Samuel Brace on contrarian opinions and parisan fandoms….
This is a great time to be a fan. A fan of superheroes and superhero movies, of a particular TV series or film franchise, to be a fan of pretty much anything and anyone. For this there is no doubt. Fandom’s are at their peak, with the boom of social media, connectivity between us and our onscreen heroes has never been closer. Support for our favourite entertainment properties have become vast communities to share our passions. But do we need to be so damn partisan about the whole thing? Surely there is room for a contrarian view or two? Do we really have to tear down every dissenting voice, labeling anyone foolish enough to speak their mind a ‘hater’?
The reason this subject has been on my mind, and why I felt it pertinent to bring up in this article, is because of something I experienced, or rather experienced through a friend, after this year’s comic con, specifically the drop of the latest DC trailers for Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. Now to make things clear, I really enjoyed the footage, from both trailers, BvS was exciting and promised some grand scale action and Suicide Squad was an expertly crafted trailer (in my opinion) that set the tone for what the picture will turn out to be come 2016. However, this friend of mine wasn’t so enthused. He, like plenty of others, wasn’t riding the hype train like the majority, and while I disagree with his take on the footage and the quality (mostly) that it promises, he is entitled to his opinion. So when he voiced said opinion on social media and was put to the sword by a punitive fandom that was so overtly partisan, I was a little bothered. I guess bothered isn’t the right world. I was pissed. I was fed up. And it reminded me of an experience I had not that long ago but long enough that I have since put that frustration to one side and moved on. But the reactions to these trailers and the subsequent reactions to those reactions caused me to think about the Marvel studios film Captain America: The Winter soldier and the backlash that came my way online and in person from people who felt like I was threatening their precious fandom.
The Winter Soldier and the conversations it spawned, were for me, yet another example of the cultural dilemma we currently find ourselves in. I enjoyed the picture, though didn’t love it, I thought it was an ok movie, but nothing more. I thought that (and still do) The Winter soldier was shot and pieced together to give the impression that it was a good film, that this product — as far as superhero Movies go — was substantial, but for me and many others, that’s all it was, an impression of a good film and was actually just kind of hollow and lifeless. Again, not a bad film by any stretch, one of the better superhero films of the last 5 or 6 years, but that’s it. However, the Marvel/Superhero Fandom had already decided it wasn’t just a ‘good’ comic book movie, but that it was a ‘great’ movie. Period. So therefore I was lambasted. My opinion, because it didn’t align with the tribes, was thrown out and made to feel less than. Sorry everyone, but this just isn’t an acceptable way to treat someone. Like my friend, with regards to the latest trailers from DC, all I vocalised was my reaction, my take away from the entertainment provided to me and the fact that I or anyone else has that feeling about a piece of entertainment — negative may it be — or indeed anything at all, is just as legitimate as your glowing review, as your unyielding, never back down, love of the product that you choose to attach your fancy.
Guys, this is a prevalent issue and one that’s worth discussing, but all that can really be offered here is some advice, if you are so inclined to take it (though if you belong to the kind of group mentioned here you probably won’t). You are allowed to NOT like something. You are allowed to even HATE something and you are certainly allowed to go against the grain and offer a differing opinion. You just are. It’s really very simple and equally baffling to me that today, as of 2015, everyone who doesn’t love EVERYTHING is labelled a ‘hater’. Why is this? Just because someone doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t by design make them a hater. Even if I did hate something, like really hated a movie or TV show that you were besotted with, I am allowed to do so, that’s my prerogative, that’s everyone’s prerogative, and if given the opportunity, those ‘hateful’ bunch might just tell you why they feel that way. That is if you don’t lynch them before they get the chance.
So, if you like a product; great, that really is great, it’s wonderful to be passionate about something, about anything, no one would deprive you of that. But don’t close yourself off to an opinion contrary to your own and certainly don’t stop others from offering a voice that might not synch up perfectly with yours. Not everyone is going to like everything. The world doesn’t work that way and who would want to live in such a place anyway? We have to face the very real truth, the facts if you will, that the Superhero genre is mainstream now, it isn’t just a part of pop culture anymore, it has become pop culture. So remember, if you’re old enough, the time when liking superhero culture was lame, when it was looked down upon, when yours was the unpopular opinion. Let that inform you and the subsequent discussions you might have regarding, say, the next Marvel movie to make its way to screens. Having a healthy debate over what is good and what is bad, what you like and what you don’t like is perfectly acceptable. As long as the dissenting voice isn’t just being argumentative for the sake of it then just let it go, welcome it into the conversation. Things weren’t always this way and they won’t stay like this forever. Pop culture is always changing; your fandom won’t be the popular kid forever. So allow that contrarian view a place at the table, don’t be so threatened. If you really love something then someone not liking it as much as you do should not make the slightest bit of difference.