While You Were Offline: Behold the Political Schadenfreude That Is Paul Ryan
Perhaps it’s just the circles we move in on the Internet, but this week was unusually antagonistic online. No one was on their best behavior this week, and it just feels like everyone needs to go to their rooms for a time out. Where’s the love, people? Oh, wait, maybe it’s here, in this revelation that the couple on the cover to the Woodstock album are still together, 46 years later. While you’re still recovering from the good vibes of that discovery, here are some things you might have missed on the world wide web over the last seven days. Buckle up.
Fandom Is Just as Broken as Everything Else, Maybe
What Happened: In the wake of a number of pop culture events, fandom spent the week gazing into its own navel.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media think pieces
What Really Happened: It’s been an increasingly vocal period for online fandom lately, in both good and bad ways. For every #GiveElsaAGirlfriend or #GiveCapABoyfriend, there’s a sexist backlash against the new Ghostbusters, it seems. And things really came to a head this week as the dust-up over Captain America’s comic book reveal—which, spoiler alert, revealed that Cap was a Hydra agent all along—lead to both smart think pieces about the character’s value as a patriotic symbol, and, well, death threats sent to those responsible for the comic.
Much of the discussion centered around a think piece called “Fandom is Broken” by movie critic Devin Faraci, which conflated much of the above into the notion of an overly entitled fan culture that could be personified by Misery’s antagonist Annie Wilkes. It’s an essay that misses a lot of nuance—there’s a world of difference between those asking for representation and those complaining that their favorite superhero might be a bad guy in plot twist, for example—and is complicated by passages like “One time I managed to hunt down a kid who threatened to kill me and called him; I won’t deny that his tear-filled voice as he begged me not to call the police and report him gave me some pleasure.” It was also an essay that prompted a lot of responses:
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) May 31, 2016
Great article, must read. Fandom Is Broken – https://t.co/zjawIOYRuh
— Felicia Day (@feliciaday) May 31, 2016
Saying fandom must only consume, never react or interact, is an author-centric approach that is in open defiance with the history of art.
— @red3blog (@red3blog) May 31, 2016
This “Fandom is Broken” business is a classic example of how language designed to fight privilege is appropriate by the privileged.
— Abigail Nussbaum (@NussbaumAbigail) May 31, 2016
Before you retweet the Birth Death Movies article, just remember Devin Faraci isn’t exactly a calm voice of reason. pic.twitter.com/pQ9tJ6HaNC
— Kate of Weariness (@WearyKatie) May 31, 2016
So, when we take fandom as a whole, select out the MOST AWFUL JERKBIRDS and flap them about and say, “Look how bad fandom is,” yeah, no.
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) May 31, 2016
It’s funny how every time someone writes an article about how bad fandom is they seem to single out women and queer people
— Keezy Young (@KeezyBees) May 31, 2016
Yes you are right. Entitlement in fandom is totally out of control. pic.twitter.com/0yPNZDYdQ4
— Kevin Panetta (@kevinpanetta) May 31, 2016
Please stop spreading the “Fandom is Broken” article by serial harasser @DevinCF. He does everything he accuses YOU of doing wrong.
— TroncthanDanielBrown (@JonathanDBrown) May 31, 2016
Fandom isn’t broken. Criticism isn’t broken. It’s the traditional comics industry that is broken. We can do better.
— Nick Hanover (@Nick_Hanover) June 2, 2016
Faraci’s essay prompted a number of response essays, all of which are worth reading: Gavia Baker-Whitelaw argued that fandom isn’t broken, but that it shares a harassment problem with the rest of the Internet, Megan Purdy wrote about the ways in which Faraci and others see a shift in power between fans and creators as something that’s broken, instead of an evolution, and Emma Huxbois wrote about the power (often abused) creators have over fans, and misunderstood privilege. Meanwhile, the Huffington Post’s Claire Fallon pushed back against the idea that fans are entitled, while Blastr’s Dany Roth suggested that fandom was still under construction rather than broken. (Also worth reading: Heidi Macdonald’s piece that looks into the historical roots of fan entitlement and also the Cap Hydra thing.)
