Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-22 01:38pm

Depending on whether their arguments had a factual basis, yes.

Continuity is important, I think, in order to maintain suspension of disbelief, avoid distractions and confusion to the audience, and show a level of professionalism. That said, there is of course a difference between a change, and contradiction. Change and growth are vital to a long-lived franchise, and can occur without contradicting prior events. So when you say "deviation from an established norm", its important to be clear: are you referring to a contradiction of how something has been previously established to work- or the addition of something new? The former is grounds for complaint. The latter is something I wish more franchises did more often.
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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by Zixinus » 2018-08-22 02:25pm

Vendetta wrote:
2018-08-22 07:46am
Zixinus wrote:
2018-08-20 01:44pm
But I also have to play devil's advocate here. A little bit. The anti-diversity sentiment also stems from past terrible efforts to enforce diversity rather than inspire it. Token characters, new characters that were badly written (Rey comes to mind), non-white characters "having to" (or not-having) behave in a certain way rather than just being themselves, etc.
On the other hand, the difficulty in telling when someone is making exactly those criticism in bad faith means that a lot of them just get written off as trolling.

If you want to make claims like "Rey is a badly written character" you need to do a lot more than say it, you need to produce an in-depth examination of the writing and show why it is bad on the level of movie writing and not just "because it doesn't match my preconceived ideas about canon", which is not a serious argument that real people will pay attention to.

If you just say it with no further support, you are open for dismissal on the basis that you are making the criticism in bad faith.
This actually is part of the problem. What you say is true but rests on things that are also part of the larger problem. Namely that,

a, sincere and not-prejudiced bad criticism is not distinguished from insincere ones
b, the assumption that criticism comes from bad faith to begin with, framing the discussion with "guilty until proven innocent"
c, asking the time of everyone who thinks that Rey is bad character to give a short essay on the topic and have to rigorously defend it in debate. For something that's a ,at least partly, subjective opinion. That doesn't mean that an opinion cannot be dismissed for serious analysis, but that doesn't mean that the person who has the opinion is inherently wrong.

Disclaimer: On Rey herself, I am actually mostly ambivalent. I had no problem accepting her as a character and even her surprisingly able fighting abilities, but I didn't really develop lasting liking for her either. I personally think she had the same problem as the movie itself, that it needed more and better editing and not be too busy belaboring itself with its point. This perhaps goes especially for the second movie with her.
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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-22 02:39pm

Not to rehash the whole Rey debate, but I think that the primary problem with her is not her extraordinary abilities (they're high-end for the franchise, but not beyond what we saw from Anakin at times, and she actually has some glaring weaknesses too, albeit ones that tend to go unnoticed). Its that she's not very well-developed personality-wise. In TFA, she's... nice, a bit of a loner (but not really), afraid to leave Jakku. That's about it.

In TLJ, she gets more development, but it seems muddled (she goes from being seemingly tempted by the Dark Side to rejecting it without a clear reason as to why), and some of it is in a direction I don't particularly like (the shippy stuff with Kylo Ren).

But all these are reasonable discussions. Where it becomes a problem is when you get people screaming or whinging about how she's a "Mary Sue" (a term which objectively does not apply to Rey unless you broaden it far beyond its original meaning-indeed I am inclined to feel the term has largely become meaningless now, except as a buzzword for sexism), ignore evidence, or use blatantly contradictory and unreasonable standards of evidence for "justifying" Rey's abilities.

Honestly, I think about half the issues with the Rey debate would go away if people just stopped using that God damn "Mary Sue" label. Its obnoxious, inaccurate, and just gets people riled up to no good purpose.
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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by Crazedwraith » 2018-08-22 02:48pm

The best way not to rehash the Rey debate is to... not rehash the Rey debate. Not write four paragraphs on it.

I shied away from naming specific examples for that reason.
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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-22 02:58pm

Crazedwraith wrote:
2018-08-22 02:48pm
The best way not to rehash the Rey debate is to... not rehash the Rey debate. Not write four paragraphs on it.

