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The Territoriality Of Fandoms


Let's deal with a basic, universal truth that is constantly and willfully and happily ignored --

EVERY STORY, EVERY MOVIE, EVERY CARTOON, EVERY NARRATIVE HAS A POLITICAL STANCE BEHIND IT.

Sometimes, it's as simple as, "We should be good to each other." Sometimes, it's complex, like "The Lorax." The messages can be left wing, right wing, centrist, fascist, anarchistic, whatever. The art we create reflects our values. It reflects our experiences. It reflects the world we live in and how we relate to it.

People tend to look back on the old days of movies and TV and say, "They never tried to advocate social stances!" Wrong, they did. Father Knows Best and other sitcoms of that era advocated traditional gender roles and family structures. Jump forward to the 90's, and the situation was reversed. Shows like Home Improvement had the mother was usually the smart one and the dad, clinging to traditional ideas of masculinity and social order, as a bumbling moron that the wife was constantly cleaning up after. Bill Cosby said he created The Cosby Show to show positive black portrayals on television. The first season of Family Ties was about two peace generation kids becoming parents and shocked that their values didn't automatically transfer to their own children. Most sci-fi from the 50's and 60's, from Plan 9 From Outer Space to Star Trek, were metaphors for the Cold War. Everything has an agenda. Everything has a stance.

I bring this up because, lately, entertainment has aimed to be more inclusive. You have shows like Steven Universe and such trying to appeal to an audience that isn't traditional males. And traditional males have been reacting by saying it's political correctness run amok, it's marginalizing, what was wrong with how things were before?

Overlooking all this is the fact that NO ONE IS OBLIGATED TO WATCH ANYTHING. I'm not going to say which one it is because I don't want to seem like I'm calling anyone out. But there is one show that I watch that struck me as trying too hard. It's only identity was its politically correct inclusion of every demographic it could think of and paying lip service to the issues each group was concerned with. And what was my response? I turned the channel. The show is doing reasonably well, it has its fan following, and those fans embrace the show for validating the viewpoints and concerns they have. Their existence and the existence of entertainment that appeals specifically to them and not me doesn't make me any less, any more than the existence of my shows invalidates them. It's not like my favorites are being shunted aside in favor of these shows, it's just another group of people telling their stories and sharing them with the world. So let them.

But there's a lot of people that don't want to do that. Anything they perceive as a threat to their social order, has to be derided and destroyed. Everyone talks about how openminded they are, how they aren't racist or sexist or discriminatory in any way. And yet, in the past few years, we've seen the comic book industry show how closed minded it is. There was the J. Scott Campbell cover for Iron Man with 15 year old RiRi Williams dressed like hooker, and when black people complained about the sexist representation of a high-profile representation of their culture, comic fanboys told them there was nothing to get upset or offended about, it was standard comic book stuff so it was all right. When Johnny Storm in Fant4stic was announced to be played by a black actor, everyone was upset, talking about Stan Lee's original vision of the character and that it was token representation and political correctness gone mad. Marvel how the movies had prompted an interest in comics among girls, and tried to create a line of comics with characters like Mockingbird that showcased the issues and ideas that appealed to that demographic. They did this WITHOUT CANCELLING A SINGLE COMIC THAT WAS ALREADY RUNNING. And yet people shouted down Marvel as SJW Central and pandering and basically selling them out for making comics that they did not approve of. And when the books were cancelled, they celebrated. Because how dare anyone make comics other than the ones they are used to.

(The only one I can think of that survived this was Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man. People thought replacing Peter Parker with him was just a publicity stunt. But Bendis rose to the occasion. He wrote fantastic stories, to the point where Miles has a fan following that rivals Parker's. All those fans who had initially dismissed Miles as sensationalism became very upset when the Ultimates line-up was announced as being cancelled, because they cared about Miles and wanted him to survive. But this is the exception, not the rule.)

