Boycotts and “Ironic” Racism
So a handful of trolls decided to start a Boycott Star Wars VII hashtag on Twitter, claiming that the movie erases white male heroes and promotes white genocide and whatever. Star Wars: Aftermath author Chuck Wendig talks about it a bit here. The Mary Sue weighs in here. There’s been plenty of mockery, as well as folks pointing out some of the obvious irony. (Y’all know the most iconic figure in the franchise was voiced by a black man, right?)
There’s also folks pointing out that this was nothing but trolls begging for attention, and that the internet fell for it. Ah, internet. So gullible!
I read some of the 4chan board so you don’t have to. I can’t read minds, but yeah, there’s a good chance folks were stirring shit for attention and LOLs. But here’s the thing. You know Clarke’s Law? The one that says any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic? Well…
Any sufficiently hateful trolling is indistinguishable from bigotry.
The same folks crowing about how they suckered those stupid SJWs into reacting are also going on about how the black protagonist in The Force Awakens looks like a gorilla, how they can’t reshoot the film just because the protagonist is a n****r, and worse. Are these people trying to be ironically racist, or are they just bigoted assholes?
As it turns out, I don’t actually give a shit. Whether they truly believe a more diverse cast in Star Wars = promoting white genocide, that’s the message they’ve chosen to spread, and whatever the original intent, that message has attracted others. It’s become a magnet for spreading racism and antisemitism and hate.
If you punch me in the face, do you think I care whether or not you were doing it “ironically”?
If you truly believe that casting a black man and a white woman as leads in a Star Wars movie should be equated to genocide, you’re a racist asshole. But if you believe stirring up talk of boycotting Star Wars because they cast a black man and a white woman is a good way to get attention? You’re also a racist asshole.
Go ahead, please boycott the new Star Wars movie. I find I enjoy my movies more when there are fewer whiny, bigoted assholes in the theater. Better boycott Star Trek as well. I mean, you wouldn’t want to catch any of those icky “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations” cooties. Boycott Marvel, where they’ve introduced a black Captain America and a black/Latino Spider-Man and an Asian-American Hulk. Boycott Legend of Korra and their non-white, non-straight heroines. Boycott video games for including transgender characters and nonwhite characters and more. As the push for diversity and inclusion continues to grow, you might want to boycott the whole damn field of science fiction and fantasy.
So either grow the hell up and stop fighting a losing battle to build a wall around the genre, or else boycott yourself right out of fandom, and let the rest of us enjoy a community with a few less bigoted assholes.
You can even boycott “ironically,” if that’s what it takes to get you to leave.
October 22, 2015 @ 2:46 pm
I have no idea what “ironic racism” would actually be, which I think is your point. But would it be something along the lines of, “I’m not racist, I love all niggers.”???
October 22, 2015 @ 2:49 pm
100% agree. When I heard that it was a prank, I wondered what the point of differentiating between one kind of racism and another was. The punch in the face analogy is apt–if the action is clear, what does the intent matter?
One small correction, if you’re aiming for accuracy:
“Boycott DC and their Asian-American Hulk.”
Hulk is a Marvel character.
Jim C. Hines
October 22, 2015 @ 2:55 pm
Bleah. I know that. What an annoying brain fart. Fixed now, thank you.
October 22, 2015 @ 3:01 pm
Jim, you’ve captured so well my frustration with those who repeat the cliche, “just ignore them and they’ll go away.”
1) Trolls/abusers rarely go away. Recent history indicates that they just up the ante.
2) Pushing back against the abuse isn’t just about the abusers but the abused. Those who are the targets of bigotry need to see others standing up shouting “That’s not okay!” JK Rowling made a similar point last month (?) when she was questioned as to why she replied to trolls on Twitter (though I can’t remember the exact context at the moment).
October 22, 2015 @ 3:03 pm
“As it turns out, I don’t actually give a shit.” Haha, perfect.
October 22, 2015 @ 3:05 pm
Indeed. When I read that the racist hysteria over the new SW movie might be a “joke” instead of sincere hysteria, I thought, “Whether the people posting those comments are enraged there’s a black protagonist in SW or think it’s funny to pretend in social media to be enraged about that… So what? The latter motive doesn’t make their behavior any less grotesque.”
October 22, 2015 @ 3:08 pm
Mark, the people perpetrating the whole ironic -ism thing going around these days claim that it’s satire directed at the actual racists, so they can go ahead and make racist, sexist etc jokes without being condemned. ‘It’s funny because a racist would say X’ Then they get to laugh at the people who laugh at the joke because they think it’s real AND they also get to laugh at the people who attack them because ‘obviously’ it was ironic.
