Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Flailings and Failings

Between trying very hard to not freak out about the fact that Christmas is just around the corner, Coriolanus is very much a thing which reviews are already coming out about (which I am far too excited and terrified to read), and we are continually getting snow here in Minnesota (I have a problem with my love of winter; it's a bit much), I'm also finding myself with another quandary that's made itself apparent: fandom stuff. Generally I have a fairly amiable relationship with fandoms, despite my continually strange half-in, half-out situation. But right now, I'm a bit distraught with them. It goes a little something like this:

1) Apparently there had been a lot of hate from certain areas of the Sherlock fandom towards actor Amanda Abbington who will be playing Mary Morstan in season 3 of the television series. I've mentioned a related issue briefly way back here, but that was in regards to the Steven Moffat issues. Now she's apparently been getting death threats - death threats - because of the character she plays and the fact that it will "break up the ship" of John and Sherlock. There's a good gif for my feelings about this...


2) Someone I follow on Tumblr made a post that was later deleted which said:
i try to be as indulgent of fandom as is humanly possible but i stg if hiddleston fangirls ruin coriolanus for me there will be blood
The tages included something about how Hiddleston allegedly showers blood off of him onstage and the text post author's outrage that fans are going to be flipping out over of this instead of caring about the play. Commenters couldn't believe that anyone would really be bothered by this silliness but I was one of these people who agreed with the poster, albeit less harshly, in having worried about fans' reactions at the show - including my own reactions. I don't want to have to worry about fans crying out through the play or screaming at Hiddleston's entrances like one might at TV talk shows or other public events, as I'm going to be enough of a mess as I described in a previous post. I'm not the kindest to myself about my fandom proclivities as it is and I also feel some judgement from various parts of Tumblr (and perhaps subconsciously from myself) for attending the show as a Hiddleston fan. Likely, posts about fears like this are over the top and far too negative about the fan base, viewing them as silly, irrational people rather than responsible, level-headed folk who can handle themselves at a show. But because I doubt my own abilities about this and hear tales of the dark sides of fandom, I worry anyway.

3) I've been thinking about Thor: The Dark World a lot because, while I loved the film, there was a lot I wish they had done differently. Here there be spoilers, so if you don't want me to epically ruin the film for you, stop reading now. After talking with a friend of a friend at a Christmas party this Friday, I learned that apparently Loki's death scene is meant to be his real death scene, which would explain why there were all of those posts about Mr. Hiddleston being upset about this likely being the last Marvel film he'd be in and why he cried on the red carpet when someone mentioned this. I was a bit confused about this reaction after seeing the film, where Loki is very much not dead. But it seems that extra footage was added in to leave an open-ended possibility for Loki's return (though it seems Mr. Hiddleston is none to certain of that). I don't know how I feel about the end of the film, knowing this. I mean, I'm glad they kept Loki around - he's my favorite character, after all - but I wish that perhaps they had done something different, perhaps brought in Lady Loki or let us know Loki was still alive but not in Asgard. There's a lot of chatter, especially with people wanting a Loki film, that Marvel is focusing too much on Loki and not enough on other characters and that putting all the focus on him weakens the franchise. Don't get me wrong, I adore Loki and he is by far the best developed character in the franchise. But I would love to see that development extend elsewhere while simultaneously keeping Loki on-hand. I just worry that the franchise will go for what gets them a big, bold audience and right now that's definitely feeding into the Loki fandom. He seriously has an army - which has the potential for both great and terrible things.

4) My entire Tumblr dash has been flooded with, other than Christmas and Sherlock posts, critiques of the animation in the movie Frozen. I'm very excited to see this film and am disheartened to see that there are some flubs in this film. I guess what upsets me most is that people are getting so outlandishly upset about it, to the extent that they're no longer rationally talking about how a film that costs so much to make still has mistakes in it - like most films - and discussing the complexities of the Disney franchise, but instead are just blindly hating on the film or are going on about how you can't critique it, just let it go, Disney is perfect and just sit back and enjoy the film. And then the argument about the lack of diversity in Disney is used to defend the animation flubs, which I confuses me. Yes, the lack of diversity is a serious issue but I don't see how that is related to heavily criticizing the animation mistakes - why not discuss the diversity issue head on instead of hating on the animation instead? (Probably because in the case of Frozen, which takes place in a Scandinavian-esque land and is based off of a Danish fairytale, people who have complained about the whiteness of Disney have been told that this land would be whitish and have been shut down about their complaints. Regardless, the whole debate on the film is messy and not entirely clear to me because - well, that's how Tumblr works.)  I feel entirely weary and drained by this and I'm not even part of this - I'm not an artist, I'm not an animator, I have mixed feelings about Disney but at the end of the day, it doesn't actually affect me. And yet the toll it takes on me seeing it posted and argued about over and over again is exhausting.

