Tweet of the Day: The Rise of Science Fiction Romance
This is the kind of post that normally belongs under Space for Rent, but I thought it was better to fire it off now before the idea turned stale inside my brain. It came about because I made the stupid mistake of commenting on a You Tube comment section. Stupid perhaps, but also illuminating. Mind you, none of what you, oh gentle reader, are about to read is new in any way shape or form but I thought I write it any way.
But enough with the preamble. I found that at the very fetid bottom of such movements as Gamer Gate, the Rabid Puppies and other such reactionary movements that rose from changes in popular media, specially media marketed to a young male demographic was a pool of resentment filled with fear that if others were allowed in the club house then the club house would implode. A profound sense of ownership, of tribal identity that can not bare any change. Take this often quoted, but still relevant passage from the keyboard of Brad Torgersen :
A few decades ago, if you saw a lovely spaceship on a book cover, with a gorgeous planet in the background, you could be pretty sure you were going to get a rousing space adventure featuring starships and distant, amazing worlds. If you saw a barbarian swinging an axe? You were going to get a rousing fantasy epic with broad-chested heroes who slay monsters, and run off with beautiful women.
The book has a spaceship on the cover, but is it really going to be a story about space exploration and pioneering derring-do? Or is the story merely about racial prejudice and exploitation…
A planet, framed by a galactic backdrop. Could it be an actual bona fide space opera? Heroes and princesses and laser blasters? No, wait. It’s about sexism and the oppression of women.
Finally, a book with a painting of a person wearing a mechanized suit of armor! Holding a rifle! War story ahoy! Nope, wait. It’s actually about gay and transgender issues.
No longer interested in adventure, argue the Puppies, the Hugos have grown elitist, academic, and overly ideological—irrelevant to the average fan.
Translation: It changed, now it sucks!
Translation #2: It was not marketed to me, now it sucks!
Translation #3: We must restore the balance or we shall lose it all!
Same thing with Gamer Gate. For all the pronouncements about “Ethics in Games Journalism” when you read the vast series of statements made by G-G “enthusiast” translate to the same thing, talk of, inclusion of, or acknowledging of social issues, games as art or anything other than a narrow set of technical issues can not be allowed lest the fun stops.
Mind you, any long time reader of this blog might leap to the conclusion that I am a hypocrite. After all I produced blog post/video like these:
Even while I have defended Interactive Fiction:
And I have objected to racebending, genderbending and other popular practices among those who seek to inject diversity in modern media. But I never said, “If this is considered a game, then we shall lose our games,” or “If a character is gay, that means comic books are lost to us.” For example I reject racebending/genderbending on the grounds that:
- It is so shallow that it is not even Anti-racism/Anti-Bigotry 101, it is the class catalog description to said courses
- If, and I believe it is, these are important factors in people’s lives, essential parts of who they are, then you can not treat them like a light switch, turning them on and off just to satisfy the whims of the audience
I am also defensive when it comes to demands to specific content creators to be “more diverse”. However, I also recognize that (and will write more about this later) that if individual authors, actors, directors, producers, and other media generators do not shoulder the burden of diversity, it will not happen. Leaving it to the inevitable forces of history never works.
What does all the above mean? It means that it is okay to discuss and critique things on the merits, but this childish rejection of the Other, this reflexive rejection of things you don’t like, or even the rejection of the mere mention of such things is, to be absolutely frank, idiotic. But if you want to stay inside your ghettos, by all means, keep manning those walls, and watch as the world walks by with nary a wave of the hand.