Dave Chappelle was Right; Everyone is too Damn Sensitive

With the movement of the #MeToo Movement, we are seeing the true light of men in Hollywood as well as men in general on how they treat their women counterparts. And I should start off by saying that yes, I am a supported of the MeToo Movement, I am a supporter of transgender people and I consider myself to be a very liberal person, however I do agree that people are too sensitive when they can’t handle a joke about things going on in our current world. When watching Dave Chappelle it was like a sigh of relief for someone to finally be saying jokes and not being afraid to say them, because someone has to say them.

When it comes to Chappelle talking about the sexual abuse scandals that is happening around the country, I think that it’s good he’s talking about it. He is pointing a finger at these people saying yeah that is fucked up, but we should be able to still laugh about it as it lets people reflect on the absurdity of it all. A good example of this is when he is talking about Louis C.K. and starts making a mockery of him “busting a nut” on his stomach. It’s ridiculous to think that someone could actually do this in front of someone he barely knows, but he did it, so we should laugh at him. Chappelle is not defending these abusers in any way from my watching of his specials. He incorporates these topics by using his own experiences as a way to connect to what these women have gone through, and this is where I draw my only line. You cannot compare the struggle black people have gone through in this country with the abuse that these women are going through in their home and workplaces. Yes, they are problems that need to be addressed, but they are so different in their complexities with society that they cannot be compared as being the same. Sarah Solemani quotes Amy Schumer, ““All women have been a little bit raped” and this is much more serious and urgent matter in the eyes of some. It also diminished the importance of the MeToo Movement because he’s saying that he can understand what they’re going through. No he can’t though. He is a successful man who has never been sexually harassed by a higher up in his life. He has no idea what’s it like to have your dream hang on the balance of giving a handjob or not.

This brings me to the topic of “being brittle” and having “brittle ears” to which I agree with him 100%. As said before, people now are too sensitive. They hear a joke that’s related to them, and they get offended. These jokes are not means to hurt you individually, if anything they are just playing on the stereotypes that everyone already knows. Chappelle also talks about being brittle and the woman who gave up her comedy dream because Louis C.K. took advantage of her, and I agree with Chappelle that she did have a “brittle dream.” To just give up on your passion like that because of one asshole trying to take advantage of you, that’s called giving up. It doesn’t make it right what Louis C.K. did to her in the slightest, but to lose all sense of your goal is brittle. There is also the question on whether or not these men can continue their work, or if we should appreciate their past work now that we know the true side of them, and Hannah Jane Parkinson poses the question, “if artists we enjoy claim no moral content or purpose to their work: ‘Why can we not enjoy it without worrying whether they were good or bad people?'” I don’t think I have a solid answer for this.

I will say however that there are other instances of sexual abuse that go far beyond masturbation in front of someone, such as Harvey Weinstein pressuring women for sex to get a role, and this is a very serious matter, and I don’t think that Chappelle is defending that in any way.  He jokes about the inappropriateness of these men’s actions saying, “Sounds like a fucking nightmare, can you imagine that shit, can you imagine if you was in a business meeting and a motherfucker PULLED THEIR DICK OUT?!” He’s demonstrating the absolute horror that these women have gone through, and that women will still go through as long as these men are still in charge.

I think that comedy can make fun of everything, that’s why we listen. Jason Zinoman agrees with this on a certain extend saying  that “quoting Steve Martin, is not pretty. But when Mr. Chappelle says some of the sexual assault victims speaking out are now experiencing “buyer’s remorse,” a particularly cruel turn of phrase, this is surely not the funniest thing he can think of.” It’s probably not the funniest thing he could think of, but everyone could understand what he’s trying to say. The point of comedy is to push peoples buttons and make them see the lighter side of life. Chappelle does this very well. Even more so, he doesn’t just go into a bunch of cheap jokes, he gets much more serious in his act, especially when talking about Emmett Till in Equanimity. He doesn’t sugarcoat what happened to that boy, and he says the truth about that woman. If it wasn’t for her lie, who knows what the country would look like now in terms of reaching for racial equality. Yes it is a horrible, unforgivable thing that her lie murdered an innocent boy, but who knows how many lives were changed because of that lie. Then Chappelle follows up his joke with the punchline “then I would kick her in the pussy” and it’s funny. He made us think and take a step back to the realities that are in our history and in our country today, but he still makes us laugh.

