How To Say What Can’t Be Said Without Saying It
When I started this blog, I wanted to refrain from commenting on things that were going on in the personal lives of TGWTG reviewers.
It’s harder than you might think.
While this post won’t be focused on the nitty-gritty per se, it will almost-but-not-quite touch on what is, no doubt, some very sensitive things.
Now. How do I do that without offending the people I fan over?
Now that most TGWTG reviewers are aware of the Tumblr fanbase and are also aware of how to track tags, it feels … different … discussing things within those tags. I have always subscribed to the “If I wouldn’t say it to their face, I won’t tag them on Tumblr” point of view, but I still feel awkward posting this.
For a myriad of reasons.
I have wracked my brain for many a day about how to phrase these sentiments, these aren’t easy things to say by any means, but I’m going to start that my feelings here aren’t really what I’d call ‘negative’.
But I can’t quite say they’re positive feelings, either.
My feelings about the way the winds are blowing are best summed up by Todd in the Shadows’ analogy of how the pop trends are changing. I feel that I must immerse myself in the new trend so that I will be able to keep up when the greater tide rolls in.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I can sense things changing.
As to what it is changing in to…? I cannot say.
So, I write this post in lieu of a proper explanation.
There has a been a lot of turmoil in the last few months, some of it leading to decidedly positive things, some of it unfortunately negative. I won’t comment on specifics, here, but I’m sure all of us in the fandom have sensed this shift without even realizing it.
TGWTG is probably one of the most rewarding fandoms I’ve ever participated in. Not only is it possible to interact with the ‘characters’ I’ve come to know and love, it is possible for a lowly little shrew like myself to have opinions that I, from time to time, am welcome to voice openly.
Most fandoms don’t get that. Hell, even in Dethklok fandom… as wonderful as that place is … I have to keep some of my views to myself lest I invite the wrath of the fanbase. Dead serious, here. My opinions of … certain things … aren’t welcome in the fandom at large.
TGWTG fandom is a whole other animal. I’m not afraid to offer criticism. I’m not afraid to provide a dissenting opinion. That kind of atmosphere is truly a wonderful, magical thing. I’m also free to squee and fangirl like there is no tomorrow.
I wouldn’t change it for the world.
But TGWTG itself is changing. As a fan, I find myself trying to decipher and adapt to the new trends.
Yet, I find myself having trouble doing that.
I am That Fan With The Thoughts. I am a fan. I have thoughts. Granted, in recent weeks, I haven’t had many thoughts that were worth sharing. Even this I doubt is worth much to anyone.
But because I am a fan, I am compelled to voice my feelings.
Within the next few days, all of us will be experiencing the Four Year Anniversary Special. For the first time I can remember, I am particularly excited about viewing it. I was there for Kickassia and Suburban Knights, but the prospect of those specials never thrilled me.
Given that this will be the last special ‘on this scale’, I feel that it is my duty as a fan to stand at rapt attention.
… Despite whatever is going on in the personal lives of my favorite reviewers, I will always support them. I will always be excited for their new episodes.
I just hope that they don’t forget that there are good fans out there. Sometimes, fans are cruel beasts. Sometimes, fans are awful, heinous things.
I happen to know that fans are good. Because I’ve met many, MANY good ones through this blog.
And I wanna meet the future with them, as well as whatever TGWTG has to offer.
Live Action Fanfic
I’m really happy all you shippers out there got to see your dreams come true, but unfortunately I cannot join in your joyfest other than to say “Woah, dude! That’s awesome for ya!”
… I can’t even bring myself to watch the video.
It makes me that uncomfortable.
… And for some reason, that makes me feel really bad.
However… if, one day, Kyle dons a pair of eyestalks and Ven gets some claw hands to wear, I would watch the SHIT out of a live action Escargoancitizen and Friends. XD
Fandom is Funny Thing
Sometimes, in the course of a fandom, you get to witness something pretty neat.
I am a huge fan of Metalocalypse, as some of you may know. Last night was the premier of what will be the 4th and final season of the show.
The fandom has had its problems, but for the most part… we’re a pretty neat bunch. We’re a tight-knit group of folks. Especially those of us who *cough* write and draw the slash-type stuff.
We’ve long known that the show’s creators were aware of us, but last night’s episode gave us something pretty neat.
