You can say it — it’s definitely an ironic title. But it’s taken a long time for these words to come together and make sense in my own head, so I can write them down for you. As most of us, who take to the vast space of the internet in search of fellow fans, opinions, and thoughts about our television shows will tell you, it can get — to put it politely — dicey.
As it turns out, though, the biggest struggle a lot of us can face is in ourselves. I’ve spent years and years soaking up my stories, drowning in feels, moments, ships and characters. However, there came a day where it became clear that if there was an obvious flaw, terrible writer’s choice or tone deaf casting, it meant that it was a capital offense: To the general opinion, it was done for, and you were terrible for continuing to like such a thing.
First off, if it comes from anyone else shoving their opinions down your throat, simply because they disagree with yours, fuck them. However, personally, it posed a question that I’d never had to face before this online age of constant streaming of thoughts and opinions:
Where is the line that says, “this is too much, and I cannot justify the bad anymore by reconciling it with the good I see?”
To get specific, my inspiration for this piece was a catch up on Supergirl. The fandoms out there are known to be…passionate to say the least. However, the truth I found is that the greatest conflict with watching was more from my own perspective than anyone else’s. I soaked up the stories, but was continuously sad and heartbroken to see them make, what I deemed to be terrible writing choices: a love triangle flat out done badly and tone deaf casting, with “WOC world killers facing a white savior,” as my friend Lizzie phrased so well.
Whether you agree or disagree, it still created a point of contention, where I felt guilty for enjoying certain stories or loving the characters in spite of the chaos they were being put through. So, I shoved it down and distanced myself.
Going back through and watching this season of Supergirl brought back why — despite everything — I found a good place within this series and, ironically, it’s from the character I was monumentally pissed at about six episodes ago: Mon-El of Daxam. His struggle of contending with his past and how it’s collided with life as he’s built it for the seven years he was in the future is an entirely different circumstance. But I know what it’s like to continuously bury what you feel in the fear of upsetting the apple cart with anyone you care about. Not to mention how difficult it can be to find the courage to show what you really think and feel.
Rooting for Mon-El to find a way where he chooses not to let that fear guide him into fighting and pushing down what he feels gave me a way to root for myself without realizing it. That unsaid fight for belief in myself led to a lightbulb moment: I was finally able to answer my question about where the line is that I posed above.
The line isn’t where others put it or when the bad things hit a certain number on the list. To put a point on it, it doesn’t have to do with anyone’s judgement but your own. There isn’t any shame in finding something or someone on TV you can relate to. The humanity that can be found on television was summed up best by none other than Jennifer Morrison.
I know that sometimes people project their ideas and needs onto actors and characters they play. People are saving themselves — they just don’t realize it.
If there’s a single person out there who is relating to a character and saving themselves, either when they know or — more importantly — when they don’t, there’s a lot of good that a story or a character is putting out there in the world. We’ve got a lot of bad wrapped up with good in our reality, so I don’t think we always have to reject fiction if it reflects what we see in the world. It all comes down to YOU.
Be honest. Call out criticism when you see it. Just don’t let it drown out what anyone, you especially, may find to be one of the secret head fakes of storytelling. You think you’re watching a story to enjoy what’s happening, to see how the characters learn, grow and overcome the obstacles in their lives. But, in reality, you’re learning how to overcome the same obstacles in yourself.
More than anything, live your life the way you choose. If part of that choice includes continuing to enjoy any story or character you relate to (and that doesn’t involve being an asshole on the internet) find your path and lines, my friend.
You are not alone.