Friday, May 14, 2021

Book Vs. Movie Podcast Episode: Arrival (2016)

Content warning, again, for mentions of violence and mentions of racism. 

Last week, I mentioned that this week's episode of Book Vs. Movie Podcast would be about the movie Arrival, based on the short story by Ted Chiang. That podcast episode is out now:

Because Chiang is a Chinese-American author, I referred in that previous blog post to incidents of anti-Asian-American violence. Another podcast, The Sauce with Maya Gurantz and Rebecca Cohan, covered the specific incident I mentioned in that post, namely the shooting incident that happened in Indianapolis on Thursday, April 15, 2021. 

The shooting took the lives of eight innocent people, including four who were members of the Sikh community. In their podcast, Gurantz and Cohan approach the shooter (who died by suicide shortly after the attack) from a perspective I didn't expect: through his association with the Bronies, an online community of men who engage in fandom culture related to the 2010s incarnation of My Little Pony

As a Gen Xer and an '80s kid, I remember My Little Pony from the toys, cartoons, and puffy stickers I had/watched as a child. Here's 8-year-old me playing with some My Little Pony toys and a Care Bear.

We could get into the historical circumstances of the Ronald Reagan era, the end of the Fairness Doctrine, and how it allowed cartoons that were essentially 22-minute commercials to turn my generation into superconsumers who love corporations in a way that Millennials and Gen Z find weird and disgusting. But that's a topic for, perhaps, another day. 

Although I'm well-known to suffer from bouts of nostalgia, in general I don't watch the remakes of cartoons I watched as a child. I haven't seen the Voltron, She-Ra: Princess of Power, or My Little Pony remakes of the 2010s. (I might watch She-Ra, though. I've heard a lot of good things.) Through the power of pop culture, I'm aware of the Bronies. They were even parodied in a 2014 episode of Bob's Burgers

I hadn't heard about the connection between the mass murderer and the cartoon show. If you're prepared to fall down this particular rabbit hole, listen as Gurantz and Cohan explain how Bronies, neo-Nazis, and the lunatic QAnon conspiracy theory are all connected. It's super gross. 

But in a way, now I better understand how medieval people ended up in bizarre death cults after their experiences with the Black Plague. Yay, history. 

If you're reading this in the future: Life during the pandemic was a mess, my guys, gals, and nonbinary pals. Be good, love your neighbors, protect your neighbors, don't be a Nazi, and don't allow Nazis in your fandom space. People who claim that they're "using Nazi symbols ironically" and "testing the limits of free speech" are not making those arguments in good faith, and you can't engage with them as if they were. 

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