Tagged: Donald Trump

Part of a fandom? Yeah, you’re probably toxic as fuck

I’ve been a fan of Star Trek almost as long as I’ve been a fan of anything. Owing to a mother raised on the adventures of Kirk and Spock, I was raised on the adventures of Kirk, Spock, Picard, and all others who would follow. At one time I could tell you the launch date of the Defiant, the length of the Excelsior, the number of decks on the Enterprise, and the maximum stable cruise velocity of Voyager (Warp 9.975, in case you cared).

With the democratisation of the Internet and fan forums popping up everywhere like STIs after shore leave, it didn’t take me long to realise that in one way, I was different to most other fans. I liked Deep Space Nine.

Deep Space Nine is consistently regarded by critics as the best written, most interesting, and daring of all the Star Trek franchises. Contrasted with Voyager which aired at the same time and told no story that couldn’t be forgotten a week later, DS9 ditched the white picket fenced perfection of the original, told a story of Paradise Lost, good men lost to brutality, the control of religion, and the horror of war. In short, it took risks and was rewarded by most fans by being firmly cast as their least favourite Star Trek series. Voyager by contrast, remains a firm favourite.

Despite my enthusiasm for all things Trek, I never described myself as being part of a “fandom”, not least because no matter what Wikipedia might tell you, no one did back then. But the cornerstones of the faith which defines all of them were clear to see even then. Put simply, they were as follows.

  1. An avowed opposition to original thought, and
  2. An insistence that the product was better when they first experienced it.

In a line; “Star Trek was better when I was a kid, and you should make it like that forever.”

Of course everything was better when you were a kid. WWE was better when it was called WWF and featured The Rock and Stone Cold every Monday. Match of the Day was better when Des Lynam hosted it. Assassins Creed II was the best of the lot, they don’t make drugs like they used to, and why the fuck is Taylor Swift so popular?

Of course the realisation seemingly beyond the grasp of most is that these things were better not because of any inherent qualitative difference, but because you were better, happier and more enthusiastic as a kid. Now you have bills, a mediocre car, a disappointing partner who’s settled for you, and two point four children you try your best to pretend you’re happy were born even as they eat away your twenties, figure, and freedom. There’s a reason John Inverdale looks back with rose-cunted glasses.

The direct result of this fandom mindset is easy to identify. Deep Space Nine was unloved. Enterprise which is now accepted as, “not as bad as people say,” was left to die. The 2009 hyper-successful JJ Abrams reboot “isn’t Star Trek”. The 2013 sequel, Into Darkness, an unashamed love letter to The Wrath of Khan is a “rip-off”. Beyond is… Well. Star Trek Beyond is a shitpile. Let’s be honest. And the first Star Trek series anyone’s had in thirteen years is most charitably describable as, “divisive”.

All of this from nice polite, bespectacled, dorky, loveable, kind-hearted, Star Trek fans. Who are to nerds what nerds are to jocks. It has never really been socially acceptable to like Star Trek the same way some like Star Wars or the reheated microwave meals of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Star Trek fans are losers. Christ, what would it be like if they weren’t?

Fandoms seem to have this strange idea that they have part ownership of an intellectual property, and nowhere is this easier to see than with Star Wars. I like Star Wars. Always have. Most people I know will happily sit down and watch one once in a while, even if they only recognise Boba Fett as a concussed incompetent who fell down a hole in the eighties.

But there are fans, and there is the fandom. A bulbous, hateful, non-productive, disorganised, incoherent, mess of testosterone and bile. A fan will tell you why they don’t like a particular film in a franchise. The fandom will call for the head of the director. In fact, let’s add two more characteristics.

  1. An avowed opposition to original thought.
  2. An insistence that the product was better when they first experienced it.
  3. Assumption of ownership privileges.
  4. The creation of enemies.

JJ Abrams (the JJ is short for Jar-Jar – har har) was the most hated figure in Star Wars production history since, well, George Lucas. And that tells you everything you need to know. It’s not enough that George Lucas created Star Wars. That laser swords and space wizards and Han shooting first were his ideas in the first place. He ruined Star Wars. He raped my childhood. He’s a problem. Take the above in order.

  1. An avowed opposition to original thought.
    1. Midichlorians are stupid.
  2. An insistence that the product was better when they first experienced it.
    1. The prequels aren’t as good as the originals.
  3. Assumption of ownership privileges.
    1. This isn’t my Star Wars.
  4. The creation of enemies.
    1. George Lucas needs to go and Ahmed Best should kill himself.

