Thoughts on dunking

Assholes are like opinions. Everyone’s got one and it lets others know your full of shit…

…wait…

Okay so that was funnier in my head but whatever, it’s my blog, you can close the window if you don’t like my dumb humor.

I was perusing twitter recently (in before someone says ‘well there’s your problem’) and I saw someone talking about the Orville and how it’s so much better than any actual Star Trek in the last 20 years. It reminded me that they–and several others I encounter online–have some pretty strong opinions of things like New Star Trek (Disco, Picard, etc). The encounter immediately brought back the same feelings from times past when I had seen others whose work or company (or both) that I greatly enjoy expressing intense vitriol for something I enjoy. Feelings of shame, sadness, a longing to close myself off, a desire to back away or in some way limit contact with the person because I like the thing they hate which means they probably have a pretty low opinion of me and don’t want me around. Yes, I recognize it’s ridiculous, but you’re toiling under the assumption that I’m able to fully control my emotional responses to things.

My immediate reaction to this new encounter was to reply with “Hey, I actually LIKE new Trek.” but that would just result in them offering their own verbal repost of “Well then you’re wrong and you have bad taste” or something to that effect as conjured up in my damaged brain. Point of clarification: the person in question almost assuredly wouldn’t say anything anywhere near as rude… but it’s not a complete assurance. The fear of the imagined response was enough to shut me up and make me curl up in my seat and hate myself for even daring to think about saying anything to them. It just made me feel alienated and unwelcome. Not their intention I’m sure, but that’s the result.

There’s a lot out there that I don’t know about, a lot of media I haven’t consumed. And many friends or acquaintances know SIGNIFICANTLY more about well… virtually everything than me. I’m probably the dumbest person in my entire circle of people that I know, least educated, least knowledgeable, least experienced. The term ‘uncultured swine’ wouldn’t be out of line. And I can’t help but feel like I will never be able to keep up with anyone I know about anything that gets talked about. Pile on top of that vitriol towards a thing I genuinely love, and suddenly… I’m falling back into the realm of “I should just go away, no one likes me”.

I think this is why I have latched on to hard to “Movies with Mikey” over on the youtube channel FilmJoy. Hell, the tagline is “Love movies again”. The videos are celebrations of things in media, the good, the joyous, the wonderous, the exciting, the very things that make us giddy. It’s not a “good vibes only” channel. Mikey will certainly point out problematic things rather than just ignore them, but he doesn’t focus on them because that’s not the point of his channel. He wants to just have a nerdgasm over something, usually a movie. Because of him, I rediscovered the live action Speed Racer film, and found that not only is it better than I remember it being when I saw it in the theater, but it has aspects that I couldn’t even begin to appreciate when I was that young (and… I’ll be honest… I wasn’t *that* young). He doesn’t dunk on something or someone unless they truly, genuinely, absolutely, objectively deserve it. AND NO, I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT “Well new Trek is objectively worse so dunk on it as hard as you can”, I’m talking about Harvey Weinstein levels of objectively deserving being dunked on. Or a certain bearded senator from Texas who is objectively a complete and total cowardly asshole who deserves to have his entire political career go up in smoke, to be thrown in jail for stoking an actual insurrection against the capitol, and to vanish into obscurity. Mikey will do fake dunks purely for comedic purposes, and it’s obvious that it’s joke. But when he has to, he’ll seriously criticize something or someone who truly deserves it.

I like this mindset. I like it a lot. It relies on celebrating a thing that is loved rather than bashing a thing that supposedly people don’t like, which invariably will get pushback on it. Because there will be people who DO like the thing being bashed. It respects that people have different tastes and doesn’t alienate those who dislike a thing, unlike how bashing can and does alienate people who DO like the thing being bashed. I wish it was an attitude that was more prevalent. Hell, I had a conversation with a friend recently and two films I really love came up: The Princess Bride and The Fifth Element. Said friend was CLEARLY hesitant to say ANYTHING about them because it was obvious how I was so fond of them, but it didn’t stop them. They went on ahead with their opinion.

I tried really hard to repress the dark feelings, that sense of “oh… they think I’m dumb for liking something they don’t like… I should just go” and tried really hard to not go down the road of “How the hell can you NOT like these movies!?”. I expressed my disappointment, but I can’t change their mind–hell, I can’t change **anyone’s** mind–so I wasn’t going to try. I mean for fuck sake, I have a hard enough time convincing someone to hire me. There’s no chance in hell I’ll ever be able to change someone’s mind about not liking a movie that I love. I’m the least convincing person alive. I can’t even get my own father to listen to me about how to reprogram a garage door opener. So… I just… concede defeat while also trying to be understanding.

I guess I just feel like my opinion isn’t valid. Like, everyone else knows so much more about everything and I’m just a babbling idiot so I don’t defend myself… because… well, let’s be honest, I’m not worth defending, nor are my opinions or views.