Comedians and the #Metoo Movement

The two comedies shows that Dave Chappelle performed in Los Angeles were as to be expected if you have ever seen a show by the comedian. His Jokes were naturally offensive as he touched on many touching subjects in today’s society as the #Metoo movement and sexual misconduct in the film industry. Dave Chappelles jokes were sexist, racist, and downright disturbing; but that’s what we enjoy as people who seek out comedy. Another comedian that has taken a different stance on the subject is Aziz Ansari, In The Aziz Ansari furore isn’t the end of #metoo. It’s just the start. Sarah analyzes his stance on all the new allegations of sexual misconduct that has surfaced in the last few months. Ansari believes that the movement has gone way to far and that men don’t even know what to do or how to act anymore. He says that only a fraction of the people in the film industry have been involved in this sort of behavior and it isn’t fair to men that haven’t practiced this sort of crude behavior. It’s leaving men almost scared to approach a women or “make a move” for fear of being accusing of something horrific. In my personal opinion, I truly don’t believe every single actor that has been accused is guilty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure some of the men that have been involved are guilty, for what they have done they should be punished. But for the people that simply wen’t a little too far but never actually did anything wrong, their lives are ruined. Regardless of accuracy or conviction, accusing someone of something of that magnitude can and will ruin their life. It’s not surprise that almost everything that happens in Holly Wood is recorded in tabloids or other magazines. As soon as an actor is accused of sexual misconduct, the whole world immediately knows, and is their lives are effectively ruined. One person that is guilty in all of the wake of the allegations is Kevin Spacey, one could consider him the spark to the #Metoo movement; a negative spark of course. It’s not news that Kevin Spacey was the lead in House of Cards, but the real question is, can an audience still watch the show without thinking about what he had done. I think that’s totally up to the audience but i do believe people should be more forgiving. Although he did wrong…everyone has done wrong in their life and to totally dismiss the legendary actor maybe an extreme response to what happened. He is ALMOST unemployable but because he’s such a trademark in Hollywood, he is starring in a new movie that might be more fitting for him personally. Harvey Weinstein is another person in Hollywood who has been accused of heinous acts. One of the few that is going to trial and probably serve time for what he has done. Dave Chappelle brings up both Spacey and Weinstein in his bit and allows for a bit of comedic relief when talking about them. He incorporates these prominent people in hollywood by completely making a joke out of them, attempting to be as ruthless as possible. Chappelle continuously uses harsh language, and sensitive topics to become closer with his audience…which he is very successful for. He also brings up the touching subject of Transgender people. As he brings this up he makes fun of himself for dancing with one for a while and not realizing it. His different voices make it an interesting show. I think Dave’s view on these subjects makes for a more open conversation about the aforementioned controversies. As he makes them more humorous he allows people to lighten up and take things less seriously. Which in my opinion, many people need to do. Relax.

Netflix “Comedy”

The two comedy shows that were assigned for this week, The Bird Revelation and Equanimity were very interesting and not like anything I have really watched before. I know that many comedy shows are typically insulting people and that is how they get their laughs but I feel like this one was really offensive. They did not do a great job at still respecting the issues that are current, they just insulted them with no backup. These shows were performed by Dave Chappelle, as his language was very controversial in both shows. He talked about women and how the actors were assaulting them and just how simple it was to walk away when in reality it is more complicated than that.

