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The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Three brief manners rants
Because I need a break from animal symbolism in AotC, a statement which might make sense in a couple of days but might not at the rate I'm going. Why do I procrastinate????

Anyway, three people requested rants that ultimately deal with manners and perception of communities and so on, so they seemed good to put together.

For buongiornodaisy:
The gross misconceptions people have on the internet, those who use it, and "netiquette".
We've all heard them. I know it. People who spend a lot of time online don't have "real" friends. People who are online are always looking at porno movies. If you meet someone you only know online, that person IS QUITE POSSIBLY AN AXE MURDERER. Don't let the kiddos in the chat rooms because they're full of possibly dangerous people. And so on.

We know them.

I'll grant, the divide between my physical and online life is pretty solid. I've only met a handful of people I know from the web in real life. Going down my f-list of three hundred sixty nine people, here are the ones I know or have at least met in RL (not counting my own two LJs): a_p_, anna_fredricka, aries_siren, cheshyre, chienar, gnomi, mamadeb, sjepstein, and stakebait. Three--mamadeb, gnomi, and stakebait--I've met at a con, where we friended each other after discussing LJ (yay for good con contacts!). Three are old RL friends from totally different eras--sjepstein from college, chienar from high school, and anna_fredricka from sharing the same playpen when we were babies. We all got online independently of one another. aries_siren is a lovely person I know in RL with whom I got talking one day and we found out we both had LJs (same is true of another person, who I don't know if she wants me listing her as an RL person for privacy's sake, since she might be recognizable). a_p_, who became the best friend I've made since leaving college, I met online first then met in real life, and cheshyre and I met here first and have since discovered we move in a few other shared circles (not to mention that I was desperate for a ride home after PoA and she and her husband offered one... thank you!).

What's the point of that little exercise? These are people I've met in very disparate circumstances. They're all pretty different from one another. And they're all online, all part of these cybercommunities, and you know what? That kind of makes me think--if this little tiny subset of just one particular part of the online world, my f-list, is so varied and so much like the rest of life, you know what? Probably the rest of the net is exactly the same way. I'm online. They're all online. And they're all perfectly nice, normal people. If that's true of my f-list, why wouldn't it be true of, say, the TFN message boards? Or the Kitten Break message boards? Or... well, you get the picture. If every single person I know from online is more or less normal, what's the likelihood that my circle is so aberrant that the entire rest of the internet is still filled by creepy stalkers and axe murderers?

Of course you need to be careful. You need to be careful in any environment where you're surrounded by people you don't know. Frankly, though, I'd be as worried about a kid hanging out in the mall as in a chatroom. Maybe more worried, as it's a lot easier to physically grab someone in a mall, and not everyone is in the mall with some notion of why everyone else is there. So why the paranoia about the internet in particular? Why the distaste for its denizens? This makes no sense to me.

"But you're not socializing! You're becoming withdrawn!" I don't know about the rest of you guys, but honestly, since going online, my social skills have improved dramatically. Which, people who have met me can attest, is kind of a scary thought, as I'm still shy and prone to bolting as soon as possible, but I promise it is an improvement over being afraid to open my mouth because I'm sure no one cares what I have to say. (Well, unless, of course, you're running a meeting and I decide that I have contrary opinions. In that case, you might think the pre-net Fern was a better choice.)

And as to 'net users having no social skills, let's get to that last notion, that of "netiquette." This is an environment where people have actually concerned themselves with questions about the social rules of communities and which tends to self-police. Can you say that much about the crowd getting on subway in the morning?

For penny_pixie
People putting down adult fans of Harry Potter. I don't know if you've done that yet.
I forget which comic it was. Does it matter? The joke was basically a long running thing about reading, and he described Harry Potter as "books for children and for adults who act like them."

Yeah. Right.

Because adults couldn't possibly enjoy decently put-together books with an interesting plot that happen to be about children. Adults must only read about other adults. And the adults they're reading about must be performing acts that are definitely adult. Not just sex. They must be buying plane tickets or worrying about aging. Working. Trying to complete a corporate takeover. Conniving for social position. Whatever.