Unless we get political, then I will fucking stand on your neck for believing shit like “trans people are just faking it” or some stupid shit like that. Trans rights are human rights. Black lives matter. The republican party is the party of rape, pedophilia, lies, sexism, homophobia, wealth hording… I’m stopping here because the list could go on for the rest of the post.

But yeah, on matters of media, everyone knows more than me so I just… shrink away, because I’m stupid and should keep my mouth shut.

But I’d really like to see people spend less time publicly bashing a show or movie or what have you STRICTLY because it didn’t appeal to them. If you don’t like a thing, that’s fine… but by being needlessly hateful about it, you might drive away people in your life that actually like the thing. I mean, there’s a reason why I stopped interacting with a few folks who I looked up to. I didn’t feel like I was worth their time because I’m a trash person who likes garbage media in their eyes.

I hate feeling this way, and I hate making others feel this way, so I try my absolute hardest to not express that kind of thing.

I’m sure a lot of people who might take the time to read this have some experience where they were made to feel lesser because they liked something that someone else hated, or held a particular view that someone else expressed distaste for. Most of the people in my circle of acquaintances are some flavor of LGBTQ+… this is a feeling we are ***INTIMATELY*** familiar with. It sucks. It makes you feel like crap about yourself. And I’ve already got plenty of self-esteem issues without needing to feel like I’m a garbage person for liking Star Trek Discovery and Picard, all because a red dragon likes to take pot shots at both shows.

And I’m sure there are loads of people ready and willing to leap right out of the woodwork to say “They’re not trying to make you feel bad, they have a right to express themselves”. Yeah well, they might not have been trying to, but that was the result anyway. It’s why I just take myself out of the equation, because either the person in question or fans/friends/followers/etc. will leap to their defense as if I’m attacking them. Said red dragon is entitled to not like new Trek. That’s fine. It’s disappointing that they weren’t able to get out of it what I was able to, but that’s just how the world works, people have different opinions.

I just wish I didn’t have to feel like trash because someone else thought it would be cool to shit on something I like. And no, that isn’t just a “me” problem. Yes, there’s an aspect of if that is a problem with me… I think we’ve rather firmly established by now that I’m fundamentally broken–which is why no one will date me, an ex put it rather succinctly by saying they were tired of my “antics” and damn if they didn’t hit the nail right on the fucking head. BUT… that doesn’t mean a person can’t fundamentally change how they express their dislike of something.

Example: Fortnite is objectively bad.

Are you done yelling and screaming and swearing at me through your screen? Cool. How ’bout we dig into that statement a little bit so you can understand why I think that?

First off, I suck at first person shooters or over-the-shoulder third person shooters. I openly admit this. I am unable to ‘get gud’. I am not a ‘pro enough gamer’ to be the last player standing. You’d think this might be the source of my feelings on the matter, yes? Well I sure wouldn’t blame you for thinking that, but no, it’s not why I believe Fortnite is objectively bad.

The gameplay loop is VERY compelling. It has obviously polished controls and the balance is constantly being refined. It’s incredibly popular. There are loads of people who love the game and some who even make it… well… pretty much their entire personality. That’s FINE. I’m FINE with people who enjoy the game.

HOWEVER: the developer engages in harmful crunch of the people who make the assets, update the maps, balance the gameplay, monitor and maintain the servers, and basically make the whole thing run. The game… which is less a game and more a platform, a center of e-commerce even, is designed from the ground up to make you spend as much time in the primary gameplay loop as possible so you can earn currency to buy skins, costumes, emotes, accessories, etc. and all of those things (or at least a large chunk of them) are only available for a limited amount of time. So if you don’t have the e-money to buy them, you’d better get in the game and play as much as possible so you can get enough e-money before time runs out! Or… alternatively… you could spend real world money to buy fake e-money and use that to buy those cosmetics. People have developed addictions to this game. People with gambling issues have had serious problems because of this game. People have spent literally tens of thousands of real world dollars on this game… for COSMETICS. Kids get bullied at school because “oh look at him, he’s still using the default skin, guess he must suck ’cause he can’t win enough to buy something different”.

FORTNITE. IS. OBJECTIVELY. BAD.

And that’s before I get into the whole issue with Tencent… that’s a whole other ball of wax.

Take out the issue of cosmetics and–as I was informed it’s called by Dan Olsen from Folding Ideas–Manufactured Discontent… make it JUST a game with no need to spend real world money on it, get rid of the reason for people get develop addictions or suffer gambling issues or bullying… and it’s a fine game. A GAME. THIS IS ALL CAUSED BY… A GAME… that the devs are making BUCKETLOADS OF CASH off of. Fortnite and other games like it. I have no time for them. If you enjoy playing Fortnite or any of the other games that have similar structures, and you’re able to not fall victim to the issues already mentioned, great, I’m happy for you, please continue to enjoy… but it doesn’t stop it from being a very problematic practice and thus making it… say it with me now… OBJECTIVELY BAD.

