azn_jack_fiend: (snarl)
I'm not going to lay out a grand theory of why character-bashing is morally wrong. My argument is a lot simpler. It's petty, ugly, stupid, irrational, hypocritical and juvenile. Most people understand this, and justifiably avoid it.

The prevalence of Gwen-bashing is either the #1 or #2 reason Torchwood fandom on LJ has a wide reputation as a bunch of wank-ridden whackos. The Gwen-bashers constantly harp that their fucked-up version of Torchwood represents the majority of fandom, when in fact they're nothing but a very vocal minority, so vocal they've driven a lot of people out of Torchwood fandom. They. Are. Not. The. Majority.

I'm not going to list the many reasons why their bullshit is bullshit, because these reasons have already been gone over exhaustively by many people. Most recently, and beautifully, here by [livejournal.com profile] taffimai. Instead, I'm going to offer an explanation of why it is that people get involved in the Gwen-bashing mentality in the first place, and then offer an optimistic vision for how it's going to fade out.

I think that character identification is very much a social process. When we watch characters and begin to identify, they might remind us of ourselves, of people we know, of people we want to be, of people we know we shouldn't want to be but want to be anyway, of characters on other shows. And talking about our likes and dislikes in communities shapes our perception enormously, often more than we think it does. People we respect remind us of aspects of the characters we hadn't thought of before; people we don't respect make us reconsider opinions in the opposite direction.

When some people saw Torchwood and formed their own unique narrative of it (as everyone does, to some degree) they superimposed another story onto it. Basically, it's a story where there's a popular handsome guy (Jack), and a popular pretty bitchy girl (Gwen), and a pretty but shy wallflower girl (Ianto), and the popular guy picks the geeky girl instead of the popular girl. This is a really stupid story, so stupid that even shows about young people, like Gossip Girl and Degrassi Junior High and Skins, tell more sophisticated stories than that.

They pushed this narrative so vocally that subscribing to it became a kind of gatekeeping opinion to win acceptance and encourage group cohesion.

The story I'd superimposed onto Torchwood was completely different. From the beginning, I identified with Gwen as a kind of everywoman figure with interesting flaws and vast reserves of strength. She's working as a policewoman: an unglamorous job in a field heavily dominated by men. I know how hard that is. I imagined a constant pressure to be “one of the guys” accompanied by steady amounts of low-key sexual harassment and warnings about losing her femininity. The idea that Gwen “had it easy” somehow is completely ridiculous given her job field.

I never had it easy in school. I wasn't just the shy girl in the corner, I was the girl that everyone screamed racial slurs at. And I started working at 15 and was on my own and supporting myself at 16. So the idea that I'm supposed to not identify with Gwen on the basis of her being the “popular girl” archetype strikes me as completely bizarre and counterintuitive.

I did, and still do, identify with Gwen. Part of that is perceived commonality of experience. On the other hand, this sort of commonality can work against identification; sometimes I feel like Gwen's issues are too close to my own, which interferes with a certain urge towards escapism that's part of my enjoyment of the show.

There are lots of Torchwood fans on LJ who superimpose different narratives onto Gwen. There's a diversity of approaches, positive and neutral and, yes, negative, and I think that diversity is healthy. There's nothing wrong with not liking a character. I don't like Owen, for example. But the visceral hatred that consumes Gwen-bashers is pathologically monotonous and deeply stupid and almost always interwoven with weirdly delusional misogyny.

That's why I have zero tolerance for it. I hope to see Gwen-bashing confined and marginalized as much as possible through the method of public shaming. Perhaps that's how the Gwen-bashing achieved such prevalence in the first place (although I'm a fairly recent fan so I could be totally wrong on that): too many people said to themselves, “yeah, whatever, those people are fucked but I'm just going to ignore it.”

I do think it will fade as some of the AGA-ers grow out of it and realize how much of their time they're consuming in such a petty pursuit.

As for [livejournal.com profile] wounded_melody? You need to take a step back and take a good look at yourself. [Edited to remove information 12/31/2010]  Calling your opponents nasty names, wishing physical harm on them and trying to rally troops to flame anti-Gwennishly might give you a little adrenaline rush, but it's not going to make anything better in the long run. Why not spend your time on the internet creating something positive and/or fun in Torchwood fandom, instead of building a reputation as a destructive, manipulative flamer and wanker? Think about that.

[Edited to remove information 12/31/2010]

I've preemptively banned you from my journal because I refuse to engage in this destructive spiral of pointless arguments you always seem to start. I will also immediately ban anyone who tries to comment on this post and is also a member of AGA. I believe in being a responsible, positive, contributing member of fandom and do my best to respect diverse opinions in many regards other than Gwen-bashing, but I'm not too big on LJ debating etiquette and I don't believe in giving bullshit arguments a forum in my personal space. I also don't have the energy or time to respond to comments in a timely fashion so I'm not interested in presiding over a 100+ comment blowup such as the one that occurred at [livejournal.com profile] taffimai's journal, and I will freeze and/or delete comments if any sort of dwama occurs.

Anyway, I'll wrap up this rant with a mixed metaphor: there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and I do believe that one day the Gwen-bashing posts will wither away like a bad patch of sickly mushrooms, and the bashers that still refuse to move on will at least be forced to recognize that they don't represent Torchwood fandom. And they never have.

ETA 12/28/2010: all comments frozen.
azn_jack_fiend: (Dagon)
In 2006 I was really into Heroes. The first season kicked ass. I loved the characters and got hooked on the story. 

