IDIC

Glee: Words of Hate A Moment of IDIC

I was so amazed and proud of Burt Hummel Kurt’s father in Glee ep. 120 Theatricality.  He says so succinctly the problems of using words of hate and the hope for a new kind of dude.  Watch the clip of the scene Below.

Why can't you work harder at blending in

This is a softer question of hate.  Denying who we are lessens us as a whole.

The person who is “working harder at blending in” is spending most of their energy on that instead of creating a better life for themselves, their friends and family and for their community.  It’s like saying mow the lawn but we want you to work harder while doing it so use a push mower instead of a riding one.  By the end of the lawn one is more tired from the extra effort and does less in their day for it.

Then there is the psychological damage.  Knowing ones true self is an amazing liberating thing that opens up so many opportunities to experience life.  This is after all what we all seek, moments of being truly alive.  Denying one’s self is the opposite of that.  The person in denial misses those experiences of being alive. This leads to depression, increased drug use to get the feeling of being alive and suicides which is a major problem in the gay community.

Words of Hate

I was so proud of Burt for not tolerating Finn using the word Faggy.  In addition to that he really puts the word into it’s true context as a word of hate.

Saying a word of hate toward an inanimate object when it is meant for an individual in your head is still saying it at a person.  The hate is still there.

He asks Finn “Do you use the N word?”  “Do you call Becky (the girl with down syndrome) a retard?”

Words of hate don’t loose their hate just because it’s against a different group of people.  After all it’s really what’s behind the words hate and that is the same from word to word.  That is the poison that hurts the one spouting it and those who come into contact with it.

Before you use a word, think: ‘Does this word come from a source of hate?’  ‘What am I really saying when I use the word?’

New Kind of Dude

“I thought you were some kind of new dude who was cool about it.”  The disappointment in Burt’s voice was so poignant.

It’s always about evolving, growing both as people and as a society as a whole.  We all benefit when removing hate from the situation.  Finn could have addressed his lack of comfort with Kurt, his need for a more private room, and been more engaged in the decorating coming up with a productive solution if he would have left hate out.

Gene Roddenberry is a great example of the new kind of dude that Burt talks about.  His concept of IDIC is a great example of that

IDIC comes from Star Trek meaning Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination.

The New kind of dude:

  • Celebrates our diversity as a cultural strength
  • Knows ones self and continually seeks to know ones self
  • Stands up against hate and it’s poisoning effect.
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Racebending in The Last Avatar: Removing the Excuses

avatar: the last airbenderAs a fan of the series, 'disappointment' is a definite and deep understatement! I mean for Hollywood to do this is nothing short of a shameful big F**K UP! I agree with Eric about Speculative or Fantasy Fiction writing. I'm a fan of fiction both science and fantasy and you can't help but notice that the vast majority -- I'm talking close to 100%-- of fantasy worlds or planets inhabited by humans have people entirely if not predominantly white and have societies based on European culture!! The ONLY exception I could think of is the Earthsea novels by Ursula le Guin, but even then once her books get translated into movies (the Scifi channel), most of the leading roles are white!! Part of what made the series so popular was the uniqueness of having a fantasy world that is populated by NON-white people for a change and whose culture was NOT European based or influence!! And for Paramount to screw this up with white leads is as ridiculous as it is insulting!!

Racist Apologetics

By the way, I am sickened by the same racist apologist comments I've come across the net about this situation! Here are the three most common ones:

1. "It's a fantasy world, with no 'Asian' continent or people; why not have some racial diversity..."

2. "Wouldn't be unfair to whites to have all the lead roles go to Asians?"... (I laughed at this second excuse when I first heard it, but after a while of hearing over and over again these white idiots apparently were serious!!)

3. "The characters don't look white in the cartoon; look at their eyes"

It's a fantasy world

As for excuse # 1, I pretty much answered that above-- when it comes to fictional stories and how all of them are populated by white characters especially in leading or starring roles. I mean in J.R.R. Tokien's 'Lord of the Rings' series it was never stated that the peoples or characters were 'white' but what else were they suppose to be in a story based on Norse mythology?!! I mean you never saw New Line Cinema try to find "racially diverse" people even for the extras (save for the 'Arab-like' enemies) let alone leading roles, all of which were expected to non other than white!!

