The Apostates of the Pop Cult

I’ve been talking about this since 2015, and I feel like a broken record, but here we go:

What do you mean you’ll stop consuming product and getting excited for next product?!
The Qanon of Star Wars Fandom

A little context for the above:

Zac Snyder, original director of Justice League went on a Geeks and Gamers stream dedicated to raising money for suicide awareness and more or less denounced them, saying he was not affiliated with them in any way and that there was “no room for hate,” with the charity, etc. This provoked some cognitive dissonance, as G&G had apparently been vocal for a long time regarding a “Snyder cut” of Justice League.

Of course, lots of people justifiably did not like Snyder’s message, and so said they weren’t going to watch the new cut of Justice League. Doomcock, who has been talking non-stop about Star Wars and other pop cult IPs for about 5 years, seemed to find this upsetting.

Here’s the reality:

  1. The Fandom Menace is incapable of moving the needle. They aren’t significant enough compared to the total consumer base of a megacorporation.
  2. Even if they could financially impact Disney or other megacorps, the employees etc. of the megacorps view what they are doing as part of a moral crusade, and thus will not adjust their product to suit a small group of people they already consider “toxic” nonpersons.
  3. Even if they could financially impact the megacorps and the megacorps would be willing to respond to incentives, The Fandom Menace won’t take the actions necessary to do so. They will never stop consuming megacorporate products.

This is based on my experience as a YouTuber talking about Star Wars and as a general observer or reality. If you make the fandom menace out to be about 100,000 fans (very liberally based on YouTube engagement), that’s about 1/10 of 1% of Disney+ subscribers.

I’ll assume Doomcock is being genuine in his statements, rather than cynically saying that his statements reveal dissonance – that he wants Star Wars to continue sucking so that he can continue to be able to make content and sell the culture war.

What we have here is a Pop Cult Apostate, one of many. These folks have never dropped their Otaku obsession of Star Wars and other works completed by others, despite years now of megacorporate destruction of these IPs. They’ve been excommunicated from the cult for pointing out that they didn’t like a product (usually just one product: The Last Jedi), but they haven’t stopped believing.

Rather, they are the excommunicated who refuse to repent and be brought back into the fold. The rest of the fandom that initially agreed with them stopped caring about excommunication because they rejected the authority of the cult. They moved on, and are better for it.

Star Wars is a megacorporate intellectual property. It will never be anything other than that ever again.

The ironic thing is that these YouTube channels that keep dragging out this “fan rebellion” are actually accomplishing the opposite of their stated aims by providing publicity to the franchise. If everyone had moved on, the decisions of the studio would have rendered Star Wars to being culturally moot. As it is, their continued cyber battle against the studio further justifies the moral position of those who run Lucasfilm, etc. If the product is culturally relevant, it must be used for “good.”

Here’s the thing: there’s nothing to save.

There is nobody left who made the original movies. Disney employees can’t come in and confiscate your VHS or blu-ray copies, so they can’t ever “destroy Star Wars” or take it away from anyone. They can’t purge your pleasant memories of it. All they have is the legal ability to make Star Wars movies and sue others who try.

At last, there is the big elephant in the room (that I hinted at above) – If Star Wars dies, so does the outrage marketing behind it.

There is no civil war in Lucasfilm. Kathleen Kenedy is not being fired. Star Wars not having a perfect business run on every film or for every product doesn’t mean the franchise is dying or dead. Filoni and Favreau could save the franchise, but they probably won’t, and there isn’t much worth saving anyway. Normies still don’t care about Star Wars, and they don’t really care if somebody got fired from a show.

This is all a big grift that has gone on far too long.

I’ve used this outrage marketing. In fact, I still owe my subs an analysis of Return of the Jedi I wasn’t able to complete before 2020, when I decided to have at least a 1-year moratorium on Star Wars content. However, I spend the majority of my effort trying to actually change culture, not by griping about a hegemonic entertainment company, but by making art.

I can show you how:

And if you are still stuck on the pop cult, read my friend Brian’s book:

I have lots of other books, too. Here are a few:

4 Comments

  1. Excellent analysis, David. The Pop Cult apostates never reckon with the Corporate IP Death Cycle. That’s their chief blind spot.

    • Thanks. I guess that’s something else they will miss when the time comes – when the IP is inevitably resurrected, it will be funded by their pocketbooks, and they will be thankful for it.

  2. A few thoughts on this article and the video of the same name:

    1. The Fandom Menace.

    Having watched many videos by various Fandom Menace and Geeks + Gamers people, I have seen diverse opinions among them. They disagree about many things, including the correct approach toward the corporations (some believe the carrot and the stick approach still can work, others believe it’s a lost cause).

    If I were to recommend one of them, it would be Nerdrotic. He is very level-headed and intelligent, and often shares colorful anecdotes about his life and the lessons he learned the hard way. He used to work in Hollywood, and knows firsthand how things work there due to the disillusionment he experienced firsthand. He refers to himself as a “former Star Wars fan” because Disney Star Wars has turned him into a non-fan, and he doesn’t believe that there’s a Lucasfilm Civil War. He is very good at spotting wokeness in media, even when it’s subtle enough that most other Fandom Menace people miss it. He’s one of the best critics around today in any medium.

