From what I’ve seen, the phenomenon dubbed Cringe Culture is a paragon of insecurity, internalized misogyny, and self-loathing.
Let me elaborate a little here: here on Tumblr (and in life in general, honestly), a lot of folks are very pre-occupied with what is or isn’t Cringey. It’s a dynamic somewhat reminiscent of an eighth grade schoolyard, but that’s really not the issue here.
What Tumblr folks dub Cringey are typically things that are enjoyed by young teens (in particular, young girls) exploring fandom and fan creativity for the first time.
Yes, these teens are frequently obnoxious, overzealous, and loud, but it’s an exciting time for kids: we as adults may have comfortably settled into our interests, but for them it’s an avenue of unsupervised self-expression they may not have experienced before. Moreover, they have little to no experience in moderating themselves, which is one of the reasons why I believe the act of mocking them to be a somewhat callous one.
Are they occasionally annoying? Subjectively, yes. I frequently find young teens and tweens annoying, particularly when they’re being loud and obnoxious during my allotted writing time. But I don’t shame them for it, on here or in real life, because I’m an adult and they are literally children .
And most importantly, so are the people mocking them.
I’ll elaborate once again: I’m nineteen. Most of my friends, both on here and on my other blog, are fellow chill late teens and twenty-somethings. And I’ve never seen any adult who’s secure in their own self-image do anything other than Do Their Own Thing and allow everyone else do the same.
In other words, I’ve been involved in fandom for a few years now, and almost everyone I’ve seen actively participating in cringe culture has turned out to be no older than seventeen or so themselves, and probably (consciously or otherwise) attempting to distance themselves from their “embarrassing” younger alter egos and feel more confident in their purported maturity.
Because they probably did some Cringey things when they were fourteen, too: maybe they drew manga OCs on DeviantArt with needlessly elaborate hair, ran a passionate SuperWhoLock blog, read Homestuck, wrote angsty poetry about turning into wolves, et cetera.
Of course, the whole point here is that there is literally nothing wrong with any of these things: they’re harmless examples of children exploring revenues of creativity for the first time, that we’ve been conditioned to find embarrassing.
Now, I’m not going to pretend I didn’t have this phase myself: I once got into an impassioned argument on Facebook with a bunch of One Direction fans when I was sixteen or so, in which I dismissed their obsession as being Stupid and Juvenile and proclaimed my favored Heavy Metal as being far superior.
Now, I’m still not into One Direction in the slightest, but if I could go back in time I would probably smack my sixteen-year-old self upside the head and tell her to leave people alone and let them do their own thing.
Of course, a large part of my reasoning was also driven at the time by my unfortunate Not Like Other Girls phase, in which I wanted to distance myself from the silliness of my fellow teen girls as much as possible. I may or may not have still been in my “I hate pink” phase, which I still shudder to think about to this day.
Which brings me to another one of Cringe Culture’s more problematic aspects: it’s inherently a little misogynist, in that almost everyone who partakes in it is attempting to distance themselves from the interests of teenage girls.
Shows like Doctor Who, Steven Universe, Voltron, Supernatural, Yuri on Ice, and many others all have passionate and predominantly young female fanbases, and as such, people seem unwittingly inclined to see them as inherently vapid, annoying, or Cringey in a way that equally vocal male-dominated fandoms simply aren’t.
Even being a Trekkie (Star Trek fan) was considered embarrassing when the fandom was predominantly female populated, although the means by which fanfiction and discourse was exchanged was via fan-run zines rather than Tumblr blogs. Now that men are in on it, it’s considered one of the best fandoms there is.
More male populated fandoms such as Game of Thrones, the Walking Dead, the DC and Marvel cinematic universes, and Star Wars are just as impassioned, and have had just as many ideological issues in the past. Yet are these things ever denigrated as being Cringy or annoying? Not that I can recall.
Another one of my greatest issues with Cringe Culture is that it discourages passion: I have never encountered a fandom, Cringey or otherwise, that hasn’t produced genuinely stunning works of art and fiction. Moreover, I’ve never encountered a fandom that doesn’t have fans who have cited it as what saved them from depression or even suicide.
