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PSA: Keep Your Problematic Favs To Yourself


PSA: Keep Your Problematic Favs To Yourself

PSA: Keep Your Problematic Favs To Yourself

(upper left) R. by R. Kelly, (upper right), The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem, (lower left) Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Michael Fassbender as Magneto in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Intro and Disclaimer

Many of us have artists, shows, movies, music, games, and the like that we not only enjoy but are hard to give up. That is perfectly fine. However, when it comes to light or has always been known, that such content or the people behind it are terrible, it might be best to just enjoy it quietly, assuming you refuse to stop consuming it.

No one can stop anyone from watching or consuming things for the most part. It is up to the individual to make certain choices and whether or not to support certain people who do bad things. But the best thing many of us can hope for is for people deciding to continue or start consuming content from bad apples to at least not talk about it for the rest of us to see.

There is no set way to be a good person. Furthermore, what and who are considered “problematic” is highly subjective based on you, your environment and upbringing, and your own personal morals. However, some things are generally universally considered wrong.

There will be mentions of certain public figures and concepts including ab*se, SA, domestic violence, racism, queerphobia, and other forms of discrimination or bad behaviors. If any of these topics are unwanted in your reading experience, this article may not be for you.

We Don’t Need to Know What You Like

Posting can be addictive, and many of us are still looking for our tribe. Chances are that if you like a thing, whether it is controversial or not, there will be others who share that same interest. There are ways to find these folks, however, posting in mixed company or an extremely public setting means you open yourself up to scrutiny and also upset a lot of people. Beyond the backlash you may face and how that impacts you, it also affects a lot of others who didn’t ask to be triggered by mentions, images, clips, sounds, or the like of people or concepts that upset them.

While you cannot know what will upset whom or how much necessarily, generally there are some kinds of content, topics, or figures that ruffle feathers. If you are on social media and generally aware of certain things, then you should probably know or have some inkling of the controversy surrounding them. The bottom line is: read the room and find the folks who are already down to talk to, telling everyone just opens the door for people getting upset including you.

Examples of Problematic Topics and Content

(upper left) “Robert Galbraith” is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, and this book has been accused of blatant transphobia. (upper right) Euphoria has been criticized for oversexualizing teenage characters and sensationalizing a*use suffered by them. (lower left) Pretty Little Liars normalized a student-teacher romance with a minor that culminated in marriage. (lower right) The Vampire Diaries frequently employed racist imagery and underserved and underwrote their Black and ethnic characters.

You may not need a lot of examples and can think of several in the span of five seconds. Nevertheless, some people may need reminders of what causes a lot of issues for a lot of people. Racism, sexism and misogyny, sizeism especially fatphobia, ableism, queerphobia (homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, etc.), slut-shaming and shaming folks for not having sex, kink-shaming (within reason, because some kinks such as race play deserve to be at least critiqued), classism, and so many more.

Content that glorifies any of the above topics and does not critique or have anything constructive to say about them is deeply problematic. Series like The Idol which depict sexual abuse, gaslighting, manipulation, and other serious issues but have nothing to say about them or call them out in a serious, concrete manner, are worthless. Other shows and films that rely on sexuality and shock value but no substance are not to be taken seriously. If you’re there for sexiness or shocking elements, have at them, but don’t be shocked when people scratch their heads.

Comedy whose punchlines are essentially “controversy is funny, and liberals want to police humor” is hollow, meaningless, and unfactual. Comedians worth their salt can make jokes and find ways to relate to the audience without resorting to low-hanging fruit. Or assuming that shocking equals funny.

Examples of Problematic People and Figures

(upper left) J.K. Rowling, (upper right) Sam Levinson, (lower left) Dave Chappelle, (lower right) Sandra Bernhard.

There are people whose actions or opinions have made them synonymous with certain messed up topics. The music and entertainment industries are riddled with them. R. Kelly, Chris Brown, Dr. Dre, Marilyn Manson, J.K. Rowling, Mel Gibson, Mark Wahlberg, Eminem, Kanye West, Shia Lebouf, Sean Penn, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Chris Pratt, John Mayer, Jared Leto, Clint Eastwood, Michael Fassbender, Justin Timberlake, Joe Rogan, Seth Green, Joss Whedon, and the Pope, to name a few.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. You can find a myriad of examples when you consider public figures and noteworthy people across the board. These include politicians, religious leaders, royalty, and various others living or deceased. Your own set of morals will decide just how problematic folks can be. It also decides if you think they’re problematic in the first place.

In Conclusion

The choice is yours. You can openly support and big-up people who are objectively bad people. Or people who are simply aggravating and unsavory for a lot of folks. Just don’t be surprised if people around you side-eye you or decide you aren’t a good judge of character. Problematic favs are a thing for almost anyone, for no one is perfect. Even if we don’t know all of what everyone has done, everyone has sinned in some way. However, there is a difference between standing up for someone who cheated on someone and someone who harmed their partner.

Don’t make excuses for or ignore actual crimes and messed up stuff. It just makes it okay for anyone else to do the same things. For if your celebrity fav can be excused for SA, why go up in arms if you find out someone you know personally has done the same thing?

We must hold everyone to the same standard. As a people, we should want more for ourselves and for our communities. Accountability must be had.

But in the end, you can watch, lust after, admire, or support whoever and whatever you want. They can be as horrible, insufferable, or rude as possible for you or others. The thing is, no one else needs to know, outside of maybe others who share your interests. But publicly and in mixed company, read the room. Know what topics and people are controversial, if you don’t want to deal with people’s outrage or opinions. Like what you like, but let it be between you and yourself.

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I identify as a womanist. I am also gay. I am a Black American-Descendant of American Chattel Slavery. My pronouns are he/him/his, and I am a comics, tv, movie, and video game stan. My expertise for comics and related media are DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Archie Comics, and a little bit of others here and there, but I'm hoping to branch out to other, Blacker and indie comics and related content. I'm a binge watcher and can talk about shows for days. You can find me on YouTube and various other social media platforms as thaboiinblue.

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