The Answer is Suffering

“You go to the movies to see people you love suffer-that’s why you go to the movies.”

This is a quote from Joss Whedon, a writer, director, composer, and the crowned “Lord of the Nerds”. He is behind some of the biggest movie and TV franchises of all time (he directed The Avengers and created Buffy the Vampire Slayer), with several of his works developing dedicated cult followings. This is a striking quote that caused a lot of fans anticipating The Avenger‘s sequel to raise an eyebrow, and anyone whose watched Buffy, Angel, or some of his other shows should already have had some inclination that this was his mindset when it comes to creating stories. He kills character we love, he builds up hope for a certain thing to happen with the sole intent of shattering it, and he does not always provide us with happy endings. The most common criticism against Whedon is that he ventures too often into dark territory. That he relishes in cruelty for cruelty’s sake, and loves to punish his audience for loving his characters. I would argue that Whedon is doing the opposite of that, and that suffering is the key element in every story. By forcing characters to go through despair, he connects us with their world. Whedon isn’t punishing us for liking his characters, he is connecting the audience to their lives by sharing the most intimate thing they have: Their pain.

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The Conventions of Shipping

True despair awaits those who choose to “ship”. No, I am not talking about boating, I am referring to the fandom practice of “shipping” (as in relation-shipping) two characters together in hopes that they become a couple. At first it begins as innocently as anything, maybe a remark or two about how “perfect these two would be for each other”, but then it begins to creep into your thoughts. Eventually, you’ll suddenly find yourself consumed by the idea of two fictional characters falling in love with each other, pray that they will become “endgame” as the series concludes, and proudly declare them to be your OTP (One True Pairing) to anyone who is (or isn’t) listening. Conversely, you can become dedicated to the sinking of a ship, to hate one so completely that you’ll never miss a chance to insult it; since the two characters are “obviously wrong for each other” and no one else can see it. Shipping is a complex thing indeed, but perhaps the most interesting thing about it is why people enjoy doing it. The joy of having a ship of yours sail (become canon) is nothing compared to the joy you get wanting it to sail. The pain, the heartache, the despair, and the frustration are all things people truly enjoy out of the shipping experience. Like masochistic servants pleading for harsh admonishments from their master/mistress, shippers tend to flock to the most tumultuous of pairings, ones where the Will They/Won’t They dynamic doesn’t come off as a forgone conclusion.

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In Your Opinion: A Guide to Arguing on the Internet

A cookie to anyone who recognizes the reference being made.

Arguing on the internet is an exercise in futility. No one wants to compromise, no one likes to lose, and admitting you’re wrong goes against one of the key pleasures of the internet: Anonymity. The knowledge that no one knows how you look or sound like is a hugely important factor in deciding what one is capable of saying. You are able to be as cool and confident as you wish you could be in real life, but when someone comes along to shatter that illusion, you can’t help but clutch onto that semblance of power as tightly as you can and this often materializes into what we call an “Internet Argument”. Internet arguments are often started by simple disagreements over petty things like movies or video games, but they are sustained by clashing egos. Eventually, way past the point where the argument should have been logically settled, individuals will continue to hurl progressively longer and longer posts until one person stops due to a mix of boredom and frustration. The “winner” for a lack of a better term, is the person who gets the last post in the argument, but after a certain point it starts to seem like everyone is the loser. The anxiety of checking if your opponent responded, the huge amount of time wasted cycling through repetitive arguments, and the knowledge that you’ll never have peace of mind until you’ve buried the “idiot” that disagrees with you is a situation one definitely should avoid. As a veteran arguer of the internet myself, I have a wealth of knowledge and experience I would like to impart to my dear readers that I’m sure will prove useful to you one day. As far as credentials go, I can tell you that I once spent a month arguing with the same person over two separate threads about whether or not “X anime character would beat X other anime character in a fight”. Eventually it got to the point where we would need to post 3 times in a row because there was a limit of 1000 words for a single post. Needless to say, even though I got the last word in, I did not feel like a winner at all. That’s why it’s important that you pay close attention to my first tip.

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