I shied away from naming specific examples for that reason.
Perhaps, but I do think (or at least I hope) that those examples are illustrative of the difference between constructive criticism and a reasonable exchange of ideas, and the nastier side of fan culture, to tie it back into the larger discussion. Or the difference between pointing out specific character flaws (as Elheru Aran said), and just throwing out an inflammatory buzzword.
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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-22 03:17pm

Going to just go back to this for a moment:
Zixinus wrote:
2018-08-20 01:44pm
But I also have to play devil's advocate here. A little bit. The anti-diversity sentiment also stems from past terrible efforts to enforce diversity rather than inspire it. Token characters, new characters that were badly written (Rey comes to mind), non-white characters "having to" (or not-having) behave in a certain way rather than just being themselves, etc. Then there is the fact that just because your agenda's goals mean well, that still makes it an agenda. Ask about writing strong female characters and you will have a head-on collision about a feminist's female role models SHOULD be (and why isn't your character that?). So there is a backlash against that, and fans really would rather not have their beloved thing be the subject of an outsider's agenda that will alter their thing and otherwise not be part. Which develops an entrenched and hostile mindset that is fostered by racists/sexists (especially casual ones) and not always clear to an outsider.
I think that it would be helpful if you gave specific examples as to what constitutes "terrible efforts to enforce diversity", and why you feel they qualify as such (besides Rey). Because its been my experience that ANY attempt to increase diversity tends to be met with cries that "the SJWs are forcing diversity down our throats" or somesuch- which I know isn't your argument here, but the point is that there isn't always clear agreement on what is or is not a "good" way of including/portraying diversity.

Moreover, while I don't doubt that a lot of fans feel the way you describe, a lot of these criticisms could be made against just aboutany media, including media with predominantly white male casts/traditional roles. But they tend to be made against media that features more women or minorities, or women/minorities in non-traditional roles. It comes across easily as being very nitpicking, at best. "Yeah, you can have equal opportunity now after millennia of marginalization, subjugation, and genocide. As long as its done in the right way that doesn't make me feel uncomfortable." Which strikes me, frankly, as extremely petty and insecure.

Also, I'm going to be honest, I have a strong temptation to role my eyes when people talk about an "agenda" as if its some inherently sinister thing (see my prior point about inflammatory buzzwords). Of course there's an agenda. Everyone has agendas, if you mean that they have attitudes and values that influence their actions. Everyone. Nobody and nothing is actually a-political, because its impossible. In my experience, when people say that they want their fiction to be non-political or "not have an agenda", what they really mean is one of two things: They don't want it to have an agenda that's obvious enough that they have to think about it, or they don't want it to have an agenda that they disagree with.

As to your point about how "...fans really would rather not have their beloved thing be the subject of an outsider's agenda..."- the fact that many fans view women and minorities, or those who advocate for their increased representation, as "outsiders" who they have to protect their community from, is actually a very strong example of prejudice in fan communities.
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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by ray245 » 2018-08-22 03:39pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-22 03:17pm
Also, I'm going to be honest, I have a strong temptation to role my eyes when people talk about an "agenda" as if its some inherently sinister thing (see my prior point about inflammatory buzzwords). Of course there's an agenda. Everyone has agendas, if you mean that they have attitudes and values that influence their actions. Everyone. Nobody and nothing is actually a-political, because its impossible. In my experience, when people say that they want their fiction to be non-political or "not have an agenda", what they really mean is one of two things: They don't want it to have an agenda that's obvious enough that they have to think about it, or they don't want it to have an agenda that they disagree with.

As to your point about how "...fans really would rather not have their beloved thing be the subject of an outsider's agenda..."- the fact that many fans view women and minorities, or those who advocate for their increased representation, as "outsiders" who they have to protect their community from, is actually a very strong example of prejudice in fan communities.
Typically, their reasoning for being against a new "agenda" tends to be an argument about sticking to the status quo. What they might forget or not realise is sticking to the status quo is inherently a conservative outlook. This does not mean being conservative in outlook ( in regards to fiction) is inherently wrong. Instead, I'll argue there's a need for artform to cater to both a conservative and a more modern outlook.

What's important is fans should realise their own "bias" or perspective when they're making such an argument. Is there a good reason for a particular piece of fiction to retain a more conservative outlook? What purpose does it serve? How does that affect the overall work? Those are questions that fans need to be able to answer.
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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-22 03:47pm

Indeed.

I'll add that the importance of remaining "true" to the earlier works, and what that means, varies greatly depending on whether its a sequel, prequel, adaptation, or remake. A prequel generally has the highest burden in terms of adhering to existing continuity. Its basically filling in the gaps in an existing framework. A sequel or continuing story (like a TV series) should not normally contradict what came before, but can and should expand on it. An adaptation will almost invariably undergo some changes to translate a story from one medium to another, though my preference is generally for works that stay fairly close to the original as a matter of respect for the author, unless its deliberately being done as a very lose adaptation (as in the case of I, Robot, which IIRC says it is "inspired by" rather than "based on" Asimov's books or some such, IIRC). That said, I also tend to try to take adaptations as alternate continuities, and accept them on their own terms. A reboot is obliged only to refer in some way to the core themes or premise of prior works, and is otherwise free to do as it pleases as far as I am concerned (indeed, a reboot which simply rehashes the original is a wasted opportunity).