The scenario? The Dethklok boys end up at a Dethklok fan convention, and the band is complaining about all the creepy nerd-types that tend to populate such conventions.
They mention the slashers (“Just what we needs, more homoskexuals fanfictions.”) and it pans over to a booth where a snazzy lookin’ gal is selling prints of … very familiar artwork.
They used actual fanart in the shot, and I am quite proud to say that I recognize quite a bit of it.
It’s then that one of the characters makes a comment about how he’s actually quite fond of how he’s portrayed in a pin-up shot.
(“Hey looks! D’ats a reallies goods renderings of my abs!” - Toki Wartooth)
Their treatment of other negative nerd stereotypes was … less tactful. They take some pot-shots at overweight cosplayers and furries, for instance. Actually, the entire arc of the episode is about crazy fangirls in general. Which is fine with me.
I’m just still in awe over this… and I had to share it with you guys.
Some More Thoughts On Fandom
Fandom is a weird and wonderful thing. You meet all kinds of people from all walks of life, you express and experience a ton of ideas you otherwise wouldn’t and creative freedom is paramount.
That’s not to say that some people don’t toe the line.
And I’m not just talking about people who write/draw abominable things for the sake of being abominable. Even those people have their place, and as much as I have my squicks and issues… I’m not about to enforce my personal hang-ups on someone else. Yes, that’s right, even if I don’t agree with someone’s art… I’m not about to go tell them to stop doing it. People can create and share whatever they want. The good. The bad. The ugly. That’s what makes the internet so beautiful.
Besides, when you start enforcing “cans” and “cant’s” within fandom… an inevitable breakdown occurs. Censorship is a plague upon creativity, and once it’s in play? Creative thought slowly withers and dies.
I have witnessed this first hand in another fandom, and it has degenerated to the point that I feel compelled to talk about it here. I want this to serve as a cautionary tale to all of you out there. If you’re part of a community that’s starting to head down this dark road, I’d suggest bailing while you can still maintain fond memories.
I’m not gonna name the fandom I’m talking about, because the person that is the subject of most the shitstorm would find this blog and then rant about it in her LiveJournal. She regularly searches Tumblr for people criticizing her, and then sicks her demented fantwats on whoever dares question her methods.
Think I’m joking?
A rant in her journal about a post on Tumblr is actually what got me thinking about what a sorry state my old fandom is in. In the post, she encouraged her deranged followers to enact a hate-spam campaign on someone that merely pointed out the fandom had fallen under a totalitarian dictatorship.
So, yeah. I’m trying to cover my ass here.
I’m going to go back to where the trouble started. That way, you can get an idea of what someone else’s mad obsessions can do to a community.
The slash-fic LiveJournal community for this fandom needed some new admins, so, two more were brought on to help take on the load. One of the new admins, a Big Name Fan known for pumping out sour-prosed, wish-fulfillment, Gary-Stu-laden, MPreg romps, decided to take it upon herself to completely change the rules of the community to fit her sense of taste.
- No fics with excessive violence. What this exactly means, I’m not sure. What her definition of “excessive violence” is, I don’t know. Although she did say that anything that included violence against children is automatically out.
- No rape or dub-con.
- No incest. And anyone that ever considered writing anything with incest in it is a sick pervert AND a retard.
While those might seem like reasonable rules, I’m gonna take a second here and talk about the source material.
See, the thing is … the show? Has those things in it. As part of canon. Well, not the incest thing in an official sense, but we have some hints that kinda indicate some abuse from childhood and an Oedipus complex as part of the canonical narrative. It’s not a happy fact, but it is there. Pretending it’s not and trying to stop the incest shippers is absolutely fucking pointless. Also? Calling them retarded when the person slinging the insult wrote a FF7 crossover and shoehorned in some MPreg because she’s incapable of writing anything else? Not a good idea.
As for “excessive violence”, it’s the major motif of the show. It’s always there. Omnipresent. Inescapable. It’s there for the sake of being there and no other purpose. Fountains of blood and gore and senseless death. Generally speaking, writing a fic that styles itself after an episode of the show would be enough to have it removed under the new totalitarian rules.
