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Event

Toxic Geek Masculinity

IMPAKT x Dutch Media Week 2020

6 October 2020
Location: Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
20:00 - 21:30
Location: Online
20:00 - 21:30
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.


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