"I always knew he was terrible, and anyone who ever liked him is too!" February 14, 2021 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Lately there's been a certain kind of comment on posts about celebrities that turn out to be terrible people. That comment is "oh, I always knew he was terrible! And everyone I know who liked him has also turned out to be a terrible person!" I am personally finding these comments frustrating for a whole host of reasons.

I feel shut down. I feel like if I bring up any past positive sentiment about that person's work (as I did with Armie Hammer) I will immediately be tainted, even though I am repulsed by what they did and don't know if I can separate the art from the artist. And I very much feel I am being judged because I once had a positive experience with that person's work, like it's a way to take the moral high ground. I wanted to get a temperature check and see how other people felt about this genre of comment for ongoing discussions, since we're likely to learn of more bad celebrity behavior in future months and years.
posted by rednikki to Etiquette/Policy at 10:15 AM (86 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

I think there are two separate parts to this. There is definitely a kind of revisionism when somebody’s bad behaviour can no longer be covered up, where the media and/or corporations pretend they had ^absolutely no idea^ this guy was a creep, or there were financial irregularities, or whatever, and it is right to push back on this.

For example, Jimmy Saville. It was abundantly clear to me and everyone I knew as a pre-tween that he was a creepy fucker, so no I am not going to accept organisations like the BBC relinquishing any responsibility for allowing him to behave as he did, by pretending they just had no clue, everyone thought he was so lovely. They do not get to wriggle out of their guilt like that. Same goes for US colleges and rapist footballers, football/gymnastics/swimming coaches, etc. They knew, and chose to close their eyes.

None of that has anything to do with random members of the public, who liked Call Me By Your Name and had no way of knowing Arnie Hammer was a shitbag off-screen. Or whatever. People who had no responsibility for his actions shouldn’t be blamed. I would also include things like Anthony Stewart Head had no reason to know what was happening behind closed doors to his co-stars, because it was kept hidden, and Winona Ryder is entitled to say that her lived experience with Johnny Depp differs from Amber Heard’s, as long as that doesn’t tip over into victim-blaming.

There’s a separate question about how far an asshole being involved in a piece of art taints it. If they are sole or primary creator, yes probably it does. If they are one of several contributors? If they commissioned it but had no creative role? If they happened to have a walk-on bit part? Hard to say where you draw the line.
posted by tinkletown at 10:44 AM on February 14 [5 favorites]


There is definitely a kind of revisionism when somebody’s bad behaviour can no longer be covered up, where the media and/or corporations pretend they had ^absolutely no idea^ this guy was a creep, or there were financial irregularities, or whatever, and it is right to push back on this.

Rednikki is talking about the behaviour of commenters on this site, and whether this sort of comment should be avoided or discouraged. Not corporations or random members of the public.
posted by Omnomnom at 10:50 AM on February 14 [11 favorites]


There is absolutely a sort of smugness in these comments (that is very much in character for ye olde metafilter) that is really offputting and dampening to the ongoing discussion of art and pop culture that’s happening as yes, we inevitably learn more about more awful people doing crappy things.

I think for me the issue is not so much with “I always knew he was terrible” but with “everyone I know who liked him turned out to be terrible too”. Because while the first is like, fine? But if you really don’t care why are you participating in this thread? The second is like, conflating a person’s interests with their moral character. And that is a huge problem in the fandom circles I swim in, so for me it’s a tired argument I feel like I’ve slapped at a thousand times already.

We are not put on this earth with media studies degrees. Expecting people to not be swayed by the overwhelming pull of culture is like expecting a child not to like ice cream. It’s an ongoing thing to keep learning and be considered about our interests and explore what’s out there in art, and meanwhile we have a huge capitalist machine trying to sway our attention and sap our resources. Sometimes a handsome celebrity or a trashy romance or a quirky heroine is what we have to work with, you know? It’s a struggle, and when you’re trying to resolve that struggle on a personal level and someone comes in to declare that clearly you suck for having that struggle at all, it’s just thoughtless.

For me in particular I get worked up about the auteur creator thing, because so much pop culture is a collective work. A tv show simply cannot be made by a singular asshole. And because I am entrenched in the generative side of fandom, so much of my enjoyment of a tv show is often informed by the extended collaborative creations of fans who are also, not singular assholes. Like, yes, we must do more to ensure missing stairs and milkshake ducks and whatever other cutesy terms for abusers can’t attain power and status. But also, I bet it feels real shitty to have been, say, a headlining actress for a beloved cult tv show with an abusive show runner, or like, even the boom mic guy. I feel you, boom mic guy. You did good work! Extending my empathy for these people is straightforward for me, just like I would express compassion for my fellow fans who dedicated large chunks of their time wallowing in enthusiasm for something that turns more problematic with time and space for victims to speak out.

The high contrast thinking in declarations about art being tainted by abusive or otherwise bad creators dismisses lived experience. I do hope that as mefi keeps on keeping on, this understanding grows and there is space for people to like things that are bad for their own reasons, in their own ways. It’s fucking 2021, man. Give us a break.
posted by Mizu at 10:53 AM on February 14 [47 favorites]


Yeah, there was a comment on the Whedon thread that was basically "everyone I've ever known who liked Joss Whedon shows was a bad person" which, like, yawn. What a tedious, pointless thing to say. What does that add to the conversation? Sorry you hang out with assholes, I guess.

I have more sympathy for "I always knew he was terrible" -- I was low-key shocked by the number of people who seemed surprised to hear that Whedon was an asshole, as folks in the Buffy/Angel fandoms have been talking about it since like...truly as long as I can remember? And unlike the other type of comment, I think there can be value in "I always knew he was terrible" -- because it's worth discussing why, when so many of us knew, there still weren't any consequences. (If it's just "I always knew he was terrible, so I'm smarter/better/worldlier than you", then that's less worthwhile, obviously.)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 10:57 AM on February 14 [29 favorites]


I know. And if people are attacking Rednikki directly, and saying that if she enjoyed CMBYN they are a terrible person, then I don’t support that. The second part of that (everyone I know who liked him turned out to be terrible too) is basically “your favourite band sucks”, and I thought we didn’t do that here. Delete those comments as much as you want, as far as I’m concerned.

But I am saying that there can be good reasons for the “I always knew he was terrible” posts, beyond “I hated it ^before^ it was cool to hate it”, and no I don’t want to see that side of things shut down.
posted by tinkletown at 11:02 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Coming into a thread just to declare prior knowledge of someone being terrible is... okay. God knows I love an “I told you so” more than is probably healthy. I understand the impulse, definitely. But goodbyewaffles makes a really good point. The value in these comments isn’t the told-you-so, it’s in the next step of, if I knew this person was terrible, why didn’t everyone else? What system is in place to ensure this awareness is quashed, or ignored? What is the responsibility of an informed individual to inform others? Like tinkletown, I don’t want to see that conversation shut down. So if to get it started there are a few single note comments like that, okay.

I would hope though that someone making that comment has, like, a reason to be in the conversation to begin with. Like maybe they really enjoy other work in the genre, or similar celebrities with less baggage, and have an interest in the problem because of that. And they could, like, share that in their comment as well, so the conversation can become more rounded. Or, as I suspect is sometimes the case, a person might be a little bit in denial. And that’s a person putting down other people for having the same friction and conflict that they themselves have had. Instead of “I always knew he was terrible!” I wish these people could say something like “I was really intrigued at first but quickly determined he was terrible because of [thing].” That would make a space for other people to respond and engage.

