On Fandom Hope/Hype

Today has been officially labeled as “Back to the Future Day” as it is the actual day in which Mary McFly actually traveled through time. Ignore all the shitty memes. It really is today. So, of course, social media has been inundated with people posting Back to the Future related posts. It’s kind of cool, a bit odd, and at times just weirdly confusing.

Honestly, though, I am just content that there is a method and manner of nerds, geeks, and dorks to communicate and congregate, even when distance is a factor. I like that so much of the media and totems of goofy and dorky media has become mainstream, but I wonder if we are reaching critical mass. Is the hype and bubble about to burst and explode a massive blow-back onto the nerds and geeks of the world?

I mean just look at all the media (both old and new) around the upcoming Star Wars movie. There are toys, books, videos, commerce tie-ins, etc. Hell, the latest trailer premiered during a Monday night football game. It was pretty awesome though.

So, is geekery and nerddom reaching a tipping point? Truthfully, I have no clue. I know that nothing, at least nothing I have seen thus far, can grow exponentially without loss and consequences. And most likely the mass saturation of comics, films, television, etc. will probably reach a level in which it can no longer sustain itself.

However, I can enjoy all the amazing and astonishing creations, both new and old, being given life and deal with the fallout, if and, when it happens. i can’t control the media being produced or it’s eventuality, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t enjoy the ride as it happens. Thus, I suppose that is what I, and maybe all of us, should do.

Besides, have you seen that trailer? I know the movie might end up being shit, but the hope and expectation for the possibility of the movie is more than enough for now.

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Lessons From…Dear White People

Alright, immediately off the bat, I did not really like Dear White People. It might have been because I was waiting for this movie for some time, but honestly I genuinely believe it simply was not executed well. Before I get into too much details, watch this trailer:

Okay, so the film is contemporary considering the slew of “less than fully appropriate” themed parties on college campuses put on by fraternities and sororities. Seriously, just Google it and you’ll understand. On top of that, it has actors of merit and actual talent. More on top of that, it is taking a pretty easy view to defend and build off of for narrative impact without getting into “preachy” territory. It should have been such a simple sell; instead, we were treated to an uneven, seemingly unfinished, and unsatisfying experience. Even so, any film can be analyzed, so as always SPOILERS ahead.

Still liking this. Though I might change it if no one notices.

Still liking this. Though I might change it if no one notices.

If you watched the trailer, you have a basic comprehension of what the movie is about. Here in lies one of my biggest complaints with this film: it is attempting to discuss racism but never actually gets around to any legitimate discussion of racism. There are two moments before the epic racist “Ghetto” themed party near the film’s conclusion that sort of talk about racism but those conversation are extremely superficial while relying heavily on pop culture quips and substituting quick, pithy speech for intelligent or witty analysis. There is a constant stream of accusations of racism without any seemingly actual racism being present.

Now, someone could argue that this is intentional. Since most racism in the country is no longer transparent and open, the movie simply underlies the racism found in everyday encounters until the allowed released within the parameters of the party. For the sake of argument, let’s say that the film is intentionally this meta, here’s the first lesson: Being meta is not a substitute for good storytelling or a sign of intelligence. Most often it is self-indulgent bullshit. Any one who wants to ever create something, pay close attention to the previous statement. Meta is the first term you learn in any criticism course regardless of the field. It is also the laziest.

This scene occurs after a cinema employee accused of racism in Hollywood basically shrugs.

This scene occurs after a cinema employee accused of racism in Hollywood basically shrugs.

And if you do not believe there was any sense of self indulgence in this film, allow me to rectify that. One of the stories involves the female lead, Sam, trying to succeed in her film class. Her first film is basically a silent short about white people freaking out and causing chaos after Obama was elected and re-elected president. That is not hyperbole or a poor summary. That is literally the short film presented in her film class. Understandably, no one in the class is a fan. At the end of the film, she presents her latest work titled “Black Faces” in which she interviews a few people about their reactions to the party. What was shown was incomplete, unclear, and self-congratulatory. Again this was for a film, not journalism, class and this was received with applause and congratulations. Quick second lesson: If your creative work was unanimously liked or approved by a college class, you fucked up somewhere along the way; guaranteed.

So, to recap, the sole black film student in the movie made a film about black people that ultimately did not actually say anything that was universally enjoyed by her entire college film class. This movie was self-indulgent as hell!

Yeah, I said it and you know it's true, DWP.

Yeah, I said it and you know it’s true, DWP.

The most disappointing aspect is that there are some quality moments that deal with identity and race without being self-indulgent or idiotic. In fact, they could even be considered poignant and noteworthy, but they are far too few within the scope of the film. One of these scenes involves Sam once again.

At the very end of the film, she talks to her boyfriend about why she is the way she is and why her performance as “black” was so important to her as a biracial person. Sam relates the story of how her father would try to walk her to school, and she would notice several people (kids, teachers, parents, etc.) looking at them with something in their eyes that she did not see when she was with her mother. Her response to this new view was to essentially throw a fit and run from her father whenever this situation occurred.

Not the best response obviously, but understandable coming from a child. This early shame made Sam realize that she did not quite fit in to the preset boxes/parameters, not necessarily because of her own quirks, personality of identity but because of how others saw her. This desire to fully assimilate and be seen as “black” by her contemporaries and peers makes Sam reject or hide certain aspects of her personality, desires, and life because of the riff it would cause between her life and the perception of who she is. Which brings us to the next lesson: You cannot let past shame or guilt define you. Learn from these mistakes but always move on.

Had the film focused on these moments of identity and acceptance, it would have been a great film. Hell, had anything of substance or worth been said, seen, or discussed, it would have been a worthy film. Instead, we got a half-formed idea of a film that ended up not going through with its intended message and left a lackluster possibility for more. This brings us to the final lesson of the film: When you ask for the microphone/megaphone, you better have something to say.

Thus endeth today’s lessons.