Geeks Should Argue Politics. It's Good For Us.

RossaLincoln

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Geeks Should Argue Politics. It's Good For Us.

Should geeks avoid political controversy at all costs? Nope. We're better than that.

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RossaLincoln

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Man, I wish I hadn't renewed my Pub Club subscription. I can tell that, within the next year, the Escapist will have fallen to the same shitty level of in-your-face, left wing yellow journalism as sites like Polygon and Kotaku. It's fucking video games and comic books, not a platform for your political opinions.
 

Aitamen

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Geeks have a unique ability to argue politics, in fact *due* to our escapism. We live in worlds with other setups, and have seen how getting there is problematic, and how even the best (Trek's Federation, for an easy example) still have great issues to be dealt with (which allows us to start pondering how to deal with problems we don't have yet).

Following the Trek example, consider TVP and other ideas for resource-based economies... the tech being the main stumbling block (but groups like Chicago Plant working on fixing that, in the mean time), there are other things to fix between here and there. Transporation, education, and the like. Geeks are one of the few groups who, by working on problems we're *going* to encounter, instead of just fixing whatever's worst right now, might help make future transitions smoother.

I mean... hell, look at Google. They're fixing problems in our economic and legal sectors by being moderate in many causes and simply producing a better product, or by working to create tech to invalidate them. Elon Musk's another guy who's pushing more futurist and less play-the-game than google, and he's also doing fantastic. They work so very well together~

And they aren't the only ones... Steve Mann, Pranav Mistry (sorta? Better than many...), Neil Harbisson (and Adam Montandon, for the tech side of that, deserves credit as well)... And that's just in *my* field.
 

ZZoMBiE13

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For the record, no one argues about Han shooting first. We all just accept that he did. END OF STORY.

END.

OF.

STORY.
 

medv4380

The Crazy One
Feb 26, 2010
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Unless your desire is to turn the site into a bunch of left wing, and right wing nuts shouting at each other it is ill advised to dive too deeply into politics.

Everyone should be politically active, but there is zero meaning in diving in as is suggested. I can see why the author thinks it's good. Something like, "If we all talk about my political opinions everyone will be swede to my side." This would be a naive view of other people, and perhaps the author needs a hard lessen in how cynical one should be regarding politics.

Material like Franks and Allens doesn't persuade a single person to a particular view. Like conservatives who watch Steven Colbert their views only get amplified by watching him. They ether can't see him as Conservative Satire, or they use him as a pinata to justify their view, and hatred of those they oppose. Deep meaningful works always have the meaning the reader wants them to have regardless to what the author intended. We read the material because it's interesting. Not because it agrees or disagrees with our world view, and never with the intent of changing our personal beliefs. Heck, I about tossed out BioShock because it innitially looked like Ayn Rand cult propaganda, but continued after it became so absurd that it could only be a satirical poke at Libertarian views. However, I've run into enough people who think that BioShock is Pro Ayn Rand that I can't be sure.

There is a time and a place for it. Namely the Finnish [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/135836-Finnish-Hearthstone-Tournament-Changes-Policy-on-Women-Update] tournament is a good example of a proper time to discuss. Gamer specific political problems are ok to find out what the problems really are.

However, politics in general is just flamebait, and won't end well.
 

zerragonoss

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The Plunk said:
Man, I wish I hadn't renewed my Pub Club subscription. I can tell that, within the next year, the Escapist will have fallen to the same shitty level of in-your-face, left wing yellow journalism as sites like Polygon and Kotaku. It's fucking video games and comic books, not a platform for your political opinions.
Uhmm video games and comics have always contained political commentary, I mean two examples of the top of my head missile command a super early arcade game was commentary on the futile nature of war, and super man was originally about the ideal good man and the american spirit. The whole point of this column is you don't insult the medium by realizing this its that you insulting it by not doing so.
 

ffronw

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Oct 24, 2013
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Ross and I have always enjoyed debating politics, even though we seldom agree. I thought our geek responsibility was to argue about these things? I don't want to see a bunch of flaming, but reasoned discussion is always awesome.

Of course, it helps that when Ross and I argue I am always right. :p
 

Redd the Sock

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It seems we talk politics and political issues all the time, but things degrade into talking at each other not to each other.