I admit that I have a hard time ranting about them looking down at us because I tend to look right back down, which I realize isn't fair, really. But rather than thinking, "Oh, I'm so hurt! They don't respect me!" my mind tends to go, "Oh, poor thing. It must be so awfully dull to live that way!" Not caring about stories or reading deeply is what strikes me as aberrant behavior--even if you don't like HP in particular, how can you read a story and not want to think about it?

But the thing is, I know better than to voice this in mixed company. Not because I don't think that society would benefit from using its imagination more, but because it's rude to slam someone else's tastes, which are perfectly valid for them. I may not get it, but I'm sure that to them, whatever their hobbies are provide mental stimulation and may even use the imagination. Why on earth can't they extend the same courtesy, and assume that those of us with fantasy hobbies (other than fantasy baseball or whatever) are using our brains and appreciating these things as adults? I'm frequently tempted to make On Fairy Stories required reading, particularly the sections on why fairy tales are not the sole property of the nursery.

For sreya

With Episode III coming up, I'd like to see a rant on how some original trilogy SW fans absolutely eviscerate prequel fans. Not a rant on "How can people not like the prequels?" but "For goodness sake, there are perfectly good reasons to like the prequels even if you don't!"

All of us who like the prequels are just pretending to like them, or have been brainwashed by George Lucas. Or we're Hayden or Ewan fangirls who are overlooking the obvious faults just so we can watch them running around with lightsabers. Or quite possibly, we're just stupid. Or...

Oh, for heaven's sake.

You don't like the prequels? Fine. Your business. As with the folks who think only kids could like HP, I think it's weird, but you know what? Whatever. I'm not entirely sure what the point of seeing them ten or fifteen times in the theater is if you don't like them, but again--whatever floats your boat. A person who reads pottersues and used to hang out at deleterius probably shouldn't talk about the habit of deliberately exposing oneself to things one finds winceworthy.

But you know what? Those of us who enjoy the entire saga really do have actual reasons for it.

No, they're not the brilliant dialogue and Oscar-level acting. This is Star Wars, land of lines like "I can bring him back... to the good side!" and performances... well, let's just say Harrison Ford has improved exponentially since the cantina scene. But that was never why we went to see Star Wars movies in the first place, so stilted dialogue (which, on a different topic, is what I think makes the dialogue quotable; good naturalistic dialogue doesn't tend to be memorable) and kind of stiff acting really aren't a vast disappointment for which we must go into deep denial. The fact that there are good moments (HC's confession scene, EM's spot-on Alec Guinness impersonation) is a plus, but the general Star Wars level of dialogue and performance isn't a minus, because, hello, it's Star Wars.

What we were waiting for was the story. Who was this man Luke saved at the end of RotJ? What was he like before he was seduced by the Dark side? Who did he love? Who loved him? What did he lose?

And guess what?!

We got the answers. And those of us who'd believed for years that Anakin was probably a pretty kind man once who loved deeply were, in fact, vindicated. He was a nice little kid in a bad situation, from which he was rescued but with some big emotional strings attached. And he loved the people he loved so deeply that it drives him to make huge mistakes, though it is the same force which will ultimately save him--like the Force itself, there is light and dark.

As befits the era in which the stories are being told, the clean-cut battle of the Classic Trilogy is elusive. People are being seduced by the Dark Side, drawn to it, and the Republic which has stood for a thousand years is starting to crumble from the inside. This doesn't happen when a guy in a black cowl abruptly starts stomping around. It happens when things have become very complex and there are so many shades of gray in the world that it's hard to notice when you hit black and white. The political situation is spot on for the kind of politics a bright but naive boy like Anakin ends up espousing (a_p_ has a good essay about that in the inaugural issue of Saga Journal, here). People are comfortable and complacent, and Palpatine, like the serpent in the garden, slithers right in and starts whispering in Eve's ear.

And the look! Oh, my! Trisha Biggar's costumes are astounding, so much richer than the stark costuming of the Classic (again, as befits the era). And the details on Coruscant--the billboards, the garbage in the alley, the trafficways... just gorgeous.