It’s generally not very well crafted satire which means they then appear to be racist, sexist etc jerks making tasteless jokes in public who then get huffy when called on their BS.
More Star Wars freaking out | Fraser Sherman's Blog
October 22, 2015 @ 3:09 pm
[…] Star Wars for its anti-white racism!” crowd are just trolling, they’re still saying racist shit and shouldn’t be cut any slack for being “ironic.” More comments on the boycott […]
October 22, 2015 @ 4:09 pm
Once again 4chan tries to say they’re being assholes for the lulz, and no shits were given.
October 22, 2015 @ 5:14 pm
“Ironic” racism is still racism, boys.
Non-racists don’t have those thoughts even come to mind!
October 22, 2015 @ 5:57 pm
“Any sufficiently hateful trolling is indistinguishable from bigotry.” Can I quote you and call this “Hines’ Law?” 🙂
Jim C. Hines
October 22, 2015 @ 6:19 pm
Fine by me! 🙂
October 22, 2015 @ 8:34 pm
It’s more the practice of saying racist things totally straight, with the assumption that your audience knows you don’t mean them. It’s the sort of thing that does actually work within very small closed groups of friends (so everyone involved knows the joke, and the history of the joke) but works *terribly* if attempted for public comedy. It’s also a classic case of the “backpedal-to-humour” rhetorical move.
John From GR
October 22, 2015 @ 9:52 pm
I have a personal guideline that I use whenever I encounter obnoxious behavior: There is no such thing as trolling or sarcasm or lying on the internet. Everyone and everything is exactly as they appear. There is no difference between someone pretending to be a racist prick and someone who actually is a racist prick. Not on the internet, and not in real life. My life is immeasurably improved by following this guideline. The perpetrators of the Star Wars boycott hoax say they were “trolling the SJWs”. So what if the “SJWs” fell for it? This says nothing about people who are against racism, and some deeply unfortunate things about the people who perpetrated the hoax.
October 22, 2015 @ 10:11 pm
Those bigoted assholes need to get a rope and hang themselves if they think for one second that Star Wars is going to make more money than before.Fuck you, All White Supremacist groups and racists. Instead of deporting the illegal aliens,why don’t the U.S. deport all the white supremacists and any hate group out of this country.
October 23, 2015 @ 1:25 am
In a thread over on Twitter a while back, the folks at Popehat said much this same thing, using a bit more colorful language, which led to someone mentioning this Vonnegut quote:
“Be careful what you pretend to be, because you are what you pretend to be.” – Kurt Vonnegut
October 23, 2015 @ 5:38 am
Mr. Chines, this is utter garbage and you know it. Let me go through the reasons.
1. “So a handful of trolls decided to start a Boycott Star Wars VII hashtag on Twitter, claiming that the movie erases white male heroes and promotes white genocide and whatever.”- Since when is a handful of trolls doing exactly what trolls do (ei. try to make people upset) constitute something worth talking about? Since when is a handful of people spouting ignorant opinions on Twitter “news?” Why are you giving them the very kind of attention they want by writing this article and getting offended? Have liberals collectively decided to forget what the point of trolling is? Why are you encouraging both the trolls and awful liberal media that thrives off of fake controversy by getting upset?
2. “Any sufficiently hateful trolling is indistinguishable from bigotry.”- BULLSHIT. The fact of the matter is, people in our society know that racism is wrong and generally try not to appear racist. When they show their racism, it is almost never in an over-the-top, exaggerated, obvious way like getting mad at a black actor being the main character in the new Star Wars movie and starting a hashtag to boycott it and claiming it is “white genocide.” When people show their racism honestly, it is usually in a way meant to elicit empathy for their views and find others with that view because they know it is somewhat unacceptable and for that reason do so in not-so-public ways. A troll, on the other hand, has the complete opposite goal. They are looking to upset people. They want people to get mad and hate them. They make their racism obvious, exaggerated, unrelatable, and public because they want the largest audience to make the biggest upset. So no, actual racism is not indistinguishable from troll racism to anyone who doesn’t have the naïveté of a 13 year old or who doesn’t wish to purposefully forget what the goal of trolling is for the purpose of looking like the biggest champion of fighting oppression on the internet.
3. “Are these people trying to be ironically racist, or are they just bigoted assholes?”- Neither, and the worst part is, you, the author, are completely aware of this. They want to make you upset. They want these articles. They want attention. And you’re knowingly giving it to them.
