GeekPlanetOnline’s Editor-in-chief, Matt Dillon, is a man of many passions - although most of them involve a joystick. In this semi-regular column, he shares his thoughts on life, love and the pursuit of video games (and occasionally other things).
A friend of mine recently made the point on social media that it speaks volumes of fandom that there seem to be far more “bad movie” podcasts – that is, podcasts tearing apart and ridiculing bad movies – than there are podcasts celebrating cinema positively. I think he’s right, I think that it’s a problem, and I think that it’s an issue needs addressing. Naturally, it’s not an issue that affects only cinema fan circles; every fandom has its communities of hecklers, and we’re all guilty of mocking and dissecting entertainment we deem unworthy at some point or another. Sometimes it’s done in the name of humour, sometimes in offence, anger or disappointment, but it’s a natural part of fandom and once that, at times, seems almost inescapable.
Everybody has a right to express their opinion, of course*, but I begin to wonder whether, as a community, we’ve become so focused on this weird form of gatekeeping that we’re losing sight of what made us fans in first place; our enjoyment of a medium or franchise. Internet outrage culture is at an all-time peak; we attach ourselves to bandwagon after bandwagon, waving pitchforks and torches as we yell into the ether about how this adaptation wasn’t accurate, or that casting wasn’t perfect. This movie was a let-down; this TV show has gone downhill; this video game doesn’t meet my expectations; this comic book about people who can fly and punch through walls has done something completely unrealistic like writing a character as gay**. When did our focus become this wave of negativity? When did we decide that it’s more fun to trash than to celebrate?
At this point, you might be wondering what any of this has to do with geek cred. Well, the answer lies in the subculture that this kind of thing has fostered: a group of people I have come to refer to as Cornflakes. So-named because all they seem to do is piss on other people’s, they’re the “fans” who spend their time mocking franchises and properties that they have no personal interest in. They have an unerring ability to sniff out positive conversations at parties or on social media, and feel compelled to wade in and kill the buzz. You like that thing? You’re wrong. You’re wrong, your opinion is wrong, and here is a link to a two-page article explaining just how wrong you are. It’s an unpleasant attempt to inflate their own sense of self-importance and geek cred by belittling things that aren’t aimed at them and could safely be ignored, and by othering fans of those things. It’s an easy habit to slip into – I think back to some of my early podcasts, for example, and shudder – but it’s a type of behaviour that needs to stop.
Geeks are a beautiful, diverse people. We are colourful, we are playful, we are imaginative, and we are passionate about so many different things, so why waste time on disdain? While you’re busy pissing on another’s person’s cornflakes your own are left, on their own in a bowl, going soggy.
* You don’t have the automatic right for it to be listened to or cared about, but that’s a conversation for another day.
** Seriously? That’s your issue in a universe where a traumatised rich bloke dresses up as a bat and punches clowns in the name of vigilante justice, and the super-powered flying man with laser-eyes is allergic to green rocks?