This week I’m covering a request from a fan of my work here: A YouTube video by Trekspertise called “The Rise of Toxic Fandom: A Theory.” Since this is a rarity for my work I’m simply attaching the direct video link. I do have to request you not leave any comments on the video as due to the fact I don’t believe it will do any good, though it might help to have this article ready in case someone links to the video’s strawman of an argument when going forward. Now I’m going to be addressing point by point as we delve into this nearly 20 minute video. But I also will have to apologize for the day late this article drops. Sunday the 9th is my wedding anniversary so I needed the extra day for finishing up.
So who is Trekspertise and why does his concept being pushed forward need to be countered? He is a nearly 80,000 subscriber channel that seems to primarily concentrate on Star Trek fan coverage with some production quality to his works. So he does have a little wider reach than HBR does on YouTube but going after bigger channels hasn’t stopped anyone involved with this site before. He does also put out work under his real name on a second much smaller channel as Kyle Sullivan, though those works tend to be primarily to show off places he has visited more than cultural commentary that he does on his main channel. He makes seemingly feminist-themed apologia about some of the cringiest parts of contemporary television. Not to say he hasn’t done purely lore-related videos, but from what I can tell, Star Trek Discovery reviews and the social justice laced commentary do seem to dominate his approach. With that in mind Let’s Hammer This In!
Opening up, he states that the shows and movies that we have all grown up with have hit a rough spell as of late, claiming that its due to the fandoms being ‘on fire.’ To give him credit, saying the situation is a blaze isn’t the worst way to view it. However, the smoke can hide where the actual flame is if the fire is big enough. The approach he gives is claiming that the fans were the ones who started the fire by wanting their fandom to survive unsullied by destructive ideologies. Those of us with years of experience in this obviously beg to differ due to the unfiltered ideology that has infiltrated all of these fandoms. In fact, one of the headlines he slips in is an anti-GamerGate article that shows his information is coming from the usual suspects of establishment publications.
Funny enough when talking about creators as ‘messiahs’ he shows a dressed up ‘portrait’ of J.K. Rowling, nodding obviously, to the odd stage casting for Hermoine Granger a few years back which may have been silly but not really as big a deal. This is also odd considering that Rowling has been one of the most unhinged in the past few years, though I feel this betrays exactly where his mind is in relation to activism due to Rowling’s own activist streak. A better suggestion that wouldn’t have betrayed his intent would have been the thematically more appropriate Gene Roddenberry. You know, because he is a STAR TREK CHANNEL!
Of course, that would have likely broken his narrative, because most of the arguments I’ve heard against Discovery stem from not only inconsistency of the lore involved but poor writing of characters involved… nothing to do with the identity of said characters, because they aren’t trying to re-write the original cast of the series. But perhaps this is an early digression from the subject. Let’s move on.
The approach he then begins to take acknowledges that politics has tainted fandom, but he neglects to mention that the source is imprinted by the staff of the extensions of these properties. He also tries to state that there is a delineation of what makes an ‘authentic fan’ and a ‘toxic fan’. This implies that a ‘toxic fan’ can’t possibly be true to the thing they are a fan of. In essence, this is classic gatekeeping behavior where someone who wants to control what an intellectual property is and becomes tries from outside of the fandom to dictate what goes on within the fandom. Obviously most who would read this article likely classify as ‘toxic fans’ even though we know more about the source material than many he would claim are ‘authentic.’
This comes from a hypothesis I’m starting to form that states that those on the far left don’t believe that the right can’t enjoy anything. This likely stems from the memory of when Evangelicals ran the right. The logic seems sound at first until you realize that happiness and pleasure cares very little for your political position. You either find happiness and pleasure within yourself or you are empty and nothing you change will ever fill that void. Personally I am of the mind that the ability to inspire such passion, creativity and mirth from something comes from positive male influence at least on some level.
He then proceeds to explain the older 1970’s through mid 1990’s geek outculture paradigm that most of us grew up with, before the authoritarians fully realized that if they couldn’t ‘beat us’ they had to ‘join us,’ which is the exact tactic they have been using for the past decade and a half. In fact, if I were to personally start tracing the infection into hobby-journalism, the biggest point of infiltration was going on in the early 2000s with the advent of things like G4 and some changes in a few magazines. For example, a prime reason for G4’s early rise was Wil Wheaton’s direct influence in its creation as he was an early investor and contributor to the channel.
So why would the establishment want to infiltrate, tame, and transform the geek populace in the first place? That’s simple, they don’t partake in the usual media that the rest of the easily placated audiences do. Most geeks don’t watch typical news programs, don’t watch advertisement laden content typically and are usually walled off in their own worldview. In other words the geek is a wild card they can’t afford to not have control over. They saw that we could eventually take the choices out of their hands and into the hands of others. It’s a competent ploy. Only one problem: We are a culture formed around evidence, merit, and considerable knowledge.
From this point our ‘intrepid’ commentator talks about the concept of ‘resonance’ with a property and it ‘informing us’ of our own lives. This is half right – because there is some sense of normality to the characters we can see traits we want to see in ourselves and adopt. The character’s race or sexual preferences are irrelevant. This is a major hole in the ‘representation’ argument. Even if it weren’t there are plenty of examples that fit from geek properties of the last half century that fill the holes that fake geeks fail to catch. If you wanted a female Ghostbuster you could look at specific episodes of The Real Ghostbusters where Janine put on the pack and no one complained. There is also fact that despite being just an everyman Zeddemore was considered an equal partner in the business in the movies and the cartoon, though he had to gain a degree between the second movie and the video game from the seventh generation of consoles (what most see as the true third movie which by the way… you could play through as female and again no one minded).