Enter Disney and JJ Abrams. Let’s play again. Abrams, being no fool saw the value in paying homage to the original just as he’d done with Star Trek. His two Trek films are littered with references to the original series, often so subtle or obscure that most people miss them. The Force Awakens is, as has been noted elsewhere at length, effectively a reboot of A New Hope. Desert orphan runs away from space nazis, loses a father figure and becomes a hero. As a result though there is some vocal criticism of him, most are agreed that The Force Awakens is acceptable. It’s about 85% audience appreciation on Rotten Tomatoes. Abrams didn’t break the first rule of fandom. There’s nothing original about his Star Wars film. Indeed that’s the biggest criticism of it from mainstream viewers, but for the fandom, this is ideal. Unlike the actions of Rian Johnson who basically caused global warming with his follow-up.

  1. An avowed opposition to original thought.
    1. It was too funny for a Star Wars film.
    2. Rey isn’t a Skywalker, Solo, or Kenobi, and so invalid to the Star Wars experience.
  2. An insistence that the product was better when they first experienced it.
    1. I liked Luke better when he was young and hopeful.
    2. Green milk makes a mockery of blue milk.
  3. Assumption of ownership privileges.
    1. He had no right to take such risks with the story.
    2. This still isn’t my Star Wars.
  4. The creation of enemies.
    1. Jar Jar Abrams is ruining Star Wars like he ruined Star Trek.
    2. Kelly Marie Tran is a legitimate target for my ire.
    3. RIAN JOHNSON IS THE MOTHERFUCKING ANTICHRIST.

“Fandom” used to be a word I associated only with tweenage girls who for reasons best known to child psychologists, appeared to be under the impression that Justin Bieber was not only the greatest musician who’d ever lived, but the best person too. There was no question as to his greatness and news outlets who shared stories (with plenty of evidence) of him leaving a monkey with German immigration to be destroyed, urinating from a balcony onto his adoring public, or vomiting on stage because he’d drank too much for a pre-schooler, were swiftly inundated with all caps illiteracy defending the pint sized prick.

It’s evolved since then though. Donald Trump has a fandom. And I’m not even kidding.

  1. An avowed opposition to original thought.
    1. That is fake news.
  2. An insistence that the product was better when they first experienced it.
    1. Make America Great Again.
  3. Assumption of ownership privileges.
    1. They’re taking our jobs and our country away from us.
  4. The creation of enemies.
    1. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
    2. The European Union.
    3. Canada.
    4. The World Trade Organisation.
    5. The United Nations.
    6. “Lock her up.”
    7. “Build that wall.”

Star Trek fans can tell you why the don’t enjoy episodes of Discovery. The fandom shouts that Star Trek is dead.

Star Wars fans can tell you why they don’t rate The Last Jedi. The fandom talks of ruined childhood and chases actors off social media.

Fans of Donald Trump might say why they didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. A member of the fandom calls for her incarceration.

To talk of, “a part of the fandom” is to muddy the water unnecessarily. Fandoms are toxic by nature. If the first thing you can describe yourself as on twitter is a fan of a particular show, film, or person, you’re not well placed to speak objectively about them, and the liklihood is that when someone disagrees with your interpretation, you won’t take it well. In fact your feelings re this post probably run something along the lines of,

  1. An avowed opposition to original thought.
    1. That hasn’t been my experience.
  2. An insistence that the product was better when they first experienced it.
    1. Maybe there is a small problem now but it wasn’t always like that.
  3. Assumption of ownership privileges.
    1. Your opinion doesn’t matter because your franchise is worse than my franchise.
  4. The creation of enemies.
    1. I’m never reading this stupid blog again.

I like Star Trek. I like the old Star Trek; I like the new Star Trek. I also like Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and Firefly. I’ve never cared if the neighbours like them, and never gotten angry when I didn’t like them. I’m a fan. Not part of the fandom.

You shouldn’t be either.

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Trump is not a threat to the American Dream; he’s the inevitable result of it

Time for some truth, America. President Donald Trump was always in the works. America is a country which more than any other has celebrated and championed ruthless capitalism ahead of the public interest; of course the Oval Office was eventually going to be bought by an amoral billionaire.

President Elect Trump is not the problem with America; he’s the symptom of an insidious parasitic disease which has always been a part of the American experience. This is the richest country in the world that can afford to do literally anything; build a colony on the Moon or turn the Middle East into glass; and yet won’t fund healthcare or education. A country that has used 9/11 as the excuse for every evil it has perpetrated since, and yet refuses to look after those brave first responders who are dying as a result of the smog at the World Trade Center site. America is a country that acts so often in the name of its founding fathers while deliberately and systematically dismantling the systems they created.

