"Freedom of Speech is all well & good, but please focus on action figure reviews and not your evident liberal political agenda & opinions. Thanks."
Allow me to provide a little context. You know how, down at the bottom of every page on our site, there's a little button that says "Report an Error"? Scroll down real quick, I'll wait. There, you saw it? You notice a typo, you notice a factual error, you notice a missing comma, anything, you're encouraged to click that button and let us know so we can fix it. It doesn't matter how minor, we're always glad to get those reports. You fill out the info, click send, and that's it. If you include your email address, we generally write you back to say thanks and let you know when the mistake has been fixed, and then nothing else is ever done with the info. It goes to wherever all deleted emails go. The land of wind and ghosts. Something, I don't know.
Yesterday, someone sent the above message through the form. The review that was so upsetting to them? Spider-Man 2099. Wow, totally edgy, right? I really pushed the envelope when I wrote that one, didn't I! (And boy, are they going to hate what we're posting tomorrow.)
First of all, that's a complaint, not a correction, and thus belongs on our message board. No one has ever been banned from our board, no matter what opinions they hold. Years ago there was some guy who got upset that a Doctor Who review was promoting miscegenation, and argued vehemently against race-mixing, and we didn't feel the need to ban him - you really think we're going to silence someone who says they want to read more review content? Of course not! If you want to report an error, how about the fact that I misspelled "safety" when talking about 2099's arm-spikes?
Secondly, we do focus on action figure reviews. "Focus" means to pay particular attention to. The Spider-Man 2099 review is 520 words long; assuming it's the first paragraph that upset him so, that's 37 words. A whopping 7%. In the throwaway joke at the beginning of the review. It wasn't brought up again, I didn't write an exegesis about the prejudices the Irish faced in the 19th century, nothing. We also posted the Spider-UK review yesterday, which is 634 words long, and apparently had no objectionable content. So of the toy review content posted on Monday, March 20, 2017, a truly insurmountable 3% of it was about something other than the toys or the characters directly. In what world does that not count as being focused?
Thirdly, let's consider how outlandishly stupid a thing that is to say. Imagine how amazingly rude I would have to be to say "freedom of speech is all well and good, but please stick to reading our reviews and not on voicing your opinion." I mean, I'm a complete A-hole, and I still wouldn't do that! (cf. the bit about the guy who thought whites and blacks shouldn't marry, but still wasn't stopped from sharing his head-up-the-ass beliefs.)
A pair of quotes come to mind. The first is from Cracked, who said once that (paraphrased) "this is too political" really just means "this is different from what I believe." Have you ever seen Raving Toy Maniac's Twitter feed? I find it to be way over-the-top lefty political stuff. You know why? Because it's not exactly the same as what I believe. It's slightly different, and thus seems overtly political to me, even more than when I drop in on ours from time to time. But you're goddamn right we're liberal, and have never shied away from that.
The complaint... correction... "complection"? The thing sent yesterday is not unique. It's not unique to now (we've had people complaining about our political leanings for years) and it's not unique to us. Since, oh, say, November or so, lots of different artists, performers, and creators have been discussing more political things, and all of them have been met with at least one cry of "why don't you stick to (______) and leave the politics out of it?" As a majorly unimportant part of that artist/performer/creator group, allow me to just say: we would love to be able to go back to just doing the silly, meaningless things. We would love it if the world were stable enough that we could trust it not to fall apart over night.
The second quote is from Shocka, who has said in the past "everything we write and post is meticulously researched and correct - except for that one thing you don't agree with, that we made up on the spot."
Look, the reason OAFE is the #1 toy review site is because we do things better than anyone else. We have never "just" reviewed the action figure; we have, from day one, educated you. You read our reviews and you get smarter, period. To return to one of my go-to examples, there is no earthly reason a toy review should tell you how a bear trap works, but that's what sets us apart. Sometimes we strive to educate you about a comicbook character, and sometimes we strive to educate you about something more important. Visit us on a Tuesday, and you might learn about the philosophy of Gottfried Leibnitz; visit us on a Wednesday, and you might learn why "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" is a factually incorrect song; visit us on Thursday, and you might learn whether a guaranteed basic income is good or bad for the country (spoiler alert: I don't know. I haven't studied it yet, because it hasn't come up, but it sounds ridiculous.); visit us on Friday, and you might learn the origins of tartar sauce. Variety! I know it's scary and upsetting when someone who's smarter than you has a different opinion, especially on something that's important to you, but teaching you interesting things is so much fun!
Yes, I just said we're smarter than you. Screw false humility - we are. I'm not saying we're better than you, just smarter.