Unfortunately, it seems like comedy is no longer aiming to be funny rather it is just insulting. While Dave Chappelle is very successful and he is always making many laughs, his material should be changed. I did not think that his shows were funny. When all people can talk about is politics or the drama going on in the media, I feel like it is insulting. There are so many youtube skits under comedy that are just talking about everyday things or making fun of themselves that are actually funny. Drawing back to the sexual abuse victims that he told ‘jokes’ about. I can only imagine some of the people watching that who simply have to turn it off because they have experienced something similar to that. I just think that he needs to rethink his ‘jokes’ before making them public. In many cases, viewers will repeat what the comedian says to their friends or on social media, this creates a ripple effect. Then they turn into the bad guy by making fun of a sensitive subject to most. In a lot of cases, I think that he makes these types of jokes because it is something that everyone is able to relate to. Dave Chappelle tells America that we are too fragile and that being so sensitive will get us nowhere. As I personally agree with that and know that comedy is there to be laughed at, I think that he goes too far sometimes. But when you think about if sexual assault is a sensitive topic, then isn’t abortion, race, sexuality the list can go on and on. So when does the line stop? This blog post really made me think about these things and I came to the conclusion that, most of those topics are things you can choose. You can choose to have an abortion, can choose your sexuality so on… and I think that sexual assault is very controversial because it is not something you are able to choose. Although this is a bold statement to be made by myself, I think that it is something that is true and that I believe.

Netflix involving the #MeToo movement is something that was a great step forward for them. After the sexual assault involving Kevin Spacey, who made it very public was when the movement started. When house of cards stopped airing and a huge uproar began, it showed that Netflix was standing behind something greater. They were standing behind the public eye and not just their income. By respecting this movement, it did not help the company financially at first, but after a while, it was the best thing that they did. Having support from many viewers in these times of crisis will keep the loyalty. Personally, I was very upset when this happened as I loved that show. But after all of the media came out it was hard to make the distinction between the actor and the person. I know that I stood behind their decision as it was one that promoted Netflix for the better.

 

Controversy in Netflix Comedy

After watching two of the comedy shows performed by Dave Chappelle, The Bird Revelation and Equanimity, I felt pretty offended. I think what made it worse too, was that Chappelle stated how easily people get offended these days, as if current issues featured in the media weren’t already difficult to talk about, he had to disrespect everyone who doesn’t take controversial issues lightly. From the shows, I got the feeling that Chappelle was advocating using language and upholding ideas that are just wrong. For example, in his show, The Bird Revelation, he talks about how the women who were assaulted by famous actors could have just walked away, said no, or hung up the phone, when in reality, assault, and all the things leading up to assault are much more complicated that what Chappelle makes them out to be.

Chappelle’s show was not funny. He didn’t make many jokes that were relatable to people; instead, he simply put down and made fun of individuals who may have experienced horrific acts of violence. He also shames members of the LGBTQ community and doesn’t care how this reflects on himself.  He even goes so far as to acknowledge that the LGBTQ community actually really dislikes him.  I don’t blame them for it either, I think Chappelle is undermining the progress the LGBTQ community has made for themselves.  In Jamie Loftus’ article, Dave Chappelle Can’t Shock Jock His Way Out of the #MeToo Movement, he references a quote of Chappelle’s: “Everything is funny until it happens to you” as his opener to the show on Netflix.  I felt that he was using this as a way to justify his “jokes” and soften the blow of offending people. This is not appropriate for any topic revolving around assault.  Even if Chappelle was trying to start a conversation about the issues at hand surrounding the alleged assaults by famous actors in Hollywood, he was not doing so with class or in a way that was affective at all.  I got the sense that he was endorsing the archaic view that it is the woman’s fault she was assaulted, like when he said “you could have just waked away.” In Jason Zinoman’s article, Dave Chappelle Stumbles into the #MeToo Movement, he agrees that the assaults by men in Hollywood are belittled be Chappelle. I believe this could be potentially dangerous to women and victims because Chappelle does not use his influence to support better treatment of women, instead, he just makes a joke.