It made me wonder if this gal had actually ever sat down and watched an episode. I’d been wondering that for a minute, truth be told. Her grasp of the show’s characters was tenuous at best. She tended to disregard their actual character traits in her writing and just press her own upon them. Seriously, the only thing that made these guys recognizable as the characters from the show were their names.
And as for violence against children, that’s also part of the canon. It’s the base for one of the main character’s ENTIRE BACKSTORY. And I’m not talking about a little bit of hitting or being yelled at, I’m talking hard labor and being thrown in a dirty pit after being whipped raw. Yeah, taking a character’s … CHARACTER… into account in your writing would be enough to have your fic taken down.
Does this seem at all odd to you? Stop me if I sound crazy, here … but is any of this shit cool? Does any of it promote community spirit? Does any of it promote creativity? Does any of it protect ANYONE from ANYTHING?
My answer is “no”.
The thing is? This is where the shitstorm STARTED.
As you can imagine, a lot of people in the community were upset with these new rules, and many of them complained to the new admin. They pointed out the things that I pointed out above, but this did not sway the opinion of the now Power Mad Dictator. No, she responded with hostility … publicly insulting people and acting like a brat in general. The other new mod was running around, desperately trying to put out fires, but those efforts were futile. What resulted was a mass exodus from what once was a bustling, productive fan community. It died on the table. There was no funeral.
A lot of people didn’t just leave the community, a lot left the fandom entirely. This is sad. The reason being is that this Power Mad Dictator was omnipresent in every community ever. You could not avoid her if you tried. Blocking her didn’t help much, as she has a large group of obsessive fans that she loves to dispatch as her personal army. If she’s aware you’ve blocked her, she gets her toadies to make your life miserable.
And she’s a good, caring, loving person. Oh, and a brilliant writer … which she’s totally not. Not to pat myself on the back here, but when I write a fic… I tend to spend a lot of time with a character’s motivation, thoughts … the inner machinations of their minds. I let the character dictate the course of the story, I don’t dream up outlandish situations to force them into. I try to make all outcomes feel natural and in-character.
This makes me a hack, apparently. And a troll. Or any of the other “insults” this crazy bitch has lobbed my way. If respecting the source material and considering a character’s … CHARACTER … makes me a hack, then so be it. If not being a hack means shitting out 10 stories a week about a man’s baby bump, count me out.
I know I must seem like I’m harping on MPreg here. I’m not, actually. I just find it hard to swallow that MPreg — something ENTIRELY out of place in the context of the canonical universe — is acceptable, but violence — a running theme of every episode — is not.
So, with my fandom dead… I figured this whole saga would end.
The other admin that signed on managed to piss off our Power Mad Dictator. Where at one time the other admin was wonderful, amazing and her BEST FRIEND EVER … she now was the scum of the Earth and we should all remind her of that constantly.
They had a falling out over the way the Power Mad Dictator wanted to run things, and the other new admin withdrew from the fandom completely. I don’t blame her, after all of that? I wouldn’t wanna stick around. Thing is, Power Mad Dictator wouldn’t let this go.
Power Mad Dictator wants to be a published author. Her work is a complete joke, and it makes the watery prose of Stephanie Meyer look COMPETENT. Yet, somehow she’s convinced herself that she’s the most prolific author ever and publishing companies would be fighting each other for a piece of her work. This isn’t the case.
Her “novel” has been rejected by every publisher she’s sent it to. Not because they have, oh, I don’t know… FUCKING STANDARDS … but because her former companion was intentionally sabotaging her.
I have no idea how she worked this out. Probably because she’s a mental case. The girl in question hadn’t spoken to Power Mad Dictator in months, nor did she even care about the shitty novel. She wouldn’t try and sabotage anyone, mostly because she’s not fucking insane.
Here’s my theory as to why her novel is constantly being rejected, and it actually only partially banks on the shitty writing.
For one thing, this woman has her FULL REAL NAME on her fanfiction website. Which also contains a lot of content that is uncomfortably close to copyright infringement. And a ton of shitty MPreg stories spanning about six different fandoms. And links to all of her blogs that contain insane ramblings that sound like they’d be more fitting of a homeless man shouting on a street corner.
You Google this woman’s name and her site is the first thing to come up.
Employers routinely Google people’s names to see what kind of person they might be hiring, and they also are known to check Facebooks and other forms of social media. It would make sense that a company that is investing in an author would check them out, even a little.