I guess I’m hoping for more nuance but understanding of a lack of it in some contexts.
posted by Mizu at 11:31 AM on February 14 [5 favorites]


It's a problematic framing to make the blanket generalization, but I'm willing to flag when it's a clearer-cut case of unnecessary generalization or axe-grinding and just grit my teeth and move on when it's somewhat obviously overgeneralized but not worth making a case about and I'm feeling judged but my conscience is relatively clear personally and I should just let it go.

Because, as others have noted, it's a fine line between "everybody who has ever liked X is bad" and "there is a significant contingent of people who use their identification with X as a signal and a warning and they are actually bad", and I think everyone has experiences where they could accidentally or incidentally be seen as part of the latter group. And that stings and can require significant personal introspection to process but is not a great reason to shut down the discussion.

I come from multiple Venns of culture, fandom, spirituality, and social groups in which Marilyn Manson was to some members a very popular/iconic/beloved artist, and then to other members we've known Brian was a dangerous abuser for a long time if not the whole time, and sometimes that overlapped in individual people and for a subset of those it was a warning flag about their behavior. I certainly take two steps back if that's one of the primary identifications a new-to-me person wants to make about themselves. The whisper networks there - as inadequate as whisper networks are - were valuable, and that's why we shouldn't stop talking about when things are Bad but we should be mindful about the framing.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:42 AM on February 14 [5 favorites]


I hate this shit. Responding to "I'm struggling with this news because this piece of art was meaningful to me" with a smug "well I guess you're a moron for ever having liked it then!" is just... fucking asshole behavior.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:43 AM on February 14 [57 favorites]


I hate this shit. Responding to "I'm struggling with this news because this piece of art was meaningful to me" with a smug "well I guess you're a moron for ever having liked it then!" is just... fucking asshole behavior.

Indeed. No one has actually "always known" some artist/celebrity/politician/whatever was terrible; they must have learned it for the first time at some point. It would be kinder and more constructive to empathize with people who are learning it now by talking about that prior experience, how it made them feel, and how they dealt with it.
posted by jedicus at 11:50 AM on February 14 [21 favorites]


Al Franken! Al Franken never seemed terrible for a single instant; I had every one of his books; I sent him money, and every time he campaigned for somebody, I sent money. That was the worst thing in the world, seeing that photo. Then Aziz Ansari. I loved Parks and Rec and Master of None. These people absolutely did not seem terrible. It was heartbreaking finding out who they really were, and I was heartbroken.

Actually, now that I'm once more thinking about the whole mess, Louis before them. I really liked Louis C. K. I bought his whole "just trying to do right by the womenfolk but I am a big buffoon" schtick. And then I found out what he'd been up to and then I read his halfassed apology and I heard he was doing his evil meanspirited nightmare "fuck 'em if they can't take a joke" act in dives in, like, Saugus and wherever and I felt and continue to feel... soiled.

and Michael Richards before even HIM. Who hated Kramer? Everyone loved Kramer. (Obviously I'm not talking about people who'd heard about Michael Richards's abusive on-set treatment of other actors--but most people didn't know that stuff and were basing their opinion of the person, pretty much entirely, on years of watching his character slide through doorways and do elaborate pratfalls.)

Finally, the exception that proves the rule, Bill Cosby. I didn't grow up watching Fat Albert, the Jello commercials kind of irritated me, and I thought his "pull your pants up" lecture was racist bullshit, so when it came out that he was a nightmare rapist, I didn't feel like I'd been personally duped by a hero I'd loved for years. But I also didn't feel vindicated at all. Just because I'd never particularly liked Bill Cosby does not mean that I somehow knew he was a rapist. My dislike was based on the avuncular asshole persona he promoted on TV, not the horrormovie person he actually was and concealed from everyone.

I didn't feel vindicated about any of the above-named. I had thought they were a garden variety dickhead, in the case of Cosby, and other than him, okay people, or pretty good people, or even, in the case of Al Franken, exemplary people. I felt betrayed and gross about all of the ones I formerly liked and still do.

This shit sucks. It feels very bad. I get not wanting to feel like that because it is unpleasant. But, like, just decide not to feel bad and stop there. There's no reason to claim to have always known about villainous behavior that these people were good at hiding and effectively concealed from the world long enough that many people got to like them.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:06 PM on February 14 [33 favorites]


I'm having trouble finding examples of these types of comments in the Joss Whedon post:

"oh, I always knew he was terrible! And everyone I know who liked him has also turned out to be a terrible person!"

and

a smug "well I guess you're a moron for ever having liked it then!"

Could you link to some examples? I may have missed comments that might make someone feel shut down. Perhaps some of those comments were deleted?

In those threads, I didn't see anyone get "immediately tainted" for mentioning that they liked Serenity or an Armie Hammer movie so it's odd to me that you think that might happen to you here. If you feel guilty for not knowing of how problematic Whedon and Hammer were earlier, that's ok! We're all just trying to do better and none of us can know everything at once.

If you indeed happened to misrepresent criticism of some media that you loved in the past as a personal attack, please consider that you're fostering an environment where it's harder to criticize new media that may be problematic in a way many people might not see at first.
posted by el gran combo at 2:41 PM on February 14 [7 favorites]


I don't make these kind of comments because I understand it's not polite as per the OP but I want to express that even when I think "Oh good, I knew that guy was a creep" I'm really only thinking about that one guy & how glad I am when creeps are brought to light. I don't judge anyone else for their feelings about him.
posted by bleep at 3:13 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


el gran combo, I suspect some comments may have been deleted. There's a comment I remember reading in the Whedon thread that I cannot seem to control F my way to finding. It was basically, "everyone I know who loves Whedon's work are assholes" type of comment and offered absolutely nothing to the discussion. And I fully agree with the OP, these types of comments absolutely served to shame those of us who were feeling things as stuff was revealed. This was not a case of criticizing media and that maybe we just shouldn't take it personally. I'd already had my Whedon wake up call a few years ago when his ex-wife posted a statmenet but that doesn't mean I wasn't still feeling even more awful as more information was being revealed in the past few days (especially Michelle Trachtenberg's statement).
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 3:15 PM on February 14 [6 favorites]


Sometimes it's worthwhile pointing out how problems with the person in question were already known to some degree, because it raises the question of why people didn't react sooner. With Whedon, that he had written Carpenter off the show just because she got pregnant has been widely accepted for years (one of the things that soured me on him), so her further revelations were more of the same story, and we should be asking ourselves why that wasn't considered more objectionable. Further, his authorial enthusiasm for torturing and sexually menacing "fragile-yet-kickass" young women characters is pretty hard not to see if you'd been following him as a fan over the years (ditto), and so why did people keep giving him the benefit of the doubt on what he intended? Trachtenberg's statements heavily implying that he was a creeper to her when she was 15-17, on the other hand, were (I think) new.

But I agree that "I always thought he sucked" stuff can be a little lazy, to say the least.
posted by praemunire at 3:25 PM on February 14 [8 favorites]


Personally, I feel that looking backwards there were a lot of clues about Wheden and while I didn't personally pick up on them, it's not hard for me to believe that someone else did.
posted by octothorpe at 3:52 PM on February 14 [8 favorites]


I know there was some stuff in the Whedon thread that was pulled, but remember it as being more about the feminist cred of the show overall.