In her article, Kevin Spacey Deserves to be Scorned, But Can I Still Watch House of Cards?, Hanna Parkinsons talks about how it is easy to separate art from the artist.  I think this is true in many mediums, like paintings, but in standup comedy, I think it is more difficult.  In art works like paintings, I think that their meanings are often ambiguous, which allows the viewer to come to their own interpretations and emotional responses to the piece, whereas in comedy, I would assume that the comedian is being very representative of how he or she sees the world around him or her and it’s not up for interpretation.  In Dave Chappelle’s Netflix Special, he talks about other famous actor’s behavior and doesn’t condemn it, which I feel is very inappropriate.  I am surprised that even though Netflix fired two actors from successful shows, they still put Dave Chappelle’s show up for viewers to watch.  Is there any hint of hypocrisy in this?

 

Was That Supposed To Be Funny…

Comedy is hard. I know for a fact, if someone asked me to write an hour long standup sketch to present to thousands of people in an audience, I would have one hell of a time doing it. There are so many small quirks you must keep in mind before you can go out there.  If you want to be a successful comedian, you must present material that is unique and that has not been used before. This must be extremely difficult in the era we live in where everything someone says is being recorded and posted on the internet. You must present your sketch in a manner that is attractive to the audience. What I mean by that, you simply cannot go out there and read some jokes off a note card. You should be an entertainer and that takes a respectable amount of talent. There are many more traits needed to be a good comedian, but the last one I will talk about is sensitivity. Of course, I do not expect a comedian to be sensitive to material because let’s be honest, we find comedians so hilarious because they are able to say the brutal things we are not. I have seen comedians make humor out of everything from telling their fans to kill themselves, to making fun of rape victims. We are constantly exposed to the gruesome truth behind crime in America and Dave Chappelle makes humor out of it in his special.

Dave Chappelle claims that America is “too brittle” and I couldn’t agree more with him. What he means by this, is we are constantly walking on eggshells because we are always offending someone for something being said or done. A majority of our nation is so sensitive and caught up in their old ways, they cannot be told something that goes against their personal points of views. Rewind back to the Presidential Election 8 months ago and look throughout our college campus, seeing grown up adults crying because the candidate they voted for didn’t win the election. We are “too brittle” but that doesn’t mean some of the things Chappelle says do not cross lines. As talked about in the article Dave Chappelle Stumbles Into the #MeToo Moment by the New York Times, I found it hard to find humor when he was talking about the rape victims and how they would not have declared it rape if it would have been from a handsome man like Brad Pitt. Many of people’s lives were ruined because of these sexual harassment situations and there shouldn’t be room to joke about it.

I understand that Dave Chappelle is a comedian, and he is a very successful comedian who is going to fill every seat of just about any venue out there today, so he needs to make sure he has material to make those fans who showed up happy. I just simply did not find much of the humor funny. He went complained about politics just about the whole time and the joke he planted early in the episode and closed with at the end seemed so forced; it was cornier than the jokes in a 1990s Sit Com. The truth behind it is, he should not have made jokes about the sexual abuse victims. I can only imagine how many victims watched his special looking forward to a hilarious comedy, and were blind sighted by the horrible experiences that had happened to them in the past. This is something they have to live with every day and I could only imagine how upsetting it must be to have jokes made of their situation.

As far as Netflix trying to conform to the #MeToo movement, I find that they are doing a good job. It all started with them firing Kevin Spacey after his alleged sexual assault was brought into the eye of the public. Even though House of Cards was one of their top shows that had millions of users in love with it, they simply could not continue the show and it provided a great message that Netflix was not going to around and not do anything about it. Even though they lost a lot of money by not continuing the show, they did the honorable choice of cancelling it and I respect them for the bold move.

Jake

What Makes a Show Develop Dedicated Fans?

Shows like Stanger Things, Black Mirror, and The Punisher are all incredibly unique, potent, and immersive. All of these shows have die hard fans and it’s no surprise. Black Mirror for example caters to thinkers who dream about where the future may lead us and it fills a gap in the entertainment industry where Twilight Zone once resided. I’m a huge fan of the show myself because of it’s incredible writing and close to reality plots. I’m a computer science major who’s working on a glider drone that can use image recognition to spot people and plot their gps coordinates on a map all autonomously so I realize how close we actually are to robotic militarized dogs. It’s completely feasible even right now. So when a show taps into this kind of futuristic subject matter and does a good job of it, I’m very intrigued.

