Wednesday, February 14, 2018

We're all "fans" now (God save us)

A curious development in Star Wars fandom -- a very loud and possibly large contingent of us actively wants the forthcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story to bomb -- dreadfully.

Sez Joe Vargas of The Angry Joe Show, "I was thinking maybe if it does bad, Disney will be smarter with how they do these future things." (Joe should realise, I'd hope, that this has never been Disney's business model. When a franchise under-performs -- and they set the metrics, remember -- they drop it and bury it and walk away. Where's that Home On The Range ride we were expecting in Frontierland?)

Joe's is a mild utterance -- almost benign, were it not for its evident passive-aggressiveness. Here's the stronger stuff, courtesy Dani Di Placido for Forbes: "I want Solo to bomb spectacularly at the box office, mercilessly mauled by critics. I want an army of furious Star Wars fans out in force, furiously Tweeting with their finger firmly on the caps lock button, launching wave upon wave of angry reaction gifs. [It] doesn’t matter how good the film is, frankly, because I hate the idea [emphases mine]."

The idea alone merits unfettered vitriol from the masses -- maybe I'm out of step, but I think it's fair to slot this sort of emotional response in the "irrational" category.

Moving on to another, uh, beloved franchise, here we have Amelia Tate's New Statesman article, "J.K. Rowling created an army of liberals – now they are turning against her." It seems to one very loud and possibly large contingent of Harry Potter fans that the author might not be quite as "woke" as the characters she introduced to the world, and thus is an artist to be publicly renounced by one and all.

Most readers over the age of 50 (and, I would normally have hoped, over the age of 20) understand that authors of beloved works are almost sure to disappoint when encountered on the street. In fact, for most of my life it was understood that our most popular authors were truly odious people whom you hoped you'd never encounter personally. Now it is the authors who need to look out, because their readers are all a bunch of Annie Wilkeses.
"Let me enlighten you."
This all seems of a piece with the current political moment, which manages to invoke feverish rantings from all sides -- including, most grievously, the side I've habitually cheered on and stumped for.

I've been yacking a bit about this with Prairie Mary -- here's an excerpt of an email I wrote in response to CULTURE SHAPES NATURE:
The current politics are indeed profoundly weird. What I find especially bizarre/fascinating/abhorrent is all the "virtue signalling" involved. In my lifetime I can't recall this level of fervently expressed moral absolutism coming from anybody but the Religious Right. The Left has always had its causes, but the general tenor of its evangelism was usually of the "Put yourself in their shoes" variety -- the liberal ideal we learned from being wide and deep readers of Important Texts. 
Now the Left has wholly embraced the tactics of the Right: there IS a moral order, and anyone who questions it is a troglodyte, or worse. I do not see this drum-beating marching the mob in a happy direction. 
It's simplistic of me to say, but my sense of the generational attitude among those of us who came of age in the 80s was "We're figuring it out, just bear with us." Exceptions allowed for, of course -- I was a pious and socially docile youth for most of that decade. But we'd witnessed the razing of mores in the 70s, watched as families split up and reconfigured in unusual formats, fended off (with varying degrees of success) the adult solicitations for sexual favours while we were still pre-teens, mostly steered clear of drugs that weren't visibly rooted to the soil, etc. Sometime in the last 30 years there occurred a "Eureka" moment, I'm thinking probably among the post-modern set I left behind at the University -- THIS is what is morally acceptable; THIS is absolutely NOT -- and I missed it. I'm still trying to walk it all back and figure out how we got here. 
The Hero's Death -- every kid has to live through it and come to terms with it herself, but I think what made the 80s different was the common acceptance that there was an entire tier of Heroes expected to behave execrably. Rock Gods received an absolute pass -- movie stars and the like came close to it also. Famous authors, etc. Rise high enough in the public consciousness and illicit behaviour is approved. 
Disappointment occurred when someone was perceived to be a decent person, only to be revealed as the antithesis. Nobody my age thought Harvey Weinstein was a decent guy. Charlie Rose, on the other hand -- he was NPR, so probably not too out-of-whack. So Rose elicits disappointment. 
With the kids these days the stakes are so much higher. I was reading this morning that an entire generation raised on J.K. Rowling is disappointed (or more likely incensed) that she is not as "woke" as they. Yeah, but she's my age! And a novelist! She's still figuring it out, expecting the challenge will remain there to puzzle over long after she's laid to rest. 
Not so, the kids.
No grand overarching conclusion from me -- I'm still scratchin' my head over it all -- so this is where I sign off. Supply your own conclusion in the comments, should the Spirit so lead.

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