The Takeaway: Is fandom broken? It depends on how you define it. If your definition of fandom is simply that the audience takes what it’s given and is grateful for it, then yes. That hasn’t been the case for a while, and if that’s your idea of fandom, it’s definitely cracked. But there’s a significant, important difference between speaking up for what you believe in and want to see, and a “broken” relationship, and what’s actually happening is far more the former than the latter.
What’s a “tronc”?
What Happened: The parent company of the Chicago Tribune announced a name change this week. Unfortunately, their choice of new name left something to be desired.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter
What Really Happened: It was the end of an era Thursday when Tribune Publishing, owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, announced that it would be changing its name later this month. The company, which has been around since 1847, will become tronc—all lower case; it’s short for “tribune online content”—on June 20. Yes, “tronc.”
It’d be easy to say that the jokes wrote themselves, but that would be underselling the response on Twitter:
Tribune Publishing is changing its name to “tronc inc.” and said the word “content” 11 times in the release on it https://t.co/IXvrZXTLw5
— Sapna Maheshwari (@sapna) June 2, 2016
tronc sounds like new teen slang for “tripping on battery acid”
— Josh Petri (@joshpetri) June 2, 2016
“who do you work for”
— Whet Moser (@whet) June 2, 2016
— Barry Graubart (@graubart) June 2, 2016
helllo my name is tronc. my son tronco trongus is here with me
— libby watson (@libbycwatson) June 2, 2016
WHAT YOU GONNA DO WITH ALL THAT JONC
ALL THAT JONC INSIDE YOUR TRONC
— Josh Crutchmer (@jcrutchmer) June 2, 2016
Tribune’s new corporate logo for its new life as “tech” company “tronc” is “on fleek” pic.twitter.com/nKDSrQSYLY
— Mark Gongloff (@markgongloff) June 2, 2016
Do you think any of the corporate communication people ever say, “If we name it Tronc we will be pummeled unmercifully on Twitter”?
— John Robinson (@johnrobinson) June 2, 2016
if somebody said “tronc” out loud to me my first reaction would be to jab them with an epipen
— Dollars Horton (@crushingbort) June 2, 2016
Tronc WAS my safe word
— Gabriella Paiella (@GMPaiella) June 2, 2016
Finalist names before they settled on tronc:
— John Moe (@johnmoe) June 2, 2016
“TRONC TRONC” is how Law and Order starts, right?
— Linda Holmes (@nprmonkeysee) June 2, 2016
Up town tronc you up
Uptown tronc you up
— Gabriella Paiella (@GMPaiella) June 2, 2016
You have GOT to meet my friend Tronc … pic.twitter.com/gpgdMjIJSs
— John Shipley (@shipleykid) June 2, 2016
Based solely on this logo, tronc was a PBS kids’ show from the producers of ZOOM. #02134 https://t.co/k3DyJeVkQj
— Lisa Beaudry (@LisaMBeaudry) June 2, 2016
Fleek, Turnt, Tilt, Tronc – I give up. Just make me a grandpa already.
— Brett Jensen (@BrettJensen82) June 2, 2016
It’s fair to say that, while tronc did immediately become a far more widely discussed brand upon renaming, that’s not necessarily a good thing. After all, calling your outfit “Tribune Publishing” never lead to the “worst press release in the history of journalism.” (“If all that baloney sounds like the work of a team with no background in journalism, then it accurately represents itself,” the Washington Post wrote about the press release in question.)
The Takeaway: Then again, maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to make fun of “tronc”…
“Tronc! What a stupid name,” people tweeted on Twitter, a not stupid name. “Oh btw, can you Venmo me? Tinder. Kindle. Google.”