Politics are different that a lot of the usual geek BS. They're bigger. They're real problems not hypotheticals. They don't go away with changing fads. But most of all, they're about things with personal implications. That causes people to entrench themselves because what they're arguing is usually vested in getting something they want, and as such, use the last line of your article without a hint of irony: I want A therefore anyone wanting not A (or thinks A is better achieved in a different way) is awful and evil. This can range from being very obstinate, to being outright hostile, but rarely have I even seen online political discussion take the form of understanding someone's point of view and then telling them why your way is the best way to achieve their wants and goals. Instead it becomes about winning, and these days winning more by the volume (as in number of supporters) of your cause. You don't even have to have an argument if you can get enough of twitter angry.

I mean, I won't name names, but a contributor here is rather outspoken on twitter about how he thinks certain views are "backward", "ignorant", "inferior", "wrong" and "best destroyed". How could you have a discussion with someone that seems to have not interest in engaging, but rather is devoted to squashing your political viewpoints? Moreover, why the fuck would you even want to talk with someone that seems to think your views make you less than human and undeserving of even basic respect (bonus points if at any time that person has complained about someone else being shut out of a conversation)? I used to have a lot of interest in talking politics, and while talking to walls never quite got old, what did kill my interest was the vilification by people that felt that certain views didn't count. This has been magnified the last couple of years in a culture that seems to be very quick to call the opinion of anyone straight, white and male as invalid if it goes against certain views.

To really talk politics we need to re-learn how to act like adults that don't say "with me or against me" when someone comes along to say "no, I think you're wrong about something". That can make a case for their cause that's about how their opponent would get what they wanted by joining your side, rather than finding ways to juvenilly mock opposing views. That can accept a diversity of opinions, rather than trying to silence the "wrong" views. Until then, the country is divided enough without bringing that division into our hobbies, if for no other reason than some of us need the safe harbor from the dinner conversation.
 

WaltIsFrozen

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People who don't have strong opinions are boring, whether it's geekiness, politics, or religion. I pity journalists who are so in love with their own sense of objectivity that they blindly report on absurdity without comment.

One of the great things about comics, video games, sci-fi, and the way these genres/medium allow for oblique, yet biting social commentary. How boring would the Twilight Zone have been if Rod Serling didn't have strong opinions about American society?

So, taken together, what's the point of being a smart, passionate person writing about artistic work that at its best works as metaphor or satire if you're not going to have something, anything to say about it? There's already way too much mindless "he said/she said" stenography masquerading as trenchant commentary out there. If Escapist is too "left-wing" for you, there's a million places that can be your source for safe, opinionless entertainment news.

Also, if you want conservative-leaning commentary on video games or comics, go start a blog. That's how most of the writers on this site probably started. Write and write and write and if your work is awesome, you'll find an audience.
 

RossaLincoln

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zerragonoss said:
The Plunk said:
Man, I wish I hadn't renewed my Pub Club subscription. I can tell that, within the next year, the Escapist will have fallen to the same shitty level of in-your-face, left wing yellow journalism as sites like Polygon and Kotaku. It's fucking video games and comic books, not a platform for your political opinions.
Uhmm video games and comics have always contained political commentary, I mean two examples of the top of my head missile command a super early arcade game was commentary on the futile nature of war, and super man was originally about the ideal good man and the american spirit. The whole point of this column is you don't insult the medium by realizing this its that you insulting it by not doing so.
Maybe I should have elabourated. There's no problem with using art to convey political ideas, and discussing these ideas is fine. The problem is the ridiculous over-analysis of works which aren't political to back up your own, prepossessed political views. Of course, Marxist-inspired left wing ideas (e.g. Critical Theory) hold that all works are inherently political because language and construction and privilege and blah blah blah...

...which brings me to the second problem: We will only ever hear left wing viewpoints. Of course, this is inevitable because most gamers, at least in this sort of community, are left wing, but surely you can see that a constant left wing circle-jerk will only serve to alienate people who don't agree with your politics? Having political balance in these articles would be good, but does anyone want to see right wing, Fox News style "video games are making kids hate America!"? Well, that's how I (a centrist) feel reading all the left wing rubbish that's been infecting games journalism recently. It would be best just to leave politics out.
 