4. “As it turns out, I don’t actually give a shit. Whether they truly believe a more diverse cast in Star Wars = promoting white genocide, that’s the message they’ve chosen to spread, and whatever the original intent, that message has attracted others. It’s become a magnet for spreading racism and antisemitism and hate.”- Actually no. What happened was most of the internet got offended and spoke out against them and the liberal media succeeded in making a fake controversy about a fake boycott. Why are you pretending like a handful of trolls somehow got a whole parade of real racists behind them? Where are they? I certainly haven’t been able to find them. Why are you pretending like this obviously silly over-the-top boycott actually somehow made people more racist?
5. “If you punch me in the face, do you think I care whether or not you were doing it “ironically”?”- They care that you care. They want to see you acting like what they did is a “punch in the face.” They want your outrage.
6. “But if you believe stirring up talk of boycotting Star Wars because they cast a black man and a white woman is a good way to get attention? You’re also a racist asshole.”- Now that you’ve acknowledged what the purpose was (getting attention), can you admit that you have now encouraged them by giving them EXACTLY what they wanted? If they want attention, clearly THEY WANT YOU TO THINK THEY ARE A RACIST ASSHOLE. In two sentences you’ve somehow managed to acknowledge the actual purpose of trolling and then proceed to knowingly fulfill the purpose!
7. “You can even boycott “ironically,” if that’s what it takes to get you to leave.”- Why would they leave when they are getting exactly the reaction that they want?
This kind of bullshit is the kind of stuff that makes me ashamed to be a liberal. If you actually wanted them to “stop spreading hate and racism,” you’d stop knowingly giving them the offended reaction that they crave. But that isn’t the goal here. The goal is to get clicks by adding fire to the flame and giving people more fake reasons to be mad about nothing and at the same time look like the most noble defender against racism. You hurt the causes you claim to represent by writing articles that make liberals look like they are looking for reasons to get upset. You turn people off to joining social movements for fear of being grouped in with this kind of bullshit.
Can liberal media resist the temptation to stoop to the level of Fox News, please?
Jim C. Hines
October 23, 2015 @ 8:31 am
Thanks, random person who can’t even spell the name of the person they’re replying to! We’ll be sure to give your comment all the attention it deserves. Have a great weekend!
October 23, 2015 @ 9:08 am
I have dislexia you ableist scum.
October 23, 2015 @ 9:10 am
In not-really-defense of your driveby troll’s *most relevant* point… I do totally pronounce your URL as “jim chines” in my head when I type it. Sorry, Mr. Ch… Hines! 😛
(At least nobody is pronouncing it “Jim Chin es”… I think?)
Jim C. Hines
October 23, 2015 @ 9:14 am
I can’t help it if jimhines.com was already taken!!! 🙂
Jim C. Hines
October 23, 2015 @ 9:17 am
I’m glad to see it doesn’t impede your name-calling and other insults. However, as you don’t seem to have anything productive to add to the conversation, you’ll be going into the goblins’ moderation queue from here on out.
October 23, 2015 @ 9:30 am
Really dude? You censor the only person on here with a dissenting opinion? I respect your opinions but if you aren’t willing to take criticism you will lose respect not just from me but from a lot of people. I don’t think you can just assume that person is a troll and I don’t think you can afford to given that if you want a real conversation you need opposition. The OP seemed pretty honest despite excessive use of insults. And I mean…you did insult them too by insinuating they were incompetant cause they spelled your name wrong…I think you’re going about this the wrong way.
Jim C. Hines
October 23, 2015 @ 9:40 am
Here’s the thing. WordPress actually checks IP addresses of commenters. So when a chastising comment from a brand-new stranger comes through right after “Ruth” calls me scum and ends up in moderation, and it turns out that new stranger coincidentally has the exact same IP address as “Ruth”? Well, I guess I’m just not inclined to take it very seriously.
(I’m leaving the other comment from “Ruth” in moderation. However, I’ll note that while she’s protesting being called a troll, sock-puppetry is pretty telling troll-sign.)
October 23, 2015 @ 10:14 am
Alright, I’ll own up to it. I sock puppeted. If anything, that should tell you that I’m not a troll, as using a different browser instead of realizing it went by IP is a pretty noob mistake. It was a last ditch effort in response to being censored.
You want complete honesty? The OP was a five am sleep-deprived rant against something bigger than you that you happen to exemplify. This should be obvious if you reread it. But I meant every word of it. Normally I would try harder to make you listen by being nice, and I apologize for taking my anger out on you. I will not, however, apologize for insulting you. You know that were my opinion farther left than yours, what you’re doing would be considered tone policing.
