

    Snark?

    If not, no citation. Just my own experience with them IRL and online. As with any stereotype, there are obviously exceptions. But I refer you, as an example, of the multiple times right here at BJ that a general book thread turns into a circle jerk of sci-fi fans who take over the entire thread. I read more than almost anyone I know and my eyes just glaze over when that happens and leave the thread because there will be nothing else discussed in it.

    I’ve gotten into more arguments with and been more condescended to by ardent fantasy/sci-fi/comic fans than any other genre fans. Perhaps Freddie and I are the only people in the world who have noticed the odd persecution fantasies and bullying behaviors of these fans. I’m just glad someone else has experienced the same thing. And Dan Savage is right…it does get better when you don’t feel alone.

  36. 36
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @geg6:

    I’ve gotten into more arguments with and been more condescended to by ardent fantasy/sci-fi/comic fans than any other genre fans.

    Except Catholics. :)

  37. 37
    Raenelle says:

    When, in the real world, our only connection to power is through bread and circuses, then we might as well fucking enjoy the circus.

  38. 38
    RSA says:

    My genre of choice when I was younger was science fiction, and I leaned toward literary SF. SF fans have long had the impression (largely correct) that the genre was ghettoized by people working in more respectable areas of literature. Up until the 1960s, I think that this was appropriate–the field’s pulp roots meant that most of what was considered great science fiction wasn’t really very good from an outside view. Things have changed, though; now the best SF writers really are excellent writers.

    I think that part of the problem for genre writing, whether SF or comic books, though, is puffery. Take a look at Stephen King’s introduction to World’s End, an entry in Gaiman’s Sandman series. In it he compares Gaiman to Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, Jown Fowles, Marcel Proust, and James Joyce, while including snide asides about fiction that’s “too clever” and people “nattering on… in English 202.” I’ve read other reviews that compare some very good comic books/graphic novels to Chaucer and Shakespeare. It’s self-defensive and silly; good work can stand on its own without people saying, “This piece is among the best literature to have been written in the past 600 years.”

  39. 39
    Tim O says:

    Prometheus!

  40. 40
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Tim O:

    and Bob!

  41. 41
    Craig says:

    @geg6: Me, I just appreciate the irony of you going on and on about how much you hate sci-fi and sci-fi fans, and then telling Marc that he has “proved your point” when he says the following:

    There are all sorts of things that other people like that I don’t. I don’t feel compelled to tell them that my taste is better than theirs.

    That’s good eatin’!

  42. 42
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    Wow, it didn’t take long to go from Freddie’s point into genre bashing.

    Me, I’m going back to this:

    When I look at the broad culture of “fandom”—sci-fi fans, video game fans, comic book fans, etc.—I see a disturbing familiarity with the Tea Party. Both groups enjoy great power and cultural prominence; both commonly make complaints about oppression that simply cannot withstand scrutiny; and crucially, both seem far more invested in being recognized as marginalized and oppressed than in being freed from their supposed marginalization and oppression.

    The difference you’re ignoring is that the teabaggers were never marginalized. They’re butthurt because they’re now expected to share the cookie.

    A large percentage of fandom still flinches at the thought of talking to anyone outside of the tribe about fannish interests because, well, just look at the comments above. They’re a very mild, very polite version of the reaction I still expect if someone finds out what I’m reading. It will take a lot longer than ten years of mainstreaming SF/F to get past that.

  43. 43
    Scott S. says:

    Well, I’m a fantasy/sci-fi/comics/horror fan — and a lot of it is not very good. But the stuff that *is* good is often amazingly, spectacularly good.

    And more on-topic: Yes, for some reason, sci-fi fans and creators have a weird subculture that’s strongly fringe-right-loony. Doesn’t make a lick of sense — science fiction focuses on technology and the future, and fringe conservatism is hostile to both.

    The same holds true for comics, which also suffers from an unusually large number of fans who are vehemently hostile to the idea of diversity in comics — again, kinda funny, since some of the best-known superheroes are either literal illegal aliens or have had a subtext of tolerance of diversity from their first issues (namely X-Men).

    Oddly, horror writers tend to lean leftward politically. I’ve got no idea why.

  44. 44
    Jay C says:

    Both groups enjoy great power and cultural prominence; both commonly make complaints about oppression that simply cannot withstand scrutiny; and crucially, both seem far more invested in being recognized as marginalized and oppressed than in being freed from their supposed marginalization and oppression.

    C’mon Freddie, these are Americans we’re talking about! In this country, if you can’t successfully leverage an exaggerated sensitivity to overhyped phony marginalization and oppression into “power and prominence”, then, dude: UR DOIN IT RONG!!!

  45. 45
    Cassidy says:

    @Taylor: Alan Moore is a douche who has made a great deal of money ripping off other people’s IP and then whining because it isn’t respected as his own.

    Here is why comic fans are pissed. Until recently, the movies were crap and pissed all over what we had lovingly paid quite a bit of money for over time. Fantastic Four? Garbage. Ghost Rider? Garbage. The X-Men movies and that Abomination about Wolverine? Garbage. Daredevil? Garbage. So on and so forth. The Spiderman movies were okay but not linked to anything major. Every Superman movie has been a rehash of the same old shit. The first batman franchise took a nosedive. The Nolan franchise is good, but once again, not connected to anything larger so no epic Justice League movies. Green Lantern? Garbage. Transformers? Eh, some good, some bad. Maybe Teenage, No longer Mutant, Maybe Ninja, Aliens? Fuck you with a telephone pole Mr. bay. Judge Dredd? Garbage.

    So really, it wasn’t until 2008 when someone said, “Hey, let’s try and stick to canon” and proceeded to make some interlocking movies with a grand plan culminating in The Avengers, that the comic industry and Hollywood started respecting the fanbase that kept them alive.

    And Big Bang Theory. One of the most popular shows on tv spend 30 minutes laughing at everything that nerds enjoy. Fuck you very much Hollywood.

  46. 46
    Mickey says:

    I’ve written a response to articles like this enough times that I should save it for easy copy/pasting. Usually, It’s in USAToday, or some other mainstream source, but, ah well, here we go again…

    Comic book fans, defined as people who buy and read comics, are a very small group. The top titles from DC and Marvel are under 150,000 month-to-month circulation. This month’s The Walking Dead comic sold 32,361 issues, and that’s with a hit cable TV series backing it up. The industry is looking towards digital distribution to change that, but there really are very few comic book fans.

    You’ve also used a small minority of that small minority to paint the entire group. It’s like using the New Black Panther Party as a starting point about discussions of African-Americans. You can go to any comic book fansite (iFanboy, Comic Alliance, etc) and you will find your stereotype Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, but you’ll also find that their posts are down-rated and the vast majority of fans disagree with them.

    The medium’s also highly diverse, especially from a comic book to movie perspective. Yes, we’re getting a big-budget Avengers flick, but for every one of those, you get a Ghostworld or History of Violence which despite a marked lack of special effects, both came from comic book land. Indy comics cover a broad range of topics from slice-of-life stuff like Jeff Lemire’s Essex County to heartbreaking explorations of childhood like I Kill Giants.

    Please don’t take the lazy way out and simply embrace a stereotype. You want to lecture comic book fandom? Spend some time there first. It’s not what you think.

  47. 47
    WereBear says:

    Well, I tried to control my Fist of Death… :) (Terrible shame that the Dilbert creator became such an asshole… is there a virus in those rarified atmospheres?)

    One can dismiss science fiction as the literature of children, written by People With Problems (which would be Thomas Disch — a suicide who was also homosexual when it was far more difficult than it is now.) But as someone growing up reading stuff from the fifties and sixties; I’m living in what they predicted now.

    In fact, it’s amazing how the rise of corporations, the instant communications, the crisis of personhood, and the imprint of cyborg accomplishment — it was all there. And yes, some had shallow characters or overhanding plotlines, but some did not.

    The difference between Batman and opera? What, you mean the melodrama, the stark dimensions of the decisions to be made, the wild costumes? Oh, I get it. Music.