Stranger Things is a popular show with millions of fans for very different reasons. It is reminiscent to 80’s Stephen King films and deals with science fiction in a very fun way. The show is simply very likable and intriguing with it’s vibrant child actors and mystery. It’s also a very unique show (much like the others mentioned) and stands alone among countless other Netflix shows with virtually no overlap. When a show’s universe is this distinct and well thought out, it tends to naturally attract a lot of fans because people want to tap into these worlds and escape into them by watching the show or movie and by reading the fan fiction. Good examples of well realized distinct worlds are those of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars. Stranger Things’ universe isn’t as far fetched as the others mentioned, but it feels well defined due to it’s retro aesthetic and unique cast of monsters (oh and the upside down).

The Punisher is an interesting one because the guy is an example of a realistic super hero. Realistic meaning he’s just a normal guy with military training who actually has the personality you’d expect someone to have when all they do is kill. He is the superhero for grown men who enjoy military related things and violence. He doesn’t have cheesy pick up lines, he’s very relatable, and the action scenes in the show are full of carnage. In one episode, he clears out a room full of bad guys by going on a shooting rampage. This is reminiscent to ancient warriors like Spartans holding off 20 men single handedly with a sword. Many guys are drawn to this archetype of a mighty warrior because 2000 years ago, their ancestor’s probably were just that. It takes a long time for traces of this mentality to leave a gene pool if they ever do seeing how some men still fight wars generation to generation.

I like people who are hardcore fans of shows, movies, and even video games because these people show that they have a lot of passion for what they’re into. They do and watch what makes them happy and will even dress up as their favorite characters at Comicon. I see no issue with this except for when it completely takes over a person’s life and renders them useless to society (but this rarely is ever the case). In the USS Callister episode of Black Mirror, I don’t think it is about being an obsessive fan of something, but rather about the dangerous mentalities a person can have. In this case, the guy was kind of a pushover with a number of behavioral problems who let out his frustration in the form of being a glorious leader in a fantasy world. The guy knew that his crew was conscious and terrified of their leader, but he rolled with it because he was such a frustrated and dysfunctional person in secret. To say it is about toxic masculinity isn’t quiet accurate because in this man’s case things were much more complicated. Toxic masculinity is only a part of what’s going on here. Only Black Mirror can explore such weird and dark behavior in a person, and it leads to some thought provoking and impressive television.

Thin Line Between Fandom and Obsessive

Fandom is something that goes beyond just enjoying a show. It gives a whole new meaning to being a fan of something. When I think of Fandoms, I think of my friends and their obsession with the Harry Potter films. They were constantly asking me questions like “What House are you a part of and what is your horcrux?” The hell if know was typically my response and then they would walk me through this website called Pottermore which apparently had all these quizzes and explanations of everyone’s characters and personalities. I am not here to judge and I have had my fair share of weird nerdy stuff in my life, but this seemed like a whole new level, and I honestly enjoyed it. It was a way for people to connect on a higher level other than just watching these movies. They were able to relate to other fans as well as the show in a greater depth and I enjoyed it. Its almost like a convention like Comic Con. They are massive events that bring together people of same interest to share experiences and to enjoy the company of others who are passionate about things like themselves. In my opinion, these social gatherings are great for each other. Having the opportunity to share a common interest with someone else, no matter what it is, is a great experience and allows you to build friendships.

 

For this week’s viewings, I decided to watching End of the World, Stranger Things, and Black Mirror and while watching these shows, it became obvious why each one could have a significant following. With End of the World, I feel like the following is for many different types of people. I think it could be for a younger generation who feels misunderstood, and feels that others do not understand the problems they are going through. For me personally, I found it quite hilarious to see Alyssa being blatantly rude and outrageous to people she did not even know. I would be lying if I said I was not dying when someone would ask her a simple question and she would reply with a sarcastic answer scattered with various curse words.