My second comment was a joke, but I honestly do have dyslexia. Anyways, I hope you read this comment whether or not you decide to let it go public. I hope you consider the possibility that not everyone with an angry, dissenting opinion is a troll. I hope you decide not to censor people so quickly in the future and actually address my points. Censoring is easy, actually engaging people is much harder.
Jim C. Hines
October 23, 2015 @ 10:22 am
I engage with people who have different opinions all the time. I’m less likely to engage with people who pop in to proclaim my opinions are garbage.
I did read your original comment. I decided it wasn’t worth the time or energy to engage with. Basically, if you act like a troll, that’s how I’ll treat you.
You can call that censorship if you’d like. Though you might have noticed that your original comment is still there? Regardless, this is my space, and I choose what kind of space I want it to be. You’re welcome to insult me as much as you’d like. Yay, free speech! But you are not welcome to do it here.
October 23, 2015 @ 10:31 am
Love this. Whether you’re doing it ironically or not- you are still stepping on my foot.
Jim C. Hines
October 23, 2015 @ 12:06 pm
Ruth – Since you’re continuing to try to comment and argue, let me be clear. You’re done here.
October 23, 2015 @ 1:20 pm
I think “ironic” or “hipster” racism is uaully Schrödinger’s racism: when you measure the reaction, the waveform collapses and only then will youknow whether it was a “joke” or not.
October 23, 2015 @ 3:32 pm
“Ironic racism” hasn’t had a great history of successes. In the UK we had Alf Garnett (Archie Bunker’s prototype) who was written as a parody of a bigot; the writer Johnny Speight admitted that his most fervent fans did not get the joke.
October 23, 2015 @ 3:34 pm
Ruth- remember the hoo-ha over the diversity in the Hunger Games film?
October 23, 2015 @ 5:09 pm
The problem now is that no matter how over-the-top a parody of a bigot is, well, it’s kind of like rule 34. You parody your idea of bigotry, and then someone bigot goes Poe’s law on you.
October 23, 2015 @ 5:20 pm
I agree with you, but here’s my thing: as progressives, we should know better than to take the bait of something as stupid as boycott star wars. It was clearly an attempt to rile up social media progressives (which is my new term to replace social justice warrior). Yes, it was racist as shit, and offensive as shit, but that was the point. How many people did “boycott star wars” represent? 100? 10? Had this been a blog post on White supremacist site Stormfront, which is basically the venue for it, no one would have paid any attention to it. But it is on twitter so we pay attention to it. The blog posts about how dumb it is outnumber the original tweets by a factor of a lot.and some of those responses were great, and a lot of them were “I don’t like this almost comically racist and terrible thing, so look at me!!!!” This is my beef with the internet. Someone says something stupid/offensive/outrageous/terrible, and all of a sudden they have a venue, and if it is stupid/offensive/outrageous/terrible enough, it gets picked up by the progressive blogs as evidence of how terrible and racist conservatives are, or by the conservative blogs as evidence of how terrible and racist liberals are. When in reality, it is a tweet or blog post that someone pooped out after thinking about it for 5 seconds, and that 100 other people retweeted or hash tagged while they were playing with their phone on the toilet/while their mom was driving them home from school/while they were watching the voice. While I think there were some good responses to the idiotic boycott, we as progressives have to be better about not taking the bait so quickly, and discerning between actual threats and an idiot being an idiot. What’s next, are we going to write think pieces about the Facebook posts of someone’s racist uncle? “is obama really a nigerian socialist? Are women lesbians because they are too ugly to get boyfriends? Salon has the answers!!”
The boycott star wars thing is an example about how the internet can turn something that almost no one actually believes into a hot topic that needs to be discussed by everyone. We are letting the trolls set the script and dictate the topics of conversation. And we are conflating writing angry think pieces about trolls with actually fighting racism.
Jim C. Hines
October 23, 2015 @ 8:40 pm
Ruth – Yes, I’m continuing to get your comments. No, they will not be published, nor will I be responding to them.
Please ask yourself why you feel justified in ignoring someone’s stated boundaries. Or to put it another way, you keep asking me to argue with you. I keep saying no. How many times should I have to say no before you respect that?
October 23, 2015 @ 10:16 pm
They do, sometimes, come to mind to me. But when I think those sorts of things I look at the thought, think “oh, wow, that’s racist, which deep rooted socially conditioned racist assumption produced it? must be careful of that and what else of my behaviour it might influence” and they I say nothing and look for the anti-racist thought/act to engage in its place.
Sometimes not being racist is an active and considered thing for white people who were raised in a racist society.
