The purpose of this blog is to have a little fun. It is NOT to start arguments. I don't profess to be an expert on Sci-fi, nor do I aspire to become an expert. You are welcome to comment on any and all content you find here. If my opinion differs from yours, as far as I am concerned, it's all okay. I will never say that you are wrong because you disagree with me, and I expect the same from those that comment here. Also, my audience on the blog will include some young people. Please govern your language when posting comments.

Posts will hopefully be regular based on the movies I see, the television shows I watch, and the books I read as well as what ever strikes me as noteworthy.

Spoilers will appear here and are welcome.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Rant About SciFi Fandom - Can't We All Just Get Along?

If you read the blog at all, you have probably surmised that I am a SciFi fan. You have also probably figured out by now that I am a Trekkie/Trekker. What you may not know is that I am also quite angry and disappointed with with much of what I am seeing in “Fandom” over the past several years in general, and this past few weeks in particular. Well, I can remain silent no more and I feel the need to put in writing what I am seeing and why I am so disgusted with what is called “Fandom.”

Several days ago when I looked at my Facebook timeline, there is a trailer for the upcoming Star Trek: Beyond film slated to be released in July of next year. The trailer was in German and was said to be “leaked,” snagged by a huge number of people and spread over the internet.  Immediately, there were reactions to the trailer from both ends of the spectrum of opinion. Later, it was said that since the trailer had been leaked, Paramount decided to put out the English version of the preview which appears below…

So, as I read my timeline, there are reactions in the form of opinions that varied from, and I am paraphrasing, “I cannot wait to see the movie” to “oh great, another piece of crap from the JJ ‘verse full of explosions, this is going to suck!” Well, you know what the old saying about opinions is, everybody has one.  Well, I am all for fans having an opinion, even when it comes to seeing a mere 90 seconds of footage from a film that will most likely be two hours long. Some of my closest and most respected Facebook friends weighed in in much the same way. They centered their remarks on what they think and had nothing to say about what others think. I’m cool with that. But then there are the trolls and fanboys that have to get their little barbs in by getting on a more personal level. They start out with “how can you call yourself a Star Trek fan when these JJ films have nothing to do with the “Roddenberry Vision?”  “True fans hate the JJ films!” Of course then follows the F#%&-yous and other such disparagements. And for me, THERE is the problem.

When did people in our society get so polarized? Where does this attitude, that seems to permeate every single issue, no matter how small, that if you don’t agree with someone, you are stupid? I have my ideas when this started, and how, but will not go into that here. All I will say is that it is a disturbing trend that began to surface around sixteen years ago as I think about it. I can remember a day when opposing sides of an issue sat down and had a dialog and either found a middle ground or agreed to disagree. Those days are long gone and may never return. So I suspect I will see this “I’m right and you are stupid, so F-you” trope to continue well into the future. Accompanying that is also a complete loss of sense of humor and folks getting “butthurt” over the slightest difference of opinion. It’s too bad that there is no such thing as a consensus anymore, because I thought that us SciFi fans were at the top of the open minded food chain.

As a Scifi fan, I try to remain open minded to ideas, after all, that is what SciFi is; ideas that others have about the past, present, or future and then write about those ideas, or make television shows and movies from them. We, the fans, consume these products and ponder their validity, or how far fetched they are and make value judgments based on a hopefully informed basis. Some of those ideas (such as many of those presented in Star Trek) are so far fetched that they may never be possible, but many other of those ideas that seemed too far out there to be nothing more than fiction often become reality given time.

Being open minded also means that we are able to have a discussion, especially on subjects we disagree on, without resorting to off-handed remarks about another person’s intelligence, or resorting to the F-yous. I am not saying that everyone has to agree, but disagreements should not end with disrespect and discouragement for the other party. Are we just not capable of that any more? After all, perhaps, if one just listens, whether a discussion ends in disagreement or not, both sides involved may just learn something and be opened to entirely new possibilities that can not only provide amusement and entertainment, but can also foster new ways of thinking. This has happened to me on so many occasions that I could most likely fill several pages of text.

I can only speak for myself, but I get quite enough eye-rolling and snark from people who are not SciFi fans, I certainly don’t need it from within fandom. On a daily basis, I am surrounded with people that talk football, golf, politics, and so on. I politely listen to what is said and even participate in the conversations if I find that I can contribute intelligently. Let me say, that these are people that I do care about and I do value their friendship, but all too often, when I attempt to share my interests with others, I am often shut off, ignored, or down right ridiculed. I generally laugh it off, on the outside, but sometimes I am hurt by what is said. I was even recently severely slammed by an eleven year old for liking Star Wars!