    Really, dismissing genre for being genre; that’s like saying those precious literary works that bubble up like champagne every year, and then vanish because they are so boring… that’s like saying longevity and connection with the audience doesn’t matter.

  48. 48
    Teddy's Person says:

    I don’t understand people who completely dismiss an entire genre or style of storytelling (which is what fiction is) or medium of delivering that story. For example, I have a friend who declares that she doesn’t like short stories or plays. How can people dismiss things that are so broad and diverse so completely out of hand?

    I lightly dabble in both comic and science fiction books, mostly based on recommendations from a friend. If I would have dismissed both of these things, I would have missed readings some great stories.

  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Taylor: Guy Fawkes mask, not V for Vendetta mask.

    /pedant.

  50. 50
    Cacti says:

    @geg6:

    I’ve gotten into more arguments with and been more condescended to by ardent fantasy/sci-fi/comic fans than any other genre fans.

    The thing that’s always bemused me about fantasy/sci-fi/comic fanboi culture is how deadly serious they are about the whole thing. I thought escapist entertainment was supposed to be fun.

    When I read impassioned arguments over what is “canon” in a work of fiction, it reminds me of a 4th century synod of Bishops debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    Plus ca change, I suppose.

  51. 51
    runt says:

    Is there some law in the US which requires all comics to be about superheroes? ‘Cause it sure seems that way. In Europe, comics can be anything from Tintin to Asterix, Jeremiah, Redbeard and Corto Maltese, or grown-up stuff like The Hunting Party and From Hell, but that kind of variety seems to be missing in mainstream US comics.

    And seriously: What’s with all those men in tights?

  52. 52
    Cassidy says:

    @runt: There is plenty of variety in comics, but you won’t find it in the big publishers.

  53. 53
    runt says:

    @Cassidy: I guess the really interesting stuff isn’t exported. Pity.

  54. 54
    Cacti says:

    @runt:

    And seriously: What’s with all those men in tights?

    I always thought that Wonder Woman’s super power must have been her ability to keep from popping out of that uniform.

  55. 55
    SatanicPanic says:

    It’s possible that sci-fi, comic book fans, etc., can be both oppressed in larger society and still have people trying to make a buck off them. Sure, they might be getting the movies that they want- except that they’re made in a way that would appeal to dumbass 14 year olds, not adults who read comic books. Just not buying your thesis here.

  56. 56
    redshirt says:

    @Jason: Hey now! “The Matrix” is a damn cerebral movie and is packed with all kinds of thesis paper material. With awesome explosions and sexy leather. It’s an incredible movie.

  57. 57
    Cassidy says:

    @runt: It’s mostly small label stuff, so probably not.

  58. 58
    SatanicPanic says:

    @runt: Walking Dead, Archie, The Spirit, 300 come to mind

  59. 59
    Cacti says:

    @runt:

    And seriously: What’s with all those men in tights?

    In the case of Batman and Robin, wealthy older man takes teenage boy under his wing, teaches him to secretly dress up in skin tight clothing and run around the city with him at night.

    Which part doesn’t read like a case study in pederasty?

  60. 60
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @redshirt: The craptastic sequels don’t retroactively ruin it for you? They kind of do for me, at least a little.

  61. 61
    beergoggles says:

    Way to make the teabaggers look harmless. Compare them to comic/scifi fans. Because destroying the economy and the safety net is the same thing as forcing you to live through hype for a superhero movie.

    Hope you enjoy that check from Koch.

  62. 62
    The other other Max says:

    When I look at the broad culture of “fandom”—sci-fi fans, video game fans, comic book fans, etc.—I see a disturbing familiarity with the Tea Party. Both groups enjoy great power and cultural prominence; both commonly make complaints about oppression that simply cannot withstand scrutiny; and crucially, both seem far more invested in being recognized as marginalized and oppressed than in being freed from their supposed marginalization and oppression.

    This reminded me of an item driven home in my clinical psych program: a frequent block to improvement in psychotherapy clients is the clinging to their sense of victimization. It’s sometimes one of the few things they have that makes them feel special. It can seem a high price to pay to feel better if you have to relinquish the thrill of martyrdom.

  63. 63
    runt says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    True dat. Perhaps I should have asked: Why do Europeans make series about everything except superheroes? (Yes, I know, Alan Moore – but he’s British, and they are more like Americans.)

  64. 64
    ErikaF says:

    Generally speaking, yes. I’ve seen the TP dynamic play out, and it has the element of fannishness to it. The devotion to the people (Sarah! Ron Paul! Rush!) and the simplistic ideas, the determination to shock the mainstream (freak out the mundanes), the organizing your life according to simplistic principles – all these I’ve seen in spades in SF fandom.

    As far as cultural prominence, well, I’m not sure about that. Blockbuster movies are sf and fantasy, but that doesn’t not translate into SF fandom. When Joe Public sees Lord of the Rings, he’s spending the time watching a movie with action and fantastic creatures that don’t exist in real life. Then he goes out of the theatre and forgets about it, and sneers at the fans who want to see the movie again and immerse themselves into that universe. That is the marginalization that still permeates the culture. That is why Big Bang Theory is composed of a cast that portray losers – heaven forbid someone who’s widely successful (outside of the genre) confess to being a SF fan. (And yes, that, amongst other reasons, is why I support President Obama. He’s one of us!)

    I am a SF fan for many decades, and have seen some of my fannish friends devolve to the TP crap. They haven’t seen the political light – they’ve just transferred their fannish interests into politics.

  65. 65
    SatanicPanic says:

    @runt: Beats me.

  66. 66
    redshirt says:

    @fasteddie9318: No. The first movie stands alone perfectly, if you want to see it that way.

    The 2 sequels are nowhere near as good, but they’re entertaining if overly preachy. I liked the overall themes presented in all 3 however.

    Ever seen “The Animatrix”? I think it helps one appreciate the sequels a bit better.

  67. 67
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @geg6:

    Actually, part of the problem is there’s a segment of SF that is TP, and they behave much the same.

    Notice the books that get recommended, that take over the book threads. They’ve a fondness for L Neil Smith and the libertarian Heinleins and the Nivens and the Pournelles, using them as the basis of political and economic philosophies that have a rough time when actually tried in the real world.

  68. 68
    Chris says:

    But if such things existed, I do believe that most Tea Partiers wouldn’t change it if they could.

    To be honest, I think the absolute shock of actually being oppressed, for real, for the first time in their miserable lives would be so great that they wouldn’t know how to react.

  69. 69
    Lurker says:

    @Freddie deBoer

    …both commonly make complaints about oppression that simply cannot withstand scrutiny…

    Ahem.

    – A Florida jury convicted comic book artist Mike Diana of obscenity. As part of his punishment, he was not allowed to draw artwork in his own home for his own personal use.

    – A Texas court sentenced comic book store employee Jesus Castillo to 180 days in jail for selling an adult comic book to another adult.

    – An Iowa court sentenced Christopher Handley in 2010 to six months in prison for possessing manga with adult content.

    Maybe if Americans acknowledged our First Amendment rights, we comic book readers would feel slightly less oppressed.

    There’s a reason I give money to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund every year.

  70. 70
    Brachiator says:

    This is just stupid, Freddie, and not just because it slams SF. It’s stupid because it is uninformed, its thesis insipid, its connections, especially with the Tea Party, flat out absurd, and its central argument profoundly uninteresting.

    I could also point out that the novel and the movies were originally seen as low culture upstarts, as was the theater of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

    The lament over mindless SF films is not that much different than earlier laments over mindless action films. On the other hand, some of the best, most exciting Hong Kong action films have their roots in opera, although in this case it is Chinese opera.

    Comic book fans triumphant? Two of the most anticipated films of the summer are “Prometheus,” a prequel of sorts to “Alien,” and “Snow White and the Huntsman.” The sources here are folk tales and horror movies, not comic books. The earlier hit movie, “The Hunger Games,” has its source in young adult fiction pitched to teenage girls, but with surprisingly broader appeal. Again, not comic books.

    And then there is Pixar, heir to the best of Disney, and the upcoming “Brave.”Again, not comic books, or genre fiction.

