Martha Thomases: We’re A Happy Family!
Luckily, we have each other, right? We can band together and support our shared passions, especially as they relate to pop culture, can’t we? Isn’t that why we have the Internet?
Well, sure, unless you’re a woman, queer, a person of color, or a member of some other group of random people that someone decides to insult gratuitously and, usually anonymously. The most high-profile recent example is what happened to Leslie Jones, but there are a zillion others we can cite.
Up until now, there is nothing anyone could do about it except ignore it, and shudder in despair at the hatred that eats away at certain human souls. And, when it gets personally threatening, tell the police and take out a restraining order, if possible.
However, there may be hope that haters will no longer be able to hide behind a fake user name. Technology might be able to discover which anonymous trolls actually are in real life. We will, virtually if not actually, tell their moms how badly they behave.
Let me be clear here. I’m all for freedom of speech. You can say anything you like, no matter how hateful. However, if you don’t say out loud it in public, or if you don’t sign your name on media, I will think you are a weasel and a coward and deserve to be ridiculed. And if you make credible personal physical threats, the law says you have moved beyond free speech and into criminal activity.
Look, I understand baseless rage. I feel it several times a day. It’s a characteristic we all share, proof of our inner two-year-olds. Is the line too long at the ATM? Is my food delivery delayed? Does my elevator stop at every floor? Is it hot in the subway station? All these things make me want to rant and rave and call people horrible, abusive names.
But I don’t. I’m an adult. And my inner two-year-old is properly terrified that my inner Mom will yell at her.
Mine will be tested this fall, when Archie Comics publishes Archie Meets the Ramones. One of my pet peeves is that many more people now claim to be Ramones fans than ever supported them in the late 1970s or 1980s, when they could have used the money. They couldn’t even get radio play. And now AT&T uses their songs to sell their wireless service and most of the Ramones are dead.
I went to see them a lot when I was young enough to go out at night. And I took as many people with me as I could, famous and not. Those memories not only bring me pleasure, but they contribute to my sense of self.
I sure as hell never saw Archie Andrews and his ilk at CBGBs. Nor, despite what the actual story might depict, did I see his father, either.
So, perhaps in a way that might provide me with some empathy for those who don’t want anyone to remake Ghostbusters, I’m skeptical of this. I don’t know if it will seem true to me in the ways that the best fiction is true.
And then I remember how much the band liked comic books, and how much they probably would love being in an Archie comic, and I try to let go of my resentment.
I’m not promising to love the story when it comes out, but I promise not to anonymously make threats about its creative team on the Internet.