Thursday, June 19, 2014

Shut Up, Wesley (or Don't Apologize)

     Sometimes I feel like I'm one of the only modern nerdy types that doesn't like Wil Wheaton. The man just rubs me the wrong way, I can't explain it. Like most people, I first encountered Wheaton as the tragically out-of-place teenager Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, where he was saddled with the Audience Identification role for the younger crowd. This is a character part in most stories that I tend to automatically dislike to begin with, unless your name happens to be Kitty Pryde. I never understood why the Federation flagship had someone who hadn't even been accepted to Starfleet Academy not only on the bridge, but piloting the ship, and I feel the series would have been better had they just scrapped his character in the first place. Since then, any time Wheaton appears, his smug face has irritated me, and I really feel the only role that I've been able to appreciate him in has been (ironically, considering how much I hate the show) Big Bang Theory, where he plays a “fictionalized” version of himself, generally acting like an asshole to Sheldon Cooper. In addition to this, he tends to post a lot of dumb shit that he doesn't fact-check.

     The reason I'm bringing this up is that Mr Wheaton has recently run afoul of the Tumblr Social Justice crowd. Well, I say recently, but this incident somehow flew under my radar and happened back in February. Goes to show how well I usually manage to avoid him.

     Now, Cultural Appropriation is one of the more popular buzzwords that float around the Social Justice community. It can be a real problem in some cases, if someone's culture or heritage is played for laughs or disrespected, but there are people who believe eating Chipotle or watching anime is cultural appropriation. Those are the people we'll be looking at today.

     Recently, Mister Wheaton committed the heinous crime of referring to someone as his 'spirit animal.' Spirit animals, based on totemic beliefs, come from a number of different cultures throughout the world, but Tumblr seized on this and shredded Wheaton for appropriation of Native American culture. So of course, he did the smart thing by acknowledging people's concerns privately and moving on with his life.

     Nah, I'm kidding. He picked one of the less irate messages and replied to it with (and I hate using these words) copious amounts of White Guilt™, wallowing for forgiveness and cursing his ancestors. And of course, Tumblr saw how remorseful he was, and forgave him.

     Nah, I'm kidding. His apology was dissected, and he was vilified even more with his own words. And so he got up and yelled back, and told people not to be a dick again, despite continuing on being a dick himself. This continued until a voice of reason, an actual Native woman herself, spoke up and politely asked all the White Saviours™ of Tumblr to stop telling her how to be offended, apologized to Wheaton for the kerfuffle, and explained that “Native Americans of all tribes pride themselves on being generous with our cultural iconography.”

     The object lesson to be learned here is that whether or not they are truly offended, the Social Justice Warrior is not after an apology. They don't want to educate, and they aren't interested in making the world a better place. They want to get angry, and they want to hurt somebody's feelings. And they want to look and feel righteous as all hell in the process. This is what an internet bully looks like. I swear, some of these people that claim to fight for social justice are all of two steps away from demanding segregated water fountains again.

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