And the fight scenes! Nick Gillard is brilliant. We never got anything remotely close to the kind of lightsaber duels we see now--which is appropriate, again, given that at the time of the Classic, we saw fights only with an old man, a half-trained kid, and a man whose body was mostly gone, but still... the fight scenes! Man!

And I love how much of Anakin's problem comes not from the clash between good and evil, but the clash among competing goods. Does he remain loyal to the order or true to his heart? Does he protect Padmé or rescue his mother? And Obi-Wan is perfectly true to his character--he never wavers because he isn't conflicted about his choices. Which is exactly why he'd be baffling to Anakin, who finds it all so difficult. So at the same time Obi-Wan very obviously loves his apprentice and wishes him no ill, you can also see how Anakin would get resentful... it's so easy for Obi-Wan! And... well, I just think the whole character arc is very well done and the conflict is interesting.

I could keep going. I love these movies. I like them better than the Classic, to tell the truth, though the Classic is what makes them work by providing the fatalistic context. But the point is, it's not a pretended fondness, nor is it something that was fed to me by Lucas. It's all quite genuine. So please... stop acting like anyone claiming to love the prequels is only putting on an act for the cameras. The cameras are never pointed in our direction anyway.
22 comments or Leave a comment
penny_pixie From: penny_pixie Date: January 30th, 2005 10:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the rant and great points on all three!
Penny :-)
(Deleted comment)
danel4d From: danel4d Date: January 30th, 2005 11:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, with the Star Wars thing... I think it part it relates to the way that some people have blown up the original trilogy into being absolute perfection, and were disappointed when the Prequels failed to live up to their expectations - they'd've been disappointed whatever.
It kind of reminds me of elements in Doctor Who fandom - people will argue back or forth about which era was the best, and which was a ridiculous and shameful point. The episodes with the highest reputations are usually the ones from the Sixties which were lost by the BBC - in some cases, complete with utterly crushing disappointment among fans when they are found again.
It's weird, and kind of pleasantly surprising, how generally positive has been the fan reaction to the new series - though it hasn't actually started yet.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: February 1st, 2005 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Vulcan slander aside, the big problem with Enterprise is that there are a bunch of assumed First Contacts that weren't supposed to have happened back then.
From: ireact Date: January 31st, 2005 12:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not really a fan of the prequels at all -- but I've always respected your fondness for them.
sreya From: sreya Date: January 31st, 2005 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)
and performances... well, let's just say Harrison Ford has improved exponentially since the cantina scene.

I don't know why, but that sent me into a giggle-fit.

Absolutely love your rant on prequel-loving. There are SO many things about the prequels to love that it absolutely baffles me when someone out and out says I shouldn't like them. Obviously not everyone will, but then, not everyone loves the original movies either. Thanks for a good sum-up.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: January 31st, 2005 01:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you thank you thank you for the first two rants!! I'll probably bring up a few of your very well-articulated points the next time my dad starts bugging me about either time spent online or time spent reading Harry Potter.

And about the prequels... I'm one of those people who has never actually seen the original trilogy, but has greatly enjoyed the first two films of the new trilogy. And, at this point, I think that what I want to do is wait to see the originals so that I can see the whole story arc in chronological order - and the number of people who have told me I'm crazy for wanting to do so, wrong to like the prequels, etc. is staggering. Stupid, as the last I checked I was supposed to be allowed to like whatever I felt like. The prequels are gorgeous, I like them. Thank you for your rant.
equustel From: equustel Date: January 31st, 2005 01:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow! Now that's not an opportunity many people come by these days. What an experience you have to look forward to. Know that I am thoroughly envious. ;)
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: January 31st, 2005 03:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Envy duly noted. :)
equustel From: equustel Date: January 31st, 2005 01:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Three cheers for the Star Wars rant!

I'm tired of having to defend my love for the preqs. When I try to explain why I dig the character/story choices GL is making with them, people claim I'm reading too much into things - that's not the way it's supposed to be - no, that acting choice wasn't deliberate - that line sucked, you should ignore it, not try to attribute it to so-and-so's character - etc, etc...

