DC vs. Marvel, Liberal vs. Conservative...It's All The Same

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If you've ever taken a trip down the black hole that is a Youtube comments section or Twitter thread in the comic book movie space, you probably know that it is generally not the nicest place to be. The majority of people found there are sane, rational human beings, but everything can be ruined by just a few extremists barreling in, ready to insult anyone or anything that opposes their death-like grip on their opinions.

One side throws a barb accusing popular Youtube film pundits of being Marvel shills because they didn't give a glowing review to Justice League, and the other side calls fans of the film moronic idiots for enjoying it. As the conversation spirals further out of control, assumptions are made, appearances are insulted, and women are told that they deserve to be raped for holding particular opinions ABOUT A MOVIE. 

Two predominating lines of thought motivate these "conversations," and these ways of thinking have turned forums of debate into a toxic wasteland: 

  1. You have to either love something or hate something; there is no middle ground.
  2. If you disagree with my opinions, you are wrong. Oh, and also, I hate you. 

These attitudes make something as inconsequential and lighthearted as feelings about a film into a conversation about right and wrong, true or false. No one is willing to listen to a different opinion or, God forbid, consider changing their own. 

But these mindsets aren't reserved for movie audiences. Unfortunately, this childish behavior has become the status quo when approaching politics, too. If you are a conservative, you must be a racist, Bible-thumper, and if you're a liberal, you must love abortion and hate white men. Without even engaging in conversation with someone, we have already created a fully-formed image of them that is about as three-dimensional as a cardboard cutout.

Without considering that they may have something to bring to the table or something new to teach us that can deepen and enrich our understanding of humanity, we deafen ourselves to their words and tape their mouths shut with a hastily scrawled label.

"Snowflake!" "Racist!" "Libtard!" "Misogynist!"

The cries come from all sides obscuring rational thought and adding to the endless, noisy confusion that we can't seem to escape, making the pursuit of truth and progress nearly impossible. 

Have you considered that a person who is on paper "pro-choice" might be working tirelessly day and night to eliminate the true causes of abortion in their community, such as overworked, underpaid single moms and lack of education? 

Have you considered that the person upset with people "disrespecting the flag," has seen that same flag laid across the casket of their best friend with whom they fought side-by-side in a war? 

It is possible for a Christian Democrat to love God more and have a richer prayer life than a Christian Republican. It is equally as possible for a Republican to have more progressive views of women than a Democrat. To reduce people and their opinions to something as restrictive as a political party is infantile. 

Things aren't as black and white as we would like them to be, and many times our responses to specific situations are more infused with emotion than driven by logic. But by asking respectful questions and truly caring about others, we can find common ground. If we try, we might find out that what we are yelling across the aisle at each other actually puts us on the same side. 

But the reverse is also true. And this is where the rubber meets the road. 

To become the best, most authentic versions of ourselves, we have to be willing to disagree with the people who have the same political leanings, social opinions or religious background as we do. Is a group that is unwilling to self-reflect and improve from within even worth being a part of? For an organization to be worthy of its members, it must have the integrity to hold true to its core values, with its leadership held to the highest standard of all. And if following through on that means public embarrassment, a shift in leadership or a commitment to new values, so be it. 

We have to be brave enough to ask the difficult questions and accept the answers that come. And what makes us bravest of all, we have to be willing to act in response. We can talk a good game, but if our actions do not match what we say, then our words are worthless. 

Whether in the realm of Hollywood, politics or anything in between, how we engage with people who have opposing viewpoints, and most especially those with whom we are most similar, has to change and grow, or our society never will.