This is very different from: “Star Trek Discovery/Picard is bad because the writing sucks, the pacing sucks, the editing sucks, it doesn’t fit with canon, it violates the things Gene Roddenberry said Trek is supposed to be, it didn’t hold my attention, it was dumb, I hated it, and that’s why it’s bad.”

You know what has bad editing? The Room. The Snowman. Suicide Squad.

You know what has bad writing? The Room. The Snowman. Suicide Squad.

You know what has bad pacing? The Room. The Snowman. Suicide Squad.

You know what you’ll never hear me say? “The Room, The Snowman, and Suicide Squad are garbage and should never have been made.”

Why? Because even though they might be widely regarded as bad, and let’s be honest… a LOT of people do think all three of those movies are objectively bad and for legitimate reasons… I know there are people out there who actually like them, so I’m not going to bash them because someone likes them. They’re movies, not political views, not cultural norms, not a debate on whether or not trans people should be allowed to exist (they do exist, they should be allowed to exist, and anyone who thinks otherwise can sit and fucking spin). They’re movies. I have some seriously strong thoughts, feelings, and emotions about Justice League–especially about the Snyder Cut… specifically the fact that the fans screamed and slobbered and threatened and harassed and just leaked their toxicity all over everything until Zack Snyder was given the chance to make his cut. But I’m not going to begrudge anyone their opinion on either version of the film. Hell I’ve not watched either… because it just didn’t interest me. I’m overly fatigued from the dark, gritty, serious, ‘edgy’ comic book movie craze. I was kind of over it back when Sin City came out.

But hey, some people enjoy that, and I say more power to them. Love the things you love, be aware of the problems… like how a lot of films from Hollywood glorify the cops and the military because that means they get extra funding to make the movies that glorify the cops and the military. Judy Hopps is a class traitor, there I said it. And so is Nick Wilde for joining the force. If Zootopia 2 isn’t about how they both get fed up with the system being fundamentally prejudiced against predators and so they quit before going on to become pred/prey equality activists, then… well… I’ll probably still go see it like three times in the theater (when it’s safe to do so again), buy it on home video, watch it repeatedly there, get lost in the soundtrack, soak up all the new furry-sourced artwork that comes of the new injection of content to make art about… and basically just… enjoy it.

But I’ll still be aware of the fact that Judy and Nick are cops, and cops are part of a system designed to only serve the rich and powerful while also designed to oppress marginalized groups.

You can enjoy something while also acknowledging how problematic it is. Just like how you can NOT enjoy something, or even actively DISLIKE it without being hateful about it.

I just wish more people could understand how being unnecessarily hateful about things like this can actually push others away from you. There’s a reason why this one art stream I frequent has fundamentally changed how discussions about Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Star Trek, and similar such media are held. We respect one another’s opinions, but we try not to make others feel like because they don’t agree, that they are immediately wrong and are lesser for it. To be clear, even when the vitriol was flying, we all knew that a disagreement didn’t mean one was less of a person for it. But the implication brought about by the unnecessary venom (not the fun one who just wants to be your on-board self-care buddy… and eat bad guys) can do real harm and drive people out of the conversation.

I had plenty of times where I would say “You know… I actually kind of liked that movie” and I got drowned out by all the reasons why that movie was bad (Star Trek Into Darkness was enjoyable, I won’t change my mind on this, if you don’t like it, that’s fine but don’t bother coming at me with all the reasons why it’s bad, just stop, I WILL block you)… and I eventually just… fell silent, stopped posting in the chat… and even logged out from a couple of occasions of that kind of conversation. I just felt like because I didn’t have the “right” opinion, that I didn’t belong, and if I didn’t belong, then I should just leave. After a few private conversations with one or two people from the stream, prompted by “hey, why did you leave?”, the culture in the chatroom changed, and it hasn’t really been an issue since.

We acknowledge problematic stuff, sure. It’s not a “good vibes only” chat. But we don’t go out of our way to be needlessly ruthless… you know… unless it’s something TRULY awful… like Turkish Star Wars. Holy god that is one hell of a bottle of sour milk. And yet… some people find that enjoyable–this is where one’s sense of irony comes into play. They like it BECAUSE it’s bad.

I just want people to be kinder. Because the world is not a kind place. We don’t need to add to the bad by shitting on things people like.

Anyway… I’ve circled this issue long enough. No one’s going to read this all the way to the end. It was mainly for my own benefit so I can get it out and not keep talking to myself about it. I’m the only one who listens to me consistently, and even I’m sick of hearing me go on about it… how ’bout that?

Don’t be a dick. Love what you love. Let others love what they love. Recognize the problematic parts of the things you love and don’t conflate genuinely problematic things with stuff you just didn’t like.

Be kind. Take care of one another. The world is ending after all.