There was one thing in the Armie Hammer thread which cast a side-eye on Armie's role in Call Me By Your Name, but they got the details of the character backward anyway so eh.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:57 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


"Just because I'd never particularly liked Bill Cosby does not mean that I somehow knew he was a rapist. My dislike was based on the avuncular asshole persona he promoted on TV, not the horrormovie person he actually was and concealed from everyone."

This is exactly how I feel. I was Armie Hammer's greatest hater in that thread, but honestly I just didn't like him on Gossip Girl and then he kept playing that rich asshole character, which makes my skin crawl. I had no personal insight into Hammer's terribleness; I just had the luck to not like him. Because I read a lot of entertainment gossip, I did know he was kind-of a jerk to entertainment journalists a couple years ago, but SO MANY CELEBS ARE JERKS TO ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALISTS. I certainly feel no disdain for anyone who was moved by Hammer's work, especially Call Me By Your Name.

And to exactly this example, The Cosby Show meant a lot to me as a kid; it was my first exposure to jazz, and lit a fire in me, and I spent more than a decade with jazz as the most important thing in my life. It HURT me when I found out Bill Cosby was awful. That show meant a lot to me, and in a small way changed my life -- and now I can't watch it, knowing what I know.

Anyone who hasn't had their life changed by a piece of media that involved a terrible person probably doesn't read books or see movies. I feel like we know about it a lot more often these days, but I think everyone who takes any form of culture seriously has to grapple with this realization at some point.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:35 PM on February 14 [26 favorites]


I remember telling “woker-than-thou” then-friends that everyone in the comedy world knew Louis CK was a disgusting predator, and being smugly lectured about how my experiences as a woman in comedy made me “biased.” I remember when it came out in the mainstream, and some of those people applauded him for being “brave” enough to “own” what he had done. Those people were not nice people. They liked his joke about how rape was never OK except when you wanted to rape someone. They had other issues with consent. They still think they’re really woke.

I think the Whedon thread has a lot of 20/20 hindsight. “Wow, this storyline had a really gross premise.” “Wow, this character had no respect for consensual boundaries.” “This plot always bugged me, and I never understood why people thought it was romantic/feminist/funny.” That can hit a nerve if you were a fan, sure; it can sound a lot like someone’s retroactively questioning your ability to judge character. As someone who once thought Jian Ghomeshi was an all-around great guy, I can assure you that it’s never a bad idea to question your own ability to judge character.

That said, I just left a comment in the Whedon thread about how gross it is when we Monday-morning-quarterback the way victims reacted to being victimized. It’s also gross to sneer about having known a predator was a predator before it was cool. My read on most of the Whedon comments is not that they’re sneering; it’s that retrospect has thrown his work into a harsh light, and we are all trying to reckon with things that didn’t sit right with us back then.

No one is blaming the fans. But how we act as fans in the wake of these allegations says a lot about us.
posted by armeowda at 7:17 PM on February 14 [9 favorites]


Yeah, there was a comment on the Whedon thread that was basically "everyone I've ever known who liked Joss Whedon shows was a bad person" which, like, yawn. What a tedious, pointless thing to say. What does that add to the conversation? Sorry you hang out with assholes, I guess.

This seems to be a somewhat common dynamic in virtual (and probably real) communities. I will admit I get some joy on the rare occasion I've seen a personality fall from Metafilter grace that I didn't like prior. However, I try to avoid making replies to posts of that type, which really don't add anything, but sometimes seem to function as a kind of group building, "can I get an amen" affirmation. Or act as an intensifier to express disapproval over such person's misdeeds. I do agree, it's often tedious, pointless and smug and I wish it didn't happen so much. Unless I have something significant to add, or somehow someone asks me, I generally try to keep keep quiet. That goes for pretty much all posts, really.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:46 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


The "I always knew X was terrible" can be redeemed if the commenter explains why, or what consequences it had for them, or can give helpful advice to people who are only just now finding out that X is terrible. "Everyone who likes X is terrible" requires evidence and probably would be better minus the hyperbole and plus a bit of consideration for fellow MeFites who like X.

But laying that kind of slam on the topic without any other comment is just taking a shit in the thread. Same as if you came into a music thread to complain about that musician, or to a TV thread to say you don't even own a TV.
posted by harriet vane at 10:46 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]


We gape in awe at the pyramids but what do we know of the assholes who built them?
posted by philip-random at 11:08 PM on February 14 [11 favorites]


el gran combo, I did not actually mention the Whedonverse post in my original post. However, as multiple people in this thread cite, there was at one point a comment that said (roughly...since it's gone we obviously can't quote it verbatim!) "I always hated Joss Whedon's stuff. And everyone I ever met who was a fan of his turned out to be an awful person." That was the sum total of the comment. As other people have pointed out, that kind of comment doesn't actually contribute to the conversation. There's a big difference between that and, "I never liked the guy and here are all the things that I found to be red flags."
posted by rednikki at 1:24 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


rednikki, I wasn’t in that thread but I’m sorry you felt shut down and I don’t like the kind of comment you describe.

If you indeed happened to misrepresent criticism of some media that you loved in the past as a personal attack...

That if is doing a lot of heavy lifting in the sentence above. Comments often get deleted; the fact that something can’t be found does not mean it didn’t happen. Perhaps commenters might carefully consider their responses and attempt to show some good faith here given that the OP already feels shut down.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:30 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


(I would like to also note that many of us, which is to say those of us who accept such things, still need a hug. Let’s be gentle when possible. This is a serving suggestion only.)
posted by Bella Donna at 1:34 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Hi ... um, I'm pretty sure the comment wasn't deleted? I'm seeing this, which I think is what the complaint is about? Other than that we only deleted a couple of comments spatting about "mansplaining" and some useless sarcasm about "I know this might be a surprise to some of you, but sometimes, abusers can be great artists and make art people really enjoy. Brand new information, I know!" Plus one self-flagged comment linking to a deleted twitter post.

I'm not really seeing a lot of "I always knew [person] was bad / never liked their stuff" *and* "everyone who did like them / their work is also bad," outside of that one sort of odd comment -- this may be their own experience, but I don't think it has many, if any, people agreeing that this is a common thing. I agree that it tends to feel personal when people say they always knew (what am I? some kind of idiot then?), so it would be good to take some care with that. On the other hand, I also know the frustration of seeing someone getting all the love and kudos when I've had the feeling they are ugh and hinky, and then being like, I KNEW IT!, when their duck turns out to be the milkshake variety. We just need to look out for each other, recognize that others may be hurting, and try not to make hard times harder. We can both extend our sympathy and warm feelings toward those who are basically secondary victims while saying our own thing if we found issues with that person at some earlier point.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:06 AM on February 15 [13 favorites]


Hearing savage criticism of both stuff I love and the people who created it is one of the reasons I enjoy metafilter. I wish there was more of it. Which isn't to say it's always done with compassion or couldn't be handled better. "Criticize the thing, not the person talking about it" is always good advice and it's good to be reminded of it.
posted by eotvos at 3:47 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


There is absolutely a sort of smugness in these comments (that is very much in character for ye olde metafilter) that is really offputting and dampening to the ongoing discussion of art and pop culture that’s happening as yes, we inevitably learn more about more awful people doing crappy things.