The second season was disappointing. My favorite characters, like Hiro, were either sidelined or killed off. It became apparent that the writers didn't really know how to handle complex storylines, and were making vast gaping mistakes and trying to cover over those mistakes in increasingly awkward ways.  And the characters of color, one of the main reasons I liked the show in the first place, got shifted off to the side to focus on the white characters.

It also became apparent that Tim Kring, the creator, was a gigantic raging asshole.

Here are things I did not do after the second season:

- go to blog posts and news articles about Heroes actors, bash them, and say they were delusional for thinking the show's storyline could get better
- create and publicly articulate violent revenge fantasies against Tim Kring. Not that some people didn't do that, of course, but I think the trend was fairly short-lived.
- follow news coverage on the new seasons avidly and analyze projections for the future seasons of Heroes in order to gloat about any drop in ratings and in order to convince people who were watching the show to stop watching it out of some sense of peer pressure
- demand that the creator change the show's name
- go to places with a lot of people who were still excited about the Heroes storyline and/or new Heroes characters and tell them they were pedophile-lovers

What I did do:

- say I was disappointed in Heroes when the topic came up.
- stop watching.
- continue to have fond memories of the first season.

I still don't get it.
azn_jack_fiend: (Dagon)
The latest one is, "What's the biggest IT security worry for your business and how are you addressing it?"  Come on! What a horrible question. I could sort of answer that, but the point is, I DON'T WANT TO. Why should I have to think about my job on livejournal? What the fuck do they think this is, BusinessWeek?

And then all the questions before that this week have been variants on "tell us how much you love some dead horse." 

Here are my suggestions for questions that might actually elicit interesting answers. I already submitted four of them (one of them is a joke).

  • Have you ever read about a sexual practice in fanfiction then tried it out in real life? If so, did it work?
  • Have you ever kicked someone's ass in a bar fight? (they asked this before but it deserves as many encores as possible)
  • Do you believe in incorporeal punishment?
  • How many times have you threatened to move to Dreamwidth but haven't bothered because you're too  lazy?
  • Are you a weeaboo? If so, you should be ashamed of yourself.
azn_jack_fiend: (Dagon)
You know who makes me mad?  People who use Amazon.com reviews to review something that is totally fucking irrelevant.  For example, this review, three out of five stars:

I bought this book last week. I enjoyed the story as much as I read. This review is not about the story but about the pages of the book. They smell terrible. The pages are dry, but if you've ever smelled old wet newspaper or cardboard, that's it. I stopped reading...yuck! I guess I won't buy any more of them, and I really enjoy Torchwood!

I see this happen all the time with dumb-asses who complain about highlighting in their used book in the wrong place.  Use the seller feedback system, damn it!

If you have to write an irrelevant or flippant review, at least make it entertaining.


azn_jack_fiend: (Asia the Invincible (armor))
Warning! Cranky post!

I'm still working out what to do and what to see at Dragon*Con, but I know one place I sure as hell WON'T be going.

Silk Road: Asian Cinema & Culture
This sounded really interesting to me. I went to a great Silk Road exhibit in NYC earlier this year.  My favorite part was the display of irrigation technology at Turfan and the Islamic science of Baghdad section.   So it's going to be something about the interaction of pop culture between East Asian countries and Middle Eastern countries, right? 

Actually, I'm not that naive, but I did have a tiny shred of hope.

Director: Susan Shockley
Not Asian.  I ran an image search to make sure.  I wanted to make sure I knew which race of person to at least partially blame for the horrible summary.

Come join us as we travel through the wondrous world of Asian Culture that make up the Silk Road.
The real Silk Road runs between the Middle East and... ah fuck it.  Also, Culture?  Singular?

Our Programming track covers many layers of culture.
Many layers = a couple Japanese stereotypes with a few things thrown in from China to pretend it's not just for Wapanese.

Join Us as we meet Geisha from Japan and Vampires from China.

God, I hate geisha.  BORING! Chinese vampires are OK though.  Sounds like there's a frighteningly high probability of yellowface in this exhibit.

Learn ancient and modern ways of dress. Study mysterious customs and folklore.
Like making really loud disgusting noises when slurping noodles.  Every Asian knows this is important to show you're enjoying your noodles, but we're not sure why.  IT'S A MYSTERY.

Be dazzled by the rich dances that weave together the story of the Silk Road. See and discuss Asian Cinema with some of the up and coming directors of the genre.
That would be interesting.  But I checked the guest list on the main page, and I don't see a single Asian director from an Asian country.  There were some Asian/Asian-American actors, which is cool.  And there's Sandeep Parikh, but I wouldn't call what he does "Asian Cinema". 

Write a Haiku. Fold a crane. Learn to wear a kimono.
JAPAN JAPAN JAPAN IS SO COOL.

Experience the mystery of Tang Dynasty Hairstyles.
See we mentioned China!  We're not just Wapanese, we're Asiaphiles!   

Learn ancient dances for your mind and spirit. You can do all these things and more if you join us on the Silk Road.

No thanks.

You know what the equivalent for this bullshit would be?  If the Brittrack pretended it held the key to the mysteries of Western civilization.  Instead, the summary says "Dragon*Con's BritTrack (British Science Fiction Media) programming continues with this exploration of every facet, fad, and pop culture idiom of everything British for con-goers."  A little bombastic sure, but nothing like the orientalizing crap in the "Silk Road" summary.  The Silk Road doesn't even go to Japan, because Japan is a fucking island! 

Will I have to check my brain at the door at Dragon*Con in order to have any fun at all? 

My plans at this point are simply to 1) check out some Brittrack and academic thingies 2) say hello to people I know from online 3) get some signed art from Mike Mignola maybe 4) avoid Wapanese at all costs.

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