So if someone’s passionate about something, even if it’s something of no value to you, it costs absolutely zero dollars to mind your own goddamn business and not taint their joy with your own insecurity, cynicism, and internalized self-loathing.
Similarly, I can speak from experience when I say my interests and fandoms got me through the very worst period of my adolescence, and I’d be a significantly less happy person if I didn’t have still have them to fall back on. Not everyone’s sole source of enjoyment and comfort in life comes from nihilistic memes.
So if you want to take a step towards fostering a more creative generation, take a step away from Cringe Culture. Respect other people’s interests, and openly and unabashedly enjoy your own. Question why you think certain interests are Cringey, and try to distance yourself from the mentality that you’re a better or cooler person for being less similar to young women.
And finally, try and forgive your fourteen-year-old self for whatever cringiness they may have been culpable of, and tell them that you love them anyway.
Reblog/like this post if your blog contains the following:
• Star Wars
• Star Trek
• BBC Sherlock
• Doctor Who
• Lord of The Rings/The Hobbit
• Sons of Anarchy
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• Attack on Titan
• Soul Eater
• Tokyo Ghoul
• Yuri !!! On Ice
• Free! Eternal Summer
• Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
• Death Note
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• Seraph of The End
• Ariana Grande
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fuck, I’m sorry this is so long. I’m emotionally invested in too many things lmao. thanks !! 😌💜
I really don't get why people insist on applying modern morality/standards to historical fiction. Yes they're racist, yes they're sexist, that's what people were like back then. Historical fiction cannot be a bastion of modern values.
Because even in a movie with hobbits, dwarves, dragons, elves and a giant fiery eye. The idea of a brown hobbit doesn’t seem credible to a director. Because in a world with dragons, magic trees, faceless assassin, treeppl, an omniscient boy, iceppl, zombies and a fireproof child bride. Somehow black and brown ppl seem rarer than magic.
The world of fantasy has been claimed by white-people and you better believe that they are hoarding it. The elves of Tolkien have to be white because they are the fairest, wisest and most beautiful of races. Those pointy eared fucks can’t even tan. The dwarves and hobbits have to be white because of reasons.
Even in a series that takes it’s inspiration for Targaryens from Egyptian culture doesn’t see fit to make the family look the part.
I love fantasy. But I hated that as a child I’d watch lord of the rings and see that the only time I saw skin even remotely my shade was on urukhai. I could never be a happy hobbit, a hard working dwarf, a beautiful elf or even a brave lady of Rohan. I didn’t belong in that world. We don’t belong in that world.
The closest thing to me in asoiaf is the Naathi, Dothraki, Dornish and children of the forest. The first men should have been described as indigenous so at least we had some social commentary on displaced natives in America. But that role was relegated to the children of the forest who might not even be human, and have been driven to extinction. The Naathi are viewed as perfect slave stock, an observation Columbus made of our people when he “found” the new world. And the Dornish were so poorly written in the show that they were killed off an ignored.
Even when we get to participate in the slightest with high fantasy, we become that which we are in this world. Slaves, savages, foreign. While white people can escape into the world of high fantasy, people of color are forced into the same tropes. Fantasy is an escape for them. They can see themselves in the characters they revere. We don’t get that. We have to blind ourselves to this, push it in the back of our minds so we can enjoy the show or book.
Then people ask what’s the big deal. The big deal is that in a world of magic and wonder, it’s impossible for a person of color to be the hero.
Not Voyager or DS9 relate but I really hope Discovery is dark and gritty and actually lives up to some potential something we didn't get from Previous Trek shows. If it does I just may give it a chance.
This isn’t DS9 / VOY in specific, but I still want to address this, because I have some passionate feelings about it.
It sounds like you want A Song of Ice and Star Trek, but that would be as incorrect an approach to the series as it would be if HBO made Game of Thrones without the betrayals, blood, pointless cruelty, and injustice. One of the reasons for the tone of that franchise is because George R. R. Martin is trying to knock down the rose-colored view of medieval times in fantasy. Likewise, one of the reasons for the tone of Star Trek is to oppose the relentless pessimism you find in science fiction.
There are a lot of shows and films with a dark, gritty tone about the future. Half the trailers you see in theaters now are for a world taken over by an oppressive regime, or a world in flames because of what we did to it, or a world in flames and under an oppressive regime, in which kindness and morality are as rare as diamonds and fleeting as desert frost. This is not to say that they are bad, just if you want gritty sci-fi, there is no lacking for options. Star Trek sets itself apart from these stories. Instead of assuming that we will continue being the worst of ourselves, Star Trek dares to propose that we can be the best of ourselves–that we can embrace curiosity, compassion, and knowlege, rather than fear and prejudice and greed. It says that the future can be different if we work for it. It speaks to people who are marginalized and shut out and different and says that they have the right to strive and dream. It speaks to people who are not and says “be better.”
The name of the new ship and the new series is Discovery. Does that sound gritty to you? Doesn’t sound like it to me, and I would be severely disappointed if they went along with the general trend and made a grimdark series.
Here are some things about Star Trek if you believe it has failed to live up to “some potential something,” and maybe you will think twice about giving it a chance.
When NASA decided they needed to recruit a more diverse corps of astronauts, they turned to the cast of the Original Series. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, points to Nichelle Nichols’ Uhura as her inspiration. (Jemison later guest-starred in an episode of TNG, and Star Trek has never stopped inspiring the kids who grow up to be astronauts.)
Janeway was the first female captain to lead the show, but there was also B'Elanna, the first female chief engineer who was part of the main cast. Both characters were not only intellectually brilliant but often took the lead when it came time to fight dudes who were between them and the Alpha Quadrant.
In the height of the Cold War and its paranoia, Star Trek put a Russian character front and center on the bridge, and that’s why you have fans creating beautiful designs for uniforms with hijabs today.
Avery Brooks signed onto Deep Space 9 because he wanted to portray a loving, supportive relationship between a black father and son. He even got them to change the ending of the series over it.
Patrick Stewart insisted on not flinching away from the brutal, dehumanizing portrayal of torture in “Chain of Command,” and the writers consulted Amnesty International to make it as harsh and realistic as possible.
Aron Eisenberg (Nog) got numerous calls from veterans praising his portrayal of PTSD.
And then there is this confession. It is far and away the most liked and reblogged confession on the blog.
I would say that is potential realized.
Star Trek doesn’t just inspire, though. Star Trek confronts. From the very beginning it has held up a mirror to society, and through either allegory or visits to “history” – in other words, the present – calls us out. “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” with the black-and-white cookie people has their leader shocked that anyone could fail to see the ‘obvious’ point that his counterpart is inferior becuase of his coloration (black… on the left side) and pointedly has diverse actors in the foreground and background, something which they had to fight for. The whole of the Bajoran Occupation arc is about the hideous toll of colonialism and facism. Janeway confronts the question of euthanasia with Quinn, Enterprise has an AIDS allegory, Picard deals with demagogues and religious fantaticism and Kirk advocates respect for life even if it is not as we know it. Deep Space 9 warns of a time when we might shut away the homeless in internment camps not from malice but apathy.
Has Star Trek failed to live up to potential? Oh, you bet. There’s no excuse for the fact that it’s taken until 2016 to have an openly gay character. It has sometimes stood tiptoe on the line of something important and then drawn back. It’s tried to be a future without sexism but also wouldn’t let Mariana Sirtis and Gates McFadden use swords in the Robin Hood episode even though they’re the only ones who actually knew stage fencing. The “cultural expert” on Chakotay turned out to be a white guy who got all his information from Hollywood westerns, a real-life version of the “Apache Tracker” from Night Vale. The times when it does not love up, in other words, is when its bright future is hampered by present-day prejudice… not when it declines to be “gritty.”
Now it’s true that alongside this you have Janeway turning into a lizard and “NO MORE BLAH-BLAHS” and Miles O'Brien versus the shaving cream monster. And quite frankly, those are also an essential part of Star Trek, and I’m pretty sure there are episodes of everyone’s favorite dark and gritty franchises which are relentlessly dumb.
But if you think the point of Star Trek is just the visuals, just the space travel, just the fun of watching Shakespearian actors fling themselves over their leather seats as the camera shakes… you have missed the point of it. It has never been about just what’s on the screen.