How to Win a Fight with a Superfan on the Internet

As a post-apocalyptic fake mailman, a lot of people ask me if I had a time machine, if I would bring a modern sports almanac to my past self so I could get rich. And I answer, "If I had a time machine, I'd go back in time to a point when toilets fucking worked. Also there's no sports almanacs or sports anymore and people use money for toilet paper, asshole, so riches aren't my highest priority." I'm kidding, no one has ever asked me that. But if they do, I am ready.


Haters Gonna Hate

Adrianne G.:

Hello,

As a fellow geek, have you ever encountered geek-hate, that is, the foaming-at-the-mouth attack from other geeks because you reasonably disagree with their love of a comic series, TV show, movie, or book? If so, what to do when this happens? It seems like disliking a genre property only works when everyone dislikes it.

What's more, what to do when the hate crosses the line into a person attack, specifically a racial slur (something I have encountered)? Thank you for your time.

As a writer of things on the internet, OF COURSE I’ve been I’ve been attacked for my opinions. I’ve been yelled at, insulted, methodically made fun of, threatened, and generally hated for all sorts of things. I’ve had people furious because I denigrated the integrity of those masterpieces that are Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. I’ve had a legion of fanboys scream that I was a diehard Nintendo hater because I think the WiiU is dumb. Back when I did Topless Robot, I incensed one person so much he took the screen name “Fuck Rob Bricken” and devoted a significant portion of his time to writing lengthy essays about how much I sucked (he was, frankly, adorable).

Being a white male, I’ve never been racially insulted, and that’s obviously worse than anything I’ve been subjected to. But I can tell you how I’ve dealt with my attacks — and that’s mainly by ignoring them completely.

I know that sounds easy to say, but here’s my rule: If someone is not using their real name, they basically don’t count. Once they’ve turned it from a passionate argument into a personal attack, they stop being people and start being assholes. Their argument has failed, and thus they’re resorting to base insults, which they’re only comfortable doing hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. Once they start insulting you directly, you have won the argument and they have lost. Once that start saying anything racist or misogynist or personal, they stop being people and instantly become jerks. Once they cross that line, there’s no sense in arguing further, or subjecting yourself to their garbage. Just remember the old adage: Assholes are like pictures of assholes; you can find a lot of them of on the internet.

But when the arguments are merely heated and not insulting, just try not to take it personally. Fans are passionate; that’s what makes them fans. I like to think I’m pretty chill now, but there was a significant portion of my life where if someone told me Final Fantasy VII sucked I would launch into a 45-minute diatribe about its genius. Reasonable people know that when you say you don’t like something, you just don’t like something, but some people treat any affront to their favorite franchise as an insult to themselves.

There are a few different ways to diffuse the situation: 1) try to list the franchise’s qualities, so your antagonist knows you aren’t dismissing their beloved out of hand. Example: “I understand Doctor Who has some great actors and great episodes, but I find the bad episodes so silly I just can’t get into it.” 2) Ask them why they like it. Forcing them to articulate the reasons they’re fans of something will hopefully bring things back to an actual discussion as opposed to a shouting match.

There’s also this: No one has ever changed anyone’s mind about something on the Internet. So arguing with anyone about anything on the Internet is essentially pointless. Once the argument turns unreasonable, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with cutting and running. There’s absolutely no reason why you should subject yourself to that if you don’t have to.


How to Win a Fight with a Superfan on the Internet

The Supremes

Daniel J.P.:

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. There are a lot of cosmically powerful characters in Marvel and DC, a lot of ridiculously overpowered guys and gals who can vaporize a person with a thought, but I wonder (and have been drawn into many, many debates over the years) who is the supreme, most powerful being in comic books? So is it Thanos or Mongul? Galactus? Superman? Darkseid? Squirrel Girl? Help me, Mr. Postman, you’re my only hope.

(Note, I am not including The Endless from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, simply because they would be a game breaker). Thanks.

The most powerful being in comics is Marvel’s The One Above All (shown above), who is for all intents and purposes God. He created all the multiverses and is the boss of The Living Tribunal, who can basically rewrite reality with a thought. Note: The Beyonder was also an omniscient, omnipotent god who started his own universe, but since he only had one, I’m pretty sure The One Above All was also his boss (also the Beyonder is now just a really powerful Inhuman, which is kind of lame). The One Above All also manipulated Thanos into destroying and recreating the universe in "The End," to fix some sort of inherent flaw in the system, which is pretty hilarious. It should surprise exactly no one that Marvel has heavily hinted The One Above All is Stan Lee. I do like to think Squirrel Girl could take him, though.

The DC equivalent of God is The Presence, who is much like Marvel’s One Above All but not quite as fun. The Endless are ideas created by the creation of the universe, which was The Presence’s doing. Everyone else is subordinate.


How to Win a Fight with a Superfan on the Internet

Where Oh Werewolf?