And so, after all of this, I have a confession to make: I feel really dissociated from fandom right now, more than I did before. I'm extremely excited about Sherlock, I'm eager about the new installment of The Hobbit, I'm hoping Disney is working back towards a revival of their animation like they had when I was growing up along with incorporating more diversity, I've never loved Marvel movies more, and I'm pretty sure Shakespeare studies is going to take over my life. And yet I find myself drifting away from fandom in certain respects. I find myself being more open about my interests and talking about it more with people, no longer afraid to appear passionate about something as I was before I joined Tumblr. I happily write fan fiction. But I don't feel driven to expand my fandom participation like I thought I would. I'm still interested in going to cons, not as a participant, but rather as an onlooker. I still have pretty minimal ships. I'm not really expanding what shows or movies I watch that have fandom connections, perhaps because I don't have time but also because I'm worried about being involved with certain fandoms will be like. Fandom taught me a lot about myself but now it feels as if I've never really bridged the gap between participant and onlooker as I thought I would. Now I'm in this unsteady, teetering balance between the two. I think fandom should be taken seriously but, when fandoms themselves lambaste others for trying to take them seriously, it's kind of awkward. "But wait!" I want to cry. "You don't understand! I'm a part of you! I like the same things as you! Yes, I might pass on critique about things but it's out of love! Right? I critique what you do because it matters, even if it is just for fun. Because fun matters? Right?"

The truth of the matter is I don't know. I don't really know how to deal with fandom effectively. I've fortunately avoided making more mistakes like I did last year when preparing to write my paper on fandom (which yes, you can finally read! I've posted it here for your pleasure) but I still struggle to balance my need to critique with my need to geek (okay, that's a new tagline for this blog). Fandoms a lot of energy and a lot of people and, while they're treated as one  immense organism, they're more like a bunch of little societies made up of individuals that can all act together or act independently depending on how they choose. They can be inclusive and cold at the same time and can bring people together and drive them apart. This is nothing really new in the contexts of this blog, I suppose, but it bears repeating.

However, it's incredibly frustrating to see fandoms do things as they have in the situation with Amanda Abbington. When it comes down to it, the Coriolanus worries, the focus on Loki's army, and opinions on Frozen are all small potatoes in comparison. When an actor is being aggressively harassed and threatened by fandom, that's far too much and utterly uncalled for. I cannot understand what would drive people to act in such a way to anyone and I am embarrassed and ashamed that anyone would do this. There's enough negativity in the world as it is and I worry, now that it's occurred, that it's hard to distance oneself from this extremely unfortunate reaction in part of the fandom. Perhaps it's just me, but I feel as if I see far more negative posts about fandom from fandom than I did before. And it's troubling.

It could be related to a lot of unrest right now - Sherlock's coming back, a new doctor will be appearing on Doctor Who soon, it sounds like Supernatural is putting its fans through more pain and turmoil than usual, Hannibal is restarting soon, it's Christmas and too many people don't have happy circumstances with their families. But I feel a change in the force of fandom and, while I can't quite put my finger on what it is, it feels distinctly different.

But perhaps it's just me. I've been participating with and studying it for over a year now and running this blog for far longer. I can't help but think if perhaps I've just grown accustomed to it and find it less enticing as before. But I don't think that's the case. I still actively use Tumblr and I still find myself drawn to the texts I love and to interacting with them. But some days I feel as if I could walk away from Tumblr and not really mind. I would miss some things about it, but other parts - the bickering, the criticizing, the hipsters versus fans, the social justice blogging fights, the sudden surplus of posts saying we should punch feminists (where the hell did this come from and how the hell do we stop it?), the ridiculous out of control lambasting that occurs at times - I wouldn't miss at all. I continually fight to give fandom's more positive image but at times I see why they get such negative associations. I think I'm just tired of fighting to no avail. And thus I've begun to distance myself, both on here and in my own experiences. I'm clearly still very much immersed in fandom things, I just feel my relationship to it all has changed since even just the summer. Where exactly I stand on fandom as a whole, I don't know. When I wrote this post, I was struggling with fandom identity. I still am, perhaps more so than before. Why is it such a struggle for me when some people can so easily accept themselves into such a community? Apart from the fact that I am an overthinking, self-critical, doubting Thomas, I think there's also some fears of individualism versus collectivism going on here. While I don't usually ascribe myself to being terribly focused on being a unique individual, I find myself feeling that way more and more when it comes to fandoms. I feel the need to show that I am an individual, that I don't go along with everything the fandom thinks and perhaps may not even belong to the fandom. After so much positivity and support that I once felt, it's disheartening to see that this is where I stand right now.

I hope that I will grow back towards fandoms, but I've always been at a bit of a distance and likely this will continue. As far as blogging goes, I'll be posting as I have been lately, on whatever random fluff makes it way on here and my offer still stands to write on whatever topics or requests you might have - the door is always open for thoughts and ideas. I do apologize if you came here when I was posting in one way and have greatly deviated since, but such is the way of blogging, it seems. I don't totally know what this blog has evolved to at this point, but I'm enjoying it. And I hope you are too.

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