I don’t know if you saw the last episode of The Mandalorian Season 2, but if you didn’t, go watch it - not because of the ending but because it’s a really fun series and I really enjoy it. Sadly, people enjoy stuff too much, or dislike stuff a lot, and act weirdly and then are weird and cause other people harm as a result.
Today’s stupid, awful drama is around a Youtuber who did a video where he watched the last episode of The Mandalorian and cried his eyes out on camera. Friend of mine and generally good guy who also has decades working on Star Wars Pablo Hidalgo made a benign comment - “emotions are not to be shared” - on his private Twitter account - and the Youtuber in question sicced his three million followers on him and demanded an apology, acting as if he had been accosted, harassed and attacked as he encouraged his fans (or, in the kindest reading, did not not encourage them) to accost, harass and attack Pablo.
This is a great example of someone with a big following acting as if they’re a victim while actively encouraging people to genuinely hurt someone else. I’m not linking to the guy’s tweets because I don’t want to give him a single click, but every single one of his tweets from the last few days have been going on and on about Pablo’s single comment. That’s it. And there’s nothing anyone can really do about it - you can’t ban people from Twitter for getting up in arms about something, even if they’re doing it in the absolute worst faith possible, and so a genuinely nice guy who is directly responsible for all of the Star Wars stuff these people love to talk about and make money off of on Youtube is now feeling like shit, because he suggested a grown assed man shouldn’t post a video of himself crying over seeing someone from the Star Wars movies in a Star Wars TV show. The only slightly antagonistic act Pablo did was making the “emotions are not for sharing” post his banner, and even then…come on! If you’re so emotionally confident that you can cry on camera and be honest with yourself, then why encourage harassing someone?
The answer is being a fan of something sucks now. It used to be you’d be the biggest fan of something if you knew all about it and liked talking about it. Now you are a fan of something if you get into an artificial army with a bunch of similar fans and only talk about that, and talk about it all day, and your avatar is the thing and your life is the thing and the thing is all you care about, even if said thing is finite, like a fictional property. Fandoms consider themselves the owners of the properties they talk about, to the point that they will defend the property from all attackers, including the people who make the property itself.
This specific, insidious argument is somehow around “picking on fans,” which would make sense (as well as being a bad faith reading of the situation) if Pablo hadn’t been responding to a locked account from behind another locked account.
Let’s be real here, nobody was actually hurt by this conversation. Nobody actually is hurt by one guy making a snarky comment about what most people would gauge is a massive overreaction to a fictional character, or at the very least, posting said reaction is a massive act of oversharing. But for real, nobody read that and felt bad. If they did, perhaps they need to re-evaluate…everything? I don’t know. It just feels like yet another disingenuous excuse to build a hate-march at someone who lightly jabbed you. And I get that - I get that sometimes people hit you where it hurts. But what’s the point of this? What is the gain, other than making someone objectively miserable for doing nothing?
The answer is attention, I guess, or manufactured controversy. It’s so exhausting.
One of the more online things that’s grown in the last 5-10 years is the attachment of identity to fandom. Disliking the Last Jedi (even if you do so, say, because it’s poorly written, directed and acted) can attach you to a group of psychopaths that hate it because a woman leads it. Liking Star Wars can attach you to a group of people who happily harassed Kelly Marie Tran off of social media because they’re racist, sexist goons. It’s an obsessive, abusive relationship but it’s with media versus a person - you have these specific expectations you have manufactured in your head, and when it doesn’t hold up to them, you go insane and berate the person, demanding they improve something they likely can’t. And if you love the thing you expect the thing to stay that way. And if it doesn’t, so help you god, you will make it sorry.
It’s a terrifying world, honestly. I don’t know how you fix it. I really do like that people love things deeply and madly - I think that it’s cool to be really into something - but if said love ends up turning into an obsession, one that leads to being a toxic, hurtful person, what are you actually a fan of? What do you actually care about? Is it the thing in question, or is it the identity you’ve assumed by proxy of liking it? What’s even the point of liking something so much that you’d hurt someone over it? What does it do for you? Who does it help? Does it make Star Wars better? Does it make you happier?
Who knows. I’m going to bed now. Well, not really.