    It’s also odd that some critics who bash genre fiction influenced movies salivate over genre fiction influenced tv, like Game Of Thrones.

    And of course some of the greatest American films, from the Maltese Falcon to The Godfather have origins in genre fiction and low or pop culture gangster films.

    And one of the most high brow works of American literature, “Krazy Kat,” was comic strip.

    Oh yes, by the way, one of the best, most popular, most well attended, and most respected Comparatve Literature courses at my fancy ass Ivy League college was Literature X. Genre fiction and comic books.

    Freddie, you are simply, and sadly, out of your depth here. Not a bash, just a fact.

  71. 71
    Mickey says:

    If your under 40, still live with your parents and still read comic books the Avengers movie might appeal to you. I fell asleep half way through.

    The most over rated movie I’ve seen this year that is for sure.

    imdb gives it an 8.9. I give it a 5.9

  72. 72
    RSA says:

    @redshirt:

    “The Matrix” is a damn cerebral movie and is packed with all kinds of thesis paper material.

    As much as I enjoyed watching the Matrix, I wasn’t comfortable with some parts of the story. How many cops did Trinity kill in the opening scene, guys who were just doing their job?

  73. 73
    Chris says:

    @runt:

    Is there some law in the US which requires all comics to be about superheroes? ‘Cause it sure seems that way. In Europe, comics can be anything from Tintin to Asterix, Jeremiah, Redbeard and Corto Maltese, or grown-up stuff like The Hunting Party and From Hell, but that kind of variety seems to be missing in mainstream US comics.

    Well, I would hesitate to say that superhero comics can’t be grown up, but as a lifelong fan of Belgian comics, I wholeheartedly agree. Always thought it was a great pity that they never took off in the United States. The really big stuff (Tintin and Asterix) has made it to our bookstores, but that barely scratches the surface of what’s there.

  74. 74
    Chris says:

    @runt:

    Is there some law in the US which requires all comics to be about superheroes? ‘Cause it sure seems that way. In Europe, comics can be anything from Tintin to Asterix, Jeremiah, Redbeard and Corto Maltese, or grown-up stuff like The Hunting Party and From Hell, but that kind of variety seems to be missing in mainstream US comics.

    Well, I would hesitate to say that superhero comics can’t be grown up, but as a lifelong fan of Belgian comics, I wholeheartedly agree. Always thought it was a great pity that they never took off in the United States. The really big stuff (Tintin and Asterix) has made it to our bookstores, but that barely scratches the surface of what’s there.

  75. 75
    Eekfrenzy says:

    @Kirk Spencer:
    Exactly! These political and economic philosophies are simplistic and do not actually work in the real world. These philosophies also love the individualistic hero – the maverick that stands apart from the group, takes nothing from the group, and gives nothing back (except for assuming power) to the group. The group in these stories are all sheep waiting their savior. Real life politics and social interaction are very complex for stories, so it’s all simplified.

    The TP has taken these simplified story ideas and are trying to make a complete worldview of it.

  76. 76
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Yes, Freddie did step in it.

    One of the most mind boggling things to me is how fanbois/grrls can get attached to a franchise to the exclusion of everything else. For example, there are “divides” in pop SF fandom. There are Trekkies, and there are Star Wars Fans, and some of each can’t stand the other, denounce the other’s objects of worship. There was a divide between some Trekkies and B5 fans, each group savaging the other, and it got to the point where Majel Barrett-Rodenberry rather deliberately took a guest role on B5 in an effort to calm the waters.

    Me, I like all that stuff, and don’t understand why one can’t be a fan of both Star Trek and Star Wars.

    Now, to move on to another venue, one cannot be a fan of both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. This would subject you to unspeakable horrors in the home parks of either team, because, if you’re a Red Sox fan, yelling “Yankees suck!” is how you exhale.

  77. 77
    Chris says:

    @runt:

    Is there some law in the US which requires all comics to be about superheroes? ‘Cause it sure seems that way. In Europe, comics can be anything from Tintin to Asterix, Jeremiah, Redbeard and Corto Maltese, or grown-up stuff like The Hunting Party and From Hell, but that kind of variety seems to be missing in mainstream US comics.

    Well, I would hesitate to say that superhero comics can’t be grown up, but as a lifelong fan of Belgian comics, I wholeheartedly agree. Always thought it was a great pity that they never took off in the United States. The really big stuff (Tintin and Asterix) has made it to our bookstores, but that barely scratches the surface of what’s there.

  78. 78
    Chris says:

    @RSA:

    As much as I enjoyed watching the Matrix, I wasn’t comfortable with some parts of the story. How many cops did Trinity kill in the opening scene, guys who were just doing their job?

    Morpheus’ entire speech in the Matrix training program was, intentionally or not, all about the world from the point of view of a terrorist:

    “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

  79. 79
    Chris says:

    Damn, sorry about multiple posts.

  80. 80
    Mickey says:

    @Chris: Hey coppertop! Lol…what part of the “FICTION” in Science Fiction did you not understand?

    If you stepped back from this conversation you are having and saw what we see you would run and hide your face in shame? Do you also go to Star Trek conventions and talk as if people believe Star Trek is based in reality somehow too?

  81. 81
    redshirt says:

    @RSA: That’s one of the many cool things about the movie in my opinion – Neo and Morpheus and the rest ARE the bad guys, from the POV of most everyone in the world. Morpheus IS listed a terrorist on the loose in the first few minutes of the movie. Yet not only are they the protagonists, but the clear heroes of the movie.

  82. 82
    twiffer says:

    @Jason: the works of ursala k. leguin, harlan ellison, kurt vonnegut, etc. are “adolescent”? sorry, but based on that quote, i can’t take the essay you quote seriously.

  83. 83
    Water balloon says:

    O’Hehir is awful. He’s the reviewer I trust least, and his Salon caricature makes my skin crawl.

  84. 84
    Chris says:

    @Kirk Spencer:

    Actually, part of the problem is there’s a segment of SF that is TP, and they behave much the same.

    Notice the books that get recommended, that take over the book threads. They’ve a fondness for L Neil Smith and the libertarian Heinleins and the Nivens and the Pournelles, using them as the basis of political and economic philosophies that have a rough time when actually tried in the real world.

    You left out Ayn Rand. Her entire shtick is a book set in a fictional world that’s either an alternate universe or the future, where everything works the way she thinks because she’s the one writing it.

    That’s what’s always fascinated me about the cult of Ayn Rand: she didn’t write economics textbooks or even political manifestos. She wrote science-fiction novels. Imagine if the entire left wing of the U.S. held up Star Trek TNG as a political and economic manifesto and the solution to all our real world problems. That’s basically how absurd (and prominent) the Atlas Shrugged worshiping has gotten.

    Yet another sign of their very tenuous grasp of reality…

  85. 85
    Brachiator says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Now, to move on to another venue, one cannot be a fan of both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. This would subject you to unspeakable horrors in the home parks of either team, because, if you’re a Red Sox fan, yelling “Yankees suck!” is how you exhale.

    Which does raise the good point that rabid fans are rabid fans. There is not much that unusual about comic book fans.

    And if people want to whine about the debasement of culture, why is so much tv time devoted to sports, as opposed to opera and ballet?

  86. 86
    Chris says:

    @Mickey:

    Uhhh… yes? And? Science fiction can’t be about the worldview of a terrorist? Heck, I wasn’t even objecting to it (I thought it was a fascinating little speech and something that would never make it in a movie set in the “real world,” but that’s what sci-fi is for), just observing the fact.

  87. 87
    Redshift says:

    Thanks for re-confirming that you’re an asshole with nothing useful to contribute, Freddie. I look forward to your equally informative condemnation of other “broad cultures” based on a study of butthurt online comments from their members.

  88. 88
    RSA says:

    @Chris: Good point; I hadn’t thought about that.

    @redshirt:

    That’s one of the many cool things about the movie in my opinion – Neo and Morpheus and the rest ARE the bad guys, from the POV of most everyone in the world.

