I used to have two very good friends who I always looked forward to hanging out with (separately, they didn't know each other). We'd go out to movies together, dinner together, or just hang out in the backyard. In the past five years, both of them became pretty extreme. One of them became super hardcore right wing while the other became super hardcore left wing. It got to the point where I dreaded hanging out with either one of them, because they'd always find some way, sooner or later, to get to ranting and raving about "the way the world is." They genuinely scared me. They scared me for repeating talking points seemingly unthinkingly. They scared me for always wanting to be angry. They scared me because talking to them, it became obvious that they weren't trying to read the news to be informed about the world, but because they wanted to be indignant. Most of all, the scared me because I know sometimes I read the news because I want to feel indignant. I always did my best to try and be a level voice and they always did their best to drown me out. Towards the end, it became exhausting. I don't really talk to either anymore. One is too tied up with family to spend time with me, the other too tied up with work, and a big part of me is thankful about that. It saves me from having to actively try and avoid them.
So where am I getting at with this?
Well, I avoid a lot of things these days now and I see reflections of those two relationships in things I used to love. The main reason I gave up comics was because I wanted to spend my money and time on other things. Don't get me wrong, I love comics, but there are other things out there to enjoy and I want to experience them. But another part of the reason I gave up comics is because I grew tired of seeing some of the conversations around them. Somewhere, conversations around comics and critiquing them devolved from "I'm not a fan of this storyarch because I don't think it serves the characters well." or "Such a writer and such an artist did a great job on this collaboration they did. Their styles really compliment each other." It turned into "SJW!" "FEMINISTS!" "VIRTUE SIGNALING!" etc. etc. While not everything that's put out is gold, one of the reasons I really liked independent comics was because there were more voices from more walks of life. Stan Sakai is my all time favorite comic maker for example and Usagi Yojimbo will probably always be one of my favorite comics. When those minority voices started entering more and more into the mainstream, I thought it was a good thing. The backlash against those voices scared me though and I just couldn't handle it, so I stopped engaging in conversations about comics. The funny thing is though, if there's no one to talk to about comics, somehow, comics become less enjoyable.
Comics weren't the only thing I've seen this in though. Video games aren't my thing, so I can't speak to them directly. A good example of something similar though is, sometimes companies like Disney or Warner Brothers or whoever make some business mistakes. Maybe a movie bombs or this that or the other. If you look up Youtube videos though, none of which I'll share but they're scary easy to find and have scary high view counts, they say things like "SJWs and Feminists are ruining this company! They're ruining this IP! Everything is horrible because they want to be progressive and inclusive and we're suffering because of it." The amount of unreasonableness I see. The amount of anger in those voices. It scares me and pushes me away. I don't want to be around those conversations just like I don't want to be around my old friends.
One of the things with geek culture that I've always struggled to deal with is that a lot of people are socially awkward, and that's okay, we all are sometimes. Sometimes people say and do embarrassing things because they don't know they're embarrassing. I can live with that. Now though, it so many people seem angry. I can't tell if they're intentionally angry and realize it and they're okay with it, or if they're unintentionally angry, don't mean to be, don't see how hateful they're being, and don't know how to stop it. I don't know which is scarier.
I found out last night that Millcreek is releasing Steelbook Boxsets of both Ultra Q and the first Ultraman. I'm interested in getting them and checking them out. I want to talk to people about them before I do, talk to people about them as I'm working through them, and talk to people about them long after I've finished them. I can't though, because the places where I can have those kinds of conversations with people who enjoy them are no longer places where I want to participate in.
I'm just a faceless guy who likes art and storytelling and passively enjoys these things. If I'm affected in such a crumby way, I can't imagine what so many of these artists, writers, and journalists are going through. It's heartbreaking to think about.