 

The episode of Black Mirror I watched reminded me of older Star Trek shows and the fan base for that show is one of the largest and oldest fan bases out there today. You will find these fans all over the world and they have no issue showing their support for the show. They appear at conventions all over and represent one of the most popular shows of all time.  I have not watched any other episodes of Black Mirror besides this episode but what I have heard from others, the show pretty much blows your mind ever single episode.

 

Stranger Things happens to be one of my favorite shows, and in the show, there are many different concepts that could attract groups of people. The first of which is the geekiness of the kids throughout the show. They are a part of the AV club, they constantly reference games, and my personal favorite, they play Dungeons and Dragons which I love. Alongside the geekiness of the show, there are essentially aliens in the show which could attract another audience and then finally the 1980’s themes to the show could bring in more people.

 

The USS Callister episode shows an example of extreme fandom. Obviously this is a fictional show and cloning people in a video game is not possible, but it represents when someone takes their fandom too far. For me personally, I am a huge Game of Thrones fan, and a big Lord of the Rings/Hobbit fan. I absolutely love the stories of each and the Medieval era shows always attract me but you will never see me get too involved into these. I am also a huge video game geek and love D&D but the most you will see out of me as far as fandom goes is maybe a Comic Con or Renaissance Festival appearance.

Jake

What Causes a Fandom?

Fandoms are all around us. The two most popular ones that come to the top of my head are Star Wars and Harry Potter. I actually don’t think there are any greater fandoms than these two. I’m sure why these particular movies have created such a culture within themselves because I personally haven’t seen them in a very long time because I didn’t like them. However, I’m not a huge science fiction fan. Whenever I tell people I’m not a fan of either of these franchises I always get a surprised gasp and wide eyes starring back at me. Out of everyone I have met my best friend is the only other person I know why also isn’t a big fan of either.

After watching Stranger Things, The Black Mirror (the USS Callister), and The End of the F****** World I can see why these shows would create such a fandom. Stranger Things has already created quite the fan base because it has been out for a little while now. I remember when it first came out and every one super excited about it and no one was let down. It’s set in the 80’s which makes it more retro and interesting to the modern audience. I know I found it more interesting because of that feature. I wasn’t a huge fan of the show, but again, not a fan of science fiction. After reading Dee Lockett”s article, I was extremely shocked! I had no idea that people get so caught up in the characters and actually harass them even if they’re children. I knew this happened with celebrities as themselves, but not the other way around. In the beginning of the article Lockett gives the example of fans not being able to separate Eleven and Mike from their real selves and were harassing them because they wanted to see a  romance bloom between them like it did between their characters.

Black Mirror was really interesting. I’ve never seen an episode of the series, but knew it was pretty popular and that it was about technology. IT was a really interesting episode because to me having that kind of technology doesn’t seem that far away. I’m not sure if it would be accessible to the public right away, but I could see the rich having it. I could especially see the wealthy taking people’s DNA and putting them in their own game to control. It’s easy to see why a fandom would begin because this episode in particular id very familiar to Star Trek which is another show that has a fandom that rivals with the Star Wars fandom. I also think a lot of people could relate to Daily. He’s treated very poorly in the real world, so he creates a game where he is in control and is able to have copies from people in the real world to control. He gets power hungry and even though at first it seems like the crew loves him he’s actually really mean. Jenna Scherer talks about how this is not a shocking story line and it’s one that quite often acquires a fandom.

The End of the F****** World is actually a really good show! I really enjoyed it even though I still yet have to finish it. I thought it was interesting how the story was from both perspectives. I really Alyssa because she was so different than how females usually act in the media. She was just very blunt and acted so sure of everything even though she hardly ever was. James was also interesting because he wanted to kill someone then he did and found out that he wasn’t a psychopath because he didn’t enjoy it. I wonder if he would have if he hadn’t met Alyssa because she’s the reason he started to feel things. I’m not sure if the show is big enough to create such a big fan base of crazy fans. I haven’t even heard of it until this class. I’m sure there are some crazy fans out there that might try to follow James footsteps and plan out a murder, but it’s also a long shot.