This is mildly off-topic, but I get a big whiff of the same thing from the Slate Star Codex thread.
posted by hoyland at 6:22 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


"That if is doing a lot of heavy lifting in the sentence above. Comments often get deleted; the fact that something can’t be found does not mean it didn’t happen."

Aw that's unfair! In that same comment I literally suggested the offensive comments could have been deleted.

I personally didn't enjoy the comment found and linked by taz (thank you taz!) and I empathize with people who felt it implicitly knocked on their character.

However, that comment is pretty different from the comments that some people in the MeTa thread seem to remember. While I don't think that misrembering was intentional, I again caution against misrepresenting comments with which we disagree.
posted by el gran combo at 6:26 AM on February 15


I haven't read every comment here, but I lost all interest in MetaFilter (for my sanity) based just on one comment that I think summed up our "discourse". It was about fucking Zach Snyder, I don't even LIKE Zach Snyder movies much, but it was basically "He sucks and if you have ever liked one of his movies, you suck and are awful."

And it's like... what the fuck? Thanks? Cool? Fuck you! It was definitely a direct personal attack on people who liked ZS movies in any way. It got deleted eventually, still made me wonder why I let people make me feel any sorts of ways.

And right below my preview it says "Note: Everyone needs a hug." and yes, I do! We all do, yes! Let's be kind. I'm so tired and sad, and I still sometimes think about how mean that person was for a reason I don't even know.

edit: I actually found the comment because I pushed back on it with the same feelings I have now. Their comment is deleted but mine isn't which quotes it

https://www.metafilter.com/181401/kneel-before-zack#7720900
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:20 AM on February 15 [7 favorites]


I feel like there are a lot of assumptions by people on the site that people engage with media in fandom-y ways, so of course they know about terrible thing Guy A did or Girl B said, so obviously anyone that still likes them must be awful. Especially for older series like Buffy where it first aired in 1997 (which was, not to put too fine a point on it, close to 25 years ago) so OF COURSE the fandom knew and DISCUSSED IT on rec.arts.buffy back then, GEEZ, forgetting that 1. a child born in 1997 is now 25 2. Streaming is now a thing so people have access to older shows than they did previously 3. Many people don't do a super deep dive if someone recommends something they might like, they just watch it and 4. Lots of people just watch a show and decide whether they enjoyed it or not, they don't keep up with everything around the cast in a fandom-y way, particularly an older show. And 5. even if you were aware of the drama around a show that hasn't aired in over a decade, you may have forgotten about it.

I mean I watch Supernatural off and on and consciously stay far, far away from Supernatural fans because they're terrifying.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:09 AM on February 15 [10 favorites]


I too find those comments irritating. Partly because there's an "I told you so" element, and I'm never in the loop with celeb gossip so always want to respond with "well you never told me". But that's me being unreasonable. The other part of what irritates me is that I suspect that a lot of people who are all "I told you he was a wrong'un" about celebrities, are conflating their feeling that someone was a bit odd or not hugely fan-friendly with really actually believing that they were doing terrible things. It's just hindsight talking. And that's irritating because not everyone who is odd or grumpy is also a person that's doing terrible things.
posted by plonkee at 11:24 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Sometimes when people can be a fan of something, it can feel good to assert subjective preferences are actually objective truths.

user1: "X is the greatest. Period."
user2: "No, X is not great. I don't even like X a little bit. You have awful taste. You're wrong and dumb. Y is good."
user1: "No, fuck you, you asshole. X is great. Like Manna from heaven great. What planet do you live on? How many episodes did you even watch?"

three years later

user2: "Never followed X myself - but I always knew there was something not right about them. I didn't even like X a little bit before. X's most ardent fans are generally toxic, awful people. But I'm glad to receive further confirmation, as if anybody actually needed it, that X is actually the worst though. How's it feel, @user1?
posted by floam at 11:39 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


user1: "Look, I just really liked his creation, X. It wasn't rape-ey or anything... It was really good. A lot of people worked on it.🙁"
user3: "I watched X and remember liking it, but it's more important to me not to support sexual harassers than consider ever rewatching it. It's just a TV show. Maybe you superfans should consider why this tainted 'art' is more important to you than the real people who suffered. It's okay to be awful if you're talented, I guess."
user1: 🙁
posted by floam at 11:58 AM on February 15


(P.S. It was alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer, geeeez. ;))
posted by praemunire at 12:21 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Rednikki - I hear you. I thought Al Franken, Aziz Ansari, Louis CK and Firefly were good things. I grew up watching the Cosby show and thought that was good too. And gradually I found out that people are foaming at the mouth about how terrible these things are, as they were revealed (but not before...). I don't know what to do with it. I don't think that instantaneous conversion to OMG I HATES THEM I HATES THEM TOO is in the cards for me and as no other commenting option is available without being tied to a fiery stake, I certainly don't contribute to those threads. (I wonder even about the wisdom of writing this comment.) In the end I just sit with it. There's no requirement for everyone to agree with anyone about anything, so it doesn't happen. This is how all things are, I think.

I reserve my foaming irrational hatred for driving and certain politicians.
posted by Vatnesine at 12:39 PM on February 15 [6 favorites]


I don't like giving money or support to horrible people, but it can be impossible to know with certainty who is horrible and who isn't, so I prefer to err on the side of caution by avoiding as much current popular culture as I can and instead engaging with media created by people who are safely dead. Doing this puts a barrier between me and most other humans, and it certainly doesn't bring me any joy, but it keeps my conscience clear, and that's the most important thing, I guess.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:44 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Popular culture asceticism sounds pretty rough Faint of Butt. I think it will not exactly affect anybodies' bottom line... but your conscience is clear. If you get lonely, maybe you could invite like-minded individuals to your monastery.
posted by floam at 1:09 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


The problem with that, Faint of Butt, is that you'll also find your share of similar offenders amongst the dead...

I thought about this kind of thing a lot in the early days of #MeToo. A good chunk of the movies I need to watch for my blog either starred or were made by problematic people - Hitchcock and Errol Flynn weren't any great shakes, by reports, and Clark Gable is reported to have date-raped someone as well. And that's just off the top of my head. If I were to rule out all the films which included the work of questionable people, I wouldn't have a blog project any more.

So instead, I chose to use that chance to celebrate all the other people who would have been involved. Like, for instance, I've started thinking of The Usual Suspects as predominantly a Gabriel Byrne film, or focusing on Diane Keaton's acting in Annie Hall or Tippi Hederen's work in The Birds instead of focusing on either of those films' directors.

I got a weird eyewitness account of the fallout of a filmmaker scandal in real time a few years back; Colman Domingo was talking a lot about the filming of the 2016 film Birth Of A Nation, a film about Nat Turner; Colman was eagerly gushing about what a great work it was going to be and how proud he was and how excited he was for when we could all finally see it. It did great at Sundance, and there was Oscar buzz when it went into general release - and that turned up a rape allegation against the director from 1999, and the resulting controversy over that incident tanked the film. Colman was resigned about it, but I felt for him - the truth about the filmmaker's rape allegation was a little unclear, but I knew for certain that one guy who didn't commit a rape was Colman, and he was still getting punished for it. It underscored for me that movies in particular benefit from the talent and work of a whole host of people - and for some of those people, their role is focused enough that the viewer can try to compartmentalize. At least - they shouldn't be thrown in the doghouse themselves for trying, to my mind; maybe they genuinely hadn't considered Armie Hammer's part in Call Me By Your Name at first blush and were all about "holy crap this Chalamet kid is a phenomenal actor" anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:14 PM on February 15 [10 favorites]


Thank you rednikki for this thread. I have had both the 'grief for heroes not meeting our ideals' and an internal want to preserve the illusion of agency* by being 'smarter than the average bear' -- but I know it's impolite to trample on another person's grief and I know I'm not smarter than the average bear.

