Thursday, June 14, 2018

It's time to slam the door in the face of fanatical fanbois - A ReadItTorial

"Honestly, if you don't like the way the new Star Wars movies are going, there's the door, don't let it hit your arse on the way out!"
It probably comes as no surprise to regular blogreaders that we're both complete Star Wars nuts. In the last few years, in fact ever since Disney bought Lucasfilm and started to plan out their new movies in the mega-successful franchise we've noticed two things happening - one we welcome with open arms and one we'd like to plant a size 10 Doctor Marten Boot up the backside of.

Tackling the 'good stuff' first, Star Wars (when I was at school at least) always seemed to be something that boys liked. Sure, there were girls in my class who loved the movies just as much as the boys but they probably got fed up with being dragged along to playground games to be Princess Leia, in dire need of being rescued by the multitude of us who wanted to be Han Solo (ironic really because if there was ever a Princess who didn't need rescuing, it was Leia).

Spinning on a few years, my daughter is now growing up with the new 'reboot' movies and thanks to three of them now has a huge selection of inspirational female characters to choose from - in fact now in the playground the girls lead the way when they're playing "Star Wars" with a dozen or so Reys, Roses, Holdos and of course Leias all running around swinging imaginary lightsabers or directing rebel attacks.

Of course, the 'bad' stuff always creeps out of the woodwork along with the good. The news this week that Kelly Marie Tran, the actress who played Rose Tico in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (a movie that really ended up being massively divisive when it came to the opinions of 'fans') had been harassed almost constantly on social media since the movie released just makes us utterly furious.

There is more to this than fans just being upset about one actor's role in a movie that they didn't like. There's the sinister "We don't want girls playing in our den" attitude that fans of the movies - and in fact male fans of anything at all - seem to display, the sort of stupid internet trolling that makes you wish these idiots' parents would just cut off their wi fi access for a couple of years.

This type of behaviour seems to come from a narrow subset of humanity, mostly white male, mostly between the age of 14 - 36 (though in some cases I'm sad to see this type of misogynous behaviour becoming more commonplace across all age groups, even kids as young as my daughter).

I remember this sort of stuff was one of the reasons I went off online gaming, then gaming in general after the whole "Gamergate" thing exploded onto the internet like a cancer - with some of the main protagonists sadly still chirping up now and again to remind us all that they're still kicking around with far too much time on their hands (what tiny shred of respect I had for Notch - the creator of Minecraft - went right out of the window when it turned out that even becoming one of the richest men on the planet couldn't stop him being a complete arsehead to people online).

So now we get it with movies. Any movie that features inspirational and strong female characters (particularly characters whose emotional development and depth far outstrips the usual token female roles we used to see and hiss at in fantasy and sci fi movies) just gets rounded on, savaged by critics who just don't understand one key thing. We really do not care that they hate the damned movie, we just want them gone. If the #MeToo movement has taught us anything, it's that women have put up with enough of this kind of bullshit in the industry for far too long and also want it gone - gone for good.

So it is with books too and the #MeToo movement in publishing is also gathering pace.

Now and again you hear stories from across the industry of women being harassed by male colleagues, male authors, over-privileged folk higher up in the industry who still live in some bizarre alt-reality of their own creation where they think in appropriate / sexist / misogynist behaviour is acceptable in any form and won't be rounded on and torn to shreds by an ever-increasing movement of women - and men I'm proud to say - who don't want to see that crap any more. The more these instances are highlighted and spotlights shone on them, the more the movement gathers tangible evidence to use to affect change.

Like all parents, I want my daughter to grow up in a world where antisocial behaviour like this is stamped on as soon as it starts to appear. Not just here, but globally.

For the moment though all we can do is lend our support to those who might suffer a wobble in confidence, might feel the need to clear out their social media accounts or online presences because of harassment, and tell them that there are far more good people in the world, in publishing, in the movies and in videogames than there are bad.