Baresark

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I don't think anyone should avoid political controversy. I do think that someone should not feel compelled to change every little thing they think is wrong with something, cite racism/sexism/misogyny as the impetus and declare everyone who came before you as some sort of neanderthal who should be locked up.

That Catwoman cover is not only ridiculous, but also ugly. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad "art", it's just not pleasant to look at in my opinion. So... if I were to read that comic, I would probably just not pay any attention to the ridiculous cover. I'm not for sexism or racism or misogyny. I also notice the the pictures like the Catwoman cover not only draw accusation of sexism, but people drop "misogyny" like they are interchangeable, which they are not. But the whole debate is one sided to a ridiculous extent. Women in comics are ultra sexy (usually) and depicted wearing clothing and acting in ways that shows that aspect off too much. I won't disagree. I will say that men are equally mistreated in this sense in comics. Even ugly villains are covered in rippling muscle and presented as being physically far superior to what the average person will ever attain.

I'm torn on the new actor for Johnny Storm. Part of me loves the source material so much, I hate the change. Marvel's first family is iconic, so changing that feels wrong and out of place. On the other hand, I look forward to seeing how the script works with the reboot, and I like Michael B Jordan as an actor well enough. I personally object to the trap this very situation creates and people refuse to see it as that. I like the source material, and the only difference is the race of the characters like this and Heimdall (for example). I want it to be as close to the source material as it can be since I own over 6000 comics, all of which I have read multiple times, and for the most part like very much how they have always been. It doesn't make it worse that they changed the race of the character, but it denies 53 years of history and changes a major part of the character (when talking about FF). And the accusations of racism because you like the original characters is disingenuous and out of place.

And YES, race is a major part of a person or character. If it wasn't, then it wouldn't so "progressive" to change the race of the character. Popularly, from white to black. I'm sure it happened the other way as well, but it's far less common. One of the parts that stand out to me is the different situation when it comes to Michael B Jordan as the Johnny Storm and Miles Morales as the new SpiderMan. In one situation you are taking a character who has historically always one color and color swap him, so it's like he has always been black. In the instance of Miles Morales as SpiderMan, you are passing on the mantle of the character to a new character. These two situations are very different but seem to treated the same by people who "lean left". My girlfriend made a very good point about the ridiculous impetus of choosing Miles Morales as the new Spiderman. They could have simply said it's this guy now. But the creator was saying that it's more believable if the character is not white. It was move believable to have a non-white guy be poor and from the city. This boggles my mind of course. But that being said, then you can also say that Bruce Wayne or Batman can only ever be white because all non-whites are poor people. Both of these are ridiculous ideas and make no sense.


TL;DR

I will always critique the way people on the left and on the right use language as a weapon. Sure, lets talk politics, but how about we leave out language that intentionally and explicitly vilifies anyone who doesn't see it the same way you do. Sometimes people are sickening in their adherence to these concepts without application of any kind of critical thought. No one is making the argument that people aren't racist, or that women aren't under represented in the development community, or that people push "sex" to illogical limits in art sometimes. But every instance of these things or opinions not explicitly hateful towards them is not sexist, racist, or misogynistic. You aren't holding back a tide of racists sexist misogynists by making these accusations, you are making creators afraid to do anything that may be perceived as those things. You will eventually homogenize everything, which is definitively bad. I collected comics all through the 90's and 2000's (no, the 90's didn't suck, Bob just likes to say that a lot). There are books for everyone. If you don't like superhero's, there are books for you. If you hate Marvel or DC or Image, there are alternative. Small press books, independently published books, lots of options. If you want to read classic literature in comic panel form, there are books for you. There is no reason to say everything must change just because of reasons, which is what a lot of this ends up feeling like.
 

WarpedLord

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Baresark said:
I'm torn on the new actor for Johnny Storm. Part of me loves the source material so much, I hate the change. Marvel's first family is iconic, so changing that feels wrong and out of place. On the other hand, I look forward to seeing how the script works with the reboot, and I like Michael B Jordan as an actor well enough. I personally object to the trap this very situation creates and people refuse to see it as that. I like the source material, and the only difference is the race of the characters like this and Heimdall (for example). I want it to be as close to the source material as it can be since I own over 6000 comics, all of which I have read multiple times, and for the most part like very much how they have always been. It doesn't make it worse that they changed the race of the character, but it denies 53 years of history and changes a major part of the character (when talking about FF). And the accusations of racism because you like the original characters is disingenuous and o