*: I didn't have power over this and I didn't know -- with respect to comments that point out "If you knew, what did you do about it?", I would ask "How can we help you be brave to speak out?"
posted by k3ninho at 3:49 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


"You suck for having ever liked that person's work" is never a helpful comment. I actually liked Woody Allen's work once, and when I happen to catch a bit of one of his films, I can't fathom why. To me, his work is absolutely shot through with his shitty attitudes and absolutely comes from the same place as his shitty treatment of people, and I can't believe there was a time when I didn't see that. Actors have expressed regret about working with him, and anyone who steps forward to defend him, I have pretty much lost interest in.

I know that sometimes I default to an exasperated reaction when someone says "But I like/liked their work." It's from decades of the yes-butting that comes up when an abusive celebrity is named. Or someone in your family, or your social circle. I don't think your comment was like that at all, rednikki, and I don't want to speak for everyone who engages in backlash against any kind of positive comment in threads about abusers. The comments aren't all the same, anymore than the abusers are. It should be possible to express being sad or conflicted about something like this.
posted by BibiRose at 5:18 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Sometimes this attitude comes from the same sort of place as "if it's popular it must be bad," and "I don't even OWN a TV" (the latter of which doesn't mean anything anymore but used to be a real shibboleth). Like saying "I always knew Harry Potter was trash because the worldbuilding was nonsensical and it was for babies, so welcome to the haters club, losers." That's a real attitude that surfaces here. It's annoying juvenile nonsense, but the good news is that in the old days that was like 50% of pop-culture/fandom discourse. There's a much broader understanding these days that all faves are problematic and that "trash" is appealing in a multitude of ways.

I heard an interview with Nathan Fielder on a podcast I listen to, and I liked his schtick, so I started watching Nathan For You. The first couple of episodes were really funny! Then I hit the horribly racist cartoonist bit and I was dumbstruck that this was created and put on TV 5 years ago. I've heard about "ironic racism" and how it keeps burning people on twitter, but I'd never seen it like this in the wild (I know, I don't get out much). Just really gross and heartbreaking. I guess Fielder has also done good work targeting a business that supported Holocaust denial. Whatever, I'm not interested in watching his stuff anymore.

Young people are always more open to "comedy" that transgresses boundaries, but the older I get the more I think it's because their brains haven't finished forming yet and they haven't seen the horrors and tragedies of the world. Rape "jokes" are never funny. "Look how racist this guy is" doesn't make for the yukks. But I was young and dumb too and went through my own period of liking some things I look back on and cringe. I try not to be an asshole about it now, though, knowing what I know.
posted by rikschell at 6:56 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


I totally get Faint of Butt. Abuse is so prevalent in pop culture that we decided it would stop when the red-haired boy who looked great in pink shirts wouldn't wear them anymore. We still see problematic movies and hear misogynous music but it's curated and intentional and discussed.

We have no cable and slow internet and no social media and our cells barely work at home. We have time, time, time to actually talk to each other. It doesn't feel aesthetic at all. Living in the present doesn't require giving dreck it's due.

I always heard something awful when Jerry Garcia sang. I felt awful that I always liked Al Franken. The kids feel awful about liking Mark Helprin. I liked him until I went to a reading but that incredible capitalist novel is still worth giving to a teen.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:33 AM on February 16


the red-haired boy who looked great in pink shirts

...uh...who is this?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:51 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


I think a child in Mr Yuck’s household.
posted by rikschell at 8:05 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


I share and sympathize with grief over learning that something we loved in our past was in some part the product of an abusive individual or system. I love that Metafilter is largely an informative and gentle space for processing those situations and emotions, and I agree that we should try to do better in this respect.

That being said, it's frustrating to me that we've spent so much time dunking on a straw man comment that originated in the title of this MeTa and continues to be posted all over the thread. It appears nowhere in the recent Armie Hammer and Joss Whedon threads and most closely resembles a deleted comment in a thread from a year and a half ago.

In my opinion, exaggerating about the content of comments in FPP threads that didn't feel good for you is not a legit way to suggest that users approach similar topics differently next time.
posted by el gran combo at 12:38 PM on February 16


El Gran Combo, you may not have found those PRECISE words uttered in those threads, but SIMILAR comments had previously been in those threads and in one case they were deleted. Moreover, this kind of "well, I never liked the guy anyway and he always seemed iffy and I never got the appeal" sneering stuff is definitely something that's happened before.

I think accusing people of "exaggerating" is rather unfair.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:04 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear, EmpressCallipygos, I don't care AT ALL for the original FPP comments. I think they're noisy and insensitive. Why can't we criticize them for what they are instead of consistently strawmanning them? I'm seriously confused about this.

Actual comments in FPP :

in retrospect the people i've known who have loved joss whedon products the most ended up being the most toxic
posted by logicpunk at 10:55 PM on February 10 [1 favorite +] [!]


followed by

dude was always clearly gross
posted by StarkRoads at 11:04 PM on February 10 [+] [!]



Exaggerations in my opinion:

"oh, I always knew he was terrible! And everyone I know who liked him has also turned out to be a terrible person!"

“everyone I know who liked him turned out to be terrible too”

"everyone I've ever known who liked Joss Whedon shows was a bad person"

"everyone I know who loves Whedon's work are assholes"

"Everyone who likes X is terrible" requires evidence and probably would be better minus the hyperbole

"I always hated Joss Whedon's stuff. And everyone I ever met who was a fan of his turned out to be an awful person."

"You suck for having ever liked that person's work" is never a helpful comment.
posted by el gran combo at 1:47 PM on February 16


I think the title of this post is close enough to a restatement of the logicpunk quote (and i think a paraphrase is good to avoid calling one person out and making it about them), that it is in no way a strawman. I think those two comments pulled out are good enough evidence that this sort of thing happens. The "exaggerations" you list above may not be quotes from the Charisma Carpenter thread, but they do represent the kinds of things that have been posted here. There's no reason to disbelieve that people have experienced this kind of toxic criticism, just because you can't find direct quotes in one thread. Maybe you're confused that people are conflating a broad commenting behavior across many threads and many years into one specific thread. Whether or not that behavior all exists in that one thread, this MeTa is about the sitewide behavior. Does that help?
posted by rikschell at 2:00 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


el gran combo, I'm starting to wonder why you're so invested in making sure the OP and others like myself have the exact measured response to comments like these that you decide is appropriate. Do you really think we're unable to handle criticism of art that we love?

You really went all out to show that our memories are "exaggerations." As I had said in my comment, I couldn't control F my way to finding the comment so I had to at least reconstruct from memory what it was about. To paraphrase Maya Angelou "people will forget what you said but people will never forget how you made them feel.' Our "exaggerations" are showing how those comments make us feel. So yeah, sorry if we got the wording wrong.

