Joli Jenson who wrote “Fandom as Pathology: The Consequences of Characterization” once said that “fans” come in two types: the obsessed individual and the hysterical crowd. In order to understand my following viewpoint regarding John Mills blog post found here, we must first differentiate the two types of Jenson’s described fandoms.
Obsessed Individual: The obsessed loner invokes the image of the alienated, atomized ‘mass man’.
Hysterical Crowd: The frenzied crowd member invokes the image of the vulnerable, irrational victim of mass persuasion.
These descriptions are by no means flattering for either party. You might be reading this and thinking, “This doesn’t describe me! I’m not obsessed or hysterical. I’m just a fan.” While this might be true, we need to remember where the word “fan” comes from.
Fanatic: A person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause.
Think of the current political and religious climate and how those extremists are viewed in the public eye. Now I want you to think about a non-fan or someone not obsessed with pop culture like the person writing and reading this. Look upon our world, our habits, and our opinions through their eyes. If you’re truly able to do that you might be able to see the faintest hint of zealous extremism.
Husband, father, brother, son, hard worker, and now beloved ex-friend, John Mills would have you believe that “The Obsessed Individual” should pity the “Hysterical Crowd.” Mr. Mills believes that there is a hierarchy to fandom that involves the Obsessed Individual on the top and the Hysterical Crowd underneath. This is extremely reminiscent of the days of Caesar where the rulers were on top and instead of governing and educating the masses they showed big budget movies-I mean gladiator games, to distract the crowd from becoming restless thus being able to ignore them almost completely. Unlike my ex-friend and colleague, I do not believe in a fandom hierarchy. But one thing I do believe in is informed opinion.
Mr. Mills wrote “A Rebuttal to The Senate Floor Regarding Deathstroke.” Right from the beginning you can see his lack of imagination just from the title. In this article, he has a problem with my stance on having an informed opinion. This anti-informed opinion stance held by Mr. Mills is specifically with my response to the negative fan reaction of the announcement of a live action Deathstroke. The irony might be lost on Mr. Mills, but it is not lost on me in regard to his negative reaction to my negative reaction of negative reactions.
In the article he goes on to describe my opinion as “dangerous presumptions” that “poison almost all online debate.” Strong words, but inherently incorrect. The idea of encouraging ignorant behavior and discouraging research before an opinion is formed is the notion that will not help public discourse. Mr. Mills does start to backpedal and explain that we should be “politely educating them instead of bemoaning and berating.” Do I agree that we should educate and not berate? Yes and no. If Mr. Mills took my advice of doing research before forming an opinion, he would have found that I did in fact politely inform people of the history of Deathstroke and did not berate them. The people I contacted were seeking answers and they were not screaming foul play like others. The people who were not polite and were screaming at DC and using vulgar language, I did not engage. What I did was, I went on my own podcast and spoke about how there are dangers of forming opinions with no intellectual basis. That right there is the bedrock of most of our current problems, not only in fandom but in our country and across the world.
Expecting research on strong opinions is not the “poison,” Mr. Mills. The “poison” is expecting discourse to be improved by ignoring ignorance. Your final words on your blog were “stop caring if some stranger on the internet doesn't know something.” This is in direct contradiction of the tone of your piece as the savior of online debate. If we stop caring, does debate even still exist?
To tie back into the days of Casear, I’ll will say to you what Lucilla said to Commodus, “The mob is fickle, brother.”