Comic books are already going through their own expansion and contraction as people get upset over anyone other than who they approve of becoming comic book fans. But that phenomena has been spreading to animation, as well. There's people who want Steven Universe cancelled simply because they disapprove of the political stances and social ideas the series advances. There's people doxxing the female writers on Rick And Morty just because the writers are women.

And now, so called intelligent and enlightened people are celebrating the failure to launch of the fourth Powerpuff Girl.

So, a year or two ago, Cartoon Network found itself trying to get its footing back. They had just exited an era where a number of shows were dropped or retooled to specifically appeal to the young male demographic. Shows had to be comedies, and show had to be mostly male. It's how shows like Young Justice got dropped. Trying to figure out what to do, one idea was to revive The Powerpuff Girls. Created by Craig McCracken, the series was an eclectic and engaging mix of superhero stuff, social satire, superhero parody, family dynamics, and pop culture humor -- one of the best episodes used Beatles songs and lyrics as most of the dialog, and the history of the band as a road map for the conflict. When the show was good, it was very good, and when it wasn't good, it was genius. It also helped prepare and introduce a number of talented creators on the animation world, and we are all better off for it.

So when Cartoon Network decided to revive the Powerpuff Girls series, I thought it was...interesting. I'd be lying if I said I was waiting with baited breath. I don't remember when I stopped watching PPG, it was sometime after the movie. But there wasn't a single incident that made me quit the series. I just sort of...drifted away from it. I had my fun, I enjoyed my time, but I guess I just had my fill and moved on. (Same with things like Star Trek -- there wasn't any single incident that made me quit, I just found other things that interested me more.) . I tried a couple of episodes of the revival, and I just wasn't impressed. However, I didn't see that as a reason to trash the series. I wished it well, I hoped the fans would enjoy it, and I went on to other things.

Then, a few weeks ago, came the warning. PPG was going to have a made for TV movie that would introduce a fourth Powerpuff Girl. Eventually, word got out that this would be a girl named Bliss, and she would be black.

I didn't care. Let them try, maybe it will work.

Lots of people didn't feel that way, though. They screamed that this was an affront to the original vision of the series and political correctness run amok. After all, it was a black girl. What possible reason could there be to include a black character except political correctness? Sensing that this whole thing was going to get really really stupid, I blocked all mentions of PPG on my newsfeeds and went on.

The movie debuted a week ago. And the ratings are in.

And they aren't good.

Keep in mind, the PPG revival hasn't been doing the gangbusters everyone was hoping for, so clearly this was thought to raise some interest in the series. Unfortunately, the ratings that came in were that 0.98 million people watched the movie. That's not good, especially given the media saturation and expressed interest in it. Bliss' legend stalled on the starting blocks.

And since then, all I've seen are "cartoon fans" who are cheering this because it proves they were right, that people don't want diversity jammed down their throats, and PPG is sacred and should not be messed with. Their precious social order and memories of that order are validated, and they can claim they were smarter than the network this time.

But they weren't. If PPG is so wonderful and perfect, why did the rating drop for the original series? Why was it cancelled in the first place? If you loved the series that much, you would have been watching it all along and it never would have been cancelled. It's kind of like Sailor Moon Crystal -- if it's so popular, why is it over a year since a new episode ran, and why is the next story arc going to be done as two movies instead of a 13 episode series? Because people aren't fans of Sailor Moon, they're fans of the CONCEPT of Sailor Moon. They just want the world to reflect what they appreciate, they don't actually appreciate it. Keep in mind, Sailor Moon today mostly sells merchandise, and usually in the art style of Classic, not Crystal. The audience attention should have made it a slam dunk, but it clearly isn't, or it wouldn't be limping through the story arcs.

I'm just tired of this, of people wishing for failure so that the only options out there are what they approve of, not necessarily what they will support. No one else is allowed anything that conflicts with their values. They are choking off an industry, and when it falls because there was no one else to help it survive, they will be complaining that they don't have their precious entertainment.

All because they didn't want to share the canvas with different artists.

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