I'm done with this thread.
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 2:37 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear, EmpressCallipygos, I don't care AT ALL for the original FPP comments. I think they're noisy and insensitive. Why can't we criticize them for what they are instead of consistently strawmanning them?

You seem to be the only person in the thread who is under the impression that we ARE strawmanning them. You may want to think about that a spell.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:11 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Does that help?

Yes. I somewhat disagree with how close the paraphrase was, but I appreciate what you wrote, and it makes things clearer for me.


Do you really think we're unable to handle criticism of art that we love?

No. I'm sorry that I gave you that impression.
posted by el gran combo at 3:33 PM on February 16


"I hate this shit. Responding to "I'm struggling with this news because this piece of art was meaningful to me" with a smug "well I guess you're a moron for ever having liked it then!" is just... fucking asshole behavior."

I made a couple comments, mostly about separating art from the artist, and some male stereotypes.

Someone responded with, "we don't need* to separate the art from the artist." True, but, realistically, if we didn't separate art from artist or inventor in real time, we'd stop eating or selling products like peanut butter because the inventor was violent with his spouse (he wasn't, but the idea is clear), etc.

Sometimes the context or very presence of these posts is super off-putting or just a vehicle for headless/meaningless theatre/aggression.
Sometimes people are awful, but lambasting them or shaming them, typically just makes the person even more awful, the shamer potentially a little emotionally sick, and the community now awkwardly blighted. I'm certain it's particularly hairy for those contributing to those fields.

You don't have to be Gandi when examining this style of news, but it can only help everyone involved if you give the person some measure of out (no matter how despicable, at times) - just because we really don't want hyper shame or punishment based systems for good reason: they are not actually effective. I am not condoning or reference "forgiveness," just some humanitarian resolve. Typically, unless the individual is a diagnosed narcissist, they probably feel like the worst person in the room, at all times.

It's also usually pretty simple: a talented or somewhat talented person is found to have complex or incredibly distasteful personal practices (whoa, no way).

Levy the finding out with the influence or interest of the art itself, and find some way to make balance between it, you, the audience, etc.

But mongering over gooey hate posts on the internet, just makes the web another VR Roanoke style stock experience. You can argue you're not physically harming anyone, but well, sometimes the viewer or audience looks like the d*head, too.

Additionally, sometimes these posts are a little petri-dish for harassment pre-game (similar types of people who crowd around hate-posts will carry over the behavior in real life, without thinking about how they literally may have never met the person. They're just using the conversation as a vehicle to exhaust personal steam or even inadequacy). They can be really problematic.

🤷

Off subject: I know it isn't funny right now, definitely literally Lol'd when I realized Marilyn Manson's name is in fact Brian. ..hahahah. Ahh. Thanks, internet.
posted by firstdaffodils at 3:34 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Btw, I still like Woody Allen's work. I can absolutely say I have no interest or attachment to Allen's personal ideals or behaviors.

A viewer has to suspend the knowledge of the person/artist/creator (a complex, living, unpredictable organism, perhaps caught in particular era of time) and their work (a much different entity) like many people probably suspend the idea that the tungsten (or other minerals) in their brand new Iphone, possibly just killed 1-5 African children in the DRC, with it's purchase (Democratic Republic of the Congo - and, actual, cite-able, sourcable reference. Sorry everyone!).
posted by firstdaffodils at 3:45 PM on February 16


Cite it then. Don't just threaten to cite it.

For the record, Apple sold 217 million iPhones in 2018 (Statista).

The estimated population of the DRC is estimated to be between ~91 million (worldometer) and 105 million (Wikipedia).

Simply, there aren't enough kids in DRC to meet the level of deaths you are representing.

Or don't cite it, since it was off-topic crap anyway.
posted by biffa at 5:02 PM on February 16 [7 favorites]


K, I'll find it.

It's not "crap", it think it's a legitimate reference and places great context. I don't think what you just posed ("there simply aren't enough children.." etc.) bears any weight, but thanks for the other references, nice work there. If I get time from my job to post, I'll do so.

I cannot find or have time to find the exact stat right now, but I found this in less than thirty seconds:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/dec/16/apple-and-google-named-in-us-lawsuit-over-congolese-child-cobalt-mining-deaths

Curious to know what search terms you used or if you happened to try. With some scholarly tooling around, I know the cite/source is there, it was in a class I took not long ago. Since you're not my instructor and you're not grading me in any meaningful context, I may just leave it at the link. Have a good night!
posted by firstdaffodils at 6:23 PM on February 16


(the mineral in the article is cobalt, which is often paired with tungsten as well as gold, for the composition of smart phones, primarily Iphones, possibly like the phones people are using to view this thread at this moment, yowza)

Couple more, still no statistic, but Google has a lot* of material.

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/resources/reports/child-labor/congo-democratic-republic-drc

https://www.verite.org/project/coltan-tungsten-tin-2/

These source tungsten as well as cobalt.
posted by firstdaffodils at 6:29 PM on February 16


Whoa. So the statistic is definitely not 1/5(which I would think would be obvious, this was just offhand for conversation), but wow:

https://www.humanium.org/en/child-labor-in-the-mines-of-the-democratic-republic-of-congo/
"Various mining sites, located principally in the Eastern regions of the DRC (North Kivu and Katanga), employ a significant number of child workers. In fact, the data on Katanga and Copperbelt generally estimate the number of children (under 18 years) at 40% of all workers in the region’s mines.408859553_1280x703

According to a UNICEF estimate from 2014, roughly 40,000 young boys and girls are used for dangerous mining activities in southern DRC, primarily extracting cobalt."

Even if it isn't just tungsten, rather minerals, the statistic is probably a significant number (1/35 would be more realistic).

So, to tie this back into conversation: people suspend or create dualistic thoughts everyday to cope with their realities. Can they not just do it for art, as well.
posted by firstdaffodils at 6:44 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


You seem to be the only person in the thread who is under the impression that we ARE strawmanning them. You may want to think about that a spell.

EmpressCallipygos, that was condescending, and I expect better from you. I like you and I admire your contributions to Metafilter. Yes, I'm fully aware that I have a minority opinion in this thread. You appealed to the majority, which is a bad look, especially in our online community here, which skews white and US American.

NotTheRedBaron, quoting Maya Angelou of all people in order to quell criticism around painfully white media probably deserves its own MeTa but I'm not the one for that. It might not even be her quote, but it seems to me that yall can't be bothered to check on that.

Hey Metafilter, thanks for being there for me and helping me grow. I love you! Goodbye.
posted by el gran combo at 1:20 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


I will pop back in and apologize about the Maya Angelou line i used in my comment. It was inappropriate use of those words and I am sorry.
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 1:52 AM on February 17


firstdaffodils: you didn't say one in five deaths, you said 1-5 deaths per phone, I was highlighting that your figure was unsupportable, which it is. I can believe that there are horrific human rights abuses under way but you plucking numbers from the air which are garbage helps no-one.

Your comments remain totally off-topic.
posted by biffa at 2:54 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


....Well, I'd clarify my earlier statement to El Gran Combo but it seems they do not want to hear it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:16 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


[Couple deleted -- let's leave the phone derail now.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 5:29 AM on February 17 [4 favorites]


While I fully agree that smugness and "I told you so" and "woker-than-thou" comments really do create a hostile atmosphere for discussion in some contexts, I also think it's quite appropriate for people to speak up in these threads about how long they have been trying to tell us what a jerk the celebrity in question was.