A country that for years has looked at tens of millions of its citizens who quite literally cannot read, and rather than attempt to change this fact has cultivated a distrust of those who attend the finest educational centers in the land. “Ivy League” is a greater insult in the US than “illiterate”. A country where televised news is explicitly designed to consider advertising revenue as more important than informing the electorate. Where the sacred duty of acting on behalf of the people in holding politicians to account has been replaced with fawning over celebrity, misreporting pop science, manufacturing epidemics of fear, spending more money on three dimensional diagrams than research, and replacing statesmen-like journalists like Edward Murrow with hyperactive TV presenters like Wolf Blitzer.

This is the country that has decided children being massacred as they sit in school is an acceptable price to pay for the right to carry a firearm.

For the rest of the world looking in, America is the great horror show. For every Barack Obama, there are ten Donald Trumps. George W. Bush’s Presidency, hugely unpopular across Europe, now seems like the good old days of Republicanism. At the turn of the Millennium, Europeans thought there could not possibly be a less competent character for the highest office in the world. Then Americans gave them Sarah Palin. Surely, that was the worst it could get. No. Not in America where gross incompetence is no more a deal breaker than outright racism or brazen lies.

2016 has been an awful year in almost every regard; movies have been appalling, beloved artists have died, and across the civilised world, countries have competed to see who can commit the most self harm in one vote. For months it seemed that the UK would claim this title with Brexit and a resulting GBP value roughly equivalent to a half eaten tub of Pringles, but never to be outdone in size or stupidity, the US has wrestled the title of Stupidest Electorate In The West from their old masters.

Donald Trump has lied perhaps more than any other Presidential candidate of all time. His supporters do not care and nor, despite the indignation of some individual commentators, do the media. FOX News is often correctly lambasted for its openly partisan reporting and its continuing support for Mr Trump was never in question, but organisations such as CNN and MSNBC have much to answer for as well. In an attempt to chase ‘balance’ they have switched fairness for false equivalency. Johnny Sixpack may be excused a, ‘they’re both as bad as each other’ albeit with a weary sigh, but respected newscasters suggesting the same have abandoned reason. Whatever her faults, Secretary Clinton is manifestly more qualified to hold office than the host of The Apprentice. She has been a public servant for decades, she is respected around the world, and she doesn’t lie as often as Mr Trump. There is nothing of real public interest in the Wikileaks emails (all courtesy of a man who is effectively an anarchist, lest we forget), and yet they have dominated electoral converge.

The environment has been a non-issue in this campaign. So have guns, so has healthcare, the shape of the judiciary for the next fifty years, congressional and electoral reform; John Kerry lost an election because absent evidence, the media perpetrated the narrative that he was a coward in Vietnam; Hillary Clinton lost an election because absent evidence, the narrative was that leaked emails suggested corruption on her part.

There is no dressing this situation up. It is not hyperbole to say that Mr Trump is potentially the worst American President in history. An office held by great men; men like Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and James Madison, is now to be held by a man who boasts of sexual assault, a man openly supported by white supremacists, a man who demonises people based on nothing more than their place of birth, who has called for political rivals to be incarcerated, who suggests shooting Presidential candidates, who calls the sitting President an ISIS founder and a Kenyan Muslim, who lies and lies and lies and lies – this is to be the Leader of the Free World.

This is to say nothing of Vice President Elect Mike Pence who believes homosexuality is an illness which can be cured, man-made climate change is a myth and there should be no such thing as the separation of church and state.

This could not happen elsewhere. Donald Trump could not become President of France or Chancellor of Germany or Prime Minister of Canada. Only in America could a bullying, misogynistic, racist, failed Emmy winner be rewarded for his petulance with the highest office in the land. Donald Trump is the violent ejaculate of a superpower that treats its own citizens with abusive disdain. Other Western democracies house middle-classes that bemoan the inequality of society and wonder how best to help the weakest in society. America scrapes its poorest off the boot of unconstrained free market economics that work from the basis that if you’re not rich, it’s your own fault and the horrors that follow are your just desserts.

Of course America voted for Donald Trump as President. The shock of Barack Obama’s election wasn’t that he was black; it was that he was socially liberal in a viciously illiberal society. That a shred of basic decency had somehow made it through the faecal gauntlet that is the American electoral system. President Obama was a modern European pragmatist in an Old Testament country.

Donald Trump is larger than life, ridiculous, inexperienced, unfit for command, a bully, a charlatan, a cur, mocked around the world, excessively wealthy despite having done nothing to earn such riches.

You reap what you sow. Donald Trump is America.