Write Fan Fiction, Not Petitions

The spark that lit the fire of this article was a petition by Walking Dead fans to bring back Beth after she was dispatched rather suddenly in the mid-season finale. In searching for further petitions to bitch about I saw a lot of evidence that many people don’t understand what petitions are.

They are not for thanking people or showing support. The are specifically for seeking changes and demanding action. They are an attempt by the many to impose their will on the powerful few when the powerful few look unlikely to take action themselves. They are pleas for change, and they are rarely appropriate for fans to issue to creators. (And of course the weaksucks at AMC are considering making it all a dream. The coppiest of cop outs.)


Thor Shouldn’t Be a Woman!

I stewed about this one for awhile. I could easily draw on a wellspring of personal bile, but instead I’m going to challenge this tripe statement by silly statement. I will also only once say, “C’mon guys? You didn’t give this grammar a second look?

“And, that trying to feminize Thor into a woman, will cost his company money. And make familiar patrons of his movies disgruntled.”

Shhhh, shhhh, this is like that weird creature in front of you at the grocery store screaming that it will talk to the manager and get you fired because you won’t except their stack of expired coupons. I’ve worked plenty of years in customer service, and do you know how many people have ever been fired for that shit? Zero. Believing that your personal feelings are somehow universal and powerful all on their own is folly.

You are clearly out of touch with the current comics community. Women are carving out places as creators and consumers and actively asking for and creating characters that speak to and represent them. Companies are making strides to meet these demands. Your sanctimonious declarations about the company’s bottom line are based entirely on the echoing thoughts inside your own head.

The grand total of less than 700 signatures between two petitions say that I’m correct.

“This comic will only serve to invalidate an already highly misunderstood minority religious group, because it is hard to find religious acceptance within society when everyone puts your God in the same category as the cartoons “Ironman”, & “the Hulk.””

That’s because Thor is a comic book character, guys. He isn’t meant to represent your god. I imagine that it’s frustrating for that to be the only reference point many people have to your faith, but literally nobody in the entire world thinks that you worship comic book Thor. When you choose to be part of an extremely marginalized religion you are going to have to do more explaining than the average Christian. I am sorry, that’s just the way it is. Seriously, we can all tell the difference between a comic book character and a religious figure. You might have to explain what you actually believe, but nobody thinks you worship Hulk’s pal.

Nobody owes you a faithful representation across every medium because they aren’t representing your Thor. Every other religion in the world deals with ignorant or subversive representations of their religious figures. The big, fat, smiling guy whose belly you rub for good luck? Yeah, that’s not(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budai) the Buddha(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gautama_Buddha). How much do you really know about any other religion? Probably not much. Probably a lot of that isn’t true. If anything you’re coming out ahead because nobody takes this as a serious representation of your faith.

“Effeminizing the Heathen God Thor is considered one of the gravest  insults (fullréttisorð) directed towards the modern Heathen community. ‘Thor’ is the plagiarized version of a deity, whose followers happen to be against calling Thor “ergi” or “unmanly”.”

This is just sexist, and I’m tired of explaining to bigots that they’re being bigots. Respecting your belief in fairies and one eyed father figures does not trump respecting women in the actual world. Sorry, expanding representation in media trumps your need to control the fate of a character who happens to share a name with one of your gods.

from a Marvel Editor: “…the comics are only inspired by Norse mythology, & they’ve almost never followed the stories line-for-line (& even if they did, mythology suffers from a massive case of The Telephone Game, with lots of different tellings evolving over the years)….

Oh, uh, that’s actually pretty disrespectful. Sorry about that.


Bring Beth Back!The Walking Dead

Here’s a prime example of an entitled audience having no respect for the source material that they claim to be fans of. Being connected to a character, and feeling their loss deeply, is admirable as far as I’m concerned, but not accepting the finality of certain actions is almost always a path to folly. Not only are you disrespecting the creators of the universe you’ve been watching season after season, but you’re disrespecting the universe itself.

Not all television happens in the same universe, and great shows generally happen because there more than just “television.” You don’t shuttle the resurrection technology from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. into The Walking Dead. It breaks the universe, and you have to respect the universe. You might object to the death of a character, but there’s been absolutely zero demonstration of any technology that might bring her back, even as a zombie, which isn’t what anyone wants anyway. There doesn’t seem to be a place for a Lazarus machine in this universe. In fact the juxtaposition of the permanent death of the person with the impermanent death of the body is one of the main sources of horror in the universe. Denying that cheapens and weakens the show as a whole.

Though dozens and hundreds of people work on a show like The Walking Dead, there are a relative few who have creative control and that’s because creative endeavors by committee tend to be boring, bland, middle of the road bullshit. Being a fan of a series, or a particular creator’s work, entails accepting when they’re risks don’t pay off for you. You can dis agree, and wish they didn’t kill Beth or whatever else, but throwing your emotionally motivated voice in the ring and expecting creative control is one of the fastest ways to utterly tank a show.

Here’s a fun quote:

“We will not rest until something is done. This is a war on AMC and The Walking Dead Producers.”

Who exactly is it you believe is making this show?


Bring Back FireflyI!

Okay, here’s a totally reasonable petition asking to bring back Firefly. By signing the petition, buying merchandise and showing support you show that the show still has an audience and that people could make money by bringing it back. There are no demands about plot or characters. They’d just like their show back.

It’s ten years later, so it seems like quite a stretch, and it garnered not nearly enough signatures, but still. It respects the creators and even recognizes what actually gets a show back on the air, which is economics.


Batgirl #37 Gets Smashed For Transphobia

Here’s another example what I think public outcry can and should be used to communicate to creators. There wasn’t a petition exactly, but critical and consumer response was strong and directed. This Buzzfeed article covers things pretty well. The writers, two men on their third issue in the series, had Dagger Type dress up as a woman. This brought a chorus of voices decrying the use of men dressed as women to commit crimes. By portraying the the feminine persona as a disguise the writers essentially erase the idea that being trans is “real.”

“But wait,” you’re all screaming, “isn’t this another case of a marginalized group being misrepresented? Isn’t this just like Thor?” Well, no. Allow me to explain.

This storyline evokes a trope that has frequently been used to erase the existence of “real” trans people. Thor does not actually make an assertion about any religion or group of people. He isn’t meant to, and shouldn’t be contrued as, representing anything.

They are not being sexist douchebags.

The comic represents the group itself, not a symbol or religious figure. It represents the actual group. Thor is a religious symbol or figure, even if he were somehow meant to be representative he wouldn’t be representing the people of faith. Subverting a symbol and undermining a group of people are two separate things to be considered on different levels.

They didn’t ask the creators to change anything. They just expressed their negative feelings towards the narrative choice. They didn’t ask for the issue to be banned or to have it re-written. They didn’t demand that the universe bend to their whims. And their tone, reasoning and respect got them a very nice apology.

If you want to control a show or other creative endeavor write some fan fiction. You have complete freedom to do whatever you want. You can add your own unique twists and turns to a universe you admire. You can cater it to your own whims and wants. You don’t need to own that creativity property in the real world. You can be a fan or a critic of other people’s work, but trying to control it is inappropriate. There may be an exception for turns that encourage harmful behavior (sexism, racism, and etc.), but your personal feelings about narrative structure don’t count.

Again, you can say whatever you want. I’m not saying you aren’t allowed to have an opinion, or to voice that opinion loudly, but expecting creators to change their art for you is crossing the line. It’s not your job, as a fan, to direct the art that you consume. If you want to direct art, create your own art, even if it’s derivative art. Art by committee quickly becomes senseless dreck.

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