    I agree that this is interesting. I’d say that, within the story, they really are terrorists, per Chris’s comment. So it makes things difficult for the viewer–they’re really cool terrorists.

  89. 89
    Brachiator says:

    @Chris:

    You left out Ayn Rand. Her entire shtick is a book set in a fictional world that’s either an alternate universe or the future, where everything works the way she thinks because she’s the one writing it.

    Big Deal. The same can be said of Plato’s Republic, or Utopia.

    And I think that Rand is a doofus. But still.

  90. 90
    BigSouthern says:

    @Mike Dixon:

    I don’t claim to speak for the wider fandom, but this is exactly what bothers me. I enjoy the comic book format (I understand why it gets lumped in as a genre, but it’s not really, anymore than television is a genre) and it saddens me to see it hit such low points while the pop culture landscape is in the throes of exalting “the geek.” I don’t necessarily want to use the word appropriation, because that’s not entirely true, but something close to it is happening. I run into people all the time wearing superhero logos on their shirts or ball caps or even backpacks and when I ask them which titles they read right now, “Oh, I’m not really into comic books.” Well then what the fuck? It’s just easy intellectual property to mine, frequently without a dime going to the original creators or their estates (and Marvel needs to be deeply fucking ashamed of itself for not saying a goddamn word about Jack Kirby in ANY of its promo material for “The Avenger.”). You don’t have to be a fan of the Flash (although right now the writer-artist team is the best it’s been in years!) to think his logo – yellow lightning bolt on white circle surrounded by crimson – is cool, especially when bright colors are making a comeback in youth sartorial choices.

    The other problem is the wider exalting of “the geek” I mentioned earlier. If I had a nickel for every person I see is a “I <3 Nerds" or "Geeks Are Hawt" shirt that doesn't actually interact with geeks and nerds I'd be a wealthy man. It's just a fad, and much like I'm sure the 12-year-old with the pink and bejeweled AC/DC shirt isn't going home singing "Highway to Hell," I'm equally sure the majority of the nerd-appropriators aren't whisking themselves home to read about theoretical physics, critical literary analysis, mathematical logic, or insert nerdy interest of choice. And it's frustrating not because "OMG, we'll never be considered part of high culture!," but because the culture is aping the superficial parts of who/what nerds are without taking the good stuff with it. To wit, there are 101 versions of "Famous People's Wives," but only one type of "MythBusters."

  91. 91
    NobodySpecial says:

    Most of the GOOD stuff in SF/F will never make it to the big screen, because it can’t be shown in a way that will do justice to the source material. I think HBO has really shown how to do SF/F RIGHT with Game of Thrones.

    Now, all we need is a Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series…and maybe a Cherryh miniseries or two. Then I’ll be possibly happy.

    EDIT – and if you want non superheroish American comics, check your local World Wide Web. There’s a tremendous diversity out there.

  92. 92
    Scott S. says:

    @Mickey: Hush, troll.

  93. 93
    Chris says:

    @Brachiator:

    Never read Utopia, do not know enough about it to comment. But… yeah. The same would apply to Plato’s Republic. And if there was a similarly energetic group of political reformers who held up that book as their guiding light in the world of politics back when it came out (I wouldn’t know), I’d say the same thing about them for the same reasons.

  94. 94
    redshirt says:

    @RSA: Exactly. The narrative structure of the story is set up 100% to get you to root for the murderous terrorists. There’s no choice except maybe in the first 15 minutes of the movie, and then maybe at the end of the trilogy IF you’ve come to appreciate the Machine’s perspective (which is a valid perspective and entirely rational).

    The scene for me that really stands out this Neo and Trinity’s assault on the Federal building to free Morpheus, specifically when Neo goes through the metal detector packing dozens of guns.

    The entire trilogy is about the Self, identity, and how fluid these concepts truly are – thus, the villains are heroes and the heroes, villains.

  95. 95
    Nemo_N says:

    @Lurker:

    – A Florida jury convicted comic book artist Mike Diana of obscenity. As part of his punishment, he was not allowed to draw artwork in his own home for his own personal use.
    – A Texas court sentenced comic book store employee Jesus Castillo to 180 days in jail for selling an adult comic book to another adult.
    – An Iowa court sentenced Christopher Handley in 2010 to six months in prison for possessing manga with adult content.

    Quoting just to let people know that these horrible things actually happen.

  96. 96
    VincentN says:

    Fandom and sports are some of the few areas that liberals and conservatives can come together to enjoy so I think the Tea Party analogy falls apart there.

  97. 97
    Canuckistani Tom says:

    @Cassidy:

    You sir, are a much harsher critic of comic book movies than I am. To each his own.

    I take part in a weekly chat with RandomGuy, the creator of a very well done youtube series of superhero fanfics.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/ItsJustSomeRandomGuy

    Last night we were talking about the last 12 years as the First Great Era of Comic Book Movies. Starting with X-men in 2000, and ending in 2012 with The Avengers and TDKR. Yes there have been bad movies during that time, but mostly good.

    And speaking of continuity (and your earworm of the day)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyPh8aIdR-4

  98. 98
    Brachiator says:

    @Chris:

    Never read Utopia, do not know enough about it to comment. But… yeah. The same would apply to Plato’s Republic. And if there was a similarly energetic group of political reformers who held up that book as their guiding light in the world of politics back when it came out (I wouldn’t know), I’d say the same thing about them for the same reasons.

    Do you have even the most remote idea of how influential The Republic has been?

    Even so, there is a long tradition of using satire and fiction to publish philosophical and political ideas. You know, kinda like Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

    To attempt to single out Rand here for special bashing just doesn’t stand up.

  99. 99
    twiffer says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: as a SF and red sox fan, i feel obligated to note that competition is a bit more of a focus in sports fandom.

    so yeah, one can and should enjoy both star trek and star wars. but the yankees suck.

  100. 100

    @Baud:

    This has got to be the most WTF post I’ve read on this blog.

    Late to the party here but… um, yeah.

    Let me know when the Comic Book Guys of America band together and elect craven lunatics to high political office, who then start using the levers of power to push a radical agenda upon all of us.

    Until then, this is just an exercise in false equivocation in an vain attempt to seem clever.

  101. 101
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    “Now, all we need is a Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series…”

    I thought you wanted good SF/F. Donaldson got fame for putting out the first commercially successful Fantasy Trilogy after Tolkien, but he’s got serious flaws stylistically as a writer.

    Now, Gene Wolfe, that would be a challenge…

  102. 102
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    When the NY Review of Books does SF/F reviews, I’ll feel we’re out of the ghetto.

    Or where books where the main protoganist is a North London writer struggling with their marriage are acknowledged as being genre novels rather than anything that speaks broadly to the human soul.

  103. 103
    jake the snake says:

    Does Cole email the FPers and tell them whose turn it is to troll the site?

    I have read Science Fiction almost since I could read.
    I was probably 7 or 8 when I first read Asimov’s “The Martian Way”. By 5th grade I was reading Burroughs and
    Heinlein. There is a good reason for Asimov to have said that the real golden age of science fiction is 12.
    I was never part of fandom then or now. However, I think fan bashing has become a faux-hipster fad. Fans do deserve a lot of the criticism they do receive, but some of
    it seems to be “piling on”.

  104. 104
    Some Loser says:

    It is at times like this that I miss Samara. You really did deserve her you condescending ass.

  105. 105
    Catsy says:

    When I look at the broad culture of “fandom”—sci-fi fans, video game fans, comic book fans, etc.—I see a disturbing familiarity with the Tea Party.

    Did you even see the shark as you passed over it, or was it not visible from orbit?

  106. 106
    AA+ Bonds says:

    The story of The Avengersis the story of how the man who created the characters, Jack Kirby, did not see one red cent from similar exploitation of the properties during his life, and his family will not see one red cent from this blockbuster film.

    It’s a story of a company (Marvel, and now Disney) fucking over the one man most responsible for their success, and then fucking over his family.

  107. 107
    Taylor says:

    @Water balloon: Speaking of not growing up, O’Hehir was an insufferable prig while in college, and never grew out of it.

