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April 23, 2006
A Fandom Going Too Far

Sometimes I find our culture emotionally repressed (and repressive) but I can't say that the alternative is always attractive.

Granted, this case of rioting after the death of an actor is about rather more than the death of the actor, but the news that people have actually torched themselves because some actor they liked has died, makes me a bit squeamish.

Beyond anything else, it suggests to me that these are people whose real lives are so emotionally barren and unfulfilling, whose real lives are so hopelessly devoid of interest and challenge, that they develop fixations on remote figures, living vicariously through someone else.

But then, as someone was trying to get me to admit not long ago, much of "fandom" here in the USofA and around the world is almost as excessive, if not quite as obviously and immediately dangerous.

(If you refuse to take off your Spock ears when you go to work, if you're so "in love" with an actor that you stalk them in an attempt to get them to return your "affection", if you change your name to that of a fictional character.... Well, here in the USofA, these things might eventually land you in therapy. In other parts of the world, you just die.)

Obviously I have more sympathy with the excessive emotionalism of the Kannadigas than I do with those in more prosperous countries. Their attachment to the now-deceased Rajkumar seems to have been as much or more about his defense of their culture and heritage in the face of increasing "Westernization" as about his roles.

Still. The tack the article took, starting off with the "fandom" aspect before laying out the social and cultural history of the outburst struck me as interesting.

Not the least because, as our own country's situation becomes ever-more precarious and as our own culture becomes ever-more fragmented, it seems more and more possible to imagine rioting here.

In spite of the government's reports and statistics and compliant media followers who have been trumpeting the strength and health of our economy since the neocons started dismantling it, real people know they're not better of, in fact life is a lot less secure, than they were five or six years ago.

I'm not saying we're seeing the kind of anger that leads to Joe Average deciding he's just not going to take it any more. But it's the whole flash-point thing, isn't it? Outside of an Asimov book, psychology, mob and individual, is still a primitive science.

Who knows which revelation of official corruption, corporate malfeasance, or warmongering profiteering might light the match?

I'm hoping for riots.

Not the bloody torches, battered victims, and rubber bullets and gas masks variety.

The, you know, the civilized variety. The kind where fifty million of us march on our state capitals and on Washington D.C. and give the incumbents 30 minutes to pack before they're escorted (politely and nonviolently) back to their personal residences, thanked for their presumed good intentions, and warned never to darken the doors of government again.

(I don't like spending five hours of a beautiful, sunny weekend day working. This is on the list of things that make me bitter.)

And yet....

I know you're tired of hearing this, the entire Left is tired of hearing this, the Right is mocking us for always saying this, and the Rightwing is counting on us being distracted by this, but do the Democrats have a better solution?

Well, yes, partly just by virture of being Democrats, their solutions are bound to be better.

And, yes, we need some darned catchy campaign slogans to thrill the masses and half a dozen canned talking points that candidates can safely repeat to get themselves out of tight corners.

But what about really?

How will the Democrats really help people? What will they do with a majority in Congress and possession of the White House?

(Ooops. I'm already far from my starting point, so I'll spare you the endless rambling about the points I think the Democrats should be discussing solid solutions for.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:47 PM