Toxic Geek Masculinity

IMPAKT x Dutch Media Week 2020

6 October 2020
Speakers: Linda Duits, Dan Hassler-Forest and Lennon Fokkens
Moderator: Shay Kreuger

Was fantasy entertainment an influence on the toxic landscape that has been fertile ground for the alt-right? For the Dutch Media Week (3-11 October), IMPAKT organises a special evening with talks, screenings and debates to explore the ideological influence of fantasy entertainment. The programme is a collaboration with Beeld en Geluid.

Fantasy holds a strange but enduring fascination. Just look at the popularity of films such as Lord of the Rings, series like Game of Thrones, and long-running games like World of Warcraft. With its depiction of a fictional, medieval-like past with often more ‘traditional’ gender roles, a marginalisation of people of color, heavily leaning on white saviour narratives and an escapist nostalgia for a more authentic life, it creates a troubling contrast to our changing world that particularly challenges the predetermined authority of white men. 

The controversy of #Gamergate, in which female game journalists (a.o. Anita Sarkeesian and Zoë Quinn) challenged sexist game tropes and subsequently suffered horrible online attacks, proved foundational in the rise of the alt-right and the manosphere. It turned out to be the result of a long period of recruitment of disaffected young men by white nationalists. Steven Bannon allegedly even viewed gamer culture as a fifth column in the Trump insurgency. 

Was fantasy entertainment an influence on the toxic landscape that has been fertile ground for the alt-right? It has become clear that digital fan culture has been shaped by these nostalgic stories of fantasy, which have been echoed by the ideological programmes of the alt-right. Now that a new post-truth style of politics is blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, a critical re-appraisal of the role of archetypes and tropes in 21st century fantasy is necessary. Before we suddenly find that this world of fiction has become our reality.

Due to the new recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Toxic Geek Masculinity will place online. You can watch and participate to the discussion via the live stream. Attendance is free, but registration is recommended through this registration form.

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See also programme on the Dutch Media Week website


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