  108. 108
    Dex says:

    I’ve never heard an adequate explanation from fans of comic books or sci-fi what they would take as victory

    Perhaps not having to put up with screeds from pseudo-intellectuals who love to do their best to denigrate a form or a culture that they always clearly don’t understand with bad stereotypes.

    Basically, this is another expression of what are ‘good’ obsessive behaviours and what are ‘bad’ obsessive behaviours. And we’re not exactly talking advanced psychology here, so I question whether research has ever actually factored into your trolling post.

    There is, at a psychological level, no difference between the obsessive mindsets of any group who is sufficently enthralled by a subject. Doesn’t matter whether it is comics, sports, politics, Shakespearian sonnets or 14th century Italian painting. And in all of these areas, there is always an element that reacts when people from outside of their world get it wrong, or treat it superficially. Every seen military historians descend on mistakes in equipment in a WW2 or Civil War movie? Or theatre critics when someone decides to re-interprete Equus in a way they feel is wrong? The passion and viterol is no different.

    The only difference is that rattling off the starting lineup of the 1948 New York Yankees or being able to recite a thousand lines of Homer is considered culturally laudable, and being able to cite the creative teams of the last forty years of the X-men make you a sad person who has wasted their life. That’s your issue, and it is still prevalant and relevent.

  109. 109
    Catsy says:

    Also too:

    But I do think that there’s a huge tension between the commercial dominance of comic books, sci-fi, and video games and the continued efforts of fans to assert that they are an oppressed minority. I’ve been working this beat for awhile.

    And apparently have not learned much in the process.

    I have been a fan of all three genres for decades, dating back to when geeks of all stripes actually were a cultural minority and the object of much social opprobrium (remember Revenge of the Nerds? Today the movie would be Revenge of the Jocks). I have been to countless conventions and spent more time socializing with other fans of genres ranging from anime to steampunk to Lego enthusiasts to slashficcers than I can even describe.

    And you know what? I can’t think of a single adult fan who actually thinks fandom geeks are still an oppressed minority. In fact I was just having a conversation the other day with some friends where we were reveling in how ascendant geek culture is these days. We are living in a golden age of geekery.

    So you know what? How about fucking off and learning something about a topic before writing risible horseshit about it.

  110. 110
    Cassidy says:

    @Canuckistani Tom: You’re right, I am harsh. I wouldn’t mind so much deviation from canon if it wasn’t done simply to satisfy the public. T me it’s like divorcing the woman who worked two jobs so you could go to night school and become a lawyer right after you pass the bar exam (is that the right terminology). We supported them during the down times and now that it’s a boon again, we didn’t even get a bone thrown to us until 2008, but they’re still doing it. Xmen First Class is a perfect example. I’m sorry, but I know who the original X-Men were and it wasn’t that fucking movie. lol

    @AA+ Bonds: A) Jack Kirby was not alone in creating the Avengers. B) His estate created nothing, so why? C) Marvel owns the IP. This is like Moore crying over The Watchmen, which wasn’t really that amazing of a story to begin with.

  111. 111
    Brachiator says:

    @AA+ Bonds:

    The story of The Avengersis the story of how the man who created the characters, Jack Kirby, did not see one red cent from similar exploitation of the properties during his life, and his family will not see one red cent from this blockbuster film

    Holee Sheet. Hell is freezing over.

    I agree with you big time here. One of the main reasons that I ever cared about Marvel comics was because of King Kirby’s artwork, much more than I ever cared about Stan Lee’s stories. And one of the reasons that I continue to be lukewarm about all the Marvel super hero movies is that they have to huff and puff and struggle to convey even a fraction of what Kirby and others accomplished so effortlessly with paper, pen and ink.

    I thought that the first Spiderman film came closest to this, because Sam Raimi understood and didn’t just try to mimic the comics.

    @Cassidy:

    You’re just wrong here. One of the ongoing shames of the comics industry is how Marvel, and yes even Stan Lee, robbed Kirby of credit, control, and royalties.

    And even an aspect of the recent reboot of Superman and other DC comics is about cheating the heirs of the Superman creators out of money due them. It’s pretty fucking shameful.

  112. 112
    Cassidy says:

    @Brachiator: How am I wrong? They had a contract with a company and the alternative was not to be employed. I don’t think Kirby, or anyone for that matter, would turn down the chance. That’s the trade-off to work in the comic industry. Was it exploitative, yes I’ll give that, but to act as if it some great wrongdoing, no, I’m sorry. They knew that when they created these concepts the parent company would own them. Secondly, the Kirby estate has been trying to make money for nothing more than having the last name of Kirby. I don’t buy it. Also, acting as if Kirby is the end all be all takes away from the writers and artists who came after. Should Kirby be given the credit for the recent Civil War story line? Hell no. And why does Stan Lee get treated like an asshole because he lived longer? Was he not part of the team who created The X-Men? Even more importantly, Kirby and Lee created them, but Jim Lee really defined them? Does Kirby get credit for that?All this “Kirby was wronged” nonsense takes away from the rest of the team that was involved who deserves just as much credit. Once again, like The Watchmen. David Gibbons and John Higgins are quite happy with their royalty checks and proud of their work, but a douche like Moore has shit on the whole property, yet he was only a 3rd of the creative team.

    Don’t get me wrong, Kirby is a titan in the comic industry and belongs in the pantheon of sci-fi and fantasy greats. But, he isn’t the only one who has influenced what we’re seeing today.

  113. 113
    dsale says:

    @Jason:
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    — John Rogers (better known as the producer of “Leverage,” source)

  114. 114
    Another Halocene Human says:

    There is major overlap between Tea Partiers, Christian conservatives, and purchasers of DC Comics monthly floppy editions.

    Oh, sure, there are exceptions, but… just wondering, have your READ anything by DC lately? Have you been on their messageboards? Nice gents, but conservative in that shoe-polish and tie-with-a-pin kind of way. Srsly.

  115. 115
    Caravelle says:

    @runt:

    True dat. Perhaps I should have asked: Why do Europeans make series about everything except superheroes? (Yes, I know, Alan Moore – but he’s British, and they are more like Americans.)

    That’s not really a better question, because the answer would be “for the same reason people write books about everything except superheroes, or write music about everything except superheroes, or paint paintings or make movies about everything except superheroes” (comic-book movies excepted of course).

    Superheroes are a highly specific literary conceit that was born in the US comic book industry and has thereafter been tightly associated with it, but there’s nothing intrinsic in the conceit OR the medium that makes them go together, and indeed outside of the US they don’t. Unless you define “superhero” as “any protagonist with special super-human powers”, in which case it isn’t a very specific literary conceit anymore and European comics DO include some examples – like Asterix in fact.

    It would be like asking why Americans make movies about everything except young teens saving the world by piloting giant robots.

  116. 116
    ShadeTail says:

    Well, *this* article was certainly a steaming load of shit, and I’m not even a comic book fan. I am, however, a gamer, and not just video games but they’re certainly part of my hobby. And since you folded my group into your asinine rant, I shall comment.

    Here’s a clue, Freddie. None of us, whether comic book fans or gamers or science fiction geeks, think we’re “oppressed” anymore. That’s a fringe idea in our groups, and folks who rant about that earn rolled eyes at best from the rest of us. These days, video gamers no longer spend their time passing along the latest on Fred “video games kill kids!” Thompson, or complaining about how news broadcasts always have to find an X-box within at least a 100 feet of the latest school shooting. Now, the big topic among us is whether the next Nintendo console will have more computing power than the PS3 and X-box 360 (spoiler: it will).

    But you know what? We most certainly were oppressed once upon a time. Way back in the golden age of the 1950s, comic books were subject to McCarthy’s red-baiting, because of course they were purveyors of communism and homosexuality. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. It was decades before they became “acceptable” entertainment. Meanwhile, science fiction and video games were, of course, crap for kids. The authorities never saw any problem with censoring or outright banning them, vilifying their creators and users, and indulging in selective persecution of those folks because, after all, no self-respecting person would be fans of such puerile nonsense. That’s no longer an issue for science fiction, and it’s rapidly becoming a non-issue for video games as well.

