|"I'm not Leaving Until I've Castrated Every Last One |
of You White Male Shitlords!"
The women-only screenings of the recent Wonder Woman film have prompted both praise and criticism on social media. In other news, water is wet. Much of the praise has been about its feminist and girl power themes, with little mention of the directing, acting, writing and production - which I've been told were all quite good. But there's been criticism too. Most of that being of the fact that the feminism of Wonder Woman was not sufficiently queer or intersectional. In other news, the sun is hot.
When it comes to issues of representation in media and the whole dynamic of identity politics (bleh!) behind it, It's the obstinacy in both camps, and the anxieties underlying said obstinacy that I find notable. If a film comes out that is entirely directed and produced by women, that features exclusively female leads, if not an exclusively female cast, and is intended to be enjoyed exclusively by women, I could honestly care less. Am I going to go see the recent Wonder Woman movie? No. But I didn't go and see Super Man either. No interest. So there's no need to involve my country's Orwellian human rights boards in my movie going tastes, because at least I'm consistent.
But I am suspicious of the "Geek Feminists" of this world who strike me as being excessively preoccupied with identity to the point of obsession, and would need a constant deluge of such films to quench their need for constant acknowledgement of the greatness of their gender. It seems oddly reminiscent of pre WW2 Germanic Volkisch. Very similar dynamic. The ongoing implication that "girl power" and women's equality in general somehow necessarily implies a rejection of men or the creation of women-only spaces should be disquieting for people with a genuine interest in gender equality. Women and men do need to be equal, but they also need to coexist, get along together and generally accept one another. To a fair extent, I do think some criticism of the girl-power obsession in our culture is warranted, and it will be a while yet before mainstream media steps up to the plate to deliver.
But just as ridiculous do I find the anxieties displayed by certain kinds of men towards releases like Wonder Woman, or to Rey's character in the new Star Wars films, or their outrage on social media over an all female Ghostbusters reboot that amounted to little more than gendered accusations of cultural appropriation. A lot of this just reeks of castration anxiety to me. A mirror image of the kind of fears of male virility that underlie a lot of pop cultural feminism. And we're seeing a very toxic interplay between these two camps repeat itself over and over and over again on social media. Donglegate, Elevatorgate, Shirtstorm, Gamergate. On and on and on.
One of the main reasons I've abandoned the mainstream political spectrum is that neither side is really exemplary when it comes to stuff like this. It became fashionable on social media from about 2014 onwards to rail against "SJWs" and their endless Orwellian crusades against free speech, especially on college campuses. Their obsessions with safe spaces, trigger warnings, hate speech, harassment and so on. It should be apparent by now that I'm no fan of any of that.
But let's take a bit of a step back here. I find it astounding just how prevalent the view is that censorship, moral panic, the propensity to read absurd agendas into otherwise innocuous pop-culture products and other forms of projecting personal anxieties onto the broader society is something exclusive to the left.
Anyone remember the Moral Majority? The PMRC? The Satanic panic of the 1980s? I sure do. Conservatives like Jack Thompson were going after video games for their violent content well before Anita Sarkeesian did. What of the Comic Codes of the 1950s? What of McCarthyism and Hollywood blacklisting? A big, BIG part of the reason why people like me who had concerns with political correctness and speech codes were brushed off for as long as we were is because the center left in much of the western world was so accustomed to censorious moral panics coming from the right that they couldn't believe or accept that it could possibly come from the left (despite the obvious examples behind the Iron Curtain), even as their embrace of hate speech laws, date rape kangaroo courts on college campuses and so on laid the foundations for their own kinds of McCarthyism.
Plus, I don't think we can say that censoriousness and prudishness on the right have been confined to the ash heap of history, and it is now a libertarian right defending free speech against a regressive left hell bent on creating the world of 1984, as the dominant culture wars. What I would call a right wing kind of SJW - apparently called culture warriors, is definitely becoming a thing now.
For instance: the aforementioned outrage over women-only screenings of the new Wonder Woman film causing massive backlashes on social media and even lawsuits. Howls for Kathy Griffin to be fired from CNN (despite not technically being an employee there) or even prosecuted after her admittedly tasteless image of herself holding up Donald Trump's severed head went viral on Twitter. Conservative pundit Tomi Lahren being sacked from the Blaze for being pro-choice. Milo Yiannopoulos being dropped from Breitbart and losing a book deal with Simon and Schuster over controversial comments regarding sex with minors.
Donald Trump himself has indicated that he would like to tighten defamation laws. In the UK, Conservative leader Theresa May made cracking down on unbridled expression on the internet in the wake of recent terrorist attacks there part of her campaign, and this may well have contributed to her disappointing performance in the election. Those brave defenders of free speech: the religious right are up in arms over video game Far Cry 5, which apparently features a Christian Cult as antagonists. I could go on. Breitbart keeps 'em coming just as fast and just as stupid as Buzzfeed does.
I tried warning regressive leftists over the last several years. They were fooling themselves if they thought they were going to be able to keep the tactics of the angry twitter mob to themselves forever. If they could get a CEO fired for having once opposed gay marriage, how long would it take before Christian conservatives - who are still numerous and powerful in some places - would be able to get a CEO fired for transgressing some boundary and, more importantly, having a political affiliation they didn't like? As if there was no historical precedent for it, or anything. And once that did happen, the social justice mob would have zero credible ground from which to cry foul, since they had so recently used all the same tactics themselves.
You can guess their responses:
- You're a racist.
- The progressives were never, ever going to lose power because the growing hispanic vote.
- You're xenophobic.
- Stop sympathizing with young Earth creationists.
Yada yada yada.
Truth is, though, I don't think it's the case that one side is valiantly libertarian while the other advocates for the world of 1984. It's more the case that one side advocates for the world of 1984 while the other advocates for the world of The Handmaid's Tale. And the other is just as predictable in their dismissals of valid objections and warnings about their own pet causes:
- Communism doesn't work so STFU.
- <Post a Moon Man or Pepe the Frog meme>
Again, yada yada yada.
Can't say I'm enthusiastic about either one.
If you ask me, it would be kind of nice if the redpills and manosphere types, and the 3rd wave feminists, could take their sexual hangups and their parental issues to the psychologist's office, where they belong. If nothing else, our geek culture would be far better for it.