Stitch @ Teen Vogue: On the Lie of “Let People Like Things”

Back in 2014, webcomic creator and artist Adam Ellis posted an installment of a then-ongoing webcomic titled “Shhh” showing a guy fed up with his friend mocking his interest in sports. He pinches his friend’s mouth shut and says, “Shhh. Let people enjoy things.” Those two panels went on to become widely used as “reaction images” across the internet, shaping the way that we talk to people about what we like, especially when it comes to fandom. While the sentiment might make sense in a specific situation, the net effect isn’t great.

The context of Ellis’ comic gets lost when it’s divorced from the first panel. Instead of being about a guy tired of his friend putting down the thing he likes, it’s now about shutting down everyone who has a critical opinion. Because if you dislike something, no matter how or where you do it, that’s positioned as the same thing as pushing into someone else’s space to shut them down or make them feel bad about what they like. It’s positioned as an attack, which means that things like horrific backlash for speaking about things like… criticism of fandom being good for fandom? That’s not harassment. To them, it’s self defense.

On the Lie of “Let People Like Things”

There’s this great meme featuring a panel from The Simpsons where there’s a pamphlet that says “So you’ve decided to internalize any general critique of art you enjoy as a personal slight”. (You can see the meme below and please check out Sasha Devlin’s thread because it sure is relevant thread on what Romancelandia is going through on Twitter.)

I cannot stand “Let People Like Things” culture because of the way the people screeching that don’t offer respect to other people who like different things or who offer measured critique. They don’t let other people like things or critique them because everything is about their thing and them as people and so if they’re taking things personally, they’re gonna make sure you do too. Because they’re gonna go after you personally.

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Applied to Fandom: Critical Consumption/Analysis

The concept of “critical consumption” seems to kick everyone’s ass in fandom.

Let someone know that you think that critical thinking and reading should feature at least a little bit in how they engage with the content they consume for their fandom – source media or fanworks – or how they create it and you can expect a whole lot of incredibly angry people acting like you’ve just told them you want to burn every single Arthur/Eames age-gap omegaverse story on the internet.

Or, you know… they call you an anti for using your brain.

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