So, between the shitty writing and the fact this woman’s real name is attached to stuff that companies really want no part of …
IT MAKES SENSE THAT HER NOVEL IS CONTINUALLY REJECTED.
I’m not even gonna bother pointing out that some of the greatest novels in history have been rejected literally dozens of times by publishers, because that kind of oversight doesn’t apply to her. Her work is amazing and perfect and when a publisher rejects it… it means that SOMEONE out there is attempting to sabotage her success.
I really wish I was making this up.
In addition to accusing her former friend of sabotaging her writing career, she claims the girl hacked her Steam account. This is not case. This was at a time when a LOT of Steam accounts were being hacked into, it wasn’t a problem that was uniquely hers. I got a letter from Steam suggesting I change my password because of some problems they were having, and you better believe I was on that shit like butter on toast.
But, no. Steam’s security problems had nothing to do with it. It was this other girl that was trying to ruin her life.
Now, the other girl had left the fandom completely. She went to Tumblr and got involved in something else. She had made a few posts about the old fandom, and talked about how batshit nuts Power Mad Dictator was. Power Mad Dictator found these posts and was NOT pleased…
So she dispatched her army to torment the poor creature. The posts were made months previous, and she had CLEARLY moved on and was just trying to enjoy her life. Instead, she had to cope with dozens of people parroting the absolutely FUCKING CRAZY allegations of Power Mad Dictator and insulting this girl on frankly a level so personal that it genuinely disturbed me.
See, Power Mad Dictator became privy to some very personal information about this other girl during their time as friends. And she fed that info to her followers to use as weapons.
This is a kind of sickness that I have rarely witnessed. It reminds me of something the Popular Girls would do in high school. The thing is, this woman is in her late 40s or early 50s. SHE SHOULD FUCKING KNOW BETTER. It doesn’t help that her army is comprised of mostly teenage girls that DON’T know any better. She is setting a poor example for them, both as a writer and a as a role model.
A couple of people have approached me and asked me to take a stand against this woman. I am totally uninterested in her web of drama, and have done my best to wash my hands of her and the parts of the fandom she’s tainted. I have stood up to her in the past, endured her army of idiots and because I used reason, logic and intelligence in my arguments instead of insanity, lies and stupidity … somehow my reputation remained mostly intact. While I’m not welcome in her corners of the fandom, I’m welcome elsewhere. In the one bastion that us fans have left to us. Really, my participation in the fandom is with about two dozen other people that pretty much keep to themselves. We don’t want our little fan paradise to be made public… because if Power Mad Dictator knew about it, she’d demand to be let in.
And now, my overall point, and what this has to do with TGWTG.
Censorship is bad. Those of us who run around screeching about “You shouldn’t write that!” or “You shouldn’t draw that!” are doing a disservice to the creative spirit. I’m squicked by very little, but I’m not about to suggest a blanket ban on the things that do manage to bother me. I am of the mind that all creative work is to be celebrated, even if it was created for purposes of trolling. Trolling is definitely an art form. I’ve seen it done well and to great effect, and I’ve seen it fall flat on it’s face. Just like with any other artistic endeavor.
I’m on the fence about the producers’ own limitations. Some don’t want to be raped in fic/art, some don’t want to be slashed, some discourage guro, others don’t give a flying fuck about anything. Part of me says that as fans we should respect their wishes, but another part of me says that stifling creativity can only lead to backlash. I say if you wanna write/draw your rape/slash/guro stuff, go for it. But, out of respect for the producers, I’d suggest keeping it to yourself or between other fans that are capable of appreciating your work.
Mosu Weighs In
I got a lovely submission from Mosu today, and I just had to share. :3
(Pardon me for the text dump, it came to me holding a styrofoam cup of useless foreign currency and bottle caps. -Mosu)
No, I will not pardon you. Have you seen the length of some of my posts? Believe me, there’s nothing to apologize for. Therefore, no reason for me to excuse you. ;)
“I know way too much about these people’s lives…Eh, oh well!”
…In some way, shape, or form, I am a creep.