— Caro (@socarolinesays) June 2, 2016
The Political Schadenfreude That Is Paul Ryan
What Happened: The political moment the Republican Party has been waiting for arrived this week, as Paul Ryan announced that he would, indeed, be voting for Donald Trump this November.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media think pieces
What Really Happened: Paul Ryan’s relationship with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been a difficult one. The Speaker of the House has condemned the violence at Trump’s rallies, accused Trump of “disfiguring” the beliefs of the Republican party and, last month, declared that he was not ready to endorse the candidate for the presidency—all of which made the following tweet that much more sweet for those who enjoy political schadenfreude:
— Paul Ryan (@PRyan) June 2, 2016
On the one hand, of course Ryan is going to vote for Trump; what is his alternative? On the other, the sight of his seeming reversal was disappointing to a number of conservatives who had hoped that he could stand up as a sane voice in an increasingly insane campaign. Within hours, Paul Ryan’s name was the top trending topic on Twitter, prompting a tweet storm like this:
Paul Ryan with the ultimate “I hate that guy so much that I’ll probably end up dating him” white girl move. https://t.co/XtihSxFplQ
— Catie Warren (@catie__warren) June 2, 2016
Trump: Bend the knee.
Paul Ryan: Never.
Trump: I SAID BEND THE KNEE!
— Eric Haywood (@EricHaywood) June 2, 2016
Paul Ryan was clearly waiting for the critical “call a federal judge an untrustworthy Mexican” threshold for unity
— Simon Maloy (@SimonMaloy) June 2, 2016
That Paul Ryan op-ed pic.twitter.com/K9hdEircUz
— James Pethokoukis (@JimPethokoukis) June 2, 2016
Apparently it’s OK to endorse someone you completely disagree with if you wait for a couple of weekshttps://t.co/6g31p6aFef
— Taegan Goddard (@politicalwire) June 2, 2016
Paul Ryan right now pic.twitter.com/ZqstJZK2hm
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) June 2, 2016
History will judge Paul Ryan’s character at this moment, and it will not judge him well.
— Jeremy Bird (@jeremybird) June 2, 2016
Paul Ryan pretended to have character for all of 5 seconds. What a quality guy.
— Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) June 2, 2016
[Paul Ryan’s journal]
JUNE 2, 2016
Now I know why John Boehner cried so much.
— golden state spice (@goldengateblond) June 2, 2016
Actual footage of Paul Ryan trying to stand up for what he believes in pic.twitter.com/5BrjUCQkrH
— Nat Baimel (@NatBaimel) June 2, 2016
I just got my ears flushed so now I have supersonic hearing. In fact, I can actually hear Paul Ryan’s soul leaving his body as we speak.
— Đylan Đøppelt (@DylanDoppelt) June 2, 2016
Paul Ryan says he will stand by the abusive nominee his party has married, in the hope that he will change
— Newt Wittier (@NewtWittier) June 2, 2016
Paul Ryan probably received an honorary degree from Trump University for endorsing Donald Trump.
— Lee Mays (@OriginalLeeMays) June 2, 2016
The Takeaway: Is there some way someone can summarize what happened using an analogy that everyone can understand? Oh, Funny or Die, you have a suggestion?
Waiter: And for you, Paul?
Paul Ryan: Anything but tofu. I hate tofu.
Waiter: We only have tofu.
Paul Ryan: I love tofu. One tofu please.
— Funny Or Die (@funnyordie) June 2, 2016
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Say It Ain’t So!
What Happened: Lin-Manuel Miranda is leaving Hamilton. The Internet is upset.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces
What Really Happened: It might have been inevitable, but that didn’t make the news that Lin-Manuel Miranda is leaving the cast of Hamilton any easier for the Internet to bear; the show’s creator announced this week that he’d be leaving the cast after the July 9 performance, unleashing a tidal wave of breathless reports and remembrances about the era’s end. Twitter, too, seemed in shock:
ME: You’re seeing “Hamilton” on 7/10? Cool, that’ll be the first show after the main guy leaves
— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) June 2, 2016
when I think about how Lin is leaving Hamilton in July pic.twitter.com/tGi8N9A7FK
— nicole (@castielonacloud) June 2, 2016
— Jess (@BCapJe) June 2, 2016
when it hits you that you’ll most likely never see lin manuel as alexander hamilton pic.twitter.com/6XUUyFBbfG
— a bee (@jackmurdocks) June 2, 2016
MRS CLINTON HOW DO WE KEEP LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA FROM LEAVING HAMILTON
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) June 2, 2016
And with any Hamilton movie apparently 20 years away, it’s not like we’re going to see him on the big screen anytime soon, either.
