NO FIWOTTS ALLOWED!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Group Think

So Dorian over at postmodern Barney is irritated at the comics internet again. Ranting critics, superhero naysayers, and people being looked down upon for enjoying mainstream or crossover fare. He's grumbled about this topic, or similar ones, quite a few times before, and I'm left slightly baffled every time. What blogs are he reading? I can honestly say that the ones I read with any diligence haven't even mentioned all this House of Infinite stuff. I haven't even picked one up since the first issues.

I'm sure there probably are people ranting about these books. I'd rant a bit if I had any interest. But really, it's just some talented people being asked to fill in the editorial blanks and help sell books. It's not worth reading, really, but it's not worth getting upset about, either; especially not when there's such good stuff out there elsewhere.

But his post had hints of arguments I've seen a lot of times. About the "group think" or "clique mindset" or what have you. The idea that a bunch of people tend to agree with each other in order to fit in and form a common bond. I used to throw in the unimind concept when irritated with specific creator's message boards. But it follows that if creator A has a board, his or her deep fans will search it out and post there. If they are all that dedicated to creator A, they're probably going to have similar tastes overall. If they tend to agree a lot, that's because they think alike anyway, hence their shared love of creator A.

The same goes for the blogosphere. It is comprised mainly of writerly-type critics who take their comics seriously in a critical way. The very idea of using their time and resources to type about comics online tends to point to that fact. So it follows that there WOULD be strong trends of opinion. But it's not designed, it's not some conspiracy. If the blogosphere seems to almost unanimously be down on something, it's probably a comic that people who take their criticism fairly seriously and focus on writing just aren't going to like. I can enjoy superheroes, I can enjoy babies, I can enjoy any type of story with any type of mood. But if the writing is hackneyed, cliched, or just not interesting, I'm probably not going to like it, no matter what.

Mind you, Dorian's not necessarily making that accusation. His complaint simply reminded me of it.

But, really, I don't see any internerd bullies in the blogosphere. Some blogs are rife with DC editorial love. I don't tend to read them because I disagree pretty intrinsically with a lot of them. But they're out there.

It's like the old message board argument standby, the "hipster conspiracy." A reader who doesn't like something he sees as popular usually pulls it out. Morrison anti-fans are big on this, or anti-indie folks. "You only like it because it makes you feel cool/because other people do." It's a bullshit argument that just means, "Not liking this makes me feel really uncool and that's YOUR FAULT!" People don't like Grant Morrison to fit in. They like him because he writes great stories. People don't like Scott Pilgrim to be cool. They like it because it's fun. And people don't read indie comics because they think they're cooler than lame old cape books. They read them because some of them are good.

It's time to kill the idea of the "hipster conspiracy." If you think there's an "elitist hipster" out there who, by his liking of something you don't like, is trying to make you feel bad or lame, you're wrong. Deal with it. You're the one that apparently has worries about something's acceptability. Read what you like, or, better, try something new and see if you like that even more. There is no hipster conspiracy.

18 Love Letters:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comics called me up on the phone the other day and he was all "yo, you kids need to chillax!" and I was all "nah, fuck that shit! These kids be makin' me feel all dumb for getting excited for liking something with X in the title! I'm just gonna start slappin' them artsy fartsy books out of THEIR hands and see how THEY like it!" Comics was quiet for a second, then said "nigga, please..."

So yeah, I'm over it.

But dang, I read that Tales To Thrizzle review over at Spurgeon's site and I am dead set on finding a copy and thoroughly enjoying it. And all because you were so adamant about it a few days ago on the FBR.

3:26 PM

 
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Totally agreed.

I think, along the same lines, something that needs to be eliminated is "You're just saying that because ____."

"You're just saying that because..." is a terrible, terrible phrase, which simply allows someone to dismiss whatever someone is saying as "nonsense" because they OBVIOUSLY have some other, hidden, motive (whether is be "groupthink," "hivemind," or "you like it because you are a hipster").

Ridiculous.

1:55 AM

 
Anonymous f. chong rutherford said...

"It's time to kill the idea of the "hipster conspiracy." If you think there's an "elitist hipster" out there who, by his liking of something you don't like, is trying to make you feel bad or lame, you're wrong."

... hey, that's EXACTLY what the Supreme Casablancas at the last Hipster Conspiracy* meeting told people to say! WE'RE ON TO YOU JOE RICE!

*this is a good title for something, innit?

Another One: ... okay, can someone explain this one to me? It's tangential, but, why does it take some fans, like, to the sixth or seventh "bad issue" of series X to finally say, "I would no longer like to buy this thing that makes me cry?" You can stop stuffing the twinkies into your mouth at any time man!

