Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Political Correctness is Intellectual Facism"

Sounds a bit heavy for this particular blogpage, I know, but an incident today certainly clarified several of my random thoughts into one big... well, I dunno. Mmmm, did I say "clarified"? I guess I'm still working through it.

Firstly, it's the now well-worn chestnut of people seemingly choosing to misinterpret the motives of innocent posts on the Internet. I'm quite up-front that there's an awful lot of "ego-boo" (to use a very 70s fannish term) when I share my seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek trivia. I do get a buzz out of it. And if I didn't share it, I'd have no excuse for saving all those issues of "Starlog", "Star Trek Communicator", "Cinefex" and "Cinfantastique".

Secondly, the Australian sense of humour (and, indeed, our unique brand of, umm, sarcasm) does not translate well on the Internet. If it wasn't for those little winking icons, I'd be totally sunk. ;) Sometimes it doesn't matter how carefully I prune a post, I'll wind up being accused of being deliberately: pompous; a know-it-all; egotistical (okay, I know I'm that, I just admitted as much); demeaning; abrasive... And so on.

Thirdly, I do know that the blame for ineffective communication falls upon the sender, not the receiver. But gee, scrutinizing every post for every possible permutation of misinterpretation does take away the spontaneity of posting to a Star Trek mailing list while eating breakfast.

Finally, I go back to two comments from last week's meeting of the Sydney Weblogger Meetup Group: the aforementioned quote by Steve Noble ("If you want to be noted by a particular audience... be noteworthy"), and another PR person's comment, when quoting a speaker at a conference about using new technologies, that if a blog entry wasn't confrontational to someone, then it wasn't really a blog, it was just a home page.

Yesterday, on a e-mailing list to which I belong, a question was asked about amateur Star Trek fan films. It seems that a recent, well-regarded fan film actually kills off a major character, whom fans know already survives into the Star Trek feature film series. So, my e-pal asked innocently enough, why weren't the fan films constrained to follow the official "Star Trek" canon?

As someone who's written many a fanzine story, and as an actor in an episode of Starship Exeter (not the fan film series in question, though), I answered thusly:

"Umm, because it's a work of fiction, based on TOS, but not the movies?

"Umm, because it wasn't produced by the copyright holder, so it's not a canonical episode.

"Umm, because no one dies in science fiction?

"Umm, because it's an alternative universe story?

"Just four of hundreds of possible answers."

That's written exactly as I thought it - no malice intended - but, in hindsight, it seems it was not the wisest way to write it. (Unless, perhaps, if I'm trying 'to be noted by a particular audience', some may suggest?) The person my answer was directed at took no offense to my comments - and, indeed, we'd had numerous very funny back-and-forth emails about several topics, fan films included, following that original first post.

But, this morning, all Hell broke loose (again). I read this comment, from Chris, another poster to the e-list:

"I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said 'Political Correctness is Intellectual Facism'. I happen to agree with that statement. The world is waaaaaay too over-sensitive about everything these days.

"I didn't read Ian's post as demeaning at all. I actually appreciated the sarcasm and saw it for what it was. It was witty and at the same time it made me think about why it [the fan film] would or would not be canonical.

"It would have been a very different thing if his response had been: 'You're an idiot. Duh!' Now THAT'S demeaning. But it wasn't.

"If we have arrived at the day in which sarcasm is no longer an acceptable vehicle for human expression, then I, for one, am extremely saddened.

"To Ian: you on keep writing, I'll keep reading."

(Permission to quote requested and received; thanks Chris.)

How cool is that? Until Chris mentioned the issue, I had no idea my previous post had been the subject of a dissection - and branded as "demeaning". I told the complainer, who'd leapt to the original posters's defence, "Please reread my post with a laconic Aussie accent and you'll see I was being my usual, bouncy, positive, gregarious (but obviously not humorous at all) self. Think maybe Mel Gibson without the alcohol. And the good looks. And the fortune in Californian real estate. And all those kids."

But hey, maybe I'm not "demeaning", "pompous", "a know-it-all" or "egotistical" at all - just "noteworthy"!?

I know I've complained about a lack of comments to my entries here before, and I don't - as yet - have a monitoring tool on the page to check out who's looking and how they found me, but - as a measure of reassurance - I received two really great emails today, from distant "Star Trek" colleagues who say they read this blog with interest "every day"! Way cool. Or k3wl even.


Andrew said...

Hmmm, you must of upset someone in that very northern country across the big water where irony is scarce.

Therin of Andor said...

It's not difficul;t. I've now managed the feat many times... :)