All three of these shows were very interesting. Some were better than others, but I can see how Stranger Things and The Black Mirror could create crazy fandoms. As for myself, I wouldn’t say I’m involved in any fandoms. I enjoy certain shows, but I don’t have posters on my walls, or go to events specified for people who love that specific show. I think it’s so crazy that people get so involved and invested in shows and with characters that they dedicate their lives to it!

Fandom at its Finest

After watching the first episode of Black Mirror and Stranger Things, it’s not hard to imagine how these TV series’ have a die hard fan base. Black Mirror is a contemporary reworking of The Twilight Zone; following unrelated stories that tap into the modern technological world and what it has the potential to do. Due to the fiction aspect and investigating the “unknown”, this genre of show has a large fan base. Many Fan-fiction aficionados enjoy the aspect of a show where much of the plot and setting is realistic but there is a significant twist or change in the story that clearly classifies it as fiction, whether it be space ship battles, dragons, or in USS Callister case, a video game where you can integrate real people into it. The appeal that this brings to many fans is that it is easy to put yourself in the characters’ shoes, leaving the show up to your imagination. In regards to taking fandom to the next step, USS Callister makes it a bit easier to do. The unique Star Trek like costumes within the game allow the viewer to emulate their favorite character. Another show that has a large fan base is The End of the F**king World, based on a comic book series by Charles Forsman. The show follows to estranged children as they run away from their homes. Alyssa, is in love with James, part of the reason why she runs away. James has other ideas. He has graduated from killing small animals and has decided he wants to kill a person, Alyssa. As they run off together James begins to have feelings with Alyssa and thus begins a budding relationship. This series is a bit harder to have a hard core fan base but their definitely is one. I say its difficult because unlike Black Mirror, there are no costumes and a lack of characters to dress up as and look up to. Due to this, it’s not as exciting or fun to be a die hard fan. There are many different conventions and parades that people can go to in order to show demonstrate their passion. I think Fandom is a perfectly normal thing that various different people should involve themselves in. I personally do feel it is progressive or regressive. I simply see it as a past time, a leisure if you will. Every person has something they like to do whether it be golfing, fishing, going out to eat, literally whatever you want outside of work. This is how I view fandom. It’s a sort of cultural engagement that is not harmful to anyone and the people that believe it’s regressive don’t understand how people think and view themselves, an important thing to consider when analyzing human tendencies. Part of the reason of Black Mirror’s toxic fandom because of the plot of the USS Callister episode where the main character is a while male, who happens to be sitting on a captains space ship seat. I believe this sort of toxicity is completely unnecessary. I think it is related to masculinity because it is indeed about a sexism and who the stars should be. This sort of toxicity is deranged and brought up only by extremists who’s view on society are skewed and biased. To be quite honest, although I advocate for people to be hard core fans, I have never been one myself.

When Fandoms Become too Much

I myself have been involved in the fandom culture in some shape or form like so many people. I like looking up the lore behind world such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, and I like watching Marvel movies and I take pride in knowing a lot about the MCU and its characters. I have even gone to Denver Comic Con for the past 4 years and enjoy buying merchandise and meeting the celebrities that come there to sign autographs.

Watching Stranger Things, Black Mirror, and End of the F*****g World, it’s easy to understand how all of these shows can gather such a cult following. Something that stood out in all of them was the sense of nostalgia. For Stranger Things it relied heavily on popular culture from the 80s. It reminds older audiences of their memories of growing up then, or it remindes other generations about classic Steven Spielberg films such as E.T.  For the episode of Black Mirror it was the same effect with the clone of Star Trek in the episode called “Star Fleet.” It reminds audiences of the times they spent watching the show growing up, and it brings back a sense of fandom in almost all of us, even if we have never seen Star Trek like myself. EOTFW has a similar feel of nostalgia even though it is based of the present time because there is a “hipster” tone to the entire series that makes the clothes they wear, the places they go to, all seem so familiar.