Of course, time travel and alternate realities create further opportunities for diverging from and even contradicting past canon in speculative fiction. And in all cases, a distinction must be made between outright continuity errors, and evolutions in style or theme or the addition of new ideas.
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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by Tribble » 2018-08-22 07:18pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-22 02:39pm
Not to rehash the whole Rey debate, but I think that the primary problem with her is not her extraordinary abilities (they're high-end for the franchise, but not beyond what we saw from Anakin at times, and she actually has some glaring weaknesses too, albeit ones that tend to go unnoticed). Its that she's not very well-developed personality-wise. In TFA, she's... nice, a bit of a loner (but not really), afraid to leave Jakku. That's about it.

In TLJ, she gets more development, but it seems muddled (she goes from being seemingly tempted by the Dark Side to rejecting it without a clear reason as to why), and some of it is in a direction I don't particularly like (the shippy stuff with Kylo Ren).

But all these are reasonable discussions. Where it becomes a problem is when you get people screaming or whinging about how she's a "Mary Sue" (a term which objectively does not apply to Rey unless you broaden it far beyond its original meaning-indeed I am inclined to feel the term has largely become meaningless now, except as a buzzword for sexism), ignore evidence, or use blatantly contradictory and unreasonable standards of evidence for "justifying" Rey's abilities.

Honestly, I think about half the issues with the Rey debate would go away if people just stopped using that God damn "Mary Sue" label. Its obnoxious, inaccurate, and just gets people riled up to no good purpose.
I agree that whatever her flaws, Rey doesn't count as a Mary Sue.

Perhaps a better example would be Clara Oswald from Doctor Who.
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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-22 07:22pm

Tribble wrote:
2018-08-22 07:18pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-22 02:39pm
Not to rehash the whole Rey debate, but I think that the primary problem with her is not her extraordinary abilities (they're high-end for the franchise, but not beyond what we saw from Anakin at times, and she actually has some glaring weaknesses too, albeit ones that tend to go unnoticed). Its that she's not very well-developed personality-wise. In TFA, she's... nice, a bit of a loner (but not really), afraid to leave Jakku. That's about it.

In TLJ, she gets more development, but it seems muddled (she goes from being seemingly tempted by the Dark Side to rejecting it without a clear reason as to why), and some of it is in a direction I don't particularly like (the shippy stuff with Kylo Ren).

But all these are reasonable discussions. Where it becomes a problem is when you get people screaming or whinging about how she's a "Mary Sue" (a term which objectively does not apply to Rey unless you broaden it far beyond its original meaning-indeed I am inclined to feel the term has largely become meaningless now, except as a buzzword for sexism), ignore evidence, or use blatantly contradictory and unreasonable standards of evidence for "justifying" Rey's abilities.

Honestly, I think about half the issues with the Rey debate would go away if people just stopped using that God damn "Mary Sue" label. Its obnoxious, inaccurate, and just gets people riled up to no good purpose.
I agree that whatever her flaws, Rey doesn't count as a Mary Sue.

Perhaps a better example would be Clara Oswald from Docotr Who.
Well the original definition of a Sue is an author self-insert (particularly in fanfiction). I suppose that could apply to Clara, given how much Moffat fawned over her. Definitely a creator's pet. She also tends to get a free pass on her mistakes, even when she's pretty clearly in the wrong, which is another possible definition.

Edit: I still don't like the term on principle, but Clara is one of the better examples I've seen in (non-fanfiction) media, in my opinion. Although maybe that's just because I found her a grating, generic, wasted opportunity of a character a lot of the time.

To be clear, though: I blame exactly none of this on the actor, and approximately all of it on Steven Moffat.
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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by Tribble » 2018-08-22 07:39pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-22 07:22pm
Tribble wrote:
2018-08-22 07:18pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-22 02:39pm
Not to rehash the whole Rey debate, but I think that the primary problem with her is not her extraordinary abilities (they're high-end for the franchise, but not beyond what we saw from Anakin at times, and she actually has some glaring weaknesses too, albeit ones that tend to go unnoticed). Its that she's not very well-developed personality-wise. In TFA, she's... nice, a bit of a loner (but not really), afraid to leave Jakku. That's about it.

