Sarcasm in Fandom
Orihime has big boobs and that’s why I love her.
Would you believe me if I wrote that? Nah, if you know me and this blog, you know I’m rarely sarcastic. Sometimes I am, but I like to think that we’re all sarcastic in our occasional comments the way we’re all occasional misspellers. Who here hasn’t typed Nemo for Nemu? And I dare anyone to boast that he or she never once had to look up the spelling for hougyoku. The way misspellings happen when our fingers move too fast over the keyboard? That’s how words just seem to fall into the shape of dumb jokes when we’re thinking fast.
Sarcasm as a style of forum rhetoric and fandom debate? No, just no.
I’m most fond of people in fandom who are the least polite but also the least sarcastic. Let me explain. Sarcasm is supposed to be the lowest form of humor. I know because curious as to why sarcasm is such a popular form of argument on the net, I googled the topic and everywhere I read “Sarcasm is the lowest form of humor.”
I’ve also heard that puns are supposed to be the lowest form of humor, but punning requires a modicum of vocabulary and wit. Sarcasm only requires that you say the opposite of what you say with the intent of putting someone down (seriously, this is the literal definition of the word). Sarcasm’s users are ill-spirited whereas our blunt friends in fandom give their opinions without the cloak of mockery. The latter are more likely to tell you “I can’t stand Orihime” and give you a very specific list of reasons why, whereas a sarcastic fan would say, “Doesn’t everyone love a character who does nothing but cry about her insecurities and pine for the hero? That’s so attractive in a girl--everyone can relate to that!” The word sarcasm derives from the Greek meaning to bite one’s lip with rage, and yep, sarcastic people strike me as those who’ve run out of logic and rhetoric and can only copycat how their opponents look or sound in some nyah nyah attempt to call attention to their opponents’ pretenses.
On symbolism and overinterpretation in manga:
Blunt person in fandom says, “I have a character who's associated with water. There's a lot of water-looking shit I draw in pictures with him…. I'm not gonna draw a ton of cracks in the wall behind him to imply the shape of a water molecule.”
Sarcastic person in fandom says, “Blabbity snobbity. I know all about art and my brain has a special channel to Kubo’s authorial intent because I can draw pictures of water just like him!”
If you ask me, farting in an elevator wins the prize as the lowest form of humor, but sarcastic people annoy me more than anything. They are discourse killers. They make disagreements personal and attack groups of fans rather than their ideas. I can’t stand simple sarcasm.
Not to say that sarcasm can’t be a valuable and entertaining rhetorical tool--especially when used sparingly. Some of the world’s cleverest twelve-year-olds who talk back to their parents know that. My husband knows that. Sarcasm, terse and well-aimed, can cut an opening into an argument that is less like a wound and more like an opportunity to see the subject in a whole other way.
My friend Irene once wrote a shipping essay that was spun on a series of comical mispairings and rewritings of Kubo’s story—Tatsuki holding Ichigo’s fallen body in the rain, Ishida crying out in despair when Rukia is taken away, Ichigo stopping cold in his tracks and turning around from his mission to save Chad, Ikkaku saving Rukia from the deathly firebird. Her essay maintained that these scenes in Bleach showed that many romantic pairings were possible, but the essay also pivoted on one sarcastic phrase.: “But if all these scenes were given to a single couple in the manga, that would of course be a different case.”
So, sarcasm--not always bad. Use it to prove a point and not to make fun of an opponent’s clothes, hairstyle or style of arguing. But if the main way you engage a differing opinion is with paragraphs and paragraphs of humorless sarcasm, expect me to start getting bored of you. And the people I dislike the most in fandom are the ones who bore me.