I Don't Need To Protect My Favorite Shows

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I think Emily Asher-Perrin is the best blogger on Tor.com right now, and she wrote an article called It’s Time To Get Over Firefly.  Which basically states that Firefly is overrated because a) it ended before it had a chance to disappoint us, and b) some of the impending plotlines and themes were a little troubling (specifically, the overarching themes of Southern Restoration and the appropriation of Asian themes without actual Asian people).
This caused a hubbub in certain circles.  “How dare she say Firefly is overrated!” people cried, rallying the flags, and I’m all like What, hey, why? 
I don’t get that defensiveness over fandom.  I never have.
I love old-school Doctor Who.  But the episodes are padded, the special effects are laughable, and the acting is often wooden.  So what?  I can acknowledge those flaws and not have them bother me.  If I waited for a show to be perfect on every level before I could enjoy it, then I’d never watch a damn thing.
And even if I thought the acting on old-school Who was wonderful, hey, it’s a big world.  Some people think Daniel Day-Lewis, the most acclaimed thespian of our generation, is a terrible actor.
Am I such a neurotic that I cannot enjoy something until everyone loves it in the way I do?
And I see all these silly fandom scuffles where people get really bent out of shape because You Do Not Understand The True Batman or ZOMG How Can You Not Love Star Wars and You Dumbass Picard Is Way Better Than Kirk, and some people are getting seriously upset over these things – as though they cannot rest until everyone shares their opinions.  As though somehow, a difference in taste is a wound to their very soul.
And I think what happens is that people are making the silly error that “I love it” means “It is perfect.”  This is a thought process that inevitably leads to ruin, whether it’s in fandom or work or in romance.  Something can sweep you up in whirls of dizzying rapture, but it’s not that it doesn’t have flaws – it’s that you don’t mind them.  (Usually because the good stuff is so damned good that you may not even notice the fractures in the background.)
Look, I get that this TV show or movie or comic book has spoken to something deep within you.  It expressed something important about your very nature in a way that you wished you’d been able to do it, becoming in a very real sense a part of you.  And that’s great.  That’s the power of fiction.
But then people make the leap of, “Well, if I like it, then everyone should!”, turning their love into a popularity contest, acting as if they can make this show as well-loved as possible then somehow they’ve vindicated something about themselves.  And their fandom mutates away from expressing a love for the show and into a sort of baffled belligerence that anyone could ever not like this thing so crucial to them.
Then they do the usual thing zealots do – they get angry whenever anyone points out an error with the thing they love, they take it personally, and they try to stomp that opposition to the curb so no one brings up this troubling issue ever again.  It ceases to be a fandom and more like a religion, where the One Truth Faith must prove itself over the bodies of others.
Look.  Pointing out flaws shouldn’t destroy your enjoyment.  Poke deeply at the greatest works of art in the world, and you’ll find so-called flaws.  Those flaws bother some people, don’t bother others.  They don’t bother you, apparently, and that’s all that should matter.  Love shouldn’t consist of a battle to the death to justify its existence – there will always be people who don’t like what you do.  There will always be people who don’t believe as you do.  And as long as they’re not trying to cancel your show (hint: pretty much no fan is ever trying to cancel your show, and none successfully), then their difference of opinion shouldn’t matter.
Relax.  Sit back.  Let all of those other people roll on with their hatred.  The glory of the Internet is that you can find people who like what you do, and fandom should be about accentuating and deepening that like instead of angrily justifying what you enjoy to people who wouldn’t like it anyway.
It’s a big world.  Big enough you can sit back in your living room and read the words of people who agree with you.  And on those occasions you find someone who disagrees violently, it’s okay to clear your browser cache and move the fuck on.

1 Comment

  1. Jericka
    Apr 8, 2014

    I love Firefly. I love the characters.
    Are there problematic things there? Yes. For example, for a ‘verse supposedly as settled by the East as the West, there weren’t many speaking characters that reflected that.
    I still loved it. I still love the characters. They were flawed and human and it would have been lovely to see them develop.
    I can still enjoy my problematic media, while being aware that it isn’t the shiniest most perfect thing ever.
    Though, Firefly will always be shiny to me.


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