In a roundabout way he mentions the “Hero’s Journey” archetype but claims that its more a philosophy than a storytelling device. He also uses visual cues to hint at concepts of post-modern thinking, materialistic drive, and deconstructing the idea of ‘liking’ a thing. In essence he over-complicates everything, claiming that pointing out things you like in a character means you have that trait about yourself. Let me show how this is overwhelmingly wrong on every level using a pretty good example, my favorite character – Captain Phantom F. Harlock.
Harlock is a cool, stoic and hard as nails character who has a heart of gold and a will of steel. However I’m a lot more like his goofy and industrious best friend who helped create the tools he uses to perform his piracy from his ship down to his personal weapons; the mantle-wearing, short klutz of a man who cries easily and will fight to the end for his friends, Tochiro. He is a goofball with brass balls, if you will. Now what if I told you these were paraphrased thoughts from the creator of both Harlock and Tochiro, Leiji Matsumoto? Point is as follows, we want to be the hero of our stories but most of the times we are Tochiro, the heart-filled support who, without the hero, can’t save the day.
We then hit a ‘section 2’ with a “www.pandorasbox.com” named. To save you some time it links to a shrine to a Jazz Age icon that is ultimately unrelated and likely an unintentional nod. The whole of this is the entire nature of change that the internet has had on content creation and eating through the walls that dictate what a ‘legend’ is. The top of the pedestal is no longer unassailable if you will. Of course to display this, he uses some of the biggest CNN narratives of the current day. I don’t think its hard to figure out his politics from all of this. Ultimately through this culture war, the discussion of free speech across the globe is all the cries of growing pains of our society moving into its next stage. Unknowingly, our impotent wannabe critic here reveals where the real crying comes from; the fear from the corporate elite at the thought that they can’t stop we the consumer from gaining unlimited power over them.
To define this ‘authentic fan’ as he puts it, he uses in his background’s nods to the female takeovers of properties, suggesting that perhaps the SJWs who love the forced changing of the guard are the ‘authentic fans,’ while objectors who have been involved for decades with these fandoms are not ‘authentic’. Ludicrous doesn’t even begin to cover what this is.
Then, in the biggest and most out-of-nowhere strawman I’ve ever seen, he equates the flame wars of today (ignoring the fact that flame wars happened in the early ages of the internet i.e. dub vs. sub) with the First Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., basically the Catholic canon being determined from the plethora of materials written in relation to the life of Jesus of Nazereth, then following up with The Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther being the equivalent to the current identity politics arguments. This is obviously completely fucking retarded to suggest.
To try to tie this up he calls his ‘Section 3’ Toxic Fandom Everywhere. This should tell him something. If the ‘toxic’ element is everywhere to him, then perhaps that isn’t the ‘toxic’ element… perhaps he is, perhaps the people he is looking to support with his arguments and attempts to wave away the genuine concerns of violating specific lore are the real ‘poison’ in the fandom; this disingenuous and invasive element that has pushed its way in like venom from a snake. Or is that just the crazed ramblings of a ‘toxic male?’ I mean ‘fan.’
To help this, he does provide his own written definition which in spirit of fairness I will post here:
A particularly negative strain of fan within a fan community defined by inappropriate behaviors such as harassment, verbal abuse, gate-keeping and other socially unacceptable and antagonistic behaviors in order to define themselves within the fandom.
A lot of this seems like it might be solidified, but actually this definition is conveniently vague. What some consider ‘socially unacceptable’ behavior might just be the equivalent of shaking hands to a real fan. Also remember, for many of us geeks these are an escape from the horrible actions of the bullies of time immemorial. Now those bullies are whining when we don’t let them step all over us. Really makes you think doesn’t it? Are they whining because we make them feel unwelcome, or sad that they aren’t allowed to tear into us for liking what we like? He finishes that up with the already disproved argument about Rose Tico actress Kelly Marie Tran leaving instagram.
Continuing on, he keeps bringing up the false attack arguments involving claims that criticism of shows molded by social justice ideology being against these ‘diverse leads,’ rather than the genuine arguments that the writing is typically garbage and inconsistent with the lore established by the preceding shows. I don’t care that Michael Burnham is a black woman, my issues are with series staple Sarak (Spock’s father) who didn’t act like Sarak. The ‘person of color’ argument, like much of Schrodinger’s phantom racist concept, is just a red herring. They don’t want the reasonable people to see the real arguments because they know that the jig is up once that occurs. This is why I’ve been showing all this stuff to people in the real world. When shown the evidence based argument 9 times out of 10 the formerly uninformed sides with the ones sporting the established lore, the so-called “gate-keepers”.
He then summarizes his points as follows:
The biggest bullshit among this is the last one of ‘deindividuation’ because with this he is referencing anonymity as a whole in arguing for the abolishment of the anon status. In short, “YOU NEED TO LET ME SHAME YOU FOR BEING MENTALLY DIFFERENT FROM ME AND NOT WORSHIPING THE BLACK VAGINE!”
Kind of racist if you ask me. And he’s got a lot of room to talk about deindividuation, considering he’s demanding everyone conform to his viewpoint.
Should you watch this for yourself to see how spot on I am? Sure thing! Just make sure your adblock is on. Over all though, these are all arguments we see ourselves rallied against on a regular basis and we need to be able to attack them no matter how they are redefined to try to create strawmen and false gotchas. I want to thank Matthew L. for sending this my way and requesting I tear it a new one. It was by far one of the most retarded set ups I’ve had to deal with in some time and its showed that my fangs have not dulled at all. Until next week though Please Remember to Game Freely!
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