Would it be unfair to whites for all the lead roles go to Asians?

2. Is a no-brainer for anyone who has the most basic knowledge of Asians in the film industry. Even in movies and shows centered on or based on Asians the lead almost ALWAYS goes to whites! From David Carradine in Kung-Fu to the most recent movie '21' whose starring roles were based on Asian Americans but were still portrayed by whites, while meanwhile having Asian actors play their sidekicks!! So don't me about "unfair"!!

Look at their eyes

3. While the series is NOT anime, it was inspired by anime and manga/ Korean manwa drawing styles where the eyes are drawn large for convience of conveying emotional expression alot easier! As for eye color, the only reason why the characters Sokka and Katara have blue eyes is because they descend from water benders!! In the Avatar world, bright eye color is a sign of element bending-- air benders have gray eyes, earth benders have green eyes, fire benders have yellow eyes, and water benders have blue eyes. It is NOT a "caucasian" trait as they are NOT caucasian. And of course "the eyes" are the ONLY thing these white idiots like to focus on because EVERYTHING else about them is obviously Asian!!

I know that such racist white people are in the minority but apparently it's whites like these that continue to perpetuate this kind of bullsh*t in Hollywood!

Coming Out in Fandom

My personal experience in fandom is a mixed one. I was raised in a conservative, Baptist home. When I was ten, I realized I was gay. I hated myself, and never felt like I fit in anywhere, until I attended my first convention.

My first convention

shoreleave.gifI was a geek in school, and we hadn't lived in Maryland for every long.  One day, my friend Suzie invited me to go to a convention with her.

It wasn't easy.  My mother wasn't keen on me going out for a day trip to a convention north of Baltimore with people she didn't know very well.  I begged and pleaded, and though I don't remember them, I am sure I threw in some hissy fits and tantrums just to get the point across.

When we arrived, I felt like I entered the promised land.  Thousands of people who all loved the same things I did.  I didn't have to lie about anything.

For the first time, I felt like I found a place I belonged. If you have never been to a convention or participated in a fan club, they are amazing things. At a convention, you know that you are a de facto friend with most of the people there. Our mutual love for the same franchises, movies, and books ties us together in a way that is hard to explain. I have made connections with people that have lasted for years.

Coming out

My convention friends were the first people to know that I was gay.  I was open and honest.  Something about being surrounded by so many like minded people empowered me.

I was very lucky.  I never faced or felt any kind of discrimination at the conventions until many years later.  When I first entered fandom, IDIC was not a slogan or piece of jewelry.  It was a philosophy people took to heart.

Conventions are some of the few places that we can be ourselves... or are they?

Are all conventions safe?

It depends from convention to convention, but in general, speculative fiction fans are more open minded then the general population, except in periods of mass popularity for speculative fiction, or when a convention slips into the mainstream.

Popularity often brings more closed-minded people into fandom because they liked the special effects in movie x and have not been exposed to the ethos of open-mindedness which usually pervades fandom.

For me, conventions were a sanctuary from the homophobic world, until I started writing.

Where is the Diversity in IDIC?

Fandom is a beautiful thing. Fandom is nothing more and nothing less than people gathering in common cause to say, “We love this!” It is a common bond bringing together people from disparate groups that would ordinarily never mix and mingle. Through movie attendance, book clubs, fan clubs, conventions, and online networks, we join in unanimous praise and critique of the objects of our love. The stories, characters, and settings we love tie us together, and give us shared stories through which we relate to each other. What happens when certain voices of the community are not represented in those stories, characters, and settings? How do these people make their voices heard. We unite with our friends and allies to hi-light the problems and seek to bring these lost voices out of the community and into the very things we love.

Minority Report

John Stewart. Promotional cover art for Green ...
Image via Wikipedia

Gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity are only a handful of the communities struggling for representation within Speculative Fiction and fandom. Over the years, I have been delegated the responsibility for dealing with issues of sexual orientation and gender identity by a couple conventions in Maryland. The problems are deep, the solutions are imaginative, and our progress has been impressive.

Roles for women, ethnic minorities, and homosexuals are not only under represented, but they are often included either as stereotypes or as the character who will be killed at some point in the story.