And YES, race is a major part of a person or character. If it wasn't, then it wouldn't so "progressive" to change the race of the character. Popularly, from white to black. I'm sure it happened the other way as well, but it's far less common. One of the parts that stand out to me is the different situation when it comes to Michael B Jordan as the Johnny Storm and Miles Morales as the new SpiderMan. In one situation you are taking a character who has historically always one color and color swap him, so it's like he has always been black. In the instance of Miles Morales as SpiderMan, you are passing on the mantle of the character to a new character. These two situations are very different but seem to treated the same by people who "lean left". My girlfriend made a very good point about the ridiculous impetus of choosing Miles Morales as the new Spiderman. They could have simply said it's this guy now. But the creator was saying that it's more believable if the character is not white. It was move believable to have a non-white guy be poor and from the city. This boggles my mind of course. But that being said, then you can also say that Bruce Wayne or Batman can only ever be white because all non-whites are poor people. Both of these are ridiculous ideas and make no sense.
Well put.

I think we're all PAST being sick of the whole "Black Johnny Storm" thing, but then the author just HAD to go and accuse a huge number of comic fans of being racists.

So, he're my two cents to add to the above post. I'm sure the "Social Justice Warrior" is an intelligent person, really I am. I'm sure I share some of his political views. I refuse to subscribe to the whole "left vs. right" thing though, as the idea of splitting everyone neatly into two neat, disparate belief systems is beyond stupidity. That being said, I'll type this slowly, using words everyone (incuding the SJW) should be able to understand:

Recognizing that human beings have different physical characteristics (including skin tone or "color") is not racism. Believing that mostly superficial physical characteristics such as skin color somehow indicate that a person is inferior is racism.

My point? Nobody (other than maybe a few idiots somewhere) said "Michael B. Jordan shouldn't play the Human Torch because, as a black man he is an inferior actor to a white man." THAT would be racist. No... a very large percentage of the posts by people who were "upset" about the casting were upset not that a black actor would somehow automatically suck at playing the Human Torch. They were upset that with Johnny and Sue being certainly one of the most well-known and iconic brother-sister superhero pairs, it's a absolute stupid move to make them NOT biological siblings. So... with the HUGE pool of talented actresses "of color" in Hollywood that would have made GREAT Sue Storms, and the oft-bemoaned lack of high-profile roles for those actresses, it's fairly obvious that the black/white casting of the famous siblings was done to stir exactly the controversy it did.

Sure, we all know that there are a few not-too-crazy ways to explain having siblings of dramatically different complexion, but it's frankly a stupid and unnecessary complication to a fairly straightforward origin story that I'm pretty sure we're all hoping they don't waste half the movie going over AGAIN.

If their goal was TRULY to add diversity to a very "whitewashed" cast, casting a non-caucasian Mr. Fantastic or Thing would have barely registered with most level-headed fans, or... again, casting the siblings from a pool of actors that actually look like they could be... y'know... siblings. Take Heimdall, for instance. Yeah, there were some people with strong opinions about casting the crazy awesome Idris Elba as the traditionally white Heimdall, or casting someone of Asiatic descent as Hogun... but the rumblings were minor, and subsided fairly quickly. Yes, Jaimie Alexander's Sif and Idris Elba's Heimdall are siblings as well, but besides the fact that their familial relationship isn't nearly as central to the plot as Sue and Johnny's sibling status, a bigger point is that they are near-immortal god-like alien beings to whom we have no solid reason to believe the "rules" of human genetics apply.

TL:DR? Stop throwing the "racism" card at people just because they disagree with you. It makes you look like an idiot.
 

RossaLincoln

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ZZoMBiE13 said:
For the record, no one argues about Han shooting first. We all just accept that he did. END OF STORY.

END.

OF.

STORY.
You know that Futurama episode where they purged Star Trek from existence?

They should do that with all of the Star Wars updates and the prequels.

The Plunk said:
Maybe I should have elabourated. There's no problem with using art to convey political ideas, and discussing these ideas is fine. The problem is the ridiculous over-analysis of works which aren't political to back up your own, prepossessed political views.
Who is to say that they're apolitical? To assume they are is to assume that the form of art itself is create within a vacuum where there are no political ideals, no beliefs about anything, which is obviously impossible. What about when the artist says that they meant one thing, but most people interpret it differently?