The magnitude of my creepiness can be estimated as whatever, by whomever. Make your own bets. All I’m saying is that I’m not going to deny it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been that way for a damn while. Before I got into TGWTG, even. My creepitude was measured by different means by different people. When I was in second grade, it was because I liked advancing on boys first. When I was homeschooled, it was because I had already been and was becoming more to social ability as Matt Smith is to his limbs. (I’m still in recovery from that.)
And now I probably get seen that way because I display myself as really into Luke Mochrie.
I adore Film Conscience. I watch his old Youtube videos every once in a while. I keep up with his mom Deb’s blog The Middle Ages. I started watching Whose Line because I wanted to see what the fuss over Colin was about. (For the record, my gratefulness for those last two things extend beyond Luke fangirling.) I ran (for a little bit) Ask Film Conscience. I eagerly wait for his new videos and poke fun at his schedule slips in between.
Once in a while I display some knowledge of his personal life. Skeleton whereabouts and spare childhood. Montreal, “Abley”, summer camp. And yeah, if you’re the kind of fan who gets squirmy at that sort of thing, go ahead, write your score and trumpet my stanliness. I’ll be waiting with a tape recorder. (I’m no Rumor Elf, though; I can’t exactly write the gospel of Luke.)
Just because I know this stuff doesn’t mean I want to hurt anyone with it, though. It’s not stupid or blackmail-worthy to me at all. I don’t think it’s bad that Luke was into ballet when he was wee, or that modern art was really important in shaping his life. I think it’s fucking awesome. I wish I had the will to write tons of fanfic, because knowing all this makes him a way more interesting person, for writing especially. (I tend to push those boundaries of his life, even if only a little bit, in my art of him instead.) If I’d just gone by Suburban Knights or something like that, I’d probably have assume he was just some moderately rich, fresh-faced pretty boy.
Now, I’m the other admin for TGWTGsecrets. If you’re reading this, you probably know that. I see and process a lot of secrets talking about “the creepers”. Nosy buggers probing right down to the bone, scavengers of bad and mediocre memories and salt to long-healed wounds. They know too much and don’t give a damn who gets hurt when they puke it back up in some unrelated case. Often overlapping with rumor mongers, another tidy target for people.
Okay, so maybe I don’t know many bad things about Luke, I’ll give you that. He’s not a drama magnet by any stretch of the imagination. But I do know a hell of a lot, and from an outsider’s standpoint it’s probably too damn much. Reading Middle Ages the way I do could probably be counted as “digging deep”, although you can just google the damn thing or find a link to it on Colin’s Facebook fanpage like I did. And if you’re a particular tightass, drawing a dude in the poses of several cheesecakey Vocaloid images for kicks could be counted as “malicious”.
But do those things still make me a “creeper”?
You? A creeper? Mosu, I don’t think so. You’re enveloped in fandom, and that ain’t a crime. Imagine if Luke were a fictional character from a book, game, or television show. Would knowing details of his, and his family’s, back story be considered out of the ordinary? Nope.
It feels creepy, I know. Because … where TGWTG people are concerned, they blur the line between real life people and fictional characters. It’s hard for my fanbrain to decide how to react, because I don’t know about you… but I treat fictional fandoms and RL fandoms VERY differently.
I’ll give you an example so you can see what I’m talking about.
Let’s take two bands, one fictional and one non-fictional. I have been VERY involved in the fan culture surrounding both bands, but the type of involvement differs.
Band: Dethklok (fictional)
Roleplayed the members?: Yes
Paid obscene prices for merchandise?: Yes
Discuss plot theory/meaning of lyrics in depth?: Yes
Band: The Mars Volta (non-fictional)
Roleplayed the members?: No
Paid obscene prices for merchandise?: Yes
Discuss plot theory/meaning of lyrics in depth: Yes
I love both bands equally, but from a cursory glance you might think I like Dethklok more. That isn’t the case! I just respond to The Mars Volta differently.
With TGWTG peeps, it’s sometimes hard to draw a definitive line between the fictional and the non-fictional. So when you’re finding out what are really personal details about someone’s life, it might feel a bit icky. It does for me, sometimes.
Mosu, what you’ve described there is what I’d call a healthy expression of fandom. You seek information about Luke because you have a genuine love and appreciation for his work, and the more you find out about him as a person… the more you want to know. That isn’t a negative thing.
Now, what would be an unhealthy expression of fandom?
