Last week’s newsletter was all about hero worship and toxic fandoms.
The topic took shape while talking with Dena about the way that some fandoms seem to be about elevating the character or creator, while others seem more balanced toward recognizing how the show/movie/character/etc. helps fans to lift themselves up.
Even within an individual fandom there’s that tension between the toxic and the transformative.
Look at Star Wars. That contrast between people making zines, cosplay, art, etc. and finding something they can create and add to the story vs. people who act as if complaining about The Last Jedi counts as a fully formed personality.
It’s the difference between yelling “That’s not how Luke’s supposed to be!” and asking “What could make Luke change like this, and can I relate to that?”
If a character or a piece of art gets held up like an idol for worship, it creates that us-versus-them friction. “Either love the thing we do the same way we do, or you’re nothing like us.”
A character or work held up as a mirror offers a chance to see yourself.
Going back to The Last Jedi, I love the ending of the film so much. A stable boy seen earlier in the film shows a small ability to use the force, and looks to the night sky, holding a broom as an imagined sword.
His brief contact with the Resistance gave him an opportunity to imagine himself as something more. The movie ending on this minor character in a moment of reflection seems to call out to the viewer: Don’t mourn the passing of your heroes—prepare to step into their shoes.
Put another way, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.“
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