Even videogames, on some level or another, express the ideas of its designers. Take, say, Civilization V, a game which is supposedly about celebrating the history of humanity. How do you win Civilization V? By promoting world peace? Solving world hunger? Having the healthiest, or most educated, or happiest population on the planet? How about nuclear deproliferation, creating artificial intelligence, or curing disease? None of those are valid victories in Civilization V. Hell, the aforementioned happiness is a modifier for the efficiency of your civilization, and that the happiness of the people is only really important for productivity. What are valid victories in Civilization V? Defeating every other Civilization on the planet, having your culture (which you in no way have any way of representing, its a number, not a reflection of your civilization at all) pervade every other civilization on the planet, regardless of the actual quality of the culture, winning the next Space Race, electing yourself as a single, solitary World Leader, and winning via points, and the amount of points you have is decided by how large your empire is. It doesn't take much effort to see that, besides the problem that Civilization V itemizes most human achievement in a shallow, soulless way, the game's idea of "victory" has been hugely influence by the history of the country it was made in. The studio that made Civilization V resides in the US - the same US that is the military powerhouse of the world, is considered to be the world's only SuperPower nation, has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, was one of two main competitors in the Space Race (and has promptly stopped giving a fuck once its remaining competitor dropped out of said race), and dominates the world with cinematic achivements.

None of that is to say that Civilization V is bad, or that those are bad goals, but those certainly aren't goals for all of humanity, yet, the creators of the series say that the Civilization is about celebrating human achievement. I don't doubt their sincerity - just their ability to proclaim with any sort of authority what constitutes as achievements in humanity.

Obviously, you don't buy any of this stuff, but the great thing about Critical Theory is that we can speculate on why you don't believe it. For example, you used "Marxist" as a negative-connation, which gives us an idea about some of your views without even having to ask you about them. See, Critical Theory at work!

...which brings me to the second problem: We will only ever hear left wing viewpoints. Of course, this is inevitable because most gamers, at least in this sort of community, are left wing, but surely you can see that a constant left wing circle-jerk will only serve to alienate people who don't agree with your politics?
That is why we have forums - to discuss these things. You're posting on a forum, right now, on an article that basically said "Hey people, PLEASE ARGUE WITH EACH OTHER!" Nobody is required to advocate for any ideas, especially those they don't hold, and if somebody's particular view isn't being challenged one way, you're right that its likely going to be challenged and refined by somebody who shares more similar beliefs. You can have an argument between a liberal and a conservative about affirmative action, and you can also have an equally valid argument between two liberals or two conservatives about affirmative action.

And by the way, journalism is in of itself political, even "objective" journalism. Even when trying to give just the facts, no opinions, you are, yourself, inevitably going to give a reflection of your own ideas. Nobody goes interviewing an Islamic theocrat whenever an issue about gay rights shows up in the United States. Why not? Their religious beliefs are as valid as anyone elses. Isn't that omission in journalism an admission that they don't think an Islamic viewpoint is as relevant as that of a Christian? How about that we here in the United States never hear from the leaders of governments opposed to the United States? That omission from news media outlets is an omission that they don't consider the ideology of governments opposed to the United States' interests as being worth mentioning because they're automatically wrong.
 

TheRiddler

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I agree, obviously. Political discussion is generally necessary in any art form, and games can't really be excluded from that. And if one needs to take an overtly political stand when talking about a game, so be it. That said... I think that heavily framing any work of fiction in political terms forces people to see it in black and white terms. There's less measured talk about what makes a game/film/etc work if a political agenda is all you can read into it.

To use Ross Lincoln's example, yes, the political views of Alan Moore do merit discussion in talking about Watchmen. But it becomes increasingly hard to calmly observe the interpersonal relationships and emotional subtleties of Moore's characters if you can only see them as political caricatures.
 

weirdee

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Y'know, it's actually possible to discuss these things without being crazy. Maybe some people could try a bit harder?
 

RossaLincoln

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Nice clickbait headline...again.

OT: The gaming community primarily is here to do 2 things.

1: PLAY VIDEOGAMES.
2: DISCUSS SAID VIDEOGAMES.