Well, developing an unhealthy attachment would be a good start. Having a crush on someone doesn’t count. What I mean is … you sit awake nights pining for their presence for you are totally in love with them, you do nothing but stalk their Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or what have you, obsessively watch and re-watch videos — without downloading them, of course. You’re overly concerned about their ad revenue — and find yourself forgoing other tasks in order to keep yourself immersed in them…
Yeah. That’s when it becomes creepy.
I don’t think you’re quite there, Mosu. I wouldn’t stick myself with a label like ‘creep’, because you’re toally better than that. What you described there is fandom in its purest form. You’re not a creep, you’re a fandom nerd. And that’s a frigging AWESOME thing to be!
Also, RumorElf? I get the impression that all they want is the information. All of it. Positive. Negative. Neutral. Truth be told, we need bookkeepers like this in fandom. When past mistakes and missteps are forgotten, it paves the way for future fuck ups. As grim (and unpopular) a task as it may be, it is a necessary one. Elf? I tip my hat to you for the work you do.
Our Fandom, Ourselves
Now, I can’t be sure how you read that word in your head … but if you’re anything like the people, I’ve polled it sounded much like how a stock super villain utters the word “Curses!”
Having disdain for fangirls isn’t new and it’s certainly not clever, but luckily that’s not the point of this post. My goal here is to talk about what fangirlism is, why it’s so off-putting to non-fangirls, and offer a few solutions to problems that fangirlism can cause.
Before I begin, I’d like to take a quick moment to point out that I myself was once a fangirl. Ohhh yes, an annoying, squeeing, glomping, slashing fangirl. I was in my teens and early 20s, so I had a pass. Anyone in their teens is allowed to be a squeeing fangirl, because that comes with the territory. Ever since young women were allowed to free their inner squees at The Beatles, we have had a long and proud history of taking things about nine steps too far when it comes to something/someone we’re passionate about.
I often try to advocate something that I like to call Fanladyism. It’s got all the awesome parts about being a fangirl, but none of the setbacks. Basically: just conduct yourself with a little decorum, plant one foot in the real world, and be considerate of others. Believe me, there’s plenty of room left over for squees and fanwank even after you put a bit of effort into keeping yourself together and remembering your manners.
Fangirls are a very present part of the TGWTG package. They are usually some of the first to comment on a video and their posts contain about as much tangible content as an exhaled breath. It almost appears as if some of them are in contest with another, who can comment the quickest on the most videos and who can talk about how cute/hot/sexy/what the fuck ever someone is the most. I don’t pay attention to forum names much, but I know the names of at least three fangirl types that comment on ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. They are so ubiquitous that they almost seem like a part of the site itself. And not in a good way. I get the distinct impression that they comment on the video before they’ve watched more than 15 seconds of it… and it’s more an exercise in being seen than actually contributing something worthwhile to any form of discussion. It’s just… oozing heaps of unfiltered praise and Jesus H. FUCK is it annoying. I wonder how the producers feel about their fangirls (and fanboys, a quick note about fanboys - they tend to not be as overtly annoying UNLESS they are running to the defense of the object of their fannery. Then? They’re as bad as the fangirls if not worse) … and if these kinds of comments annoy them, too.
I picture a TGWTG producer reading through the comments and just slapping their forehead and going, “Uggh! I. GET. IT. You want to FUCK me. What about this thing I’ve put so much effort in to?? Did that even REGISTER with you people!?”
Or something like that.
Hopefully, some of the more rabid fangirls will enter fanpuberty soon enough, and emerge from the fancocoons of fanhormones one day as fully developed Fanladies.
It’s nice to dream…
Persona Non Grata
There’s something I’ve noticed during my tenure in various fandoms. The inability for some fans to separate the persona they idolize from the human behind it. This is especially common in the fandoms surrounding voice actors, where it almost seems like their fans are carrying on a relationship with their favorite character vicariously with the person that provided the character’s voice.
I’ve noticed a strange relationship with TGWTG fans, the personas, and the people behind them. Some fans see the persona and the person as a singular unit, others pay little attention to the persona and focus on the actual person, and others still seem to have little trouble keeping person and persona apart but have convinced themselves they know the creator’s character better than they do. And then, there’s someone like me, who has an opinion on a TGWTG producer and a completely separate opinion relating to their character.
