Don't Break My Fandom

Can someone fix comic book fandom? It keeps breaking in the same way, over and over again. It'll work fine for a few weeks, and then some knucklehead will say something completely misinformed and mean-spirited and ruin the fandom for everyone! If this keeps up, I'm going to just throw this fandom away and get a new one, one that won't break. Do people get super mad about Beanie Babies? Maybe I'll check on that...

If you were lucky enough to have better things to do yesterday, then you missed the most recent case of old-man-complaining-about-girls-liking-comics-itis. It's actually disgusting how often this disease pops up. Hey, human males -- it's 2012. Maybe take a chill pill (and get over your thousands of years of privilege, duh). I'm not going to go into a point-by-point rebuttal of the original piece, because many people did it quicker and much more efficiently than I would have (because I like to use parentheticals to draw out ideas...). Just Google "Tony Harris" and "cosplay" and prepare your face for a whole lotta face-palming. Looking at the whole thing, I'm really just exasperated. And baffled.

It baffles me that some people still think it's okay to treat other humans as less-than. It baffles me that some people think it's not only okay, but necessary to police other people's happiness. It baffles me that professionals in an industry as known for its shrinking sales as it is are turning away over half of the money-having population. For everyone's sake, human males, cut it out.

I want my comic fandom to be a happy place, full of cool fan-art and well-written reviews, of detail-rrific cosplay and amusing podcasts. I swear, we have enough positivity to fuel us for eighty trips to the Shi'ar galaxy and back. We're all set on vitriol, thanks. And this shouldn't even be a request that gets made. We read comics. We love comics! We think comics are the pinnacle of human entertainment, filled with rich narratives and complex characterization! We know how smart you have to be to love comics! We are those smart people, and I feel like we should all be on the same page about things as simple as human decency.

Add "that a comic professional can be devoid of that inner voice" to my earlier list of bafflements.

You've been in the business for decades, man! You, yourself, claim to not be misogynist! Did the inner voice that's been policing your brain for misogynistic thoughts take a nap? Was it too caught up watching whatever the inside-a-human-head equivalent of "Breaking Bad" is?

It sucks being labeled a misogynist or a racist or a homophobe. Everyone has in his or her head a picture of a stereotypical person of hate, and I'd imagine it's very rare that those pictures look like what they see in the mirror. To me, the surest sign of being any of the aforementioned breeds of bigot is unwillingness to change. Unwillingness to accept that a lot of people calling you a misogynist may have a kernel of truth is the first sign that you are one. A key aspect of bigotry is cutting yourself off from other viewpoints and labeling them as wrong, based on a gut reaction and blind dismissal of facts You label every female cosplayer an imposter and a virgin-manipulating predator, then cut yourself off from the following dialogue that proves that notion ridiculously wrong. That's the harm. This is saying, "Two plus two is five, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a stupid, tyrannical pervert!" and then sticking by your guns when every human being alive gets out an abacus. Sorry, man, but your guns are wrong.

Last week, I talked about why I love comics, and I want to do more of that. I want to stop feeling compelled to respond to hateful screeds against my fellow comic book fan (because cosplayers are that and then some, people). I want to devote an entire article about how Maggott is the most under-appreciated X-Man (get ready, because it's coming!). I want to gush about comics in this column and dive deep into the minutiae of the industry, clinging to the things that matter and discarding the detritus that keeps us weighed down. Comics are awesome and this fandom is awesome. We don't need anyone telling us otherwise.

In response to all of this, Gail Simone had the exact right attitude: she turned all this inanity into positivity by declaring yesterday Cosplay Appreciation Day. This led to my Twitter and Tumblr feeds being filled with comic book fans enjoying their hobby and showing off their craft. Cosplay is art. It's provocative, it's goofy, it's fun, it's funny, it's comics. I welcome that, and I send a lot of Internet praise to Gail Simone and everyone else that turned an inciting incident to an exciting one. That act right there is why comic book fandom isn't one to trade in, it's one to keep.

Brett White is a comedian living in New York City. He co-hosts the podcast Matt & Brett Love Comics and is a writer for the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre show Left Handed Radio: The Sequel Machine. His opinions can be consumed in bite-sized morsels on Twitter (@brettwhite).

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