It is not about politics, the geopolitical landscape, etc. Inviting political discussion into a forum not made for said discussion is like inviting a bear into a fine resturaunt. Keep political debates on political sites. Keep religious discussion on religious sites. And keep geek/nerd discussion on geek/nerd sites. I mean really people.
 

Imperioratorex Caprae

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May 15, 2010
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No, its just too polarizing and devolves into irrationality. The amount of shit-flinging that happens when folks discuss politics, the volatility of believing one is right about how things should be run or what one should even believe isn't good for us. It always ends up toxic. Journalism is dead once everything is an opinion piece and not a straight reporting of facts. Facts are often distorted now by agendas, truth is often left behind because it doesn't fit with the current popular political theory. I distrust everything I read and see because I don't believe there's any objectivity anymore. Especially when one admits they're writing an opinion based on one sided viewpoints. No, I can't do this because its just going to cause a lot of crap and arguments and I just can't do that anymore. Let me enjoy my games, my movies and not think so much on what the hell the artist(s) is/are trying to comment on society. Let me form my own damn opinions for myself, and not have to air them out as if its some great epiphany everyone must have as well in order to validate it. Art isn't about the artist, its about what the art says to you. Its meant to be subjective, its in the eye of the beholder (unless that eye happens to be the disintegration beam, then don't look).
Basically we're all going to form our own views on things and attempting to subscribe to one group or the other and dismissing the side we're not on isn't progressive, its regressive.
 

Nurb

Cynical bastard
Dec 9, 2008
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Please please change the title of this new article type of escapist, or is it purposely trolly and click-baity?

Escapist isn't Kotaku and I like it that way.
 

Kameburger

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Apr 7, 2012
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The Escapist as of late, who's name is now misleading because it's no longer offering any kind of escapism, but instead bombards you constantly with articles about issues and how they relate to games, how they relate to comics, how they relate to movies, and more often then not derailing entirely into a full throated non "geek culture related political rampage. And for the record I'm not just saying this because I disagree, again I agree with a lot of points, I am saying this because, absolutely Ubisoft said something thoughtless and frankly stupid, but nearly every single writer, contributor, and reporter on the escapist through in their two sense on the issue, so much so to the point where regardless of how good the point was it got annoying.

Social justice has its place in geek culture because it is an industry that has long since been plagued with sexism, racism, and a lack of diversity and is slow to catch up with our quickly changing culture. That's why your column should be here. I just wish it didn't sound so condescending every time you bring this up.

I come to the Escapist because I want to hear opinions about video games, TV, Movies, etc. I go to Real clear politics, or other sites to hear news about politics. Of course there will be some overlap, this is the real world after all. But create a politics section if you want to rail on about it all the time.

And before anyone chimes in with accusations of me trying to "silence" decenting opinions, that's not my point. There is a "place" for these things in entertainment media, but the constant drone of allegations flying back and forth is detracting from the real issues which are, are these things any good?

The TV and Movies podcast has this tendency to be little more then rambling about Sexism, and this week we were tuned into a special treat of Old people and republican bashing because Jon Stewart goes too far for Gary Oldman but not far enough for you. I know what Bob's politics are. When not on the Escapist, he wears them on his proverbial internet sleeve, but I watch the big picture because 90% of the time he talks about an area in which he has expertise and I undoubtedly respect and am interested in his opinions in those subjects.

I'm asking you as a fan, to ease up and enjoy the Hobby and use your strong words sparingly because the more you use words the less meaning they have, and your specific brand of social justice is starting to loose meaning to the point where it seems to set the movements you support back, as they invite more aggravate more moderate sympathizers then they convince those who disagree, and the echo-chamber of like minded individuals still nets you nothing.

[edited] toned it down a bit, but still I'm hoping you guys will have some fun.
 

VVThoughtBox

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I believe that it is unhealthy for geeks to argue politics. A lot of the stuff that the article mentions like the Catwoman cover, or a black man being cast as the Human Torch doesn't even sound like politics. It sounds more like a consumer who's dissatisfied with the quality of the product, or don't like the changes made to a character. In order for geeks to argue politics, they would have to be comfortable and very knowledgeable with talking about social issues like abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigration, and death. Geeks will also have to come to terms with the fact that an episode of Star Trek, or an issue of Superman doesn't have the answer to these social issues, and cannot solve something that has been plaguing humanity for centuries.