For instance, a comment like this:
“[Blank] was mean to me in a chat/said something offensive on Twitter/bashed something I like, so I don’t watch their reviews anymore.”
Makes no sense to me. There are a couple of producers on TGWTG that I frankly don’t care for on a personal level. They have either been rude to me directly or rude to people I know, held opinions that I strongly disagree with, or publicly acted in a way that put me off. However, whatever issues I have with a person doesn’t change how I view their work. The producers that irk me all run very well done, entertaining shows… and I see no reason to deprive myself of a good laugh, knowledge, or both. See, I fucking hate Tom Cruise. I think he’s scum, a total nut case, and I really wish he’d just STOP FUCKING SMILING BECAUSE SERIOUSLY IT CREEPS ME THE FUCK OUT. Ahem. But yeah, you get the idea. Did my feelings about Tom Cruise stop me from going to see Mission Impossible 4? No. Did they stop MI:4 from being a fucking awesome movie? Hell no!! It’s the same thing with the reviewers. They make a product that I enjoy, I don’t really give a shit about much else.
There’s an odd flip side to this coin. There are a few reviewers who I happen to adore personally, but am not all that enthusiastic about their work. Either because the subject matter goes over my head or the humor just isn’t my style, I don’t enjoy their work as much as I enjoy them.
But back to the topic at hand: perception of a person and their reviewer persona.
A personal story. Back in 2009, right before I discovered TGWTG, I was volunteering at my local anime convention — Youmacon. Doug, Noah and Lewis were all guests that year, but I was oblivious as to who they were or what they were known for. I had spent all day Saturday in a back room, laminating badges and stuffing swag bags for the convention guests … I didn’t even have time to attend any panels or do other conventiony stuff. I hadn’t slept well the night before, and I’m a bit of a klutz to begin with so my fingers were covered in blister burns from the laminating machine and paper cuts from the the boxes of pamphlets and fliers I was sticking into bags. After I’d been there about 9 hours, they sent me away for the day. I went up to Con Operations to get my time signed off, and on my way up the stairs I bumped into one of the TGWTG guests (I won’t name names, but if anyone has ever spent five seconds talking to him they’ll know immediately who it was XD). We walked up a few flights together and chit-chatted. He told me about how much fun he was having, how great it was to see all the fans, and I told him I hoped to enjoy a few panels on Sunday morning after working all day Saturday. He actually stopped and thanked me for my hard work… and I felt bad because he was a guest and I had no idea who he was. I thanked him back, and told him I hoped he enjoyed his time in Detroit, and we parted ways. A few months later, when I became acquainted with the awesome that is TGWTG, I realized who I’d spoken to in that stairwell. It was neat experiencing the person before the persona, but I wish I would have known who he was at the time.
So, there. Some thoughts on person and persona. What do you guys think?
The Tuesday Night Ritual
I exit my classroom at night school and immediately reach for my phone. I’d gotten a text about an hour ago, but even without looking I know who it’s from and what it says. With a quick glance at the screen my suspicions are confirmed, my best friend has texted me a single word:
Just before I shut down my computer for the evening, I’d hopped over to blip.tv and had a look around just so I could be prepared to answer that very question:
“Yep. It’s a movie called ‘Ponyo’ this week. It’s an anime movie, I’m actually really excited to see what he says about it. I’m out by the way, how long ‘til you’re here?”
“Be there in 10” he replies.
I step outside and light a smoke. Nothing to do but wait for him to arrive … and then we can get our real night underway.
The same way we have for over two years now.
I can’t remember exactly how or exactly when I happened upon the Nostalgia Critic and http://www.thatguywiththeglasses.com/, but it was somewhere in twilight of 2009. I don’t remember which review I watched first, but I know I watched every single one of them in a very short amount of time. I was completely bowled over, looking at the list of movies the Nostalgia Critic had reviewed up to that point was like looking at a Cliff’s Notes of my childhood. Naturally, I couldn’t keep something that amazing to myself, and I immediately shared it with my two closest friends.