We call ourselves nerds and geeks now days. I remember a time when those were definitely not positive terms. Thanks to the repeated use of those terms to refer to us, we have embraced them and actually changed the meanings. now everybody wants to be a nerd or a geek of some kind. However, we seem to have lost the art of conversation and the exchange of ideas. Now, we form opinions, informed or not, and we brutally attack one another in the name of being right. We fall into traps and get into arguments among ourselves as SciFi fans when we should band together and make our wants known.

To me, it is just this simple, if you patronize what is coming out of Hollywood, you will get more of the same. It is a fact that dollars speak louder than words where the film industry is concerned. As a former theater owner, I have seen this in action, and as a patron of film, I see it happening now. There is a lot of complaint from those that feel that there are too many prequels, sequels, remakes, and reboots on the big screen lately. It is an accurate observation; how many times are we going to see the Batman origin story, or the Spider Man origin story, or the remake of a film that was fine the first time it was released? The answer is as many times as the fans are willing to plunk down their hard-earned money to pack theaters to see them. If you stop attending perhaps Hollywood will get the message that we want more original material. The unfortunate thing is that recently, many of the new stories coming to theaters are poorly attended or are slammed so badly by the critics that the message is we want more of the same! At the same time, if you don’t like the movies of the JJ ‘verse, don’t support them! Don’t go to the theater, or buy the BluRay. It’s okay to not like something, just the same as it is to like something.

About a month ago, CBS announced that they are planning to produce a new Star Trek series. Once again, fandom not knowing anything other than there will be a new series, got the snowball rolling on speculation of how bad it would be! CBS also mentioned that they would be releasing the pilot episode on their regular network, but that the rest of the series will be on their All Access service for $6 a month. Well, that started a new round of whining that those that refuse to pay are not real Trek fans and that those who are willing to pay are just so desperate for new Trek that they are willing to go to any length to have it, even by feeding the monster that is, in my opinion, just gouging the fans because they believe that we will flock to them in droves to see our beloved series back on the small screen where it really belongs. One comment I read said that this is the future of television. Just for the record, I will not be one of those that will be handing over $6/month for Trek on television. And for those of you that think I am not a true fan I say this, it is my business how I spend my money and I am already paying for television service. You are, of course, free to do what you want. By the same token, CBS is fully within their rights to release their content in any way they wish, but I don’t have to buy it.

As soon as the English language version was posted, I watched it. It is very short and shows nothing about the story behind the film, rather just a few scenes that go by at breakneck speed. It is interesting, but there is little of substance there, it is what it is, just a hint of what is to come. As an aside note, it is a lot like the first Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer that also caused quite a stir among fandom; a few scenes with little substance. At any rate, it seems that the Trek trailer indicates more of an action film, but with so little to go on, I have to reserve judgement on the film itself, much unlike many other fans I have seen remarks from.

Not long after the trailer was released, there were some comments from Simon Pegg, one of the actors and writers of Star Trek: Beyond that explains that what was in the trailer is only the tip of the iceberg:

In my experience, SciFi fans are among the more intelligent people because we contemplate the future and anticipate what might be by looking at what was. Often we are an optimistic lot who are passionate about our genre and we form opinions that are often in opposition. However, recently we are becoming more polarized and close-minded, unwilling to listen to others. Many discussions deteriorate into personal insults and arguments that only serve to divide fandom and make us look like the stereotypical spoiled brats that live in our mother’s basements.

Personally, I try to live my on-line life by a personal code of conduct:
  • Have an opinion, but understand that others do too and they may be in opposition to my own. Accept this and move on.
  • Have discussions, but don’t get personal. Disagree but don’t put down. Remain open to new ideas that might provide learning.
  • If something is not good, say so. If something is good, say so. If you are ignorant about something, shut up and listen, you just might learn something.
  • Avoid trolls and haters; don’t engage them, you’ll never win.
  • If you are wrong, admit it.
  • Avoid cute cryptic statements, be clear and concise.
  • If you find yourself in disagreement, begin your argument with “perhaps,” it leaves the door open for new ideas.
  • Never attack or make an argument personal, the person at the other end of the conversation is a human being with feelings.
  • If you can’t be friends, at least be friendly.
  • Avoid knee-jerk reactions, often when given time, things look differently upon reflection.

Your thoughts on my thoughts are, as always, welcome.

Well, there it is…