As satire has come under attack in recent weeks, we take a moment to wonder when we, as geeks, lost the ability to laugh at ourselves.
Source: The Geek Readers
So after seeing several tweets, blogs and forum posts about The Outhouse/OH! Entertainment being trolls, I decided to join the discussion instead of ignoring it. Most of the time it doesn't register with me at all, but when it's someone whose work you respect (like amy_geek) then I feel you owe it to join in. You see, at OH! we cover a lot of things: Comic Books, TV, Movies, Books, Video Games, Toys and more. We also feature several original webcomic series and work a lot to promote independent comics and creators. Needless to say though, we don't work more hours a week at this geek site than most of us do at our regular jobs just so we can troll a subject. We do it because we love the things we right about.
In addition to all of the standard coverage we do for all of these various subjects, we also do satirical news stories of the generic press releases we receive from companies as well as the comedy and satire featured in some of our webcomic strips.
One thing I've noticed is that it's all fun and games until you make fun of something that's too close to home. Nobody cares if you make fun of "Bronies", except for the Bronies of course and they don't just get irritated, they get furious. That's just an example, it really applies to "Browncoats", Stephanie Brown Fans, Twilight Fans, etc. But no fan-group is as fanatical than when it's something that society gives you permission to be outraged about and those are things concerning gender, sexual preference, race, or religion. If you dare say anything snarky in jest about any of these groups, the wrath is relentless, the self-righteousness endless and the mob mentality limitless.
Personally I think it's a sad state of affairs that we can't joke around with each other. Anyone can take a look at our website and tell we are fans of all things geek, huge fans. We aren't the bullies from high school picking on you for being a nerd, we are the nerds and all we're doing is joking around with our fellow geeks. We are poking fun at ourselves when we make fun of these groups, because our website is made up of men and women, gay and straight, black, white and everything else; we are bronies, browncoats, Steph fans, Whedon fanatics, DC fanboys, Marvel maniacs, Trekkies, Star Wars fanboys and more. On our forums we have all the crazy nerd arguments about which superhero can beat up who or why this superhero movie isn't any good because it's not how we envisioned it our whole lives. God forbid we show the world that we have the ability to laugh at ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously. I don't know about you, but my friends and I - we joke around and pick on each other all the time. If you can't deal with that in your circle, then I feel for you.
I think some may nod in agreement with the basics of my argument, at first. But for some reason, when it's "your" circle, it's just too much. Take a look at the above comic and tell me if you honestly take it as a serious viewpoint. If you don't find it funny, fine; but how can anyone think it's a serious statement about how an entire website thinks. Do you really believe that someone took a fairly generic, old joke that we've all heard a million times (i.e. women are crazy on their periods) and took that as a legitimate stance? No group of fans should be that defensive. And to try and take the position that your group deserves special treatment and is above being joked about is insulting to pretty much everyone else in the world not in your group. Certainly, I don't find all of these pieces funny myself, but that doesn't mean I don't understand their true intention. It also doesn't mean that just because I don't think it's funny that it suddenly gets classified as hate.
I grew up when it wasn't cool to be a geek or a nerd and took my share of crap in school for being the chubby, socially awkward boy with braces who played Dungeons & Dragons and read comic-books. Looking at my own kids today, it's a good time to be a geek, it's even cool. It's not the jocks and punks you have to worry about now, it's your fellow geek. Groups are getting so defensive about their own subject matter that they in turn are becoming the bullies when anyone dares cross them. They are the ones ganging up on people they decide they don't like and calling them names like racist, sexist, trolls, haters whether they are those things or not just to sling an attack at them; or tossing insults about "virgin men in their mom's basements" (to bring up one of the most popular geek stereotypes still used). But I've run into some pretty crappy people through my life that are deserving of dislike: I've met real racists and sexists, I've come across real 'net trolls - those labels aren't something that should be thrown around if you hope to have a serious discussion.
We all need to quit taking ourselves so seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself, it helps, trust me - that advice got me through a lot of tough times when I was younger. If someone wants to have a serious discussion with you or truly insult you, then by all means - defend and discuss. I don't think anyone should ignore legitimate hatred. But if it's a crazy joke then laugh or don't and move on. Save your hatred for something that deserves it. Those making fun of a stereotype did not invent it, nor are they perpetuating it. Don't confuse the people laughing at the ridiculousness of something with the people that nod in agreement because they don't even have the ability to see how crazy it is.
Written or Contributed by Jeremy Shane
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