Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Ian Keldon, Dec 16, 2012.
Zom-poc? Is that near Lompoc?
That's another way to put it...
Pro-Tip: You should stop posting in my threads if you can't stay on topic.
It doesn't work that way.
You have suggested that people are immoral for liking certain genre characters, and now you're suggesting that people who enjoy zombie and post-apocalyptic films/TV/books/games are misanthropes who secretly long for the end of the world. I think questioning your logic on this matter and your inability to make a distinction between fictional entertainment and reality is perfectly relevant to the topic at hand. Furthermore, when you start off with such a provocative premise, you can't expect that all the responses are going to be full of puppies and rainbows.
To the point of dressing like them and emulating them when they are villain characters of a particularly vile type, yes.
Go read some of the stuff that gets said on some of the hard-core prepper sites. They'll outright TELL you that they'd be perfectly happy for 99% of the world's population to die because in the preppers' opinion they don't deserve to live.
I am perfectly aware of the difference between fiction and real life, just as you are perfectly aware of the point I was actually making that you just didn't want to address: that it is morally repugnant to declare yourself a fan of an organization, real OR fictional, that commits or committed heinously barbaric acts and crimes against humanity (or sentient life in the case of SW).
And yes, stormtroopers DID do those things in the service of the Imperial military, which had well-known codes for committing planetary-scale genocide (Base Delta Zero), and which built Death Stars to make it even EASIER to commit planetary-scale genocide.
No sane, moral person would ever dress up as a Nazi and proclaim themselves "fans" of those evil people, nor would any sane, moral person ever dress up as an Imperial Stormtrooper and declare themselves "fans" of those evil people. Justifying it as "it's just fiction" is no excuse.
Now back on topic:
No but I expect them to be on topic, which your comment wasn't.
Gonna Godwin your own thread? Robinson Crusoe and I say bullshit on your view of folks and the fiction they enjoy.
Within the same paragraph you claim you understand the difference between the division of reality and fantasy and then group admiration for real criminals with love of something in make believe.
Locutus has a point here, that's just a really ridiculous way to present any argument. If one wants to talk about say the misanthropic subtext to apocalyptic fantasies, that is a different thing than claiming people who enjoy them are automatically misanthropic. There are all kinds of problematic or iffy things in entertainment - some of it genuinely nasty or unpleasant, but nobody is going to call say a torture porn fan basically a serial killer. If you can't treat fiction as fiction, then you can't meaningfully engage with it.
It's called make-believe.
Who cares what an irrelevant fringe says on their Internet forums? What, you think "Internet Tough Guy Syndrome" is limited solely to prepper forums?
So, because I enjoyed the computer game TIE Fighter, in which you play as an Imperial pilot and slaughter Rebels, I would've been right there goosestepping with the SS? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Just because I like playing as the bad guys sometimes doesn't mean I am or want to be an antisocial miscreant in real life. That's because I can separate fantasy from reality.
It is fully on-topic.
Aaaaaaaand crash and burn.
Their emulation generally stops at harmless role-playing, though. Take the 501st Legion guys which you criticized for dressing up as Stormtroopers and other Star Wars villains. When they're not role-playing or making appearances at conventions and other events, they raise $11.8 million dollars (in 2011) for charity with public appearances and auctions. Yet to listen to you, we should treat them as a fifth column secretly trying to undermine the country with their Stormtrooper/Nazi ways. A lot of their appearances involve performing for kids, who it turns out like the cool uniforms and stuff and aren't secretly sympathetic with genocide, just as all the kids in the 70s and 80s who thought Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and Stormtroopers were cool didn't grow up and aspire to torture princesses, cut off their children's appendages, and blow up the planet.
The fact that you can't tell the difference between role-play of fictional characters and admiration or active emulation of real life genocidal thugs (as opposed to just wargaming or playing Call of Duty), or notice the clear inaccuracy of your premise based on the lack of Nazi-like Star Wars fans running around every convention gunning people down indicates the flaw lies on your end, and not with everyone who disagrees with you.
And what percentage of zombie/post-apocalyptic story fans do you think that actually represents? It's a fringe group. The vast majority of people who enjoy zombie and post-apocalyptic fiction go to work and go about the rest of their day not constantly anticipating the end of the world just like most other people.
I'll grant that there's likely a greater crossover between the two groups than there is among the general population, but that's mostly because people who are doomsday preppers and survivalists or the even rarer bunch who look forward to the end of the world (which is easy to do when you're currently living in relative luxury vs. the actual experience) would be attracted to that kind of fiction, not because the fiction itself made them that way.
There are probably some people who got into survivalism because of reading or watching post-apocalyptic or zombie fiction, but that's not likely a large percentage of the total fandom, and the amount who actually want to see it come true because of what they've read (as opposed to just talking a big game about how well they'd survive such an event online) is probably infinitesimal.
You say you're perfectly aware of the difference between fiction and reality, yet contradict yourself within the same paragraph and the ones that followed.
Again, why aren't Darth Vader and Stormtrooper fans out murdering people left and right as we speak? They're either insane and have no control over their actions or they're amoral and have no concern for the consequences of their actions on others, so if your premise is right, they must be out committing crimes constantly. Yet, I don't see a lot of news stories about guys in Stormtrooper gear murdering short hairy people they thought looked sort of Ewok-ey or serial killers in Darth Vader costumes killing local psychics and monks in their own Jedi Purge. And on the rare occasion you do see someone in a Vader costume committing a crime, it usually gets widespread attention in the weird news segment or section because it's an absurd novelty, not a commonplace occurrence.
Since we're in making baseless snap judgments of fans of certain genres of fiction mode, what shall we make of your love of anthropomorphic cats as symbolized by your ThunderCats avatar? Are you a fan of yiffing? Does Mr. Whiskers need to show us on the doll where he was touched? No sane, moral person would ever fantasize about humanoid cats.
(Note to J. Allen, Gep, and Chem: I'm just making a smartass point there, so don't get all uppity ).
Hey, didn't the ThunderCats homeworld of Thundera get destroyed? Now that I think about it, didn't your old Transformers avatar revolve around a species of killer robots whose home planet was also destroyed in an endless war? Don't the "Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons." Since their "forces" are pretty much themselves, isn't that genocide? There's not many of them left on either side, yet they just keep on fighting to the brink of extinction. Why do you admire such behavior and wear symbols of genocidal robot warlords? Are you secretly looking forward to the end of the world since both the ThunderCats and Transformers continued fighting enemies here on Earth? Are you looking forward to the military's thousands of drones suddenly turning on their masters and exterminating us?
I've got my eye on you, you maniac in waiting. I'm not going to let you destroy this world like I know you want to.
Locutus rocks. That is all.
To add to what Locutus said:
Really, Ian Keldon, the issue is your target. If you want to say that for example the Walking Dead has a misanthropic worldview as a work of fiction, or feel that Star Wars lets the Empire off too easy for its genocide (Vader's redemption seems increasingly pat to me personally as I age), those are fair arguments as they're analyzing themes, however troubling, in the work in question.
Or if you want to say that it bothers you there are people who think the Empire Was Right (because the threat of Yuuzhan Vong justifies the maniacal slaughter of the Palpatine years) or that there are some zombie apocalypse fans whose fantasies about the end of the world are unseemly, then that's possibly a case you could make... all the while acknowledging that, you know, defending Emperor Palpatine isn't even remotely like being a neo-Nazi or a holocaust denier because those things refer to real events.
I mean I like poking at the Lost Cause mythology in Firefly, but that doesn't mean I think Firefly's fans are a bunch of neo-Confederates (or that the sreies is doing much more than appropriating the idea of the Lost Cause, shorn of most of its problematic elements).
You just chose the shakiest, most impractical and illogical ground to make a stand on.
For my own part, I enjoy apocalyptic works like 'The Walking Dead' and 'Battlestar Galactica' because the premise allows the writers to (hopefully) craft stories and scenarios that examine the human psyche and delve into just how much of what we take for granted would survive when the world ends. Regular people pitted against impossible odds and insurmountable tragedy. When it's done well, it's heady stuff.
I could take or leave the zombie (or Cylon) bits, as they're just there to 'set the stage,' as it were.
I don't know anything about "preppers" so I can't really comment substantively on the OP. I can only note first that occasional reader/viewers don't fit anything. Anybody who consumes the majority of zombie/apocalypse offerings on hand probably is getting something weird out of it. But are there many such people?
Second, what the OP cares to call "misanthropes" might not be so objectionable rephrased as someone who believes that human nature means the struggle for survival will be a bloody war of all against all. I think that the real objection is not to the views the OP imputed to those who are fanatically interested in this kind of literature/drama, but the assumption that these are false views generated by ignoble motives rather than reflecting a profound grasp of reality. I strongly suspect that quite a few people, including some in this thread, find the many, many zombie/apocalypse offerings to be so compelling because they embody a rational fear, even if in a fantastic guise.
Otherwise it's awfully hard to understand how so many people can agree that zombies demand less willing suspension of disbelief. Dead people walking are less likely than closed timelike curves in General Relativity, and it is silly to pretend otherwise. Perhaps what they really mean is familiar? But "faster than light" spaceships are just as familiar, which strongly suggests that's not correct either. And it can't be the human characters either. In the towering mountain of zombie apocalypses there are precious few people.
(Yes, people are in the occasional work, since nothing is perfect, not even perfectly bad. But we're talking about the fanatics who have eagerly tackled the whole bloody mountain. They clearly are not pursuing the well-drawn characters who typify the literature.)
What we come down to, is that either the fanatic reader/viewer finds the bellum omnium contra omnes deeply satisfying (or it's merely the killing is thrilling?) or the masses of.....someone embodied in the zombies and crazed mobs resonates powerfully with a deeply held personal fear. There is hypothetical third case where someone isn't paying any attention to anything and doesn't think about it. But any such person's opinion would be worthless. On anything.
The asides about stormtroopers or Firefly's neoConfederate sympathies don't help those offended by the OP, I'm afraid. The notion that anybody whose latent fascist sympathies are aroused by the coolness of the stormtroopers would obviously go around murdering people is easily the shakiest, most impractical and illogical notion offered in the thread!
No, such people would most likely just be armored in their indifference to imperial war against inferior peoples, blithely indifferent to the slaughter of endless war against, well, pretty much anyone who dares to be born different.
The Operative's adulation of Cap'n Mal is about as close as you can get to a fantasy of an uppity n--- admitting he's been wrong as you can get in something that doesn't actually have Klansmen and swastikas plastered all over it. There's nothing "shorn" about Firefly, the objectionableness is not just there, it is blatantly there, as one of the coolest moments.
PS The whole attitude that you can't criticize someone for taste is disingenuous, given that everyone knows that's exactly what you criticize porn for. Of course, criticizing people for that taste fits a conservative world view, whereas criticizing people for other kinds of supposed infractions, like contempt for humanity, does not.
I don't know offhand if anyone said that. All I said was:
That is precisely what I mean. Zombie apocalypses generally take the familiar world and add zombies.
They're absolutely relevant, as they're examples of arguably problematic stuff in media. It's a distinction between the kind of argument Ian Keldon could make that makes sense - as yours, here, that Firefly has issues with its Lost Cause heritage - and the stance he's taken.
Liking Firefly is not the same thing as believing in Dunning School history and ascribing to a Neo-Confederate world view. Dressing up as a Stormtrooper is not the same thing as dressing up as a Nazi.
It is largely shorn. On the positive side, Firefly lacks the overt racism of Lost Cause mythology and has an ambivalent attitude about religion (compared to the theocractic leanings of much neo-Confederate thought). On the negative side, it is a mythology divorced from context - there are no slaves for the Alliance to liberate, allowing them to solely be greedy and corrupt centralists.
What I'm saying is, rather tritely, is that Firefly is not Birth of Nation.
As to the OP, I think that it doesn't draw any distinction between fanatics about zombies and apocalyptic fun and games. Also, it pejoratively names the viewpoint, which I suppose feels like an imposition instead of an invitation to discussion. I'm not sure my emphasis on these points distinguish my position and the OP so very much. I find it very hard to believe that anyone really likes to habitually play imperial stormtrooper. The helmets directly refer to German WWII helmets after all. There is a perfectly visible reference to the real Nazis right there.
As to willing suspension of disbelief, dead people who walk around are self-contradictory. Dead is dead: Only live people walk around. Zombies are only acceptable as symbolic of deeply felt fears. They are only familiar from previous movies and books, just as starships are only familiar from previous movies and books (since justification within the fiction is now deemed too taxing for the youthful mind, that is.) But anything that is self-contradictory poses more problem for willing suspension of disbelief. Only the intense interest in the real (in the mind of the zombie fanatic, that is) threat posed by the metaphor of the zombie makes it easier to suspend disbelief.
"Liking Firefly is not the same thing as believing in Dunning School history and ascribing to a Neo-Confederate world view." Obviously this is true. But this is like saying you're only a racist if you're a dues paying member of the Klan or the Nazis. It's science fiction, albeit of a deeply stupid sort, so nothing is direct or overt.
The question is the covert racism and reaction. NeoConfederates vociferously deny that the Civil War was about slavery. The Alliance has no discernible motive. And the notion it was simple greed is specifically contradicted, it is a much more monstrous desire to change human nature. The picture of the Alliance is a hopeless mess. Except that it stands in for the North, so the viewer can apply whatever feelings he has about the North, at least until the climax where the face of the Operative both exposes the evil and the hollowness of the North's pretense to virtue.
But you'd recognize that liking to play dress-up as fake space nazis who fired imaginary lasers at actors who then fell over to indicate they are dead is not quite the same as liking the National Socialist German Worker's Party and believing in their program of lebensraum and ethnic cleansing.
This is true. But a typical starship story involves a lot more than a mere starship. Take the cast of the original Star Wars, which includes a cybernetic dictator and a hairy alien. The setting: Exotic and foreign planets, a gigantic space station, a run-down smuggling vessel.
The characters in zombie apocalypse fiction can tend towards the lurid or ridiculous, but they're not far removed from your standard pulp types - serial killers, psychopaths, etc. The locations are named places which exist in reality, typically ones familiar to the creator (hence, obviously, why most American zombie stories take place in America).
It's just a matter of degrees, stj. People can have bad ideas reinforced by fiction, and fiction can hold to bad ideas. But people are able to enjoy said fiction without accepting those ideas. If say someone loves Firefly and believes in the Lost Cause mythology, there's probably relation between these two facts. (It's obvious that some of Orson Scott Card's politics influence why he likes Firefly so much). But it's the latter that is the serious fault here, and doing the former does not assure the latter.
So yes, criticizing works for behaving overtly or covertly to reinforce abhorrent narratives is fair game (and honestly one of the more important and entertaining kinds of criticism to read). But enjoying those works is not necessarily the same as agreeing to those narratives.
Separate names with a comma.