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[personal profile] lazypadawan
Friday Dec. 14 is this year’s Wear Star Wars Day/Share Star Wars Day, which was started in 2010 in response to a little girl at school being told by her classmates that Star Wars wasn’t for girls. There was a huge outpouring of support for the tot and her mother has in the meantime written a book about bullying and hosted a panel on the topic at Celebration VI. Then after Celebration VI, the troops rallied again against a news site that posted a slideshow with disparaging remarks about cosplayers and attendees. I wouldn’t have called it bullying but many fans did and let the news site have it. The site was wrong and what it did was irresponsible journalism.

The irony is with this and with so much media attention on “bullying” is the total lack of self-awareness about the lousy way fans, geeks, or whatever you want to call them treat each other.

For all of the Free To Be Me flag waving, fandom hammers down the nails that stick up all of the time. Both fan-run and professional sites expect “us” to hate on this or hate on that and if we don’t, we’re going to be harassed, trolled, and get called every name in the book. Did this even come up at the Celebration VI panel on bullying? Somehow I doubt it. Bullying is what mundanes do to you, not what you do to other people. This is why I laugh at the occasional calls for “civility.” Where are those calls for civility when people are calling for Lucas’s murder? Where are those anti-bullying forces when the RLM cult starts attacking fans who defend the prequels? Would fans have rallied to this little girl’s cause had she been teased online for liking Jar Jar or the Ewoks? Call me skeptical. It wouldn’t even have merited attention.

A prime example of this lack of self-awareness is how this guy on i09 one day tried to claim without proof that Rick McCallum was fired by Disney, then a few days later was horrified at an anonymous fan being so bothered by a show of Star Wars philanthropy he had to tell Nikki Finke, who was also disgusted at guys helping to rebuild a house. Dude, you just tried to trash someone’s professional reputation and character. You and that hateboy share the same DNA. You’ve helped create and perpetrate a culture where ANYTHING in Star Wars is considered an affront and an outrage to the aggrieved fanbase and that justifies any reaction in response.

Sometimes on The Mary Sue or on some feminist type’s blog you’ll see outrage directed at some jerk’s sexist or demeaning comments about cosplayers, female gamers, female fans, and so forth. But so long as their politically correct sensibilities are not offended, they really don’t care about what else goes on.

Too often, fannish cruelty, harassment, trolling, and all-around dirtbag behavior are shrugged off as “passion” or “enthusiasm” or just expressing an opinion. Moderators are often too busy or too lazy to do anything about it and even if they aren’t, the rabble cries censorship. There’s a reason why online discussion is dominated by aggressive, hateful creeps. They chase off everybody else.

The goals behind Wear Star Wars/Share Star Wars Day are good ones but you can’t knock bullying as a problem in society if you’re ignoring it in your own backyard.

Date: 2012-12-13 01:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This "bullied becomes the bully" thing shows up far too often in fandoms. You'd think after finding a haven where they can be as geeky as they want, they would be happy to make it an inclusive, safe place for anyone who wants to be there. But somehow they get the notion that some people aren't "geek enough" for their arbitrary qualifications, be it their opinions about canon, their gender, their age, whatever. Bully culture needs to be stamped out wherever it shows up. Otherwise we're all just a bunch of hypocrites.

Date: 2012-12-14 04:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Absolutely agreed. I know you and I are coming from different sides of the OT fans vs. PT fans issue... but on either side, people need to live and let live.

When I was a teenager I would have loved to have the kind of online community, fan community that we have today (okay, I had AOL chat rooms, but the volume of information, number of participants is completely different)... BUT it makes me feel like just as much of an outsider to be told that I'm not a fan because I don't absolutely love 100% of what is commonly considered canon as it did to have boys Wookiee-roar at me in high school. I don't think I would choose to go to most fan gatherings if I had a chance, because it's apparently not okay to have different opinions about what is great and what is not so great. It's okay to dislike the Holiday Special or Jar Jar (in fact, people get ridiculed for LIKING Jar Jar, which is just as bad), but not okay to dislike midichlorians or Luke/Mara? Who decides this stuff, anyway? (Okay, I guess Lucas disowned the Holiday Special... but he also said in an interview that he did not see Luke ever getting married, so... that's not it, or at least not ALL of it).

I hate fan snobbery so much... makes me want to not be a part of a fandom that for years I wanted nothing but TO be a part of, sometimes.

Date: 2012-12-14 06:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There's a BNF cosplayer in the Doctor Who fandom who hates on people who cosplay the same character she does. "She's too faaaaaat," etc. Disgusting. Thing is, this cosplayer is a little chunky's just so hypocritical.

My daughter is a geek girl and dips her toes in the anime fandom...I see kids getting away with bullying behavior within the group because they hesitate to call the bullies out. It's Geek Social Fallacies ( at work.

Date: 2012-12-14 09:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, absolutely! "Free speech." Ganging up on people and screaming at them because they don't like your ship isn't free speech. It's bullying. Calling people racist or homophobic or whatever because they don't hate the same development on your show is bullying.

The scary thing is how much bullying is supported by the fans with the most power, the owners of the services we use, the mods of communities, etc. Sometimes the mods are the worst.

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