The left and right are fever dreaming dystopias but what is happening is not 1984 or The Handmaid’s Tale. What is happening is Brave New World and Idiocracy. I recently wrote about True Crime being P.T. Barnum’s parody of feminism. It is a clickbait freak show of blood, sex, and gore. I have watched a lot of the public discourse around true crime but no one talks about it as consumerism. It is said to be bad because it glamorizes serial killers and is unethical to the victims but never as a phenomenon of capitalism. In all of John Oliver’s takedown of Law and Order, none of it was about what it truly is: a tabloid selling human interest stories.
Fandoms, generally, are sad for similar reasons. The left celebrates campy geekiness and comicon as an expression of personal identity. Comicon is like Woodstock for capitalism. It answers what if there was an alternative subculture that worshipped corporations. What is the harm? The harm in consumerism is the erosion of the human experience. Subcultures from punk to hipsters and more had better social skills and empathy because they traded in real human stories but fandom people are avatars in virtual landscape and a landscape designed to sell them things. The DC, Marvel, and Disney universes have far fewer human issues and much less nuance than real life. What they have is dopamine.
Their canons are made to be sold and therefore have all of the juicy, sexy, addictive stuff but this is not deep literature to be learned from but shallow comics. Like Bill Maher said about us being subliterate as a society. People rationalize that it has deep messages but it is mostly junk food and candy. Yet, because identity is sacred now, it is uncouth to decry it as childish. I am not decrying it that way. It is however cheap and lacks humanity. Friendships are collapsing and parents are being estranged from their children and a lot of it is the media doesn’t teach life.
Olivia Benson and Twilight, as examples of fandoms, do not teach human relationships or explore the human condition. They sell fantasies that pose as serious. Twilight has been lacerated by feminists but Bella Cullen is a narcissistic fantasy outside of gender dynamics about being worshiped by your partner and not helping anyone ever. There is no politics, charity, or altruism whatsoever in Twilight and Olivia Benson is a superhero who expects nothing of the average viewer. Vicarious dreams of being idolized and rage porn over sex offenders is toxic. But capitalism won’t sell what is right because it is seldom popular.