When Pop Culture “Journalism” Became More About Agenda Than News


Fairy tales used to start with phrases like “Once Upon a Time…” but anymore they begin with name calling and finger pointing. I’m not talking about the storybooks, I’m talking about the recent trend with Pop-Culture news sites.

Not long ago articles were focused more on fact than agenda. Of course that didn’t mean there wasn’t agenda, but the journalists would at least try to focus on facts first and opinion second.

Sadly, that type of journalism died out the same time people were allowed to have different opinions.

Lately, I see more “articles” from these journalists that focus on division, name calling, and blaming “fanboys.” Even going as far as beginning an article with an attack instead of information. Facts become secondary to the set narrative.

Today it seems that shaming people into agreeing is more important than focusing on actual facts. Most people are good people and they don’t want to be called “racists” or “misogynists” or “nazis” simply because they didn’t like a character in a movie or a story arc in a television show.

Star Wars Green Milk The Last Jedi
ABOVE: A depressed and unheroic Luke Skywalker chugs down some freshly squeezed green milk. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is one of the best examples of Hollywood and access media demonizing and disenfranchising a passionate fanbase. Star Wars fans who criticized the film for valid reasons were literally called “manbabies” by the film’s director Rian Johnson. Many pop culture media outlets swarmed the fandom as well, going so far to paint dissenters as “nazis” and “alt-right.” In a moment of peak WTF, a study that was conducted by a lone academic claimed that much of the hatred toward The Last Jedi was in fact caused by Russian bots. A few months later, Solo: A Star Wars Story bombed at the box office. No Russian bots were blamed. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

For a good majority of fans, these labels are unfair and a form of bullying and control.

Aside from the fact that most people aren’t the labels given to them, it’s a bad idea to attack fans. Yes, I’m saying fans because even if they don’t agree with your opinion they are still fans and not “fans.”

I think a lot of recent backlash over television shows and movies has been increased over the articles written by individuals who feel it’s more important to insult the original IP or fans than it is to try to do report on facts and aspects that could unite fandoms instead of fracture them further.  And then they try to justify their position by labeling the ones who don’t agree with the author the “vocal minority.”

Realistically, a “vocal minority” means a small group that make their presence known by loudly speaking out. The same term can be used for the extreme fans of any franchise, both for and against the IP.

ABOVE: Netflix and Dreamworks reboot of She-Ra. Oldschool fans who had issues with some of the choices made for the reboot — as well as the disrespect shown to the original show and voice actors — resulted in all dissenting voices being called things like “misogynists” and “perverts” by many media outlets. Things had gotten so out of hand that the voice actress of the original She-Ra, Melendy Britt, had to speak out against the dubious PR and marketing behind She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. (Photo: SyFy Wire)

However, a vocal minority can not tank a global box office. Either they are the “minority” or there are a lot more disenfranchised people than the studios and the media want to acknowledge.

The truth usually lies in the middle not in the extremes. General audiences decide what does well and what doesn’t. The largest percentage don’t even read pop-culture blogs and they will likely not read this article as well.

There is no way that they can all be “fanboys,” “man-babies” or “trolls.”

Somehow we’ve lost the normal fandom spectrum where it was okay to like something and okay not to. Where you didn’t have to love every aspect of a franchise or be told you aren’t a real “fan, or worse: a bad person.

Jodie Whittaker Doctor Who
ABOVE: For the first time in the show’s long history, Doctor Who has been portrayed by a woman (Jodie Whittaker.) While some fans of the series had issues with the Doctor now being gender swapped, much of the criticism of the most recent season focused on the poor storytelling, low rent special effects, and ham-fisted political messaging. Of course many media outlets rushed to call the fandom the usual assortment of names.

Does this mean that every journalist is doing this? No. I’ve seen several news sites stick to the facts and not make it a personal pedestal for attacking others that disagree. Those are the ones you should be supporting.

Fans are passionate about what they love. Passion is a good quality to have, but it can easily overtake reason.

Like Benjamin Franklin said “Passion governs, and she never governs wisely.”

Going forward we need more facts and less framing. Opinions are fine. You are allowed to like or not like things. Op-ed pieces and “news” aren’t the same thing and some people need to understand this.

 

 


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