Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's all fun and games... until it's not. Bullying Within the #Glee Fandom.

Share on Twitter:

Life has been insanely crazy lately. And I know that I said that I was taking a brief hiatus from this blog, but there comes a point where the personal problems just become too much. And I know this won't be as eloquent as I would want it to be, but I'm kind of in a mood and rushing and flailing, so...

I should really title this What It's Like to be a Kurtofsky Pirate (on Tumblr).

(also excuse me, new high quality promos are out and I need to flail...i'm dying my dash is just so quality right now i might just cry omg i love you guys)

If you've been following my Tumblr, you may be aware of what has been going on within the Glee fandom. (And no, this post isn't about Glee itself. Just the fans. And mostly fans on Tumblr.) There are different factions, each supporting a different "ship." (Relationship). And frequently, there are ship wars - people claiming that their pairing is better, etc. And this is usually pretty normal in a fandom. No big deal. It's all fun and games... until it's not.

Why? Because lately, there has been great reason to be ashamed of the fandom. Last night, someone posted a porn manip (er... i.e. photoshopped .gif picture) of one of the actors/characters. And send it to them via Twitter. NOT COOL. Not only is that incredibly disrespectful to the actor and possibly career damaging, it's disrespectful to the fandom and tactless. 

But the real reason I'm here right now... Bullying.

I belong to a group known as the Pirates (Kurtofskians, or Karommel fans). We ship Kurt Hummel, out and proud fashionista and fabulous counter-tenor, with jock David Karofsky, a.k.a the closeted bully. We're proud of our ship, just like any other. We're just about the most hated ship in the Glee fandom - hated by Klainers, by Kummers (Hevens fans), Puckurts, and Kinns, etc. Why, you ask? Kurt + Karofsky. Kurt and the person who has bullied him for a year, to the point where he transferred to another school. To some, this is eternally unforgivable. To us, it's horrible and wrong, but things can change. It can get better.

This is what happened this morning:
Someone was sent a series of hateful messages, ending with this (highlight to read)- "if I knew where you lived right now I would put a bullet hole through your brain."

This isn't the first time it's happened. This isn't the first series of death threats or "kill yourself" or "you're disgusting i hope you get killed" messages. These kinds of things have been happening for weeks, maybe months... And a lot of it has been directed towards the Pirates.

No, we're not crazy, nor are we apologists or abusers. Ask any Pirate, and I'm sure they'd be glad to explain their specific reasons for their ship. Many of us have been bullied or abused in our lives, or are still dealing with abuse. Some of us are/were bullies and are still hoping for change, and peace, and a happy ending. And some are looking for reconciliation and redemption. We want to believe that bullies won't always be bullies, and that someday people the people in our lives will be accepting and loving, unconditionally. (Plus there's the OMG ANGST factor. It's far more interesting a relationship than others, because it's just so incredibly full of conflict. But conflict is what makes a story great. Conflict is what makes a story.)

No, we don't actually ship Kurt with a bully - we are waiting for Dave to come to terms with himself, accept who he is, apologize to Kurt and make amends, eventually someday become friends, and then maybe someday in the future they can consider a romantic relationship. (REDEMPTION IS NIGH!!!) We see their long-term potential. We are optimists, people who believe in love and forgiveness and redemption, and second chances. We have so much love for David (and Max Adler, for being able to portray the complexities of such a deep, conflicted character. Kudos.) Not Karofsky the Bully, but David - the real person underneath, and his potential. He has a LONG way to go before he can ever be worthy of Kurt, not a single one of us would EVER deny that; but most of us first and foremost want these things:
  1. We want Dave to stop bullying. 
  2. We want Kurt to be happy and safe.
  3. We want Dave to be happy and safe.
  4. We think it would be awesome if they could become friends later on. And a romantic relationship is just icing on the cake. (Our Beauty and the Beast romance...) Plus it was the original plan after boyfriend!Sam fell through. Kurt was supposed to fall for a jock he helps come out of the closet. Cue Dave. (But then Kurt needed a reason to be on the show less. Cue bully!Dave. See, everything fits.)
  5. We want all people to stop bullying and learn to love themselves and others. We do not support abuse in any form whatsoever.
This is where the problems began. Other ships don't see things the same way we do. Everyone interprets things differently, and that is fine, but when people take these differences in opinion and turn them into an "us vs. them" or an "our ship is more legitimate than your ship!" argument, things tend to go downhill fast. And this is why things haven't been so fun at times... From the start, we have had to defend our ship. We spend hours, days even, in deep discussion (amongst ourselves and with other ships) about the characters, and their motivations, and the plot lines. We have analyzed the hell out of every little detail, so know that we do not take this lightly. We do not attack or bash other ships, because we believe that everyone has the right to their ship, but we are quick to defend ourselves and each other when attacked. Because we have to. We're like a family. When in doubt, it's What Would a Pirate Do?

