Toxic Geek Masculinity
IMPAKT x Dutch Media Week 2020
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.
Linda Duits― Speaker
Linda Duits is a social scientist specialized in popular culture, gender and sexuality. She is a geek and podcast creator (Onder Mediadoctoren, Geeky Dingen), and affiliated with the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON) of Utrecht University.
Dan Hassler-Forest― Speaker
Dan Hassler-Forest is an author and public speaker who works as Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Utrecht University. He has published books and articles on superhero movies, comics, transmedia storytelling, adaptation studies, critical theory, and zombies. He is currently working on two book projects on Afrofuturism and racial capitalism.
Lennon Fokkens― Speaker
Lennon Fokkens is a board member and former chairman of BIJ1. Since his early years he has been involved in LGBTI+ activism and mainly focuses on LGBTI people of color. As a black man who himself is a member of the LGBTI community, he believes it is important that children who do not see their identity represented in the media now have someone they can support themselves in in the future.