We read and we research and we learn things that make us smarter, and then we try to pull you up the mountain with us, kicking and screaming if necessary. We make fun of stupid things because they deserve to be made fun of. Mattel calling their build-a-figures "Collect & Connect" deserves to be made fun of, because it's a goofy name. People who think "it's dangerous if a trans person uses the bathroom that makes them feel comfortable" deserve to be made fun of (in part because they don't think it's dangerous at all, they're just lying - either to us or to themselves - and creating an excuse for why they're uneasy). Anybody who believes Marvel is forbidding Hasbro from making X-Men or Fantastic Four toys deserves to be made fun of, because that was clearly untrue. Anybody who voted for Trump deserves to be made fun of, because they're either a bald-faced bigot or amazingly gullible, and both those types of people need to be made fun of. (Okay, the gullible need to be helped more than mocked, and it's wrong of me to do so. I'll try to be a better person tomorrow than I am today. That's what being progressive is all about. But fuck the racists. Right in the neck.)
"Typical liberal egotism," the wounded pride of the Trump voter screams, "dismissing all Republican voters as fools rather than intelligent adults with a valid point of view." Well, no, they're not. Trump voters have no valid point of view. If they liked his promise to build a wall along the Mexican border or his promise to ban Muslims, both of which are blatant works of racism, then they're racists, pure and simple. Racism is not a valid point of view. If your candidate for an elected office is endorsed by the KKK, your candidate is a racist. The KKK does not endorse non-racists, because non-racists rarely have policies the KKK appreciates. And if you still vote for that candidate, that means you approve of racism. Not tacitly, or grudgingly, but overtly. If you vote to support a racist, you are also a racist. You are saying "yes, that's okay with me."
If your candidate brags about sexual assault, that is not "boys being boys" or "locker room talk." Outside of middle school, no one in any locker room I've ever been in has talked that way. Men don't talk like that. Boys trying to seem more grown up than they are talk like that. Trump does not "say what other people think to themselves" any more than Mel Gibson or Hulk Hogan say what other people only think. He says what racists and sexists think, and if you think those things, you are either a racist or a sexist - in short, a bigot.
Maybe it wasn't Trump's naked biases that appealed to them. That's entirely possible. Trump is and always has been a con man. He runs his businesses like one, and tricks people into investing in them.
Trump is a poor person's idea of a rich man. A weak person's idea of a strong man. An ignorant person's idea of a smart man.
Supporting Trump, whether financially or politically, is the equivalent of your grandma giving her bank account information to that nice Nigerian prince who emailed her asking for help. They got swindled, pure and simple, and it's already biting them in the ass. "When Trump said he wanted to do (blank), I didn't think he actually meant it!" "I never imagined the Republicans' constantly stated goal of undermining valuable American social programs would somehow affect me!" Anyone who chose the bigoted scam artist over the competent and qualified public servant either did so because A) they were gullible, or B) because she was a woman. No. Other. Reason.
That may all seem mean of me to say, and you know what? It is. But Trump's idiot supporters are supposed to be happy that we don't need to be politically correct any more, right? What, did they think that it just meant they got a pass to call Middle Easterners "towel heads" without consequences now? Those yokels are so dumb that they didn't realize political correctness has been working for them all this time! Liberals are the smartest, funniest, meanest people around, but are also polite enough to know that it's rude to ridicule to your lessers. We leave things unsaid because they would hurt Republicans' wittle fee-fees. We pretend to be "aw, shucks" down-homey and to not be as smart as we are. If readers complain about the level of fun we've poked at idiocy in the past decade-plus, they're going to be really hurt now that maintaining a basic level of human politeness is apparently not to be expected any longer. The time of coddling Republicans is over.
Or, to paraphrase another famous quote: Conservatives, none of you understand; Liberals aren't locked up in here with you, you're locked up in here with us.
So no, we won't stop making fun of idiots, and we won't stop making fun of bad ideas. We won't pretend that conservative goals are good for America, or that Republicans give a crap about anything other than maintaining their own political power and finding ways to keep their rich donors from having to pay taxes. We're going to use our tiny, rickety, and unimportant platform to make whatever miniscule difference we can. You want to be a good guy in life? Then when you see something wrong, you do anything at all you can to correct it. If something is germane to a review, we'll include it. This big rant is a PoA because putting it elsewhere really would shift the focus away from action figure reviews, and that's not what we want to do. We also don't want to tell you to "agree with us or GTFO," and we're not going to stop you from having or voicing your own opinions, even if they diverge from what we present to you. But you don't like being made fun of for being dumb? Then fuckin' get smart.