    He calls J.J. Abrams the “Cinematic Antichrist” due to the way he moves from franchise to franchise, destroying each one in his wake, and views the damage done by “The Last Jedi” as irreparable (he uses the expression “you can’t put the soymilk back into the titty”, a reference to the scene of Luke drinking milk from some weird creature). He knows how thoroughly compromised all of the studios (Warner Brothers, Disney, etc) are, and is very up-front about it. He’s a good friend of Doomcock, but doesn’t believe the rumors Doomcock shares about a supposed Lucasfilm civil war. Many of his viewpoints strongly remind me of yours.

    Doomcock is one of the most entertaining Fandom Menace members, and his Friday night livestreams are a sort of variety show, complete with comedy skits and singing, combined with pop culture criticism. However, he loses more and more credibility as he continues to push the Lucasfilm civil war narrative. He claims to have inside sources at Lucasfilm who tell him these things, and he is probably telling the truth. However, corporations are well-known to deliberately leak disinformation, and I think he’s falling for it hook, line, and sinker (maybe willfully, since it gets him a lot of views).

    2. Ahead of the others.

    You mentioned how you received an enormous backlash for criticizing “The Force Awakens” when it first came out, and how there wasn’t a large backlash against Disney Star Wars until “The Last Jedi” came out. I had a mildly similar experience with the MCU. Most MCU fans didn’t start getting critical until the “Captain Marvel” debacle, while I was already warning back in 2017 that “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” were the beginnings the MCU’s wokening, that neither were very good, and that “Ragnarok” in particular was outright terrible (this went against the grain, as most MCU fans seemed to like it better than the first two Thor movies). Unlike you, however, I wasn’t harassed for this, only receiving some mild criticism via Internet comments (but then again, I don’t have the degree of Internet fame that you have).

    3. Walk away.

    Merely walking away and no longer focusing on or criticizing the continued tarnishing of Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Star Trek, etc, may have some benefits, but it has some drawbacks as well. While there’s a possible element of unintentionally promoting something by talking about it in any fashion (even by criticizing it), high-quality criticism is still a valuable resource. Educating people about how to be discerning of quality in media is valuable, and providing relevant new content pointing out the flaws of recent media is the most effective way to achieve this.

    Also, using pop culture criticism as a tool to bring attention to alternatives is an invaluable tool. How did I discover your books? By watching your videos. Why did I discover your videos? Because you made some about Marvel and Star Wars that caught my eye in YouTube recommendations. Why did “Alita: Battle Angel” become so popular among the Fandom Menace? Because they were outraged about “Captain Marvel” and realized that “Alita” was a superior alternative. Why did “The Orville” become popular? Because Star Trek fans who disliked the terrible “Star Trek: Discovery” wanted a good alternative.

    Granted, “Alita” and “The Orville” are still produced by big corporations, but it shows how people who are upset about one thing being ruined are often willing to seek out similar things that are of good quality. Maybe they aren’t necessarily willing to give up hoping that Marvel, Star Trek, etc, will get better as well, but expanding one’s tastes is still growth regardless. As C. S. Lewis put it, “A tree grows because it adds rings: a train doesn’t grow by leaving one station behind and puffing on to the next.”

    Also, if they don’t seek out alternatives often enough, it’s probably because there aren’t enough alternatives. Yes, NewPub and ComicsGate are providing great alternatives on the printed page, but most people are not going to abandon movies and television for reading. They might add reading to watching, but they will still want cinematic content. You can fight bad books with good books, but fighting bad movies and shows with good books won’t get you far with most people.

    Movies and television still hold the most sway over culture, which is why it’s essential to take the fight to that arena as well. There are some possible promising developments in that regard, such as Loor.tv (which aims to create a Christian streaming service that makes quality content; the goal is to equally avoid both leftist/anti-Christian worldviews and the PureFlix-style lameness that most recent Christian movies have been plagued by).

    4. Evolution.

    The Fandom Menace is essentially the movie/television equivalent of ComicsGate. ComicsGate started as a way to try using “the carrot and the stick” to reform Marvel and DC, and when that didn’t work, it developed a heavier focus on helping independent creators make and promote alternatives (such as Ethan Van Sciver’s “Cyberfrog”). Even before ComicsGate, there was an attempt by some to try to reform traditional prose publishing as well, and when that didn’t work out and self-publishing became more viable, NewPub was born. The Fandom Menace is going through the same slow evolution. Some Fandom Menace people are involved in promoting and/or creating alternatives to the big franchises. When it becomes increasingly clearer that the corporations neither fear the stick nor care enough about the carrot to change their ways, they will focus even more heavily on this.

    5. Nothing to save.

    You said that there’s nothing left of Star Wars to save, since none of the original creators are involved anymore. I disagree on this point. Gene Roddenberry had very little input on “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”, and disliked it because he thought it was too militaristic. And yet it is remembered by most as one of Star Trek’s finest masterpieces. “Star Trek: Deep Space 9”, which many regard as one of the highest-quality Star Trek shows, wasn’t made until Roddenberry was already dead. “Doctor Who” lasted for over 50 years, changing entire teams of actors, writers, directors, etc, over the decades. It wasn’t until a deadly level of identity politics were inserted into the show a few years ago that it was thoroughly ruined. Properties can outlive their original creator and still put out worthwhile content, for generations in some cases.

  3. Imagine fighting to save Star Wars . . .

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