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The pandering panic

A misconception that spread widely and took root somewhere around 2014 is that comics and movies are “pandering” or non-genuine by having diverse characters.

I can’t believe it’s been almost a decade and it’s still a thing. No, not “pandering” (probably better known as representation) but the pandering panic, the hysteria at seeing slightly less than 95% white guys.

It’s probably useful for us to know that those who suffer from “pandering panic” claim to not be opposed to those characters themselves (although often they do have some extra hatred reserved for whatever group is fascism’s wedge target du jour), it’s when they feel like the representation is “forced” or not genuine.

That’s what they tell us, and tell themselves, and I get that this paragraph is coming across as super patronizing and invalidating to these sufferers of “pandering panic”, (since I’m implying that this fear of ingenuine pandering is not the underlying reason for their distaste. It might be for many, but there’s a core of vocal opiners that do have a more sinister, alt-right agenda) but let me try to land it with this point: once you’ve contracted pandering panic, you begin to see all representation that way, negatively charged, as “the other side is winning”, as a bad thing. It gives you a bias.

Please know that even if this is partially the result of some out-of-touch Hollywood exec’s marketing formula, a lot of us fans actually do enjoy it. I kinda like Star Wars but I’ve longed for so long to see a Star Wars with more women in key roles and with the sequels and R1, we got that. It’s as if the old movies felt half, as if they were missing something. We were living in a hazy, surreal world of always being on the outside looking in.

A lot of the people that these out-of-touch mass media types hire are those who genuinely do care about this stuff and do try their best. The out-of-touchers are trying to hire the in-touch.

I know I’ve touched on this before but I just can’t get over it.

“But the stuff that they’re doing is bad, it’s at the expense of quality” or “But the representation is bad, it’s misrepresentation”

Let me introduce you to my friend Sturgeon’s Law. There’s a lot of bad stuff out there. That’s just as true for the old days. The disposable trash got forgotten, so there’s a “filter” of time that has a bias towards making older stuff look better, even though it doesn’t catch everything and there are both false positives and negatives. Nostalgia is another factor.

I’m not gonna be all rah rah Hollywood. I like small-team stuff, too. Indie. There’s a lot of great fiction both contemporary and classic.