The Flaw of “Not That”

I’m halfway through Glen Weldon’s The Caped Crusader, a book that traces the evolution of Batman and the rise of geek culture. It is, at alternating intervals, fascinating and smart and very, very funny, but it also loops back to a series of conceits and bits that irritate the fuck out of me.

Mostly, it comes down to one word: normals. It gets used quite often throughout the text, the distinguishing term that others non-fans in a meaningful way, and it gets used because it’s a thread that runs through fandom in so many ways. It is, at least, nowhere near as bad as the mundanes, but it matters so little to my tooth-grinding dislike of that artificial segregation that it barely helps.

It is incredibly easy to define an identity and a subculture based on your dislike of what you’re against. Pointing and saying NOT THAT is considerably clearer than saying, TOTALLY THIS (and yes, I’m totally aware that I’m totally falling back on Not That right now; I’m embracing the stupidity of this).

But Not That eliminates the possibility of nuance. It eliminates the possibility of having an AND. I am this AND this. I am for many many things.

And the reasons behind Not That invariably, rapidly become uninteresting to me. I am much more interested in listening to people talk about the things they love, and why they love it, than I am hearing about the things they dislike intensely.

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