Before we get into the topic this week… with my recent split from Geek Juice Media still very fresh to me and to my readers I want to make sure of the following, this column in particular may seem like an attack on Geek Juice Media or at the very least colored by the events of my firing from there… that could not be father from the truth and I would prefer to not have that cloud any issues herein. I honestly have no animosity towards my former co-workers and I will say it here and now, none of the unnamed websites I will mention are Geek Juice Media.
Why does it seem that anything remotely critical of ‘geek culture’ is seen as “an attack” or not being “open minded” or even having a per-existing bias for some kind of persecution complex? What I mean is that go to 90% of ‘geek culture’ websites and you will find that they instill a mandate with their writers, their news gatherers and even their CRITICS that everything in ‘geek culture’ has equal merit and must be shown the respect that simply being part of ‘geek culture’ engenders. There is one site (and I will be mentioning the actual names/addresses of no sites) which I know for a fact pushes the clear and spelled out directive which I will quote “Writing about something you love as a geek. You have the opportunity to connect with readers and possibly introduce them to something they aren’t aware of. We try not to waste our time on digging up the bad stuff about geekdom. We want to gush over the great stuff”. What they are saying is that you must, at all costs, avoid negativity which in turn means DO NOT BE CRITICAL IN ANY WAY of something in ‘geek culture’. If you think I am exaggerating that then lets look at the definition of what is means to criticize:
indicate the faults of (someone or something) in a disapproving way.
synonyms: find fault with, censure, denounce, condemn, attack,
lambaste, pillory, rail against, inveigh against, arraign, cast
aspersions on, pour scorn on, disparage, denigrate, give bad press to,
informalknock, pan, maul, slam, roast, hammer, lay
into, lace into, flay, crucify, take apart, pull to pieces, pick holes
in, pummel, trash, nitpick;
“must you criticize everything she does?”
form and express a sophisticated judgment of (a literary or artistic work).
“a literary text may be criticized on two grounds: the semantic and the expressive”
That said, isn’t it the POINT of criticism to analyze and therefore look for the fault within whereas fawning over something is the exact opposite of criticism? To laud otherworldly praise on something is dangerously close to propagandist and this is an area I feel far too many avenues within ‘geek culture’ tread. When you just tell people how much you love something you are NOT being critical but you are praising which seems innocent enough at first but quickly turns into blind adherence and lets face it, reading/viewing something negative is much more interesting than a bland world of primary colors and everyone getting along. Also, being critical in a negative way should (in theory) keep the products being spoken about from being mindlessly consumed in an inferior format and should force higher quality levels. Lets face it, when you read a review of a movie that is just exploding from the seams with praise and how amazingly awesome it is does it not strike you as a tad… disingenuous at the least and perhaps even like that of a planted review or something in the vein of David Manning*? Now, when you read a review of a movie that points out the faults (and lets face it, there are always faults) do you not get the much more overall feeling that this lands closer to being CRITICAL than being either shilling or from hating? Take something like Marvel Movies, throw out how much you enjoyed the movie(s) and look at them CRITICALLY to see the plotholes, the audience pandering and the unnecessary bits at the same time you can still have had fun and even relished the experience of the film(s). But movies like those put out by Marvel are almost what is called “critic proof” since if you find ANY fault at all then you are just “unable to have a good time at the movies” or are “just looking for something to bitch about”. It does not matter that they DO have plotholes, that they DO pander and that you also DID have a great fun time at them, you are not allowed to criticize them without being a nippicky douche. Being a critic does not mean hating something, it means honestly finding the fault within something, if you don’t believe me, re-read the dictionary definition above. I loved Prometheus but it has massive plotholes, lapses in logic that an 8 year old could spot and treats it’s own audience like they are monkeys with a day pass from the disturbed ward of the zoo… and yet I liked the movie. I am being CRITICAL of the film in the way that a CRITIC should.
Geek websites seem to want to avoid any kind of actual critical thinking or get out of applying critical when it means to ‘geek culture’. They are happy to just say it’s ‘geek’ so that makes it awesome. I see far to many sites that cover everything in ‘geek culture’ with the same zeal, which SEEMS good but then again this is not journalism and you do not need to be centered, you can point out that Big Bang Theory is pandering and dehumanizing to geeks but you won’t because that would mean taking a stance, any stance. Now, if you like what you like, who the fuck am I to tell you that what your interests are are wrong… but I will tell you why I think whatever that property is has issues from my perspective. There are a shocking number of geek sites that want to only portray this happy all incisive ideal of geek culture and avoid making even the slightest stab at critical thought and I think this should be CRITICIZED just as the sites which exist only to tear down ‘geek culture’ are a problem. We need more CRITICS and fewer attacks as well as fewer fanboys. When the new ‘geek culture’ movie (any ‘geek culture’ movie) comes out it usually has the critical mood being that of “oh my god, this was the most amazingist thing ever” by the layman even as the critical community points out the flaws even if they still enjoyed the movie.
That is just for starters too… another trait that far too many ‘geek culture’ sites have is that anything ‘geek culture’ is good… even if it’s not. There is one site out there that all I ever see is how some mainstream thing may have referenced Superman or Game of Thrones so it is now part of ‘geek culture’. There is this almost ravenous desire for ‘geek culture’ to spread itself and convert the ‘norms’ like some kind of infectious plague with every name drop or reference being some non-existent battle won. Why is ‘geek culture’ not happy to just be itself without either the self righteous indignation of a martyr or that of a brash outsider fighting the world? Can’t ‘geek culture’ just live and breath what it does while also being honest with itself? I heard from the head of one “everything must be positive” site that the reason they pushed that sanction so hard was that ‘geek culture’ was already (somehow) under constant attack from the outside and the last thing it needed was internal conflicts as well. I think it should surprise no one that I have far too many issues with that to go into this week (perhaps next week) but suffice it to say that the “reasoning” for that is both misplaced and frankly a desire for false victimhood status as a way to avoid having to have any substance.
Why do these self defeating acts in the first place and in such a manner as to eliminate the very act that you claim you are engaging in (that of criticism)? Because it is far easier to sell advertising on a site that is already per-disposed to exalt your product than it is to a site that might point out the faults of your product. It comes down to money, nothing more, it is easier to sell positivity over negativity.
*David Manning was a fake movie critic that Sony Pictures created to give very strong positive praise to some of their… more maligned films. David Manning is the first thing that comes to my mind when I see massive praise for anything and David Manning should have been a tipping point moment… but it wasn’t.
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