My depression has this saying: All your heroes let you down and everyone betrays you. Okay, yes… It’s a bit dark. It is, after all, my depression that feeds me that line.
And to an extent my depression is right. Everyone, every last fucking one of us, is human. We have the prerequisite human flaws. We make mistakes. Eventually, we’re all going to fumble and repeat some nonsense we heard our grandmother say that Hitler had some okay ideas, it was just the way he went about them that was wrong.
Just as a random example. Certainly not something I did myself. When I was in grade school, so stop judging me like that…
Back to my point, we’re all human. If you look at all the myths, legends, and religious tales, every celestial, immortal, god, demi-god, or other all mighty power are dicks to some degree. They take pleasure in tormenting people for whatever twisted reason we need to learn our lesson and get to the moral of the story. And if the wise and fair immortals cannot be trusted to be consistently good, what hope did us mortals have?
Everyone slips. Everyone makes mistakes. Eventually, the guys who play Hawkeye and Captain America will be asked what they think of Black Widow being given a different love interest in every movie and they’ll call her a slut and you’ll remember that line my depression lives by.
All your heroes let you down and everyone betrays you.
You’ll wiffle and waffle over throwing out all your Marvel fangirl props. You’ll get so far as to pick up your adorable little Captain America figure and run your fingers over all the details as you shed a single tear. Then you’ll put the figure back in its place of pride because it’s not the figure’s fault…
The figure didn’t call Black Widow a slut.
Instead, you’ll write a scathing letter to both actors reminding them that it’s 2017 (or whatever year it was) and they need to do better. Shifting love interests is a part of comic culture. Some of these characters have been around for seventy years, and over that time they have to keep the story fresh. The easiest source of dramatic subplots is romance. Ergo, a long and sordid love life. You need only look to, ironically, Captain America and Hawkeye to see that very thing.
Comic Hawkeye has a list of romantic entanglements longer than my arm and I’m not sure anyone actually knows how many times he’s been married. (I’m kidding, Wikipedia knows… but does the fandom actually know everything he’s done while off panel? Like a marriage in Vegas to a starlet? A marriage in New York to Darcy Lewis? A marriage in Vermont to *gasp* Captain America?)
(I ship it.)
Shifting love interests has a long history in every medium that has a long run, so I’m not going to fault the comic industry there. (Much.) It’s the patriarchy and toxic masculinity that make it the one female original team member that gets the shifting love interest.
And by calling her a slut for it, you’re just reinforcing that toxic cesspit of dudebros who feel women are lesser and they’re totally justified in writing her off as nothing but wank bait.
It’s 2017. (Or whatever year it was.) Do better.
And so you go back to your fandom. Older and wiser, vowing to never believe in heroes again. All they ever do is let you down.
Until (and here’s where I actually get to the point of this whole thing, seven gajillion words later) you find yourself in love with a queer indie rock duo. Sure, maybe one of the members seems disingenuous and sends up red flags… but you don’t trust a) youths, b) hipsters, and c) male bodied white folks. (See previous: Hawkeye and Captain America for reasons re: male bodied white men.)
Maybe you’re just being overly harsh because of your own prejudice against them… After all, they write good songs. Catchy tunes with strong lyrics. And their bandmate wouldn’t put up with a misogynistic asshole. They’re too pretty for that. So pretty they take your breath away. And they’re fumbling and precious and…
And, okay, maybe you have a crush on them…
Maybe you go out and learn their pronouns. Maybe you learn the lyrics to all their songs and watch their videos and sigh wistfully before flailing in a fangirl way. All while starting to consider their band mate probably isn’t as bad as you originally thought. After all, you don’t want to believe that your bumbling queer icon would stand for a serial abuser.
Until the allegations hit. Hard. Leaving you feeling confused, ashamed, and betrayed. Making you wonder if anyone is genuine. If anyone is good. If anyone can love you and be worthy of your love in return. What if even your best friend and spouses are secretly monsters? How would you know? You’re clearly a terrible judge of character.
How could they repeatedly abuse their fans? How could your crush stand by and let it happen? How could they stand on stage and preach about safe spaces and only play venues with gender neutral bathrooms… when they’re preying on their fans?
They were supposed to be the chosen ones…
I was so wrong. So wrong. I trusted against my better judgment. Against my depression’s urgings. I let myself believe in them…
And they abused people. They raped people.
While I was talking them up to anyone who would listen, they were assaulting people. While I was sharing their videos, they were harassing people. While I was happily singing along with their songs in my car, they were hurting people…
There’s a pain whenever I think of this. A physical pain that flares up in the left side of my chest right above where my heart is. As the tears well up, I feel as if my heart is actually bruised. My pain led me to write some rambling post to sort through my feelings. My complacency. My complicity. My bone-deep knowledge that my fandom hurt their victims.
At night while alone in my own head I justify this toxic cocktail of emotions by wondering if my fandom aided their fame led to their being shielded from scrutiny. If my flowery posts about them triggered their pain. I don’t think there is any way to apologize for that…
I can’t even promise to do better… Because the real kicker is, I know that no matter what I tell myself I’ll fall into fandom all over again. No matter how many words I write to exercise my demons. No matter how many times I remind myself that everyone is only human. That all your heroes will let you down and everyone betrays you.
After all, having heroes and putting idols up on pedestals is a very human thing to do. And despite all my wishes to the contrary (come on secret fairy princess), it turns out I’m only human myself.
Ain’t that a kick in the pants…