    My point being, this used to be reality but it isn’t anymore. *We’ve moved on.* We’re not oppressed anymore and we know it. But you, Freddie, are still trapped in the past where this stuff used to happen. And you’re assuming that we’re there also, and are criticizing us for having the gall to complain about the treatment. You’ve revived a problem that no longer exists and act like we’re being unreasonable for complaining about it, even though we haven’t been complaining about it for decades.

    Now, if you really want to have something legitimate to write about, look at what’s really happening. I promise you won’t have trouble finding stuff. Example: In one of Marvel’s Spiderman lines, Peter Parker was recently (i.e. a few years ago) KIA and was replaced by a new Spiderman, who is a black Latino from Arizona. And the sheer right-wing outrage was quite a Marvel (heh) to behold. The usual dumb-ass cries of “white men no longer need apply!” were all over the comic book fan community, and even spilled out of the fandom into the generic political right-wing blogs. *That* would have been a good hook into the darker aspects of the fan community, because there is an awful lot of racism (and sexism, and bigotry in general) that boils up when you just scratch the surface.

    Hell, just try being a female gamer for a while. I’m serious, go to any gamer internet forum, use a feminine-sounding user name, and see the kind of shit you get for expressing your opinions. It’s rampant.

    But don’t make mindless rants about how we feel we’re “oppressed”, and therefore we’re like the teabaggers. That’s just a fact-free pile of horseshit from the word go.

  117. 117
    Catsy says:

    @ShadeTail:

    Hell, just try being a female gamer for a while. I’m serious, go to any gamer internet forum, use a feminine-sounding user name, and see the kind of shit you get for expressing your opinions. It’s rampant.

    This is no joke. My longtime pseudonym is somewhat feminine, and I used to get this shit a lot even though I’m male. Likewise if I ever played a female character in an MMO.

    But what really drove them nuts was using proper spelling, grammar and capitalization. That, more than anything, routinely got “r u a girl?” regardless of what my character or ‘nym was.

    What is indicated by the fact that the average adolescent male gamer associates good writing with “girls” is left as an exercise for the reader.

    The flip side of this, though, is that many of said adolescent males will trip over each other giving you loot and help if they even think you have tits. I never really had the heart to disabuse them of their urge to give me free shit assumptions.

  118. 118
    Caravelle says:

    @Chris:

    The really big stuff (Tintin and Asterix) has made it to our bookstores, but that barely scratches the surface of what’s there.

    And interestingly, that’s the over-50-year-old stuff. Maybe not a coincidence in that they’ve been around longer, but Franco-Belgian comics (I can’t speak much to European comics aside from those) have changed a whole lot since then, and cover a whole lot more genres and styles than that which is represented by those two.
    It’s a bit as if all you knew about Japanese comics was Astroboy. If you were going to know only one manga you could do worse, but the genre* as a whole is larger than that.

    *Obviously [country] [medium] is too wide to be called a genre, but it’s not a whole medium either. Any ideas for the correct term ?

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger: Is CGI good enough for China Mieville yet ? Because that would be a visual marvel.

  119. 119
    McJulie says:

    You might be right that there is a similar emotional reaction at work in both groups, but — seriously — try to have a sense of perspective. Teapartiers are actively campaigning to destroy this country. Nerds like to complain about stuff on the Internet.

    Also, the second comment on this thread derisively suggests that SF is inferior literature for immature people. Which is, duh, exactly the sort of sentiment that causes nerds to feel picked on. And most of us encountered it at some point while going to school. That’s why we feel oppressed — because we all remember the sting of being told by an authority figure, with some power over us (grades, anyway), that all our favorite stories were rubbish.

  120. 120
    John 2.0 says:

    I know this has been mentioned before, but 95% of the people who went to see the Batman movies, the Iron Man movies, Thor, Captain America, and who will go see Avengers have never read a comic book before.

    I’m a pretty well known comic book nerd in my social and professional circle, and I loan out books and give away comics to people all the time, and it doesn’t matter, none of them become comic book readers.

    Comic book readers as a ‘force’ are maybe 250,000. Superhero comics readers (which is what I think this post is about), is probably 150,000-200,000, depending on how you count it. Comic-Con has 100,000 attendees annually, and that’s become more and more about Hollywood and less and less about, you know, comic books.

    How in the hell do comic book fans enjoy enormous power? Because a studio executive decides to make a (usually pretty bad) movie about something I like, that means I’m a cultural force to be reckoned with?

  121. 121
    ShadeTail says:

    @Catsy:

    Exactly. It’s just so easy to see if you pay even the least bit of attention.

    A week or two ago, at gamefaqs.com, I saw a topic where someone was asking about why the SD card in her 3DS had apparently become read-only. Her user-name wasn’t obviously feminine, so naturally the people replying were using the pronoun “him”. In her reply to one such person (where she explained quite calmly why his suggestions hadn’t worked), she opened with a perfectly polite request to be addressed as “her”.

    The person whose answer she was replying to came back with the most sneeringly condescending rant I had seen in the whole month-to-date, going on and on for quite a few lines about how her gender was irrelevant. He then accused her of replying to him with “nothing but spazzing out” (he might as well said, “I think she’s on the rag” or something similar), and then petulantly declared that she at least owed him a thank-you for deigning to give her a reply in the first place.

    The only difference between that sexism and most of the rest I see is degree. It’s rarely so hot-headed and blatant, but it’s all over.

  122. 122
    Paula says:

    This is quite possibly the most simple-minded Freddie deBoer post ever on this site, and that’s saying something.

    I’m not a fan of genre, I don’t play video games, and my tastes in movies, music, and books are in realm where I’ve been accused of being a snob many times. But this argument is total BS ripped from old people who complain about movies being too damn loud these days.

    As it happens, you CAN make the parallel from sci-fi/fantasy fandom to any kind of blinkered geekery that’s been exacerbated by anonymous discourse and niche pop culture. Sites like THIS for example. Don’t even pretend like the discussions here — particularly the obot/firebagger variety — are somehow so much better than a bunch of Star Wars nerds discussing George Lucas’ “betrayal”.

    EDIT: As several ppl have already pointed out. Hollywood is producing something that can be easily consumed by a mass audience, and therefore has very little bearing on the diversity that the genres of sci-fi /fantasy actually produces/influences.

  123. 123
    Catsy says:

    @ShadeTail: I think one of my personal favorite incidents was when I was playing Diablo 2 on Bnet back in, oh, ’99 or ’00. I was trying to set up a trade (and anyone who ever frequented the spamfest trade channels on Bnet knows exactly what a nightmare that was) and the guy who had what I wanted was coming off like a gigantic cockbite. That is, until after we’d exchanged a couple of messages, the writing style of my side of which did not–shall we say–resemble “fuk dat ur offer sux kekeke”.

    At which point he suddenly asked me “r u a girl?”. To which I responded, “Does it matter?” Which he of course took as a yes, whereupon he gave me a great deal on the trade and got EXTREMELY nice.

    That is, until I refused to send him tit pics. That was when the “bitch” and “hor” comments came out. I should’ve anyway–the reaction would’ve been worth it. :> “What, you’ve never been to twelve-chest-hairs.com?”

  124. 124
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Cassidy: Roaming a bit farther off topic–

    And Big Bang Theory. One of the most popular shows on tv spend 30 minutes laughing at everything that nerds enjoy. Fuck you very much Hollywood.

    –I share your distress but not quite for the same reason. Crazy as it sounds, TBBT reminds this auld phart of nothing so much as All In The Family. The fact that everyone in your own family could sit down with AITF & laugh together didn’t bring them any closer together–the left-leaners were laughing at Archie Bunker (“Can you believe he actually said that?!? What a nitwit!”) while the right-leaners were laughing with him (“That’s tellin’ ’em, Arch! You rock!”)

    I used to have unalloyed fun watching TBBT & laughing with the characters–I knew these guys when I was in school (hell, in a bit more buttoned down fashion, I was these guys at one time or another)–until it slowly dawned on me that at least 90% of the audience was pointing fingers & snickering at them (“Goldang, Elvira, lookie how stoopid them eggheads is!”). The damn show has probably set back any & all anti-anti-intellectual efforts in the US by a generation.