In TLJ, she gets more development, but it seems muddled (she goes from being seemingly tempted by the Dark Side to rejecting it without a clear reason as to why), and some of it is in a direction I don't particularly like (the shippy stuff with Kylo Ren).

But all these are reasonable discussions. Where it becomes a problem is when you get people screaming or whinging about how she's a "Mary Sue" (a term which objectively does not apply to Rey unless you broaden it far beyond its original meaning-indeed I am inclined to feel the term has largely become meaningless now, except as a buzzword for sexism), ignore evidence, or use blatantly contradictory and unreasonable standards of evidence for "justifying" Rey's abilities.

Honestly, I think about half the issues with the Rey debate would go away if people just stopped using that God damn "Mary Sue" label. Its obnoxious, inaccurate, and just gets people riled up to no good purpose.
I agree that whatever her flaws, Rey doesn't count as a Mary Sue.

Perhaps a better example would be Clara Oswald from Docotr Who.
Well the original definition of a Sue is an author self-insert (particularly in fanfiction). I suppose that could apply to Clara, given how much Moffat fawned over her. Definitely a creator's pet. She also tends to get a free pass on her mistakes, even when she's pretty clearly in the wrong, which is another possible definition.

Edit: I still don't like the term on principle, but Clara is one of the better examples I've seen in (non-fanfiction) media, in my opinion. Although maybe that's just because I found her a grating, generic, wasted opportunity of a character a lot of the time.

To be clear, though: I blame exactly none of this on the actor, and approximately all of it on Steven Moffat.
Not to mention things like retroactively inserting her into every major part of the Doctors life (inspiring him to go adventuring as a child, helping him choose his tardis, saving him in all his adventures etc) with no tangible benefit to the story apart from making her more special.

I agree that Jenna Coleman is not at fault though; she really did her best to make lemonade out of the lemons given to her.
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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by Tribble » 2018-08-22 07:48pm

With regards to Star Trek, I find Janeway to be a rather interesting example: it was Russian roulette with her depending on the writer, so she could go from competent and likeable to Mary Sue to completely psychotic within the span of a few episodes (and sometimes even within the same episode)

Again, not the fault of the actress.

Also, one could say that the main critique of Voyager was that it wasn't sticking to its initial premise and challenging the status quo enough. IMO it often came more across as a continuation of tng with new cast rather than a genuinely new take on the franchise.
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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by Civil War Man » 2018-08-23 12:00pm

My belief is that there are two main "types" of Nerd/Geek culture (or at least two extremes of a spectrum). There is a liberal and conservative subculture, which often, but doesn't necessarily, coincide with the political connotations of those words. They share a common origin, including interest in things that are usually not popular in the mainstream, said interests often getting to the level of obsessive, and the social isolation and/or ostracization that could result from it, but diverge based on their reaction to that.

The liberal subculture tends to be welcoming of newcomers, and usually tries to take a live-and-let-live attitude and avoid internal conflicts, only kicking out a member if they become such a problem that their mere presence threatens to tear the group apart.

The conservative subculture, on the other hand, is much more insular, usually much less welcoming of newcomers until they prove they are a "true fan", often out of an anxiety that people they view as outsiders will come in and corrupt or destroy the thing they like.

You can see this divide crop up every time a part of geek culture hits the mainstream. The more liberal groups tend to be stoked that they have more people to share their interests with, while the more conservative groups tend to complain about fake fans, and blame unpopular or poorly-made entries on the creators catering to said fake fans.

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Re: Is a lot of Nerd/Geek culture predominately conservative?

Post by Vendetta » 2018-08-23 05:27pm

Civil War Man wrote:
2018-08-23 12:00pm
The conservative subculture, on the other hand, is much more insular, usually much less welcoming of newcomers until they prove they are a "true fan", often out of an anxiety that people they view as outsiders will come in and corrupt or destroy the thing they like.
It's a little more than that for some.

There are a good number of neeeerds who can't cope with the idea that the thing they like is a niche even within geek culture, and they tend to be on the conservative end, and so when all the evidence points to other people really rather liking things they don't think count as "proper" they have to write that off as illegitimate or fixed or somehow not actually real.

The ones who can actually read are currently really upset because NK Jemisin just won her third Hugo in a row for The Stone Sky and called them out in her acceptance speech. (If you haven't read the Broken Earth trilogy get on that.)

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