October 24, 2015 @ 6:40 am
I agree with you. I don’t believe in “Ironic” racism, misogyny, bigotry, or hate of any kind. Trolls would have us believe they’re playing Devil’s Advocate. It isn’t true The Devil’s Advocate is objective, designed to give deeper insight into motivation and strategies employed by opposing forces. Trolls are nothing more than attention hounds leaving inflammatory comments to stir up as much hate as possible. The consequences of the trend are dire, as a generation with unlimited access to social media promote uncensored hate. The vitriol expands to societal norms, and suddenly we’re fighting for the rights of women and minorities all over again.
October 24, 2015 @ 3:07 pm
Great post (and you seem to do a good job of keeping your section of the bottom-of-the-Internet civil, “Ruth” notwithstanding). Ironic/hipster racism is part of why I never cared for Colbert and totally avoided him after he donated to a right wing cause after he got called out on it.
Stephen A. Watkins
October 26, 2015 @ 9:47 am
This is the money-quote: “Any sufficiently hateful trolling is indistinguishable from bigotry.”
Stephen A. Watkins
October 26, 2015 @ 10:11 am
I find this to be true of myself… over coming the invisibly-learned problematic attitudes takes an active effort. I also find that those problematic thoughts pop up most frequently in certain contextually sensitive situations: i.e. most especially in situations where I’m among strangers and/or in an unfamiliar environment and my lizard-brain thinks it’s necessary for me to make snap judgements. When I realize what my lizard-brain did, I usually get a little embarrassed.
Stephen A. Watkins
October 26, 2015 @ 10:56 am
P.S. Who’s got two thumbs and plans to see Star Wars?
(and most of the rest of everybody else, too, I’d wager.)
October 26, 2015 @ 2:35 pm
I did read an article about how even if the original boy-cotters were “ironic” and just trying to get a rise out of people, they’ve basically created a safe space for people who really do feel that way. End result – racist is as racist does.
Anyway, I am super excited to see this movie, and if racists (ironic or otherwise) want to boycott their way out of fandom, fine. More popcorn for me.
(Apologies if any of this doesn’t make sense – I have a head cold and it’s making me a little loopy.)
October 26, 2015 @ 8:04 pm
they need to make a dark crystal2, just think it cant be racist because they are not human, but the more i think about it the haters will find a way……
seriously though the whiners might have a leg to stand on whining if this was based on a book and they changed the actors skin color simply for racial diversity (not the genocide whining, but the whining in general), but even then it is pretty weak.
of course i am a hypocrite, the new fantastic four was annoying with the sue/jonny storm. But not for the obvious reasons. I mean if they wanted to change them, why not make sue African American, there are tons brilliant young African American actresses (or they were all smart and steered clear of that movie to save their careers). I mean Zoe Saldana in Guardians was a win for casting and Haley in X-men was awesome. i personally felt they cobbled fantastic four together that way for the inclusion of an African American actor. And if they would have gone the extra mile my thoughts would have been different (maybe a much much much better story too), maybe that makes me a whiner though. Hopefully not.
October 27, 2015 @ 8:48 am
I don’t plan to see the film, but not because of the more diverse casting (which I think is a fine idea.) I don’t plan to see it because it’s made by the same guy (JJ Abrams) who did that awful Star Trek prequel that looked like it had been made by Beavis and Butthead.
October 27, 2015 @ 9:23 am
The thing that gets me is the way that “social justice warrior” is being used by the trolls as an insult and a term of derision. What? People are supposed to be ashamed of wanting a better world these days? Wanting to be considered polite and civil to others is something to be apologetic about? Wanting to avoid hurting people either physically or emotionally is somehow something we’re supposed to be closeted over? I mean, honestly, I’m supposed to feel defensive about being called a decent human being?
If that’s their vision – even an ironic vision – of how the world is supposed to be, then count me well and truly out. I’ll be over here, being the kind of person HYDRA would like to eliminate in the first wave…
October 27, 2015 @ 7:15 pm
Any sufficiently hateful trolling is indistinguishable from bigotry
that’s actually just Poe’s Law
“Without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, parodies of extreme views will, to some readers, be indistinguishable from sincere expressions of the parodied views” –Wiki
October 27, 2015 @ 7:19 pm
well do I know that pain.
October 27, 2015 @ 7:22 pm
I should note that while some might argue that “Saying it’s a prank means clear indicator of author’s intent”. that regardless of if we agree or disagree with that. The fact that no one knew that going in means it’s open to Poe’s Law and we see this is true as “actual racists” picked up the thread and ran with it. This isn’t like “Pee for equality” where no one actually bit. They baited racists (by being racist) and racists took the bait hard.