10:44 AM

 
Blogger Joe Rice said...

I think it's a combination of misplaced hope and weird loyalty to fictional characters. "I always liked Rogue before, so not liking her now is just an aberration. The X-Men have always been kind to me, I must stick with them through these hard times."

11:00 AM

 
Anonymous Spencer said...

I've never believed in a hipster conspiracy, but there are people out there who have no problem with bashing a person for liking Marvel and DC comics. And the funny thing, is that it can be both ways. While on one end, there is the hipster insult being thrown around, on the other is the assumption that just because you like Marvel and DC comics, you are tool who will like anything those two put out. Granted, the latter can be true in a lot of cases, there are people like myself who genuinely like reading about a superhero team that has Wolverine, Spiderman, Captain America, and Luke Cage on it. Is this all I like? No. Why do I like it? Because its a fun read. Do I buy everything that has these characters in it because of some weird loyalty? No fucking way. The few comic book message boards I visit that are Marvel/DC-centric, I rarely see much Indie comic bashing. The bashing I DO see towards Indie comic fans is usually in defense. The term "master apologist" didn't coin itself.

Its pretty juvenile that comic book fans have to target each other but that is apparently the name of the game on this blogosphere that we love so much.

12:41 PM

 
Anonymous f. chong rutherford said...

"Its pretty juvenile that comic book fans have to target each other but that is apparently the name of the game on this blogosphere that we love so much."

Which seems to be his point--that all the "bashing" of the mainstream cross over books (like House of Infinityness) is unnecessary, because the content of those books is, "... not worth getting upset about," if those comics aren't your cup of tea.

At the same time, in my very narrow and limited experience, comic fans have been eating their own since long before the blogosphere and message boards came into non-corporeal existance.*

*Yes I said that last thing as a fact without any semblance of anything to back it up, and yes, I've been trying to use the word "non-corporeal" for some reason on the Internet all week.

3:52 PM

 
Anonymous Spencer said...

At the same time, in my very narrow and limited experience, comic fans have been eating their own since long before the blogosphere and message boards came into non-corporeal existance.*

On the internet, at the comic shop, in line for Spiderman 2.....when are we going to stop tearing down and start building up?

7:15 PM

 
Blogger Joe Rice said...

I'll stop tearing down when all my fellow nerds learn

a) proper grooming techniques
b) how to dress themselves
c) how to interact with people
d) good taste in comics.

Most of them have some of the above, and some have all. BUT ALL SHOULD HAVE ALL!

9:02 AM

 
Anonymous Spencer said...

I take it I'm not the only one who stands in lines at the opening night of comic book movies and gets mad at my fellow nerds.

11:47 AM

 
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Well, if I went to comic book movies on opening night, I'm sure I'd feel the same way.

11:49 AM

 
Blogger Ed Cunard said...

If there was no hipster conspiracy, we would have to invent it.

Or something.

But, Joe, you are a hipster. You probably drink Pabst because it's ironic.

That's what prevents me from achieving hipsterdom. I can't drink bad beer on purpose.

1:02 PM

 
Blogger Joe Rice said...

I drink Pabst because it's so damn cheap. It helps lower my average trip-to-the-bar-price when I'm getting Elijah Craig 18 year old bourbon with it.

1:52 PM

 
Anonymous Spencer said...

Well, if I went to comic book movies on opening night, I'm sure I'd feel the same way.

Dude! There you go again! Belittling my love of mainstream funny books! Damn you!

Really though, explain the irony in drinking PBR. Is it like a free ride when you're already there? Because I drink the Natty Ice and now I feel like I'm missing out on something.

3:22 PM

 
Blogger Joe Rice said...

I think some folks drink it ironically because "We're so cultured and yet this beer is so bad!"

And opening nights in NY are a thing of my past. Too much hassle for this old man.

4:22 PM

 
Blogger T. said...

It's funny that you mention a "hipster conspiracy." I feel annoyed when I read the talk about the "mainstream conspiracy" to cram superheroes down everyone's throat.

4:22 PM

 
Blogger T. said...

"I drink Pabst because it's so damn cheap. It helps lower my average trip-to-the-bar-price when I'm getting Elijah Craig 18 year old bourbon with it."

Do you live in NY? I do and I can't find Elijah Craig anywhere. I've wanted to try it since forever.

4:25 PM

 
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Floyd's in Park Slope has it and it is deliscious.

Owned by Kentuckians, it also has Kentucky Beer Cheese, which must be tasted to be understood and loved.

11:09 PM

 
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2:34 AM

 

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