The Takeaway: Hey, does this mean we can start a social media movement to decide Miranda’s replacement, like happened with the Daniel Craig leaving James Bond behind? If so, we have our first contestant:
Available to play title role in Hamilton. I know many of the words.
— Joshua Malina (@JoshMalina) June 2, 2016
Everyone Is Very Invested in Rogue One Reshoots Now
What Happened: So, Rogue One is probably going to have extensive reshoots. Whether or not that’s a big deal depends on how much faith you have in Disney, apparently.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media think pieces
What Really Happened: The news broke, unexpectedly, in a Page Six report: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was going to get extensive reshoots because Disney execs weren’t happy with what they’d seen so far. Phrases like “in crisis” were used.
As the report started to spread across the Internet, fans didn’t seem to know how to respond. Was this a big deal? Was this the movie being micromanaged? Is everything OK?
I hope Rogue One’s getting reshoots because they’re adding more Jar-Jar scenes. pic.twitter.com/t5KJve622Y
— Max Scoville (@MaxScoville) May 31, 2016
I hope it’s the case that Rogue One is bad and the reshoots will fix it rather than it being fine now really but not for the studio
— Jeff (@unluckynumber11) May 31, 2016
So once again, movie news sites running with misleading headlines based on ONE single unreliable source. No, Rogue One is not in trouble.
— John Campea (@johncampea) May 31, 2016
Let’s take a breath movie fans. Force Awakens also did reshoots. The beauty of a big franchise machine is you get to have some do-overs.
— Wes Ball (@wesball) May 31, 2016
The movie blog intelligencia seemed split on what was going on. “Calm down, everything will be fine,” announced one site. The movie “probably isn’t in trouble” hedged another. “The movie isn’t working, but I’ve wanted to ignore that,” said a third. That last impulse—the fervent desire to ignore warning signs that things weren’t going well—triggered a surprising off-shoot response to the whole thing: fans upset that Star Wars movies get leeway that the Warner Bros./DC movies don’t:
-Suicide Squad getting reshoots
“OHH DC IN TROUBLE”
-Rogue One getting reshoots
“Uh, so? All movies get reshoots” pic.twitter.com/mpf6USzTun
— Eren – CabooseXBL (@Caboose_XBL) May 31, 2016
Suicide Squad shoots a couple more actions scenes.
“IS DC DOOMED?! NO JOKES?!”
Rogue One is gonna be 40% remade
“THIS IS NORMAL PEOPLE!”
— Solid Snack (@Joel9Vieira) June 2, 2016
But back to Rogue One. More official sources later confirmed the reshoots, and explained they were ordered because of problems with the movie’s tone and a desire to make it more “fun.” The question of whether or not a Star Wars movie needed to be more fun lead to a whole new round of Twitter discourse.
aw man. I thought the whole pt of the anthology series was to let it be free from the Classic Star Wars rubric! pic.twitter.com/zUY5G0kWA1
— shrillary tintin (@theshrillest) June 1, 2016
So I guess Rogue One is too much of a war movie for Disney. AKA it’s not fun enough for 5 year olds.
— Andrew Blanchard (@AndyTheBlanch) June 2, 2016
Seeing middle-aged men complain that a Star Wars film is being made for the Star Wars family audience & not them is really embarrassing.
— Zack Stentz (@MuseZack) June 2, 2016
A disturbing portion of fan upset over the ROGUE ONE reshoots seem to want a violent, bloody grim STAR WARS.
Go watch BSG then!
— Bitter Script Reader (@BittrScrptReadr) June 2, 2016
The Takeaway: This speculation about the state of Rogue One will likely continue for a while—at least until another trailer for the film is released and everyone can dissect what (if anything) is different about the way the movie looks from one trailer to the next.
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