Another reason as to why people gravitate towards these shows and create cult fan followings is because of the character development that occurs in all of them. With Stranger Things the audience is entirely within the group of the young boys. We grow to learn their personalities and relationships towards each other. If two characters seem especially close such as Eleven and Mike, then the fanbase will most likely “ship” them together, which means that they want the characters to be together romantically. This can happen with straight or queer couples. It becomes a problem however when the fanbase starts shipping the actors of the characters with each other, crossing the line between fiction and reality. Dee Lockett explains this in her article about Finn Wolfhard who plays Mike in Stranger Things. He had to publicly call attention to the inappropriateness of shipping himself with his coworkers, saying that it was inappropriate and “ridiculous.” The stars of EOTFW also have this issue when it comes to shipping because people (including me) were rooting for the characters of James and Alyssa to finally start liking each other and get together. However, it comes to no surprise that fans also started rooting for the actors Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden to get together in real life as well.

What is it about these shows and characters that make fans want to go “beyond the text?” Like said previously, it has to do with the character development that we experience when watching these shows. In Star Trek we come to know the characters strengths and weaknesses throughout the years of the shows running, and it makes us feel like we know them personally. This could be why Daly in Black Mirror wanted his victims to act like the characters he’s known from the show so intensely. We also see the characters change over time and this makes audiences cling closer to the characters still because we can see firsthand the journey they went through such as watching James think he’s a psychopath at the beginning of the series to coming to the conclusion that he’s not a psychopath at all. Another reason that viewers go beyond the text is because these worlds are so vast and the relationships become so complex that it is easy to try to create more content that fits into this world through fan fiction. Daly’s world in Black Mirror is like a super advanced fan fiction story because everything in his world fits his favorite TV show, yet he is making it his own and is creating new storylines that best fit him personally. If the show has an ending that is not the desired one fans are looking for such as the end of EOTFW which is left ambiguous, fans can create an ending that best suits what they desire.

My general view of fandom’s is positive if people explore it in appropriate ways. Going to Comic Con for example and cosplaying as your favorite character and buying posters and meeting celebrities in this atmosphere is appropriate and it is a lot of fun as well because other fandoms collide and you get to meet new people who love the same things as you do. It becomes a problem however when fans start stalking actors or creators of their favorite TV show or movie. It becomes a problem when older people start “creeping” on younger actors such as Finn Wolfhard or Millie Bobby Brown. It also becomes a problem when your fandom starts encompassing every aspect of your life and it becomes a literal addiction. Spending too much time on the internet focusing on a fandom is unhealthy and it alienates friends and family because they cannot relate to your fandom as intensely as you can. There is a time and a place to love and express your passions in a healthy and creative way. I think that Black Mirror demonstrates this idea of “toxic fandom” in a very provocative and elegant way. We have Daly who is an outcast in reality, but is a “god” in his own personal world. Instead of trying to communicate and make good impressions with his co-workers, he recedes into this office or in his home and is always immersed in his own world. Toxic fandom as I have said previously is when a person doesn’t communicate with friends, family, or the outside world if they can. They are completely immersed in their fandom world. This makes you look like an outcast, and for Daly his negative emotions about being an outcast push him further into this world. There needs to be a line between reality and fiction, and once a person can’t distinguish from the two or prefers fiction this is when toxic fandom takes place.

When it comes to my own “hardcore” fandoms I love The Lord of the Rings, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Mad Max. I have posters of all these things in my house and have met actors from these movies at Comic Con. I enjoy the lore and storytelling. I love to communicate with people that also enjoy these things, but I know when it’s appropriate to express my inner nerd, and when it’s not. I have been self-conscious about my love for these things at times because sometimes I want to wear a Marvel shirt or talk about things from The Lord of the Rings but I am worried that people might judge me for being a “geek” or a “nerd.” Being a fan of the MCU, I can definitely see myself as becoming a fan of all the Netflix Marvel shows. I just haven’t had the time to actually watch them.