Sometimes these allegations of abuse really do spring up out of the blue. But most of the time, there is a long track record of documented abuse already made public by this person's victims, and possibly years of some small band of people trying to amplify the voices of the victims, that the rest of us chose not to pay attention to, or chose to forget, or chose to disbelieve. In Joss Whedon's case, this pattern is especially egregious, because his ex-wife's allegations from a couple of years ago - which included Eliza Dushku's name as one of the many young female actors he extracted sexual favors from on set - went viral. It was EXTREMELY well publicized and it was only a couple of years ago.

It's reasonable for folks to feel affronted by all the surprise being expressed about Whedon now, because the surprise IS an affront. It's proof of how little we collectively cared about the well-publicized allegations from his wife, that we forgot all about them and carried on as if nothing had happened. If people want to express how ridiculous this surprise is by going on the thread and saying, "Excuse you, we knew this all along, and if you didn't care before, you're not to be trusted now either."

Folks need to be able to say such things on these threads. They deserve to be heard about how long they've known the truth about this celebrity, and rather than take offense at their comments, the rest of us need to do some soul searching about why we didn't listen sooner.
posted by MiraK at 7:36 AM on February 17 [7 favorites]


people want to express how ridiculous this surprise is by going on the thread and saying, "Excuse you, we knew this all along, and if you didn't care before, you're not to be trusted now either."

And to add to this, not everyone's personality is as abrasive as mine can be when I'm riled up so they may not say exactly those words. So sometimes, instead of saying the blatant fighting-words like above, people say things like "Ugh, I always knew he was not to be trusted," and "Yep, everyone I know IRL who likes this guy has turned out to be a shithead". It's how people who are nicer than me make peace with the shit that makes them fucking furious: instead of nursing a simmering rage to be unleashed onto unsuspecting comment threads, they tell themselves, well at least *I* knew all along, and at least I'm keeping myself safe from people who think this is nbd.

They are worth listening to and becoming curious about even when they use words which sound smug. Because *don't* we want to know how they knew? *Don't* we want to know how come we missed it? In the context of #MeToo and similar abuses of power, we need to get over our own defensiveness and start valuing the input of people who are telling us they knew all along.
posted by MiraK at 7:50 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


It's reasonable for folks to feel affronted by all the surprise being expressed about Whedon now, because the surprise IS an affront. It's proof of how little we collectively cared about the well-publicized allegations from his wife, that we forgot all about them and carried on as if nothing had happened.

Oh gosh what could possibly have been preoccupying us in the LAST TWO YEARS that might have allowed us to forget some bad news about a creator we might tangentially know about
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:57 AM on February 17 [6 favorites]


Haha, yes, Blast Hardcheese, I agree it's not our fault, exactly, for forgetting. But I think we have to understand that their frustration is valid regardless, and also that we have to listen to the people who knew all along rather than shut them down if we care about stopping abuse.
posted by MiraK at 8:00 AM on February 17


You have a point, Mira; however, I think the thrust of this post is about a bit of a different thing. To my mind, there is a difference between "I've known that there were problems with this person and I wish more people had paid attention to the times I've said that earlier", and "Well, this may be the first time I've ever said anything about this dude, but I certainly never liked him and thought the people who did were a little immature, to be honest". I think the latter kind of comment is the one being discussed; the tone is more about "I'm taking the chance to earn some brownie points and show off how smart I am".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:22 AM on February 17 [4 favorites]


I guess I'm challenging us all to be open to interrogating the people who say those things too? I agree it isn't helpful when someone is in here for just the brownie points or is insulting us as immature/wrong/bad for liking the creative person. But the response of shutting them down due to feeling offended at their implication is as unhelpful as the non-response of simply letting them continue acting smug, taking shallow potshots at us. If we were to respond by saying something like, "What clued you into their badness?" they would also be challenged to make a positive contribution to the discussion.

I, for one, learned a lot from someone who explained why they hated Joss Whedon in a discussion ten years ago. At the time I used to be a huge fan... in comes this asshole hating on everything I love, right, and dissing me in the process (or at least that's what it felt like, I don't remember exactly). I was happy to ignore them. But eventually they made good points when others challenged them to stop making holier-than-thou pronouncements and start backing up their statements, describing their thought process, etc.
posted by MiraK at 8:40 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


I also think it's quite appropriate for people to speak up in these threads about how long they have been trying to tell us what a jerk the celebrity in question was.

if it hadn't been for this particular META, I'm pretty sure I would have commented early in this current FPP:

30 years in, The Silence Of The Lambs’ Jame Gumb still deserves better

... because I've always had serious issues with Silence of the Lambs, which I won't detail here except to say, they're not immediately relevant to why Jame Gumb still deserves better. I may wade in later at some point once I've figured out how to elucidate them better, deliver them in such a way that they won't constitute a derail. But early in the thread is too early. Even if I'm not going to say something as reductive as "I always knew [x] was terrible, and anyone who ever liked [x] is too!"

I also withheld commenting for a while in this likely less contentious thread concerning Yes's 90125 album, which I never liked, felt personally insulted by from the get-go (and not because I resented the idea that my fave band had modernized so dramatically, but blah-blah-blah, blah-blah-blah, blah-blah-blah!).

Anyway, thanks to all for this thread. A necessary discussion. A reminder that one can simultaneously be both right and wrong.
posted by philip-random at 9:27 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


....Well, I'd clarify my earlier statement to El Gran Combo but it seems they do not want to hear it.

That interaction was pretty awful and speaking as a person of color, white people on this site need to do better.
posted by polymodus at 1:38 PM on February 17 [4 favorites]


You know, this is a fair call, and I've flagged a relevant comment of my own from the Whedon thread, which the mods have graciously removed.

Maybe a better approach would be for everybody to write down the names of all the famous/influential people/institutions who we think could conceivably appear in similar threads in the future, and then when it happens we can just link back to our comments here? It would be like a character stat block: "Here are my Toldyasos".
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:59 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Personal musings after reading this thread: As someone who doesn't engage a lot with art, who's rarely fan of anything enough to want to know who exactly was involved in its making and how, I am actually wondering how much it's my responsibility to be more interested.
I've been unpleasantly surprised so often by the usual demographic that, to paraphrase other commenters, anything made by a white man becomes automatically suspect. Maybe, ethically, I should be more proactive in looking up who's involved in a show and what the scoop is on them before I start to lean into it.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:13 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


As a Woody Allen fan, I am in the process of learning simply not to engage.
posted by less of course at 6:12 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


less of course: it's important. I appreciate a couple Tarantino*films (2-3), but I have absolutely no interest in Tarantino.

It's a funky question to consider at length. Would I bash the audience of a certain person or work, because I disliked the work? Typically, no. Do I want to hang out, after set, during a Blue Collar Comedy Tour? Doubly no. I don't even know, or dislike Jeff Foxworthy (moreso, just don't really consider), but the argument should follow both ways.

It's just sort of an echo of the classic narrative of "heroes" being just-people or potentially unlikeable human beings. All the more reason to stop idolizing "celebs," and just offer them some space and let them work, or not work.