  125. 125
    EvolutionaryDesign says:

    This is fucking stupid freddie, and I usually agree with you.

  126. 126
    Darkrose says:

    @ShadeTail:

    Here’s a clue, Freddie. None of us, whether comic book fans or gamers or science fiction geeks, think we’re “oppressed” anymore.

    Speak for yourself! I’m totally being oppressed by Bethesda’s decision to release the first Skyrim DLC exclusively for the Xbox for the first 30 days! Fight the Power, PC Gamers!

    Hell, just try being a female gamer for a while. I’m serious, go to any gamer internet forum, use a feminine-sounding user name, and see the kind of shit you get for expressing your opinions. It’s rampant.

    Just look at the level of shit Jennifer Hepler of Bioware took recently, from boys who were clearly pissed that a girl was in their treehouse.

  127. 127
    Darkrose says:

    When I look at the broad culture of “fandom”—sci-fi fans, video game fans, comic book fans, etc.—I see a disturbing familiarity with the Tea Party. Both groups enjoy great power and cultural prominence; both commonly make complaints about oppression that simply cannot withstand scrutiny; and crucially, both seem far more invested in being recognized as marginalized and oppressed than in being freed from their supposed marginalization and oppression.

    I don’t think I can take any analysis of fandom seriously that lumps “sci-fi”, video games, and comic book fandoms into a single entity seriously, especially one that treats “fandom” as a single demographic entity.

  128. 128
    Heliopause says:

    @El Cid:

    What, do people think that absent comic book or pop-sci-fi fan-beloved sources it will be $300 million dollar special effects versions of Jane Austen?

    That sounds like a challenge. I haven’t seen the movie but they seem to have made a boomey-splodey $300 million version of Sherlock Holmes. Or two. So much for drawing room intrigue.

    How about we give Elizabeth Bennett a slightly bleaker landscape and attitude, and a bow and quiver of arrows. She hunts down Wickham like an animal for his rape of Lydia. Lady Catherine uses her vast fortune to build a giant steam-powered machine that does something evil, what I haven’t quite figured out yet. Rev. Collins is her front man, and by the way, he attempts to rape Elizabeth but she kicks his ass. Anyway, with Darcy along for moral support Elizabeth destroys the evil machine, preferably in a Deathstar-sized explosion, then duels Wickham while rappelling the cliffs of Dover, meanwhile Darcy struggles with Collins on the roof of Canterbury Cathedral. That’s a decent-sized budget but not up to $300 million yet, so I’m going to have to figure out a way to get Elizabeth involved in the Battle of Trafalgar.

    I’ll work on it.

  129. 129
    Darkrose says:

    @Mickey:

    The medium’s also highly diverse, especially from a comic book to movie perspective. Yes, we’re getting a big-budget Avengers flick, but for every one of those, you get a Ghostworld or History of Violence which despite a marked lack of special effects, both came from comic book land. Indy comics cover a broad range of topics from slice-of-life stuff like Jeff Lemire’s Essex County to heartbreaking explorations of childhood like I Kill Giants.

    And that’s not even counting webcomics, or manga and manwha. I’ve bought a ton of what are technically “comic books” lately–all translasted manga. Ouran High School Host Club fandom and Avengers fandom? Not exactly the same.

  130. 130
    Darkrose says:

    @Cacti:

    The thing that’s always bemused me about fantasy/sci-fi/comic fanboi culture is how deadly serious they are about the whole thing. I thought escapist entertainment was supposed to be fun.

    And for some of us, the meta is fun. There’s a reason TV Tropes is the timesink that it is.

  131. 131
    Catsy says:

    @Darkrose: I’m not going to defend the rampant misogyny and sexism that so many classless douches employed, nor the kind of inexcusable personal attacks that poor woman received, but I will say that the underlying point that these douchebags were (poorly) making was completely correct, for reasons that have absolutely nothing with her gender and everything to do with the poor quality of her own work product and the degree to which EA and BioWare as companies are repugnant cancers on the gaming industry. Together they represent virtually everything that is toxic and anti-consumer about game publishing and development, respectively. If both companies burned to the ground and went bankrupt tomorrow, I would throw a fucking party.

  132. 132
    Catsy says:

    @Darkrose:

    Ouran High School Host Club fandom and Avengers fandom? Not exactly the same.

    No small number of manga/anime fans get quite bent out of shape if you say, “oh you like comic books/cartoons?”

    There’s a reason TV Tropes is the timesink that it is.

    Gods, link-crawling in TVT is even more dangerous than Wikipedia. I’ve lost an entire day that way.

  133. 133
    Darkrose says:

    @Catsy: @Darkrose: I’m not going to defend the rampant misogyny and sexism that so many classless douches employed, nor the kind of inexcusable personal attacks that poor woman received, but I will say that the underlying point that these douchebags were (poorly) making was completely correct, for reasons that have absolutely nothing with her gender and everything to do with the poor quality of her own work product and the degree to which EA and BioWare as companies are repugnant cancers on the gaming industry. Together they represent virtually everything that is toxic and anti-consumer about game publishing and development, respectively. If both companies burned to the ground and went bankrupt tomorrow, I would throw a fucking party.

    I’d disagree that the underlying point the assholes were making is correct, because the underlying point for them was that she mentioned the word “Twilight”, and also that she wrote Anders in Dragon Age 2, who could be in a romance with a male Hawke. I spent a lot of time on the Bioware forums, and there were a small but vocal minority of fanboys who were sure their dicks were going to fall off if a collection of pixels and code hit on them.

    I actually love that the story is so important to Bioware, and that they not only included gay romance options in Dragon Age, but that they listened to those of us who weren’t entirely happy with them in Origins, and made changes in DA2. My problems with Bioware are about the lack of QA testing and half-finished products that they’ve released recently, largely because they’re being pressured by EA. DA2 should have had at least another six months of development time before it was released. (On the other hand, after playing Skyrim, DA2 seems remarkably bug-free.)

    I’ve got plenty of beef with EA, so that I get, but why do you hate Bioware so?

  134. 134
    Catsy says:

    @Darkrose: Setting aside all of the unethical nickel-and-dime gouging through DLC (which is more a problem with the DA series than with ME), I think my biggest beef with them is the way they deliberately chose the most undesirable “default” conditions possible for starting a new game in Mass Effect 2 and 3 if you don’t import a previous save.

    It punishes players who either haven’t purchased or haven’t completed the previous game and makes it impossible to enjoy the full story. Key characters (like a certain beloved Krogan) are assumed dead, the game assumes you haven’t done ANY of the side missions and therefore won’t get any of the story hooks associated with them, and in practically every instance where there’s an important branching point, the default assumption is that you chose the option which is either less desirable or which blocks you from accessing certain optional plot points in the future.

    (If it sounds like I’m being deliberately vague, it’s because I’m trying not to spoil anyone who hasn’t played the games.)

    And it was completely, totally, one hundred percent unnecessary. You could argue that it’s an incentive to get the previous games, but the flip side of that is that it punishes anyone who hasn’t and blocks them from getting the full experience from the game they have bought. And it punishes anyone who hasn’t finished the previous game just as surely, even if they bought it.

    Worse, they really fucked over PS3 players this way, doubly so in the secondhand market. It’s not their fault that IP ownership issues blocked them from bringing out the first Mass Effect on the PS3, and I do appreciate them creating that interactive comic that lets you choose the branching points you want–but that comic is permanently linked to your PSN account. If you sell the game, or are done with it and give it to a friend, the next owner can never access the comic–and thus are stuck with the horrible default assumptions the game makes. If you lose your PSN account, you’ve also permanently lost the ability to create a new character with anything other than those default assumptions. Someone in either situation will never meet a vast number of characters or see a fraction of the content in the games they have bought, even if they then buy ME3 new.

