[Umpteenth rant that's crossed my dash about "impressionable children being sold the images and logos of fictional extremist hate movements" re Hydra and Death Eater merchandising]

I'm going to break this down for ease of argument.

1. Fandom is for everyone. Children are welcome, children belong here, but trying to rid fandom of everything (and everyone?) that you'd rather children didn't see is unacceptable. I don't care how self-righteous you feel about your cause. That's major douchebag behavior.

2. Children run into problematic stuff. As long as problematic stuff exists in the world, children will notice it, because they are awesome like that. Trying to keep them away from it just makes it seem cooler and more attractive. I'd hope that's not what you're going for. 

3. Some fans, children included, like villains for all sorts of reasons. They're not obligated to explain it to you, and they have as much of a right to like what they like (without being concern-trolled and accused of immoral behavior) as any normative hero-fan. 

4. The explanation that people throw around "ohnoes, they must like death eaters because they're racists" is a chimera. Racism, sexism, and other institutionalized abuses of power exist in fandom, but asserting that they're interest coded is beyond naive. 

5. Oppressive people often get the benefit of the doubt because their favorite characters are socially-approved. Meanwhile, people who are bothering no one are chronically suspected of being horrible because the group asserts that who they like is a more reliable indicator of their character than how they actually treat other people

TL;DR, Challenging villain-fans' right to exist in public and be visible is overt bigotry. Instead of hand-wringing over the perceived image problem they pose or the fact that companies are willing to take their money, fandom needs to address the broken dynamics of its own geek hierarchy. 

I wonder if the progression of vampires from disgusting to desirable tracks with the progression of female sexual expression from taboo to mandatory.  In all cases they’re the boyfriend who won’t take no for an answer, and what’s changed with the times is whether that provokes “how awful, only your husband should do that” or “how wonderful, this is what sexy romance is supposed to look like.”


I disagree. I've been a fan of vampires since I first read Bram Stoker's Dracula, and the recent stuff? Twilight and such? These are not vampires. We'd already be having this conversation if we were talking about, frex, sexy thieves who don't actually steal anything or violate any relevant social convention.

We should be having this conversation whenever we're talking about a villain archetype that's being watered down into a socially acceptable anti-hero.

That's happening a lot lately - media creators are trying to capitalize on the widespread popularity of villains by tampering with their personality until they stop saying and doing things that make society uncomfortable. With Buffy, they had a fucking joke for a vampire boyfriend. Angel, who not only doesn't eat people, he's plagued with guilt over his villainous past. He had his fans, but ... let's just say he wasn't poaching people from the villain-fan pools. And then Spike. He was alright until Whedon became concerned about his popularity, and tried to discourage it with the (notorious) abortive rape attempt. That backfired spectacularly, so they shifted gears and made Spike less and less of a villain, sacrificing most of the things that fans who like villains liked about him in the process.

By the time Twilight rolls around, you have vampires who are waiting for marriage. I haven't read it, and overall I don't plan to bash it. But as far as I can tell, Edward is just another boring hero who's trying to hide his boring hero-ness behind "noo, I'm a bad boy! Look, I wear black!"

Society hasn't become so different and progressive that a vampire, a foreign, genderfluid, relationship anarchic, bestial, otherkin, serial killing, Satan worshipping, Madonna seducing,  sex-death-and-eternal-youth vampire is the triumphant male lead of any commercial story. It has, unfortunately, slapped a lot of edgy, deceptive labels on the same old conventional bullshit (and deprived us of legitimate contemporary versions of some great villains in the process).

Recently I reblogged an article showing that social agreeableness could have a positive correlation with "following orders" types of abuse. I wanted to discuss that more. 

Needing the group's approval can manifest as norm-following behavior patterns: "niceness," professionalism, a positive attitude, etc. Not needing the group's approval is only visible when the group demands a specific action or stance and the person does not comply. 

What they do instead doesn't necessarily benefit oppressed people. But they have a choice that someone who is controlled by what the group considers right and good doesn't have. 

People the group protects and treats well are predisposed to see rule-breaking as antisocial, dangerous behavior. People the group mistreats and leaves vulnerable are more likely to expect good things from nonconformists.

Some of the people who can buck society are selfish. But others are courageous, altruistic, and moral in a way that society pays a lot of lip service to, but ultimately doesn't encourage at all.