Even if the person sucks/has uncared for mental instability/whatever awful attributes, it does a lot of damage to a person to be harangued in a public light (we stopped using stocks for a reason. In theory). I can't help but believe it ultimately makes the person worse in the long run.

I wonder what a different version of the thread would look like.
posted by firstdaffodils at 7:29 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


"Maybe, ethically, I should be more proactive in looking up who's involved in a show and what the scoop is on them before I start to lean into it." Omnom, I adore the idea of this conceptually, but I think it's going to be a dash longer before we start to see a crest in completely ethically sourced films. We only very recently stashed Weinstein away. There is quite a lot of work in this area.


..for the record and perhaps borderline-topic: I absolutely hate the word woke. Asking people to do or act something standard or expectable isn't a level of magical awareness or reality. There's no need to define it as such.

Let's make the USA just okay, again 🙄
posted by firstdaffodils at 7:38 PM on February 17


I mean, a) I'm addressing personal ethics, not looking to singlehandedly change a whole system and b) the toxicity of the entertainment industry is international, not a US thing and c) I'm extremely not American and therefore only marginally interested in its general okayness. Though I suppose we'd all benefit from a clean up in aisle 6, so please go ahead.
posted by Omnomnom at 9:54 PM on February 17 [5 favorites]


Reading this thread has been interesting to say the least!

I clearly should have been clearer in my initial post. I have absolutely no problem with people unpacking WHY a creator sucks. I like it when people list the red flags that I didn't see. What bugs me is the reductive drive-by posts such as the ones El Gran Combo quoted. I am in no way trying to shut down people from criticizing an artist.

I was very specifically paraphrasing rather than quoting because I wanted to discuss a specific type of post rather than calling out individual posters.
posted by rednikki at 10:13 PM on February 17 [6 favorites]


Omnom: A) didn't think you were, you came across as thoughtful and interested in approaching the subject in a new way B) I may have had an interest in working within it (or actually did), I probably know we both know C) that's some decent fortune right now, aisle 6) looks a little rough.
posted by firstdaffodils at 10:48 PM on February 17


This comes in a few flavors and they sit differently with me.

One you often see on MetaFilter is something akin to "I am more tapped-in than you and heard of this person's awfulness some time ago." This one can vary. Sometimes, it plays like the abuse news version of the hipster saying they knew of that band way before. Other times, it's a sort of lacking-in-grace expression of impatience with people replaying a reaction cycle the people in one's circle already ran through some time ago. I think those are likely the main two with Hammer, since his offenses can't be considered directly mirrored in work he did not write. It's all about whether you've heard.

Another one that happens here frequently that gets under people's skin is the slightly more justified "Haven't you noticed there is a pattern with this kind of person yet?" As a for instance, when the likes of a Ryan Adams is exposed, folks will point out that there is maybe something to learn about famously churlish men who "lay it all out there warts and all" in a way that includes problematic descriptions of relationships and first-person tales of being an asshole. In these cases, maybe we shouldn't be that shocked their real selves are also... not good. This one can hurt because it reminds us that we sometimes accept toxicity if it offers us something else we like: a good tune, a good riff, funny jokes, some insights adjacent to the red flags. When we find out that the assholery wasn't play acting, we feel stung and have to engage in some uncomfortable ruminating on where the lines are and what we have been willing to entertain.

The one that is least pernicious but probably plays as parallel with these in the moment is "Looking back at their life/output/work, maybe we should have guessed." That one can amplify the ones above even as it's absolutely not a know-it-all reaction and is something more akin to being reflective in the moment, which is, you know, probably a good thing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:16 AM on February 18 [9 favorites]


"This one can hurt because it reminds us that we sometimes accept toxicity if it offers us something else we like: a good tune, a good riff, funny jokes, some insights adjacent to the red flags. When we find out that the assholery wasn't play acting, we feel stung and have to engage in some uncomfortable ruminating on where the lines are and what we have been willing to entertain."

I find this interesting, DOT. Realistically, and sort of what I've been trying to contextualize: I think people should expect to witness some* "toxicity"/flaw in those they admire or follow (or honestly, perhaps even a deep amount). To what extent, I'm not sure. It sort of lies on the precipice of expecting some level of trauma or conflict within others.

Media literacy is a valuable tool, and maybe the people who are wildly injured by the news someone isn't who they were believed to be, is often due to too much polishing without balanced attachment. Aside the acceptance of basic flaws, there is how the media decides to portray and circulate those flaws, and the ever reverberating reaction of how the 'public' processes the information.

..all expressed, girlfriend cannabilizing or girlfriend cannibal fantasies are a little less basic than I'd typically expect.
posted by firstdaffodils at 1:15 PM on February 18


I think sometimes there can be a sense of relief for those of us who never understood why someone or something was so popular. Now we're allowed to say we didn't like it, without people trying to convince us we should! That's no excuse to be an asshole, though.
posted by ferret branca at 1:21 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


I think sometimes there can be a sense of relief for those of us who never understood why someone or something was so popular. Now we're allowed to say we didn't like it, without people trying to convince us we should!

Yes, I have felt this way about Harry Potter for a long, long time. It was very alienating, being the only person in the world who has no idea what a hufflepump is or whatever.
posted by Jess the Mess at 2:01 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


I think sometimes there can be a sense of relief for those of us who never understood why someone or something was so popular. Now we're allowed to say we didn't like it, without people trying to convince us we should!

This seems to be a different discussion from the one being had by people who did engage with a thing during its popularity and are now saying that they did (or did not) perceive problematic aspects in the thing.

If you're someone who never liked or engaged deeply with the thing in question, "Your favorite thing always sucked!" is not a useful contribution to the conversation.
posted by Lexica at 3:43 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


If you're someone who never liked or engaged deeply with the thing in question, "Your favorite thing always sucked!" is not a useful contribution to the conversation.

Honestly, it's pretty sad there's a 83 comment/para thread online regarding this experience, when it should never happen at all. It's just a childish, blatantly socially awkward thing to do.
posted by firstdaffodils at 4:46 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm used to not understanding a thing everyone loves because I'm a man who doesn't watch sports on his own in the Midwest. Men in their 40s might as well be speaking Martian a lot.

By "understand", I mean I just can't contribute to those conversations since I'm clueless so I kind of nod politely and smile, I totally get why people like them.

On a slightly positive note, Metafilter made me really engage with and work on how unbelievably devastated I could get by an online comment that was mean or judgemental or just dismissive of entire groups of people/what have you. Because it kept happening. I dunno if it's part of having ADHD or what, but I really had to deal with it and that's good overall in the end. And I didn't like that I'd do something shitty that perpetuated the cycle to probably reclaim some power/ego and on and on it went. I like to think I have improved... hopefully. We're all in process.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:07 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I definitely agree there's room for nuance in the "I've long/always hated this person"--which is not so much smugness as relief after what can feel like years of gaslighting by fans. Sure, sometimes it's just thread-shitting, the likes of which we seen in many iterations on different FPPs. But there's also the sense of finally feeling validated. Or actually, I'll own to feeling both smug and relieved because I felt completely run out of the Whedon fandoms back in the day for raising lots of objections to the race and gender content onscreen, even aside from any accounts of what was going on with the actors behind the scenes.
posted by TwoStride at 12:14 PM on February 19


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