Blah. Tiresome. Why I've all but dropped out of the online fandom. Though I know I'll inevitably get sucked back into it with the release of III.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: January 31st, 2005 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the rant on the prequels. As a follow-up: do you have an opinion on the revised "special edition" versions of the older movies? Because I know I really don't like them as much as the originals. And I guess that if you like the prequels you might like things like splicing in Hayden Christensen etc., but I really don't. What's your take on it?

It always makes me laugh to see a Muppet, a dead guy and a contemporary actor all standing next to each other.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 31st, 2005 02:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I like some and don't care for some. I guess until he's finished with the saga, I think of it the way I think of going back and tweaking earlier chapters of Shifts to fit with later stuff I've thought of. I actually like young Anakin at the end--though I was a big fan of Shaw's performance in the last Vader scene--because it brings things around to a full circle. We're in spring again, and the cycle can start over. Most of the changes were just cosmetic things that are improvements. And the "Greedo shoots first" uproar just annoys me. Yeah, it was clumsy, but I think Lucas probably did it because he was horrified to find out that people thought it was cool that Han was all cold-blooded and everything, and he figured he wasn't being absolutely, 100% clear that Han's life was in danger. Given that the desire to not be misinterpreted and make things 100% clear is a weakness of mine as a writer, I can't very well complain about it in others.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: February 1st, 2005 01:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh yes you can! It's a weakness, even if it's yours as well. Doesn't make it any better.

Anyway, that scene with Jabba in Episode IV was completely pointless. He just quoted Greedo, line-for-line. What was THAT about? And they didn't make the garbage-disposal monster any less cheesy. That could have been worth their time. But yeah, Greedo shooting first, whoop-dee-who-cares. Ditto for recording over the Ewok victory song, even if the first one wasn't bad. (Haven't seen special-edition ESB since it came out, so I can't vouch for all that Bespin stuff you were talking about.)
purplerebecca From: purplerebecca Date: January 31st, 2005 02:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for an awesome defense of the Prequels. I haven't heard many, and it's always great to hear.
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: January 31st, 2005 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Ugh, my parents always think everyone I yak with on the internet is a serial killer waiting to lure me out to my demise.

A few months ago on VH-1, they made fun of adult HP fans with a short bumper that said if you're over 30 and you like HP, then you probably live in your parents' basement, play D&D, and dream of the day you lose your virginity. Yeah.

As for your third rant, well, such has been the story of my life. There's so much cool stuff in the prequels to love.
mafdet From: mafdet Date: January 31st, 2005 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)
if you're over 30 and you like HP, then you probably live in your parents' basement, play D&D, and dream of the day you lose your virginity. Yeah.

Yanno - it's not even the fact that people stereotype and/or look down on adult HP fans. It's the same tired old insults used over and over again on whichever group of "nerds" one wants to insult. Hasn't the "ha ha, you live with your parents and are still a virgin" line grown older than Methuselah about now?
daisan From: daisan Date: January 31st, 2005 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
As always your rants are fantastic. I hope you don't mind if I quote the Star Wars one in my journal, I think some of my friends list would get a great kick out of it. :)
duncatra From: duncatra Date: January 31st, 2005 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I run across your entries on friendsfriends fairly often. I don't agree with you all the time, but you always have good reasons for opinons. Hope you don't mind if I friend you. :)

I met some of my closest friends on a mailing list. I'm all for being careful (and I went with my mother the first time I met them offline) but you can't assume everyone on the internet is an axe murderer.

I've found the internet to be a better place for socialization and finding intelligent people to discuss the things I love. The format is much, much better for my skills - I sometimes need some time to come up with a proper reply, but on LJ or a message board waiting to think things through doesn't mean the conversation is over. And I work some weird hours, which make socializing with 9-to5'ers almost impossible, so the internet (and LJ) sub in quite a bit.

I agree with you completely on Harry Potter. I'm not into it as much as most of LJ seems to be, but I like the books. There's a lot of good reading in the Juvenile and YA sections. And if Jonathan Strange and Dr. Norrell is HP for adults, I'll wear the kid label gladly, 'cause I was bored stiff until the last few chapters.

