Don’t Let People Enjoy Things

Kate Wagner in Baffler:

THE SIMULTANEOUS RELEASE of the final season of Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame has wrought upon this earth the swarm of a particular breed of internet person, one who responds to critics of any corporate franchise or brand with this insipid image: The original image comes from a webcomic posted on Facebook by Adam Ellis in 2016. Like many reaction images, it has its ebbs and flows of popularity, but in our recent pop cultural climate, it has seen an impressive resurgence. Let me be clear: this meme and its underlying ideology suck.

There are unlimited problems with the “Let People Enjoy Things” (henceforth abbreviated to LPET) approach to art and culture, first and foremost among them the fact that franchises in question (GoT and Marvel Comics) are multi-billion-dollar corporate entities engineered to entertain in the same way Doritos are made so that you can’t eat just one. These are some of the most profitable media empires in history, and they will plainly not be harmed by a Twitter user posting about why they personally don’t like them.

The subtext LPET image is a fourfold confession: 1) “I do not want to feel judged for my consumption choices”; 2) “I want to silence people who disagree with me about this particular piece of media by making them feel like they are cheerless or judgmental”; 3) “I recognize an aspect of this piece of media that is worthy of criticism, and I am defensive of this;” and (4) “I do not want to think critically about the things I consume, and if I absorb any criticism about the things I consume it will magically ruin my enjoyment of them.” We’ll break these down. For the purpose of this exercise, say someone posts online about how they dislike superhero movies because they find them to be militaristic, nationalistic, and because they heap Wagnerian glory on an exceptional individual who presides over the helpless, nebulous masses. Let’s say that in response to this post, four users reply with the LPET image for four different reasons.

More here.