The Jon Stewart Green Lantern movie couldn't get green lit, but the Hal Jordon Green Lantern did.  Even in the Transformers, the black Autobot died.

It is time for more more minorities to take on leading roles without having to pander to a white, heterosexual, male audience.

Homophobia is Sexism

It is not the most widely held opinion, but I have argued for years that Homophobia is just another form of sexism. For most people, their problem with GLBT people is that we do not fit nicely into the culturally acceptable gender roles assigned to us. The solution to this is not to conform to these gender roles, or to defy them. What we need to do is be ourselves.

IDIC

In this series, I will be discussing my experiences as a gay man in fandom and SF.

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The Stigma of Fandom

Let's face it, Speculative Fiction fandom has a stigma attached to it that no other fans base does.  Music and sports fans are celebrated, while SF fans are often ridiculed for engaging in the same activities.

Rise of Anti-intellectualism

I blame the rise of the anti-intellectual movements which began to organize in 1972, and the culture of ignorant bliss they promulgated for the stigma.  They pushed the image of a good American as a one more interested in might than dialogue.  Following the leader and the trends those leaders established were seen as more valuable than free thought.  Questions were not encouraged.

Civics classes were dropped from the curriculum in the 1970s, and science education suffered soon there after.

This new culture held instinct and feeling as a higher source of insight than rationalism and education.

Never left High School

The tension between nerds and jocks in American High Schools is a schism that has probably always been with us, but in the 1970's and '80's this conflict was moved into the popular culture through movies, music, and television.  These shows portrayed the jock as the hero and the nerd as the misfit who should be mocked and left out.

Dialogue and debate were stripped from our public dialogue, replaced by televised shouting matches.  Pop culture's development was stunted.  Adherents never matured out of the the high school mindset because there was no need.  Pop Culture lowered itself so it would remain accessible to this new class of permanent high schoolers.

The Consumer Culture

There is a financial reason to stunt the growth of Pop Culture.  The less discerning your audience is, the less expensive content is to make, the more people are likely to buy it.

Despite the pleas for better content, the financial benefit of keeping people from maturing and developing opinions is just too high to dissuade them from their present course.

Revenge of the Nerds

In the 1980's and '90's, the misfits started to fight back.  Movies like Revenge of the Nerds, The Goonies, and Mallrats became touchstones for outcasts to rally behind, but the damage had already been done.

The culture had been damaged, and fans were charactured as annoyances.  The misfits, now nothing more than the punchline of a poorly written joke, had to fend for themselves.  We orginized into tighter groups.

The Heart's Ache

Through it all, the fans persevered, because through it all, we knew something the pop culture never will.  We know what it is to find meaning.

The music, books, series, and movies we love gave us meaning.  It is different for every fan, but it is still there.  In our hearts, we know why we are in the world and what we have to do.

Kahless the Unforgettable
Image via Wikipedia

I found my meaning in the Klingons from Star Trek.  While I wouldn't say my life has been a hard on, I still had to fight for everything that I have.  I had to fight for my identity, my life, and my very mind and soul.  Through the Klingons, I learned that life is about the struggle.  It is about the fight not the outcome.

I used to cosplay as a Klingon at the conventions (when I wasn't a vampire).  I took their idea of honor, and made it my own.  It helped me to reign in my temper, and enjoy the struggles of my life.  I am a better person for rejecting the popular culture and embracing fandom.

Unlike so many that I meet, my heart doesn't ache from a lack of meaning.

Laugh if you want to

So laugh at me if you want to.  Tell me that I am taking these silly books, songs, series, and movies too seriously.  That's ok, I am used to it.  My only hope is that if my words can find their way to that one kid who is ashamed of who they are, how they see the world, and how they want to live, it is all worth it.

Fandom quite literally saved my life.  Suicide is all too common among people who don't feel like they belong.  Fandom is the only culture and community that asks so little of its members.

Do you love something so much you want to keep it with you always?  Has there ever been a song that you felt told your story so perfectly you had to love it?  Have you ever seen a show that drew you in so deeply you saw yourself in it?  Have you ever read a book that changed you, and made you better?

I feel sorry for the people who cannot answer yes to those questions, and I hope they will open their hearts and let something in.