What Dave did was wrong. This is undeniable. But does this really mean that we deserve to be despised, to be sent angry hate-filled rants about how we're all rape apologists and support abusers, just because we want to see someone happy and secure instead of self-loathing and lashing out at the people around him (including the guy he likes but can't/doesn't want anyone to know he likes)? Dave didn't kiss Kurt to hurt him. And we don't ship them to hurt Kurt. We love Kurt and his eternal bitchiness. (Just not when that bitchiness turns into a biphobic and/or transphobic rant when he should be loving and supportive of his friends...)

Half the characters on the show are bullies. Most of them have done things equal to, if not FAR worse than anything Dave has done. Yet because they are played for laughs, and he is meant to be a (temporary) villain, everyone loves them and hates Dave. Unconditionally. Things that people tend to forget - Dave was bullied. He became a bigger bully to deal with that. He is an example of what Kurt could have been. Who Kurt could be. And it's as important for him to have a happy ending as it is Kurt, if we're talking about the messages their story arc sends. (As for Kurtofsky messages - love is stronger than hate; everyone deserves a second chance; people can change; there is such a thing as redemption; even bullies can find happiness- they don't have to stay bullies forever. They can change.)

When someone is trying to argue against a ship for a bully, you would think they wouldn't condone hurtful words or actions. But there have been numerous death threats. People leaving Tumblr just because they keep getting hundreds, or thousands of hateful messages telling them to die, or telling them what horrible people they are for thinking a bully deserves to be happy. Telling us. We have these things called Glee Ship Secrets, and Glee secrets. And there is a collective wince every time our ship is mentioned. Because the notes explode with hate. We have frequent impromptu "share the love" sessions to keep our spirits up, to remind ourselves why we believe in the things we do (AND THAT REDEMPTION IS NIGH!!!). Fandom shouldn't be this stressful, this painful, this depressing.

"Glee is about opening yourself up to joy..."

It's hard to find joy when you're told you're worthless and disgusting and that you should go kill yourself. Yet that is what a lot of other Glee fans have said to Pirates. And to members of other ships. 


Call it ironic, hypocritical, whatever - the same people screaming about how awful bullying is are some of same ones bullying others online. Over a fucking TV SHOW. Over a work of fiction, over characters we like, characters we hate, characters we hate to like and like to hate. Over an ongoing storyline that changes faster than Lady Gaga's look. (Don't ask me how I know these things. I'm not a fan of hers.) When you say these things, you are affecting REAL PEOPLE. Not fictional characters, but real human beings. Bullying hurts. If you haven't learned that by now, you haven't been paying attention at all. You don't get it.

For those who believe that cyberbullying isn't a problem, or that there are never consequences - spend a week with us and you'll see all the damage that these things can do. And we're all really nice people who just want peace in the world. And maybe you'll also understand why we believe so strongly in letting go of hate. It consumes you. I find it very, very disturbing when people say that they will seek revenge, that they will never forgive or forget. It's unhealthy to hold onto grudges forever, whether against your own bullies or against the people you have hurt. Holding onto hate can turn you into the "monsters" you claim to be so against. I was shocked to see that even Chris Colfer has expressed these feelings... There's a reason for all of those sappy little sayings - Love your enemies. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Teaching others to hate in response to being treated poorly is NOT the answer. It is incredibly immature. I can even say this from a psych POV - in order to move on, you have to learn to let go of hate and learn to forgive. Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting. It just means growing up.

But to the Anons who continually threaten and disparage us, and to the not-so-anons who constantly bash us and say they could never understand:  
If Karofsky's death threat was so wrong, why would you ever consider doing the same?? How could that even cross your mind?

(This in particular was in response to the Anon who sent this morning's messages...) Do you understand what you’re doing right now? You’re being a cyberbully, emotionally abusing and intimidating and THREATENING innocent people over the internet. Do you think it’s cute, threatening people’s lives because you apparently feel superior to them because of opinions about a TV SHOW? Do you think it’s romantic when you tell them you would kill them, when you make someone live in fear of YOU, a person who is supposed to be a fellow fan and therefore an ally, someone who shares a common love?

Your actions disgust me, and disgrace our fandom. Pirates support love, and redemption, and forgiveness. I believe that ultimately, we are optimists. We try to see the good in others, and hope that they can find it in themselves to change the things that create and perpetuate hate and pain, as well as to make things right again with the people they have hurt.
I hope the same for you. For all of us.

Practice what you preach.

We do. THIS is what it means to be a pirate. So please, let us all just coexist in peace and be done with it. The Glee fandom is for all of us, not just one particular ship.

Love you forever and always, 

I can honestly say that I love this fandom more than I even care about the show anymore. Especially my Pirate buddies. I love you guys more than Mr. Boyfriend loves KFC and Guitar Hero, more than Fancy loves bondage shirts, more than we all love The Captain's crazy reaction videos. So this is for you, some of the most mature, well-spoken , thoughtful, and loving shippers ever to sail the seas of Narnia.

I still miss the days where ship wars were fun and friendly...

Readers, I'll leave you with this:

Or I'll kill you - with kindness.

No comments: