In 2018, let’s stop pretending abusive fans are ‘passionate’

This is an important article, and why I’ve spoken about toxic fans and toxic fandom in the past.

If a company, a director, an editor, a writer, whoever does something wrong or that upsets you, there are ways to respond to it that get the message across (even with stubborn or mean-spirited ones) WITHOUT taking it too far.

There is no context where SWATting a person is okay. Same goes for death threats, doxxing, making harassing phone calls, sending suspicious packages, and other things that are not physical harm but create fear of being harmed.

If you have a problem with what someone’s done and it’s legitimate, it has solid ground to stand on, then making your case and spreading it is usually good enough. Yes, you’ll run into people who push back even if they know you’re right, but a majority of people care about what’s right. Especially in the modern social climate.

By making a case, if it’s legit, then the person/people/company behind the cause will often respond by trying to fix things. If they’re good-intentioned, they’ll do it right away if they see what’s wrong. If not, they’ll do it with enough pressure. In extreme cases, boycotts on various levels may work in conjunction with calling things out. We live in a capitalist society. Refusing to give money affects not just immediate funds, but future opportunities to make money too.

This is why some fanboys will mock complaints with “you’ll buy it anyway,” and why stuff like buying a game just to break it is the wrong approach. If you give money, you’re actually hurting your cause.

If you care about something, you want things to be preserved or (more often) changed, there are ways to do it that are right and ways that are wrong. Avoid the toxic abusive stuff like SWATting and death threats.

In 2018, let’s stop pretending abusive fans are ‘passionate’

Polaris and future challenges

I plan to make this type of post only once. We’ll see if I need to make it again.

We’re on the cusp of some very good things for Polaris/Lorna Dane. She’s about to star in Gifted, played by a highly enthusiastic actress. She might have a shot at more of a comic book presence. Next year is the 50th anniversary of her creation. Within all of that, millions of people worldwide will finally find out she exists.

With everything coming, it would be very easy to think she has it made. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. She’s in the spotlight. That means there are a lot of forces in play that have been quieter or dormant for the past 8 years that are going to come out of the woodwork.

People who are genuinely fans of Polaris are going to have to be more vigilant than ever as we head into her promising future. If we’re not vigilant, her moment in the spotlight can be used to ruin her.

Fandom Gatekeeping

I’ve warned before about the toxicity of fandom gatekeeping. This is where someone tries to keep people out of the fandom so they get to assert dominance. They have a very specific interpretation of the character, and anything that even remotely deviates from it is not permitted in their eyes.

I’m not talking about “I don’t like that character in a romance with Polaris.” I mean things like “Polaris HAS to date this one specific character, she can’t date any other characters, you have to go along with me on this attitude.” That’s what fandom gatekeeping is: it’s saying a character has to be restricted in their options to only what you, personally, want.

A person could genuinely mean well while holding this attitude, and not realize they’re hurting Lorna’s potential. The point is fandom gatekeeping would keep Lorna from trying new things, developing new relationships, etc. It has to be challenged when seen.

“Fans”

Now that Polaris is becoming popular, a phenomenon that used to be fairly dormant is now in sharp rise: people of other characters that pretend to be fans of Polaris.

This is going to take some explanation for people not familiar with comic books.

Comic book fandom often sees the spotlight as a limited capacity thing, especially when it comes to female characters. Female characters in comic books are traditionally considered a “one or two allowed only, the rest are nobodies” thing. If a female character is in the spotlight, then the belief is that she needs to be either exploited or kicked out of the spotlight.

I’ll delve into each variety now.

Exploitation: In the exploitation variant, the “fan” sees Polaris as a way to boost the prestige of their own favorite character. This is not the same thing as seeing potential in a relationship and wanting it explored. This is where the fan of the other character pretends to be a fan of Polaris for the express purpose of making Polaris’ entire identity revolve around their ACTUAL favorite character. By demoting Lorna from unique character to their favorite character’s second, they get their favorite into the position Polaris was in – at her expense. Her stories and exploration of her character get destroyed in favor of putting this other character on a pedestal.

Kicked out: In the kicked out variant, the “fan” sees Polaris as a rival for a position only one can have. Their goal in pretending to be a fan of Polaris is to kill off all possible story branches for her until there’s nothing left. “I don’t want to see Polaris as Genosha survivor explored” “I don’t want to see her dealing with trauma” “Lorna should spend more time on fights and less on spouting exposition and her views” and so on. Eventually she’s so deprived of who she is that she’s kicked out of the spotlight for another character – ideally their actual favorite – to take her place.

Marvel sabotaging Fox

The Gifted is a joint venture between Marvel and Fox. That should insulate it from a lot of the risk… but things can change. And Marvel publishing is not Marvel TV.

Marvel corporate hates that Fox has the film rights to the X-Men franchise. I won’t get into exhaustive detail here, but the point is, they don’t really want Fox to have a lot of success or get any good ideas to pursue without Marvel. That could lead to Marvel trying to sabotage Polaris in their own work – comic books, video games, cartoons, etc.

Take Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Fox and Marvel both have the film rights to both characters. Marvel decided to pull a forced retcon on Wanda and Pietro in the comics to suddenly make them not Magneto’s kids anymore. In other words, Marvel was trying to cut them off from Magneto, who ties them to the X-Men franchise, and make them exclusively Avengers characters.

Marvel might try to pull something similar with Lorna. She’s always been an X-Men exclusive character, so there’s no changing that. What they might try to do, though, is make her look terrible in their own work while insisting their version is the “real” Polaris that Fox should be conforming to.

Lack of crucial voices

This is a very important one that often gets overlooked.

There are creative minds at Fox and Marvel who truly want to do well by Polaris. Some know her history well, some don’t. Some have known her for decades, some found out she existed this year.

In all cases, they need fan feedback. They need to know what’s working, what isn’t working, what you want to see and what you don’t want to see. They need to know this information to know how to develop her and really get the most out of her potential.

More importantly, people in all three above categories are talking too. Polaris is in the spotlight. People who don’t want her to succeed, or who want her to fit a specific idea of who she should be, are going to be talking a hell of a lot from here on out. They’ll be trying to convince these creative minds to take certain directions with Lorna.

Speak up. Say what you think. If you don’t, and enough people say the exact opposite of what you want to see, there’s a very good chance the creative minds will do precisely what you don’t want them to do. They listen to the voices they hear. They can’t listen to people who never speak up.

I think this is all the crucial categories. I’ll add if I missed any. Be aware that as much as we’re loving everything that’s happening for Lorna, there are people who hate it with a burning passion. There are people who want to exploit her for their own interests. There are people who mean well but don’t see problems for what they are.

Don’t just sit back and assume everything is perfect from here on out. Be ready to step up when necessary. Otherwise she might get screwed over – and it might last decades, possibly forever.

Puerto Rican with 300 Twitter accounts accused of harassment

I’m sharing this on my account for a couple reasons. One, to further demonstrate that harassment is bad, and excessive harassment is increasingly getting punished via law. Two, because of the number of accounts he used.

This is a guy who created 300 Twitter accounts for the sake of harassing other people. 300. Social media like Twitter and Tumblr makes it INCREDIBLY easy to make multiple accounts, and extremely devoted people can and will be heavily active with a slew of them to make themselves and what they’re doing look bigger and broader than it really is.

I’m saying this because I’m extremely familiar with fandoms and social media use. I know there are some great, amazing people out there who get bombarded with hate in this fashion. Without having experienced it over a long period, it’s easy to think all that hate is a wide swath of people and you did something horribly wrong to deserve it. In reality, a lot of the time, it’s one person with multiple accounts and a mission or vendetta of some sort.

“How can someone maintain 10 or 20 fairly active accounts? This can’t all just be one person.” That’s the most common thought, and this article is proof that a single person can definitely maintain that many active accounts. If this man could maintain 300 accounts, what’s 10-20?

Puerto Rican with 300 Twitter accounts accused of harassment

I want to make a quick post about “true fans”, the people who insist they’re the real fans of a franchise or character to the point where they will smear and abuse anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

Most of us already know how awful this is. The people who do it are trying to become the ones who have total control over fandom. They want everyone to adhere to whatever they decide is best, and they want everyone to admire them.

It doesn’t work that way, of course. Toxic fandom is toxic not only because it hurts people, but because it hurts the very things people insist they’re fans of. With every person that gets driven out of the fandom because they don’t want to deal with abuse, the object of fandom has fewer people to support it. The object of fandom gets fewer pieces of fanart, fanfiction, cosplay, and fewer reasons for the company that actually owns the rights to care. Once the fandom has lost so many fans that hardly anyone’s talking about it, the fandom becomes much much less than it can be. It’s a direct attack on a much loved dream.

There’s another element, though, that’s extremely important to bear in mind.

“True fans” don’t flock to things that are worthless. They don’t abuse people over things that have no value. Abusive fans are horrible to have and everyone would be better off if they stopped being abusive… but they also demonstrate that what they’re being abusive around is meaningful in its own right, and that a LOT of other people can see its worth too.

No matter what happens, how horrible it gets, it’s important to remember that. Past the vile behavior, there’s a wonderful franchise or character that has so much to offer. If that was not the case, abusive types would focus on a different franchise or character with a much bigger following.

This is what really keeps me going in spite of smears and attacks: knowing that the thing I’m getting abused for supporting has a lot to offer.