Like me, they were in their late 20s and lovers of all things nerdy. While most of our tastes overlap (we’re all huge music nerds, for instance), we each branch off into different areas of nerd-dom. My best friend, who we’ll call J, is the resident Star Wars geek and Marvel Comics expert. He’s on his way to pick me up from class. My other best friend, who we’ll call Other A, is a lover of shitty b-movies and console gaming. He’s waiting for me and J at our destination. I’m the old-school anime nerd, and the only one of us who’s ever played a tabletop RPG. Needless to say, TGWTG had something for all of us, but the Nostalgia Critic ruled as our sentimental favorite. Every week Doug managed to stir up fading memories of trips to the movie theater, Saturday mornings spent in front of a television, or wandering through the aisles of the video store. You know, the best parts of being a kid in the 80s and 90s. Even when the memories that are brought back are of being disappointed, confused, or downright frustrated with the subject of a review … there’s a certain sweetness in recalling it all. We could hardly get enough of it.
Somewhere along line, we started congregating on Tuesday nights so that we could watch the new Nostalgia Critic reviews together. I don’t think we ever specifically planned to do things that way, it just started happening. That time was so hectic, so … uncertain. It’s no wonder none of us can remember exactly when we started convening for Critic Time…
My friend pulls up to the curb just as I finish stamping out my cigarette. I run to the car and hop in, and before I can even buckle my seat belt we’re well on our way.
“How was class?”
“Pretty good. Flash is fucking complicated. How was practice?”
“Killer. We have at least two new songs to play at the next show, maybe three.”
“Sweet. We stopping for food?”
“Nah, Other A is picking up tacos from Armando’s before he heads over to my place. We might even beat him there.”
“Shit yeah, tacos!”
“So … Ponyo, huh?”
“I think I’ve seen it up on Netflix, that name sounds familiar.”
“Yeah, it is up on Netflix. It’s a Miyazaki movie. You remember that movie I showed you? ‘Princess Mononoke’? The one with the girl and the wolves and the forest spirit and all that? The guy that did that movie did Ponyo.”
“Ohhh okay. Is it any good?”
“Umm … I liked it, but mostly because of the animation. Story wise it wasn’t as strong as some of his other movies, but I enjoyed it. I don’t think you’d like it much, but your girlfriend would love it.”
“Oh yeah? I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Yeah, it’s— oh, shit! Turn this up!”
We take a momentary break from our Ponyo talk to blast some Mandatory Metallica at max volume while we both sing along at the top of our lungs. Because if we don’t air drum and thrash around at a stop light, who will? We take our work very seriously around here.
By the time the last chord of ‘Battery’ has faded away, we’re pulling into J’s driveway. Other A is sitting on the front porch, chuckling at us as we emerge from the car grinning like idiots.
“I could hear you guys coming all the way from the main road.”
We file into the house, into J’s room and get straight to business. J flicks on the 60” plasma screen, I start booting up the computer while Other A is busy putting tacos on to paper plates and divvying up the guacamole.
We didn’t always have it this good. When we first started getting together for Critic Time, we would crowd around J’s old laptop. The video card was a piece of crap, so the video was always jerky. Sometimes the damn thing would overheat in the middle of a review and shut off. Oh, and it didn’t help that we were sponging off a neighbor’s internet connection and often lost the signal. We put up with it, though. It was very important for us to spend that time together. Because …
Back then, our time together was really all we had.
I won’t bore you with exact details, but a few years ago … my friends and I had fallen on some pretty tough times. Financially, physically, emotionally, it was coming at us from all sides. In each of our individual lives, and in our shared existence as friends, our limits were being stretched and tested on a daily basis. There was a lot of sadness, a lot of anger, a lot of pain and a lot of fear.
But not on Tuesday nights. At least, not for us. No matter how terrible we felt, no matter what else was going on in our lives … we always had Critic Time to look forward to.
A lot has changed since those days. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been two years since then, it seems like it’s been much longer. We’re all in much better places than we were back then, but our little ritual has remained important to us.
“After the new Nostalgia, I’ve got a movie for us to watch.” Other A says as he hands me my plate o’tacos, “It’s called ‘Rubber’.”
“Is that the one about the killer tire?” I reply, bringing up blip.tv on the big screen.
“Yep. It’s pretty fucking weird.”
At last … the time has come. I navigate to the Critic’s show page and scroll down to the new review. I click on it and let the ad play, then pause it to make sure that everyone is prepared.
“Hell-o-o-o-o I’m the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so YOU don’t have to!”
I can already tell that this is going to be a good week.