As for the prequels... Well. I don't think they're the greatest thing ever, I can't connect with most of the characters, but I don't really go out of my way to bitch. And I don't see the point of arguing about the costumes or sets or fights. Fabulous eye candy, all. I'm very 'meh' on the movies but I love to look at them and adore The Art of books to pieces.

But then, I'm also not so fond of people assuming that those of us who don't love them or fall and worship at George's feet are doing it because we've been brainwashed by TFN or the media. That's every bit as unfair as the brainwashing accusations prequel fans face. I'm apathetic because of ME, not because of Entertainment Weekly or Josh Griffin. It that doesn't mean I can't accept that they're still a part of the SW universe, just that they're not the be all and end all of Star Wars for me. I don't begruge the prequel fans their love for them, just wish that sometimes there would be some consideration for the fact that not loving the prequels doesn't automatically make one a basher.
From: sleepingfingers Date: January 31st, 2005 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I very much agree with everything you had to say regarding friends on the Internet, especially about being more socially opened. It's a very biased opinion that people who hang around the Internet do not have much of a social life, and while this is true for many instances (such as my own), it's not for many others (including my best friend's). Maybe the idea developed from the mere thought that, if the person prefers to sit there and associate with people online through written words rather talk to friends, they must be withdrawing into themselves. This often comes from those who don't use the Internet much, as least not as a tool to communicate and meet new people; I have yet to see somebody I know who always use the Internet and yet say that they've become more withdrawn because of it. This, of course, different from person to person, but personally, it has helped me to open up and speak my opinions more. I cannot craft sentences verbally the way I can on writing, as I have a strong accent. It helps a lot to boost my confidence.

About meeting people online who you don't know, well, I suppose the thinking happens the most among parents. My parents, for example, do not like the idea of me associating or chatting with people online because of all the frightening news they've heard of, such as teenagers meeting up with people they've only chat with only and getting kidnapped. The fact that they cannot see these people, and have much less a control over them, is what makes parents more paranoid about online friends rather than RL friends, or walking in the mall, I think. People are always more afraid of things that they cannot see, things that are not tangible.

I've read a lot of very insightful posts on your journal, and I had friended you. I hope you don't mind. :)

alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: January 31st, 2005 08:54 am (UTC) (Link)
My favorite rebuttal to the "Harry Potter is just for kids!" nonsense is the quote from OSC:

"So when you hear someone sneer at the Harry Potter books, either they haven't read them, and are therefore too ignorant to be listened to, or they haven't understood them, and are therefore not clever enough to take part in serious adult conversations."

But my sister just wonders aloud, "Oh, you're bragging about how you have horrible taste in literature?" Which is mean, like you said, but is good for a snicker.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: February 1st, 2005 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, but people who haven't understood it might take that as Dr. Zeas logic.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: January 31st, 2005 11:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree about the "all people who go online are porn addicts/lonely schizophrenics (which is a generalization on it's own)/going to get stalked" mania. Do I think some people are a little less than careful? Absolutely. And do I thik there's a lot of weirdos? Gosh, just look at some people on LJ. (Never press the option for finding a random LJ; just don't).

As for the Harry Potter - is - for - kids theory, I think that to be fair, a lot of people have only read the first book, or they've just seen the film. The first three books *are* for kids, and that's who the movies are geared towards. (Which makes me fear for the next four). And non-readers probably don't realize there's more to the books than magic. Therefore, when they see adults reading them, they see adults reading books parallel to The Saddle Club or Sweet Valley Twins.

author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: January 31st, 2005 11:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Thought of something to add - also, in fairness to people who don't like the concept of online correspondence, there *are* a ton of horror stories, and as I said, there are a lot of people who make mistakes.

However, that's not really fair to all the people who are decent. And I also find it annoying when people undermine online friendship in general - "oh, that's not a REAL friendship." I can't tell you how many times online friends were there for me when RL ones were too busy snogging their boyfriends, or didn't understand. Granted, it's also good to have RL friendships - but online ones, imo, are no less important.
22 comments or Leave a comment