Psylent1:

With all the Zombie Apocalypse movies and TV, why have we never seen a Werewolf Apocalypse? The one thing they both have in common is if the monster bites you, you become the monster. So how about New York city were almost all the people are slowly de-evolving into wolves instead of rotting into corpses?

There actually is a werewolf apocalypse book called City Under the Moon, by Hugh Sterbakov, and it’s pretty good. The CDC gets involved, New York City pretty much gets overrun — good stuff. If you’re looking for a werewolf apocalypse, start there.

As to why there aren’t more werewolf stories in general, I just don’t think werewolves have the cultural cache of vampires or zombies. Vampires will always be cool because they represent the seductiveness of evil, the power that relinquishing your humanity can give you. Zombies represent death, which people will always be terrified of, as well as illness and plague. Werewolves… werewolves represent our bestial nature, and that’s just not as big a deal now in modern civilized society — we’re not really worried about returning to barbarism anymore.

As your post-apocalyptic mailman, however, I can tell you that werewolf stories do pick up once the world ends.


Home Theatrics

Cedric F.:

I was just curious as to what is your home theatre consists of? Do you have a giant 50 inch plasma tv or a 100 multi changer blu ray player? And as a follow up do you see in say five to ten years from now the extinction of movie theatre's as a whole in favor of first run pay per view movies at home? And if so will that really affect society once that social component of gathering for a shared entertainment is no more?

Let me answer in order:

• I do have a 50-inch plasma TV, and I love it almost as much as I love my wife. It delights me every single day I see it, kind of like a baby that doesn’t shit itself. I don’t have a sound system — well, I do have a home theater system, but it’s not hooked up, because I move a lot and as it turns out I don’t really care.

• I do not have a multi-DVD or Blu-ray player because I think those are ridiculous. You can only watch one disc at a time, and while I’m plenty lazy, I’m not so lazy I can't swap a disc out when need be. FYI, I have a PlayStation 3, which I use almost exclusively to play movies.

• Hollywood will not let movie theaters die, at least not yet. Movies make too much damn money for them to abandon the format. Movie studios simply won’t allow their big-budget movies to be available on pay-per-view, specifically in order to drive people into theaters, and I don’t think people will mind. I mean, even though I have a big-ass TV, I still like to catch some movies in theaters anyways. You need to have a pretty sizable income to create a true home theater that provides the same experience, and even then watching a movie with a large audience of people can still be more fun that watching a movie at home alone. Comedies are funnier, horror movies are scarier.

• That said, if and when the theater system is finally rendered obsolete, I doubt it will affect society in any significant way. Movies are shared experiences, but not social experiences — you may bring a date or a group of friends to see a movie, but you’re still sitting in the dark not talking to each other. People will find other ways and place to meet. Mostly places with booze.


How to Win a Fight with a Superfan on the Internet

Bring on the Bad Guys

Brian T.:

Dear Mr. Postman,

So i am a HUGE fan of the Marvel comics and I am really feelin' the universe Marvel Studios is creating for cinema. I think that the effort, level of organization, and dedication to make the different stories feel cohesive and interrelated is fantastic. And though I am excited about the directions they seem to be taking the overall narrative, they are a few elements which I cannot tell if they have been left unanswered intentionally, or have been forgotten, or maybe just left open for possibility.

The first point, which is the minor one, is the Red Skull. Any word or rumors on if he is coming back? We see him get beamed away by the Tesseract but then that's it... Did he get beamed to parts unknown? Is he with Thanos now? Or maybe just... gone.

The other point, the one I'm most curious about is, are we going to see the Leader in any of the upcoming movies? We glimpse in the "The Incredible Hulk," just before the Hulk fights the Abomination, Dr Samuel Sterns (aka Mr. Blue) falls and gets some of Bruce Banner's blood in a cut on his head beginning a mutation before the scene quickly cuts out. Are there any plans to use the Leader as a baddie for an upcoming movie? As far as I know there is no Hulk sequel planned.

I was just wondering if you had any insights. Thank you kindly ^_^

1) Red Skull will definitely be back. I’m not sure if he’ll be appearing in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but Marvel made him disappear for a reason, and that’s so he could come back later. He’s Cap’s biggest villain, and even if they killed him, he’d still find a way back. See pretty much every Captain America comic for the proof.

2) There are no concrete plans for another Hulk movie yet — I think Marvel said maybe in Phase 3 — but whenever the third movie comes out, I will personally guarantee you the Leader will be the villain. They did the Absorbing Man (kind of) and Abomination, so the Leader is for all intents and purposes the last major Hulk villain left.

I know Marvel vaguely talked about the possibility of a Planet Hulk movie, but I just don’t see that happening. I don’t think mass audiences are ready to see the Hulk rampaging on an alien planet as a green Spartacus, and I’m reasonably sure Marvel knows that.


Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the postman@io9.com! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!