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

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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.

 

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. First good article.

    Most of these articles are not from fans, or people who even try to understand how others feel about a franchise. They seem very determined to rid the world of those who have passion. I am unsure if it is jealousy or just a genuine dislike. For some reason this is very personal, and the only thing they are passionate about.

  2. Out of respect for everyone here, I will refrain from posting the bulk of what has already become quite nearly an entire chapter’s worth of thoughts. In short, I’ll simply say the following:

    In this new age where it has somehow become par for the course throughout mainstream pop culture media outlets to resort to criticizing and labeling fans of nearly every successful franchise in existence, reading an article like this is almost literally a breath of fresh air.

    Thank you for providing one of the last few remaining sources of objective pop culture news & views. Perhaps after I complete this chapter I’ll look into forwarding it along to you for review. Who knows, I may have just discovered my own interest in writing on this type of subject.

    Kevin “Hardcase” Race

  3. Believe it or not, journalism having an agenda can be a good thing. If the agenda of a journalist is to report on the facts regarding an industry, that’s something I would admire. Where agendas become an issue is when said journalists (or too often, germnalists) political opinions are shoe-horned into a conversation. It results in a no-win situation where customers leave and the germnalists airs their dirty laundries that nobody wants.

  4. Hey, I love the message of the article, but I’d like to help with constructive criticism.

    Your article style is at it’s best in the bulk of the article, but your hook and ending were very weak. I would recommend posting something similar to what you have as a footnote to your graphics towards the top, or possibly at the very beginning as a “this is proof first, now let me break it down.”

    I understand you want some quotes in your articles, but the final one with Ben Franklin seemed very last minute. I would suggest either finding a quote and writing around it, or maybe having an argument, where the opposition is quoted early on, and then the descending quote at the end, so the article feels pulled together (imagine two pieces of bread for a sandwich).

    Everything else you have down in an amazing fashion. You have a neat, concise, enjoyable style with your article, so I would recommend you either go full force with your style, or tame it down and focus on standard essay format. Middle ground with a great style just puts viewers in a strange place. We want more style, but understand there is a format, so we’re left with a strange feeling.

    I hope you do well, and I hope I wasn’t offensive (apologies if I was, as a fellow writer to another, I want to see you succeed).

    Have a nice day!

    Edit: typos and clarification

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