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Thursday, October 22, 2015

The TMS Chronicles: Taking the Bait. Hard.


Don't feed the trolls, don't feed the trolls, don't feed the trolls... dammit.

So this week, you may have seen... oh, who am I kidding. Of course you saw. It was everywhere: Variety; Salon; The Daily Show (Trevor Noah, I am so disappointed in you); and of course The Mary Sue, leading the charge as always. 

I wrote about their previous misrepresentation and overreaction to the alleged MRA boycott of Mad Max: Fury Road. In that instance, it was one guy on a RedPill site (not even an MRA – someone who looks down on that crowd) who was calling for a boycott because the movie was feminist propaganda. It wasn't.

Between the pregnant woman getting creamed by a monster truck, the completely nude lookout (in the desert? Come on – protective clothing!), the fat women being milked like human cows, and the fact that the much-vaunted female protagonist had a poorly-thought-out plan that had to be corrected and overridden by the male protagonist, that movie fails the critical theory test at every step, despite how much its been embraced. But that's the entire point. It wasn't feminist propaganda, and there was no “MRA Boycott” of it. 

Fast forward a few months, and the internet at large (and The Mary Sue in particular) has learned absolutely nothing. Yet another hashtag was started recently, and the narrative this time is that there's a massive group of white nerds that are boycotting Star Wars Episode VII because three major leading roles are being cast by minorities.

(Granted, there was a bit of scuffle earlier in the year when John Boyega pulled off a Stormtrooper helmet, but that was mostly, if you looked into the actual complaints, confusion over *why* there was a black Stormtrooper when the original Stormtroopers were clones of a character depicted by a Maori actor.)

Of course, all this was just another great excuse to label the nerd community racist when it was really people forgetting the 20 year gap between trilogies. Half the original trilogy Stormtroopers could have been black by that time, as the clones were dying off and other human-type species were recruited or conscripted into the Imperial army. The narrative, as usual, differs greatly from reality.

I counted and there are 10, maybe 12 accounts, all with similar profiles, that started the hashtag. At that point, notorious admitted child groomer and paragon of the social justice crowd Sarah Nyberg used the hashtag, which was followed by a flood of people loudly denouncing it. After that point, there were so many people using it to show what good people they are that you can barely find any of the original tweets .

Which was the point the entire time. There was no group of racist white nerds that were boycotting Star Wars. The mere idea of nerds boycotting Star Wars, after how thirsty they've been for it since the prequel trilogy shat upon the franchise from a very great height, is absurd to begin with. Star Wars is like a religion to some of these people: they don't care about the details, they just want more of it.

But The Mary Sue and a few other sites didn't care. There was a story, another chance to bash nerds, so they took it and ran and not only didn't check to see if it was legit, they didn't even care. They wanted to #ListenAndBelieve so badly that they didn't dare consider it was a troll. They even doubled down after further information came to light.

In fact, the rhetoric being spouted now is that it doesn't matter if it was a troll. A thing was said, an awful, terrible thing, and we must combat the terrible, awful thing as if it were real, because it doesn't matter if it's a windmill, it could have been a giant and we must stop the giants whether they exist or not because they might exist!

Then something strange happened. Esquire reported on the narrative itself. Rather well, giving a breakdown of what happened. Even Mashable (which really came as a shock to me, because every time I see something being shared from Mashable it's the same typical clickbait BS) spoke up. Mashable became a voice of reason, calmly explaining what happened from the timeline of the tweets down to 4chan's involvement and celebration of the attention they gained. I was simultaneously shocked and inspired to see a site that I had little to no respect for actually speaking out against knee-jerk outrage bait.
Thing is, if no one had taken the bait, the topic would've died in its tracks. - Mashable
It kinda gives you a sense of hope, in a way. A New Hope, if you'll forgive me. Hope that maybe people are getting tired of outrage. I know I got tired of outrage years ago. Outrage, and the narratives that cruelly cynical people use to make themselves look like shining paragons of virtue, while behaving like complete and utter tosspots.

I'm hoping to see more voices like this in the future.

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