Among the many trivial frustrations I endured yesterday, which included the horrifying endirtying of a load of washing due to catastrophic clothesline malfunction, and watching the worst two-parter of Justice League I’ve seen to date (some sympathy, please!) the most exasperating was spending four hours reading the responses to Joan Walsh’s article about the psychic debt Barack Obama owes Hillary Clinton for the behaviour of other people. The article itself irked me enough to ruin any chance of a good mood, but the letters took over my day, from the well-reasoned arguments against Hillary’s determination to stay in the race, to the occasional trolls who insulted her followers, to the vows of her supporters to vote McCain in November to punish the young women who had “turned their back on feminism” by not automatically siding with the female candidate.
It was a series of monologues, screeching at Joan Walsh, Obamaniacs (or Obama Boys / Obamabots, as the Clintonites would have it*), women, men, African-Americans, Geraldine Ferraro, Keith Olbermann, and anyone else who has dared to disagree with someone else. Racist!!! Sexist!!! Troll!!! Robot!!! Ageist!!! Elitist!!! I’ll vote McCain! You fucking idiot! It’s not over! Stupid emotional women! He’d better kiss our asses if he expects us to vote for him! You’re going to sell us all out and ruin our country just because you’re a bit peeved! The horn of Helm Hammerhand shall sound in the deep one last time! Fell deeds awake! Now for Wrath, now for Ruin, and a Red Dawn!
After the third hour of my stupefied click-scroll marathon, eyes dried open, brain pummelled like William Forsyth at the end of Steven Seagal’s best film (Out For Justice), I was just as punchy as everyone else on there, and seriously wanted to join the fray, but as I tend to think of the world in popular culture parameters, I would have just ended up derailing the whole anarchic mess by sniping at Battlestar Galactica fans who dare to suggest it is better than Lost, or accusing all those who refused to see Speed Racer of being fun-averse assholes who obviously despise love.
I’ve said before that I’m wary of talking about things I know little about for fear of being turned into so much Blogger Puree in the comments section, but even in a passive sense, surfing the net can have its hazards. It struck me that that’s one of the worst thing about the internet, that you can often find a multitude of different viewpoints, many of them vile, most of them just different from yours, and end up thinking that you have to modulate your viewpoint until it resembles theirs because no one seems to be thinking the way you are. I’m lucky that though I read some pretty annoying talkbacks (including the often horrific Ain’t It Cool discussions), a lot of them are frequented by interesting people who I may not agree with all the time, but are willing to express themselves like intelligent people do, instead of being troll assholes.
That’s not me saying, “Waaauuuugh! Why are the people being so mean to me?!??!?” It’s more that I just like to learn things, and reasonable, calm, non-histrionic people are great accidental teachers, even when I don’t always agree with them. It also inspires me to be as calm and collected as them, and to think that once I have that part sorted, I can be as bold as I like with my opinions, and not worry about whether it is contrary to the norm, or perceived by the small-minded as being borne of some idiotic impulse simply because they see the world in terms of Manichean conflict between their opinion and everyone else’s. That the more rabid followers of both Clinton and Obama (or Battlestar Galactica and Lost, or Speed Racer fans and the rest of the world) move further and further apart because of some weird need to get into a fight is their problem. Mine is becoming more confident in stating my feelings, having a solid rationale behind it, and then sticking to it until I am proven wrong. I shouldn’t need validation, and I shouldn’t think that every comment made by others that disagrees with me is probably automatically right, as I have little faith in my own reasoning abilities. I should just, “man up”, as they say nowadays.
That said, my distress over delving into the, “You’re racist!” “You’re sexist!” morass, and seemingly getting lost in there for a few hours, was relieved when I read Warren Ellis’ take on it, who not only voices my feelings far better than I ever could due to his Awesome Powers Of The Brain (not self-pity; he did write Transmetropolitan, after all), but is impervious to criticism and more than willing to unleash Arse Eels if he feels his supremacy is being challenged. I mean, that’s bound to make you feel bold and strong. What do I have? Chim Chim Cookies? It’s grim, but it’s not the same thing.
Since then I’ve found other articles that have talked about the contest while avoiding the obvious namecalling, which is a huge relief for one as insecure as myself. The Economist had an interesting one about the mistakes Hillary and Bill made, and even Salon managed to get Joe Conason to write something that was fatalistic and optimistic at the same time, but at least didn’t demand anything of Obama, instead asking the Obamaniacs and Clintonites to shut the fuck up for a bit. What with vicious slime like Joe Lieberman working against his own party like an enormous Judas, it’s not a good time to be making threats in order to win concessions when there are people out there who want to ruin the party to settle a score and are so unwilling to make a deal that they must only be crushed with extreme prejudice.
It’s silly to get so riled by all of that, and I know that, especially as these things are way more ephemeral than it seems at the time, which is why the thousands of pissy letters written to Salon and Huffington Post end up meaning nothing as they change no one’s minds, only occasionally contain any useful information, and are forgotten about a couple of days later. Anyway, I appreciate that politics can bring out the best in people in the real world, and the worst in people when separated by a screen and keyboard (and vice versa). Which is why, even though I am actively interested in politics (especially American politics, partially due to previous studies and partially because I intend to live in America and need to know something about it), and unless I’m really really annoyed by something such as a mean-spirited decision to act like a child over an incontrovertible loss (and seriously Clintonites, it really was), I tend to keep my blog posts and thoughts on a pop culture track, because until I feel more confident about talking about politics, when talking about films or TV shows, no matter how angry the conversations get, and no matter how entrenched the different opinion-factions get, it’s only films or TV shows, and it’s not ever really about anything that important.
* I’m very disappointed that the Clintonistas couldn’t see that a far more entertaining insult would have been Obamatrons.