tenlittlebullets: (winter soldier)
Ten Little Chances to be Free ([personal profile] tenlittlebullets) wrote2014-04-15 08:30 pm

whump and tropey h/c appreciation For Great Fandom Justice

(Archived from a Tumblr post at http://shinelikethunder.tumblr.com/post/82859919063/whump-and-tropey-hc-appreciation-for-great-fandom)

This is not going to be coherent meta, but I just wanted to string some ideas together for possible later development:

Point 1: My Thing for pretty people getting punched in the face and bleeding prettily for their ideals is totally a kink, but it’s also, emotionally, about the idea of taking a lot of damage and hurting like fuck but still continuing to fight–that being hurt is not the same as being broken, that vulnerability is not helplessness, that fear doesn’t have to mean cowardice. The not giving up or being broken, at least not permanently, is crucial to what makes this particular emotional kink tick.

Point 2: grimdark is lazy, good is hard work. Go read it, it’s great meta.

Point 3: There are lots and lots of problems with what the misapplication of social-justice concepts has brought to fandom culture, and this is not the time to get into all of them, but a lot of them boil down to what is excusable versus what is the expected or commendable course of action. It’s most noticeable with the glorification of anger and verbal abuse, but there is a parallel glorification of helplessness in the way Tumblr SJ approaches victimhood, illness, disability, and arguably adversity in general: the refusal to shame people who are struggling or who’ve had bad things done to them has long since tipped over into the idea that it’s perfectly okay and normal to just roll over and give up, or even that trying to recover and get your shit together and fight back against the assorted corporeal and non-corporeal bogeymen in your life is implicitly shaming towards those who aren’t doing the same, and so you shouldn’t talk about it too loudly or too approvingly.

Point 4: I fucking hate this aspect of Tumblrfandom, and I hate it for the exact same reasons I hate gratuitous grimdark. It’s lazy. It normalizes and glorifies helplessness as the appropriate response to the existence of evil in the world. It demands not just pardon but approval for sitting back and doing nothing in the face of adversity. They’re two sides of the same shitty coin, and I wish the backlash against grimdark in media could be accompanied by a parallel backlash against fandom’s victimhood culture. I want to talk loudly and approvingly about narratives of being hurt and damaged and afraid and not giving up. Of fighting even when you can’t fix everything and you don’t think you’re going to win, because it would be wrong not to fight. Because sometimes it is wrong not to fight.

Point 5: In conclusion, it is really hard to dismantle and critique these trends in fandom (and a lot of activism in general, I think) and find ways to fight them without enabling the exact silencing/shaming behaviors that the original social justice concepts were designed to combat before they were distorted. But you know what? In this case, I don’t think an upswing in the kink described in Point 1 would hurt. At aaaall. Embrace your desire to whump the living hell out of your favorite characters just to watch them refuse to break, or break them just to watch them insist on putting themselves back together. Make them suffer deliciously for what they care about, because those kinds of narratives are delicious and viscerally satisfying and weirdly comforting for a reason.

Point 6: [image of Captain America on a WWII-era propaganda poster, bearing the caption: RESIST THE GRIMDARK INVASION / WITH HOT IDEALISTS GETTING BEATEN UP FIGHTING FOR WHAT’S RIGHT] [similar image, bearing the caption: WE BLEED SO PRETTY / BUT IT’S WORTH EVERY DROP]

Original Tumblr tags: #in a broader sense i think i only kink on a character's suffering if i think they can take it #like that is an integral part of the enjoyment #watching someone get kicked when they're down is no fun unless you know they're going to get back up #and knowing they've been totally fucked up but they're going to struggle back to their feet anyway is half the fun

In retrospect, this post doesn't even look like a harbinger of my imminent descent into the Hydra Trash Party landfill, it looks like a perfectly logical sequence of events. Note that my first post to actually use that tag was like... one week after this one.