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Fandom as Culture

Back in December, I took on Meg Guroff in my post, Fandom is not Obsessive Weirdoism! for saying:

One distinctly modern form of obsessive weirdoism is fandom: becoming so devoted to a work of art that you want to augment or even inhabit it. Out of this impulse was born the Klingon Language Institute (www.kli.org), the phenomenon of “fan fiction” (unauthorized stories by civilians advancing new plotlines of beloved films and TV series) (The Urbanite Magazine),

She responded by saying:

Hey, thanks for the shout-out, but anyone who reads the essay—or even just the rest of the sentence you truncated—would know that your outrage is misplaced. This passage is not an attack on fandom, it's a defense of it. I'd invite the curious to read the essay for themselves or visit my (built, obsessive, weird) site at powermobydick.com. Best wishes.

Originally posted as a comment by Meg Guroff on dashPunk using Disqus.

The rest of the sentence I truncated simply said: "and also, one might argue, my ever-growing Moby-Dick website, which now includes not only a full annotation but also links to artwork, poems, movies, and even cartoons based on the book (The Urbanite Magazine)."  I am glad she enjoys working on a fan site, and I am sorry if I offended her by intimating she had attacked fandom, but the fact remains that characterization of fandom as obsessive and weird obfuscates the fact that what we are seeing is the birth of a new culture, not merely a niche cultural phenominon.

History of Fandom

June 1947 issue of Amazing Stories, featuring ...
Image via Wikipedia

Hugo Gernsback forged the modern Science Fiction genre in 1926 when he founded Amazing Stories magazine.  In the letters section, he published the addresses of the fans who wrote in.  Readers began to organize themselves into local clubs.  In 1934, Hugo founded the Science Fiction League, a correspondence club where local clubs could apply for membership.

Chicago's Science Correspondence Club published the first known science fiction fanzine, The Comet, in 1930.  The first convention was held nine years later when at the 1939 New York World's Fair, when the World Science Fiction Society held the first WorldCon.

Fred Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth, members of a New York fan club called The Futurians, wrote the oldest known filks in the 1950's by taking the music from folk protest songs and changing the lyrics.

It wasn't until the  1970 that the conventions grew in popularity as a result of Speculative Fiction taking on the role of mythology.  More people found Speculative Fiction gave them a set of values, goals, and practices. Through our conventions, filksings, fanfic, and fanfilm, we have developed a culture that is uniquely ours.

Pattern of Behavior

Fans don't just watch the shows they love, or read the books, they devour them.  We take in these stories, critique them, and rush to share and discus them with our friends.  We often watch the shows or read the books multiple times to see if we missed something.

We flock to conventions to meet the stars, creators, and authors of the works we love, and to spend time reveling in the series we love.  We roleplay, craft fan works, and some even engage in cosplay and LARPing (Live Action Role Playing).

Characteristic Features

It is not hard to spot a fan.  The t-shirts we were, the calendars on our walls, the tchotchkes on our desks, and the phrases we like to use.  Many of us use fanspeak around mundanes and not realizing it until we see that confused look on their face, and realize we need to translate into English.

Shared attitudes, values, and goals

The one thing I have always found most intriguing about fans is how a true fan is not hard on new fans, and wants to make sure everyone is having a good time.

Most of us grew up with Star Trek, and took to heart the idea of IDIC (Infinite Diverity in Infinite Combination) to heart.  Where ever we are, we try to bring IDIC, foresight, and community with us.  Life is to be enjoyed, and nothing cuts off the fun quicker than bigotry, ignorance, or that one guy who is looking to have a good time at the expense of everyone there if necessary.

Fan culture is always developing.

Dear Meg

I wish you the best of luck with your Moby Dick site, and I hope I didn't upset you further.  My complaint with your article was merely that you used the phrase "Obsessive Weirdoism."

Any culture is "Obsessive Weirdoism" when viewed from the outside.  You have a fannish heart, and I think it is time you stopped talking in a way that excuses your fannish tendencies to the mundanes.  You are a fan.  Be out and proud about it.

At any rate, I am a little jealous, I can see the merit in Moby Dick, and I can understand from where your passion derives, but I don't think I will ever share it.  You see something most of us don't.  That is a gift.  Relish it.