    I supported BioWare with my wallet. I own ME1 on both 360 and PC, and I bought ME2 on both PC and PS3–but because the second game is more of a shooter and I already had several completed ME1 characters on PC, that’s where I finished the game. But because you can’t get ME3 on the PC without EA’s Origin service (which I refuse to allow on my computer), I had to get ME3 on the PS3, and I got halfway through the game before learning that it had assumed the aforementioned character was dead–and was furious when I looked up all of the default conditions that ME3 assumes if you don’t import a character. So now I have to go back through ME2 on the PS3 before I can even begin another character on ME3, just so that I have a character to import.

    I liked the way ME2 rewarded you for completing optional side content if you imported a character (with extra resources and stuff), and I think that’s perfectly laudable. But I cannot forgive the way 2 and 3 punish you for the sin of not importing a character from the last game. I give my business to companies that offer me carrots for going the extra mile, not the ones that threaten with the stick of withholding the full experience of the game I paid for.

    So, fuck BioWare. After ME3 I’m done with them.

  135. 135
    Barney says:

    @Heliopause: You’re too late.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.....nd_Zombies

    Successful book, published in 2009, and apparently optioned for a movie before it came out, which may or may not get made. But they’re already issued a video game and graphic novel.

  136. 136
    Cassidy says:

    @Catsy: They lost me with ME 3 as well. I won’t get into why to avoid spoilers, but I was pissed.

  137. 137
    Hunter says:

    @geg6:

    If all you can come up with for “sci fi” is Star Trek and Dr. Who, it’s no wonder you think it’s boring. There are any number of writers of science fiction (and fantasy) who can hold their own against the “serious” authors you learned in school — and why does the name Ray Bradbury pop into my head? Speaking of crossovers, read any Thomas Pynchon lately? The genre boundaries start to blur a bit — academics have taken to calling it “magical realism,” which means it can be important.

    As for comics, they’re subject to the same syndrome — some are good, some are not, but the good ones are very good. And, like sf, they’ve set themselves up to examine some pretty tough issues — at least, the better writers and artists do — and consequently, what they publish counts as literature, no matter how you dice it.

    I have to confess, I don’t understand the whole fan thing, except to note that not many people read sf, and not all that many people read comics, which I suppose explains some of the defensiveness of fans — the default position for those who don’t partake is to look down on genre literature, as is apparent from O’Hehir’s comment, which I found awfully pretentious. Happily, I’m old enough and irascible enough that I just read what I please and don’t much care what anyone thinks.

    As for the movies, for some reason I’m reminded of the comedies of the ’30s, where everyone dressed elegantly and went to nice parties. I think there’s a parallel there — escapism does have its uses.

  138. 138
    Catsy says:

    @Hunter:

    I don’t understand the whole fan thing

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “fan thing”, but if you’re referring to how serious people get about fandom it’s really little different than any other specific category of interest about which people get passionate–it just has a name. You don’t really hear people talk about “motorcycle fandom” or “beer fandom” but the underlying passions, tribalism and drives come from the same place and manifest in many of the same ways.

    I have to admit I don’t grok the chip geg6 has on her shoulder about sci-fi and its fans, but it sounds more like a personal issue than anything wrong with the genre and its enthusiasts. She doesn’t like sci-fi. That’s okay. I don’t like westerns or most detective novels. She doesn’t have to justify her preferences or identify some intrinsic wrongness about the genres she doesn’t like in order to validate those preferences.

  139. 139
    Darkrose says:

    @Catsy: Okay, that’s fair. I haven’t played any of the ME games; my experience with Bioware has been the Baldur’s Gate series, the original Neverwinter Nights, and Dragon Age. I had sort of the opposite problem with DA2 that you had with ME3: I wanted to import my previous save, but that option never worked properly and in some cases broke the game–and turns out, none of your choices really mattered, so you didn’t gain anything.

    I blame that on EA though. They’re the ones that set a release date for DA 2 that was a year out from the expansion pack for Origins, and was a buggy, half-finished nightmare of a game when it was released. I also largely blame EA for the DLC thing, because it’s the same thing they did when they got the Sims franchise. The tools for user-created content are either crippled or non-existent, in what seems to be an attempt to con you into buying their DLC “item packs”.

    I like Bioware’s writers. I like that Dave Gaider is a straight white guy who’s aware of his own privilege. I can count on their games to be, if not fail-free by any stretch of the imagination, at least aware that not all of their customer base is straight men. And even when they don’t get it right I think it’s cool that they take storytelling risks and don’t always stick to genre convention.

    On the other hand, I do think that the writers sometimes forget that they’re writing in an interactive medium and not a novel or film, which leads to some epic butthurt when the fans don’t share their artistic vision. And I’m frankly pissed off at the decision to stop doing DLC for Dragon Age 2 and moving on to 3…and I have a bad feeling about 3, especially after the complaints I’ve heard from you and others about ME3. There again, though, I have the feeling EA’s in the background, pointing at the sales figures and demanding the next big thing.

  140. 140
    Catsy says:

    @Darkrose: I have a feeling you’re right about EA’s fingerprints on some of the marketing, scheduling and DLC decisions, but when it comes to the assumptions about what new players without an imported save have to deal with, I place that one squarely on BioWare. Unless EA are some seriously micromanaging motherfuckers, that’s a dev team choice. And in the end, whether it’s BioWare fucking me or BioWare consenting to allow EA to fuck me, I’m still fucked.

    Too many fucks?

    As for the writing though, I am completely and totally with you. The Mass Effect series is probably one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen when it comes to treating minorities, women, and especially non-straight characters as if they’re every bit a part of normal life as anyone else. One of the romance options for a male Shepard in ME3 is a very masculine gay Hispanic guy, and when he talks about the husband he lost in some tragedy everyone (including the main character) treat it no differently than if he had been talking about a wife. And there’s a ton of great banter between him and this VERY macho straight Marine guy, who seems to be his best friend. It’s just pleasantly striking the way they DON’T make a big deal out of it or call out the sexuality of the characters in any special way.

    Even Star Trek wasn’t as progressive as Mass Effect. Which makes the ways they’ve fucked it up just that much more infuriating.

  141. 141
    Catsy says:

    Apropos of nothing, I could swear I’ve heard your pseudonym before, though it’s been better than a decade since I was active in any slash fandom. Do you fic in any fandoms other than what’s on your archive?

  142. 142
    Darkrose says:

    @Catsy:

    Apropos of nothing, I could swear I’ve heard your pseudonym before, though it’s been better than a decade since I was active in any slash fandom. Do you fic in any fandoms other than what’s on your archive?

    Way back in the day, I wrote Duran Duran fic. I also wrote a fair amount of Baldur’s Gate fic.

    I’ve been online as Darkrose since the early ’90’s, mostly on Usenet. I was a regular on a.s.b. for years.

  143. 143
    Catsy says:

    @Darkrose:

    Way back in the day, I wrote Duran Duran fic.

    You can’t hear me laughing, but that may be one of the most awesome things I’ve ever heard.

    Right up there with the nice girl I met at Escapade one year who wrote Bill Gates/Steve Jobs fic. :)

    Anyway, well met–off for dinner and a movie. Cheers.

  144. 144
    Caravelle says:

    @Hunter: From what I understand geg6 loves Star Trek and thinks it’s great; it’s all written SF they think find boring.

    From their comment it seems they’ve tried to read several different books, and that lots of people in their lives have commented on it already so I expect all of the “but have you tried X ?” advice has been done already and found not to work.

  145. 145
    Hunter says:

    @Catsy: When people start talking about “fandom,” I tend to think of conventions, kids with encyclopedic knowledge of the area, something that tends to take over your life. (Full disclosure: I review the stuff, so I have to know it. I have one advantage — science fiction and I grew up together. And, Thomas Disch notwithstanding, no, it’s not a genre for teenagers. Not any more.) It’s also a communal/social phenomenon that I just don’t connect with.

    As for personal preferences, I don’t understand people feeling the need to justify them. They’re personal preferences — nobody else gets a vote.

  146. 146
    Darkrose says:

    @Catsy: Let’s just say I’m REALLY glad the internet as it exists now wasn’t around, because I’d die of sheer mortification if any of my old fic ever surfaced.

  147. 147

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